Gaslighting is a relatively new term within the world of mental health.
But where did the term come from? Interestingly enough, a 1944 movie by the name of Gaslight.
In the movie Gaslight a husband manipulates his wife enough where she begins to question her own sanity.
In a victim and abuser relationship, gaslighting is a common practice.
However, it goes beyond just getting a victim to question his or her own sanity.
There are any symptoms of gaslighting that are used as manipulation techniques by an abuser.
Often times, the victim does not recognize the signs of gaslighting as emotional abuse.
The most important thing to remember about this form of emotional abuse is that it can happen to anyone!
Just because this type of abuse does not come with bruises and broken bones, doesn’t mean the victim is not suffering emotional trauma.
If you are unsure whether you are a victim of the emotional abuse known as gaslighting, here are the dangerous signs and symptoms to take note of.
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1.They Tell You Lies Often
Everyone tells a little white lie every now and then. But for gaslighters, this is a common practice.
Lies flow easily out of the mouth of a person who uses the technique of gaslighting.
Even if you know for sure that the individual is telling a lie, they will not admit it’s a lie.
It’s almost as if they believe the lie themselves.
The lies he or she tells you are used to confuse you. After a while you’re probably having troubles telling the difference between the lies they tell and the truth.
2. You Feel Less Confident About Yourself
Master manipulators are able to make you doubt yourself. You may be starting to doubt your abilities or feeling less confident about your appearance.
This is occurring because a gaslighter is able to plant seeds of doubt about yourself in your mind.
However, this tactic of emotional abuse happens over time. It’s not something that starts suddenly.
The abuser will not suddenly start calling you fat each day to make you feel less confident. No…
He or she will say less obvious statements to make you doubt yourself over time.
Here’s some examples a gaslighter might say to make you feel less confident:
“Have you gained weight lately?”
“I don’t think you should even apply for that job. You won’t be able handle the job.”
“I’ve noticed you’ve been wearing less makeup lately. You should probably start wearing more when we leave the house.”
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3. You Question Your Own Sanity
Do you find yourself wondering if you actually said what you did?
Someone who gaslights will take almost everything you say and turn it around into whatever fits their needs.
For instance, you and your partner have agreed on date night to be Saturday at 6 pm at a favorite restaurant.
But Friday night comes and suddenly he or she says you never told them about the plan for Saturday at 6 pm.
Now you are accused of never telling him or her important information because you’re forgetful.
Now, you know those plans were made and agreed upon by your friend/partner, but he or she says they never were. Who are you to believe?
This type of situation is a common occurrence in a gaslighting relationship.
The gaslighter makes you question whether you actually said or did.
This is meant to confuse and manipulate you!
4. They Deny
This is another tactic that happens in conjunction with lying. The abuser will deny things they did or say, even if you know the truth.
The gaslighter will deny anything and everything in order to avoid responsibility for their actions.
This will even include distortions in reality. For example, the gaslighter may tell you to “shut up” after hearing a comment he or she doesn’t like.
When you later tell the abuser that him/her telling you to “shut up” really hurt your feelings, the abuser will deny every saying it.
5. Feeling Wrong About Everything
When you’re in a gaslighting relationship, your insecurities about yourself build up over time.
Your friend/partner makes you feel like you’re walking on eggshells. One false move and you will be scrutinized.
After a while, you may be feeling like every decision you make or everything you do in and outside the relationship is wrong.
6. You Find Yourself Apologizing Too Much
Talk to anyone who’s been emotionally abused for an extended period of time and you will find they have one thing in common:
They apologize. A lot!
Apologizing a lot is something that comes with insecurities and the feeling of being wrong all the time. It’s not anything you’ve done.
It’s just how an abuser has made you feel over time. Someone who gaslights does not need to tell you when you need to apologize for something.
They wear you down with insecurities to where you start apologizing even when their is nothing to apologize for.
You accidently drop a fork in the kitchen and you say ‘sorry.’ You worry you’ve upset him or her with something you said…
You say ‘sorry.’ Apologizing often may even be somewhat of an compulsion you cannot control anymore.
You simple feel you have to apologize for everything you say and do because you fear it is wrong in the eyes of the gaslighter.
7. You’re Feeling A Sense Of Isolation
You once had many friends and relatives who you constantly kept in touch with and who kept in touch with you.
Now, text messages and phone calls go unanswered.
Although you are not trying to ignore your friends and family on purpose, the gaslighter has planted seeds of doubt about outside relationships.
This is a strong manipulation tactic because it places a gaslighter as the most important person in your life as they isolate you from other people.
Worse yet… A gaslight may even tell you or ban you from associating with certain people.
This is a more clear and dangerous sign of the isolation tactic!
You have made upcoming plans for a weekend getaway with a long-time friend.
However, the abuser tells you to cancel and that you can’t go because your friend is “a bad influence on you.”
While you know that’s not true, you may find yourself spending less and less time with that friend because it upsets the gaslighter.
8. You’re Indecisive
While you were once a more confident person when it came to making decisions, you find yourself now struggling with indecisiveness.
That indecisiveness only gets worse with time as your relationship with a gaslighter continues.
This is due to the fact that the abuser is slowly ruining your confidence.
Over time, this will put into question even the smallest decisions for fear you will choose “wrong.”
If you can no longer make confident decisions about the simplest tasks in your life (like what to order at a restaurant when you’re with a gaslighter), you may be in a gaslighting relationship.
9. You Don’t Tell People About Your Relationship
Friends and family are asking who your new boyfriend/girlfriend is. But for some reason you’re reluctant to talk about your relationship.
If you’re normally not a private person when it comes to discussing your personal relationships, then this is a red flag when it comes to gaslighting and emotional abuse.
