7 Signs Of Gaslighting In Relationships
& How to Handle It
Is any of this starting to sound familiar? Well, read on and we’ll cover the common signs that you’re with someone who is gaslighting you.
7 Signs of Gaslighting in a Relationship
- Caught in a Lie: Have you caught your boyfriend or girlfriend in an outright lie only to have them try to convince you that you’re wrong? They will even resort to claiming everyone else–including you–is lying and they’re the victim.
- Denial: You heard what they said, others may have even heard it but when you repeat their words back to them they deny that’s what they said. They may even act incredulous or like you’re stupid for misunderstanding what they said. Their denial will be so adamant they’ll make you question your own memory and even your own sanity. Deep down the gaslighter is a liar and a cheater, but when push comes to shove they will accuse you of being the liar and cheater and almost manage to convince you that you are.
- Holding What You Love for Ransom: Suddenly everything you love they’re against. You love your job, they’re opposed to it. You and your family have always been close, now they see an issue with your family being around. You love to dress up, they think you shouldn’t wear makeup or your favorite dress because it’s too revealing or attracts too much attention.
- Slow Escalation: One of the hallmarks of any manipulative or abusive relationship is the slow and steady escalation. Usually, these early relationship red flags are so small you convince yourself to let them go. The same rate their gaslighting in relationships and other manipulations increase your sense of self and self-confidence decreases
- Words Vs. Actions: People who gaslight are almost always big talkers. But there’s little or no action to back up what they’re saying. They can talk a great game, but there’s no substance beneath the show. What little action there is will always be held for times when others can witness it. There’s no point in putting on the show if there’s no one there to watch.
- Love & Flattering Words: The person who is abusing you mentally will also mimic a common trait of physically abusive relationships. After they tear you down and make you doubt yourself and your self-worth they’ll build you back up with flattering words. They may shower you with gifts, or suddenly put on a big display of affection in front of others. This is all a part of how they undermine your confidence, who would believe they treat you badly in private when they’re so affectionate in public?
- You’re Crazy! Just when you’re starting to question your own sanity, your manipulator will seize the moment and say the words that are already echoing around inside your own head. “You’re crazy!” At this point, they’ve got you so off-balance you are seeking reassurance from them, the very person who is manipulating you. So when they tell you that you’re crazy, you believe it. They’ve also already alienated most of your normal support system which leaves only them to turn to. (See point 3).
It’s not necessary to identify all 7 of these signs of gaslighting in relationships in order to identify that your partner may be gaslighting you. Even just a few of these signs can be cause for alarm, and should be considered a red flag for your relationship.
How to Heal After Gaslighting in Relationships
- Start to document things. Take notes on times, places, and what is said and how so that later when the gaslighter makes you question things, you have notes to prove you remember things correctly.
- Talk to people you truly trust. If you are already feeling like you don’t know who to trust, or you don’t even trust yourself enough to make a decision about who to seek advice from contact a neutral party. A counselor or therapist, a pastor or minister, anyone who has no stake in how things go and can tell you their impartial opinion.
- Take time alone. Whether you use the time to meditate, pray, journal, or listen to the audio content in Sanity & Self, this quiet time to let your mind process what’s happening is crucial to making sure you stay in balance and in control.
- Last but definitely not least, take control of your power. You are not a victim, you’re a survivor. You’re stronger than your manipulator counted on you being and you’re coming out of this stronger, smarter, and better than ever before.
From the Sanity & Self Community:
“I’ve also decided that gaslighting is the most cruel thing someone can do… ” Kellen
“It took me 2 years to realize I was being gaslighted by an older, married man. He never wanted to meet any of my friends, wouldn’t go out with me, told me to not get attached, but would be sweet and loving, gentle and kind, bought me things, cooked me delicious dinners, celebrated my birthdays, talked about getting me knocked up constantly so we could be together forever…I never knew what gaslighting was until way after I left and had an aha moment looking at a poster in a dr’s office about all the different forms of abuse.” Carolina
“He would lie to my face and gaslight me to make me feel like I was crazy or doubt any of the things I heard or knew to be true. He is a master emotional manipulator and could always turn things around on me so I felt guilty or like the bad guy even if I was the one who had been hurt or upset about something. He also continued to lie and gaslight me after we broke up. After I called him out, he has turned completely cold and mean – treating me like I am nothing even though we were together for almost 3 years, lived together and were planning our engagement and future. He is treating me like garbage and it hurts so much.” Anonymous_0140
If you see the signs of gaslighting in relationships remember to take time for self-care, reach out for help, and give yourself time to heal.
What signs would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments!
About the Author
Angela Keck is the content & community manager for Sanity & Self. You can always find her hanging out on the Real Convo tab of the app, on our social media pages, as well as right here on the blog. In addition to being passionate about self-care, Angela is also a wife, a mother of two, and a writer (in her spare time).