Abuse isn't just physical, it can be verbal and creep into a relationship slow but steady and sure. Spotting gaslighting isn't easy at first, you have to be either be educated or well versed through experience. Gaslighting for those of you don’t know, is a term which describes a method of control and emotional manipulation that seeks to sow the seeds of doubt within someone's mind, often slowly and over time chipping away at someone's self-esteem, inclusive of but not limited to, the perception of themselves and the world around them.
Gaslighting can be a conscious or sub-conscious method to gain power within a relationship over one’s partner/someone they are dating.
So, if it’s not making sense to you, perhaps that's a good thing and you haven’t experienced it or perhaps you are so lit in your relationship that your judgement of a healthy relationship has been clouded. I was ‘lit’ for a very short period of two months and as a ‘dating expert’ I eat, breathe and sleep the dynamics of romantic connection between human beings every single day - so how could I not spot the signs? It’s very easy and relatable to the boiling frog parable - for those of you that don't know it have a google. I didn’t spot the signs during that short stint until one day it clicked, and so, I also don’t expect that you should or could have either.
So without further ado, here’s five signs of gas-lighting so you can avoid those manipulative personalities and find someone with whom you can build a healthy, lasting and loving relationship.
#1 They wear away your independence. A gaslighter aims to loosen the roots of stability in your life. Perhaps you like to go to the gym often - it’s good for your physical & mental health and not to mention for your routine - but they suggest that you’re spending too much time away from your relationship and your core values and so your ‘you time’ is selfish, indulgent etc, etc, etc. So, you very quickly wipe away your health and wellness routine and adjust your lifestyle more towards their expectations and away from a) looking smoking hot b) feeling mentally amazing and c) eliminating a part of your independence.
#2 They know that confusion creates weakness. A gaslighter will check in before, during and after every single arrangement in your life that they are aware of. The weight of communication with this person will wear you down over time, weaken your energy levels and make you doubt yourself. More often than not, a gaslighter is insecure on a deep level, and so they prefer to know every detail of your schedule - who you're with, when, where so they can gauge who / what is a potential threat to a) how you think about them b) how you feel about yourself and anything that will change your perception of reality outside of your controlled relationship environment.
#3 Projecting their behaviour on to you. Perhaps they were unfaithful and you know about it, maybe you just suspect and they suggest you’re going crazy. What if you’re not crazy and they are so insecure that they just like to physically have their cake and eat it with you and others. Gaslighters are intelligent; they are in tune with how you tick and can find a way to place the onus of their negative behaviour and actions on you - perhaps you made a comment which sounded like a hall pass for them to be unfaithful - so actually it’s all your fault. Perhaps things haven’t been as rosy as they are normally are and there is a friction between you both (maybe that's you just trying to pull back your independence) has caused them to go astray - perhaps that’s your fault too. Is it? Of course not. You are not accountable to anyone else actions other than your own. They might even accuse you of being unfaithful to justify their own actions.
#4 They want you all to themselves. Gaslighters don’t like to share you - not with your friends, family or work colleagues. They won’t be happy unless they have you entirely to themselves. He or she will want all of your emotional attention, your energy and pretty much all of your disposable time outside of your professional life. A gaslighter will want you all to themselves so much so, that they will find a way to make your friendships and relationships with others fall by the wayside. Maybe they will make you feel like your friends and individual family members don’t have your best interests at heart, that they are not of value to you or perhaps don’t care about you the way they should, they are slowly but surely turning you against the people you care about the most. They will try to make you feel like it is only they who have your best interests at heart.
#5 You feel like you’re going crazy. No, you are not going bonkers. They might even consistently throw labels at you like ‘crazy’ or say that you’re ‘going mad’ or ‘suffocating’ them or that you’re ‘insecure’, these are just examples and not exact, but the fact of the matter is you are not any of those things but told enough and over a long enough period of time you will start to believe them. The worrying thing is, what we believe we become.
I don’t know about you, but I much prefer sparks to fire. And, when it comes to gaslighting, while I make the odd joke about it and throw in a pun here and there - is a serious topic and just because today the urban dictionary finds cute/funny terminologies doesn’t make it any less of psychological and emotional abuse within a relationship.
If you know anyone affected by this you can seek help here.