Sit down and think about the reason you don’t discuss your relationship with anyone else.
Could it be that you simply have a gut feeling that something in your relationship feels wrong?
Maybe you’re afraid to talk about your relationship because your friends and family members may judge your relationship.
Whatever the reason may be… It’s one thing to keep a relationship status private because your naturally a private person.
It’s another thing to not talk about a relationship because you feel something is off with your partner or friend.
10. Questioning How You React To Your Partner
This is a very similar situation and feeling to walking on egg shells. You don’t think your partner’s reactions are inappropriate toward you.
Instead, you look internally as to whether your reactions to your partner are causing him or her to act the way they do.
For example: You wonder if you are not loving enough toward your partner or if you’re being unreasonable.
You may feel this way because the gaslighter doesn’t want spend intimate time together anymore.
11. Feeling Like You’re Losing Your Sense Of Self
This sign of gaslighting is a harder one to come to a realization about. In a relationship with a gaslighter, time is everything.
That’s because a gaslighter uses time to wear down your self-esteem.
You don’t notice this dangerous sign of gaslighting until it’s too late.
Gradually, you may feel as if you’re losing yourself in your relationship with a gaslighter.
Your self-esteem is no longer what it use to be; you question every decision you make; you’re isolated from loved ones and devoted solely to your relationship.
If this happens, you may be losing your identity in a gaslighting relationship.
12. They Use What You Love Against You
Gaslighters know how to identify what’s most important to you in your life.
Whether it’s your children or your self-esteem, he or she is able to recognize what you love and use it against you.
For instance: Since your children mean the world to you, a gaslighter will say hurtful comments in regards to your children. “You should have never had children.” “You’d be a better mom if…”
13. They Confuse You With Positive Reinforcement
A person who emotionally abuses someone else doesn’t consistently put you down.
There is actually a pattern or cycle involved with emotional abuse.
An abuser will put you down and then build you back up.
One day you are told how unreasonable or “crazy” you are. The next day the abuser is complimenting you to build you back up.
But the compliments never last. Soon you are being put down again.
This is done intentionally by an abuser in order to confuse you. It’s a way of keeping you on your toes.
If you hear an occasional compliment, the gaslighter knows you will strive to do everything right in order to receive more compliments.
Not only is this vicious cycle of compliments meant to confuse you, but it’s also meant to keep you in the relationship.
14. They Project Their Inadequacies Onto You
This is also known as a term called projection. When a gaslighter feels inadequate in some way, he or she will not take responsibility for their own feelings.
Instead of admitting how they feel about themselves, it’s easier to ‘project’ their feelings onto you.
If a gaslighter is cheating or even thinking of cheating they will ‘project’ this onto you by asking/accusing you of cheating.
Other examples of projection include:
“You are too sensitive!”
“You just love to create drama!”
“You’re too serious!”
15. They Try Turning People Against You
This sign of gaslighting goes together with isolating you from others in your life.
You may feel a sense of isolation because the gaslighter has gone behind your back in order to turn people against you.
They will even go as far as talking to your friends and family and making comments about how “crazy” you are.
This is just another manipulation tactic to force you into isolation.
16. You Often Hear How Crazy You Are
When you’re with a gaslighter, you will often hear how crazy you are.
That’s because he or she is trying to confuse your sense of reality.
If the abuser starts to say something you saw, said or did actually didn’t occur, you’ll start to question your own sanity after a while.
The truth is… You’re not actually “crazy.”
But someone who gaslights wants you to believe you are crazy because it gives him/her an excuse to justify their emotionally abusive behavior.
Also, if this manipulation tactic works and others believe the gaslighter then they will not believe you when you express how the gaslighter treats you.
17. They Tell You Everyone Else Is Lying
According to a gaslighter, everyone else has the problem. This defects responsibility away from them.
Plus, if a friend or relative tells you a different version of the reality a gaslighter doesn’t want you to believe, the gaslighter will immediately accuse the other person of lying.
This tactic allows the abuser to maintain control over your perception of reality, while simultaneously creating a wedge between you and other people.
When this happens, you will begin to believe over time that other people in your life cannot be trusted.
Therefore, the only person you can put your trust in is the gaslighter.
18. Their Words Do Not Match Their Actions
For people who gaslight, lying is like breathing. They have to lie in order to manipulate people.
When dealing with a friend or partner who gaslights, look at their actions and not their words. Much of the words are just lies.
19. They Were A Different Person When You First Met
There’s good reason for this. If someone were to emotionally abuse you from the beginning of the relationship, would you still be with them?
No, you probably wouldn’t. An abuser knows this.
At the beginning of a relationship a gaslighter pours on the charm. They’re sweet, funny and caring.
That’s what makes you want to be around them more.
But the problem is… A gaslighter never shows their true personality as an abuser until it’s too late.
By the time you figure out something is a miss with an abuser you too deep into the relationship.
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What To Do About Gaslighting
If you’ve read the 19 signs of gaslight above and realize a relationship you’re in reflects these behaviors, it’s time for a change!
First- Realize that non of this is your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause the gaslighter to treat you the way they do.
The way they treat you is a reflection of themselves, not you!
Second- Recognize there is an actual problem in your relationship. Many times with gaslighting relationships it’s hard to identify that there’s a problem.
Recognizing the problem allows you to move a step forward with resolving it.
Third- Allow yourself to feel what you feel. You are a real person with real emotions.
You don’t deserve to be treated like your feelings don’t matter because they do.
Understand that it’s ok to feel upset because someone you care about is making you upset.
Fourth- Learn when to say no. If you find yourself in a argument with a gaslighter, don’t engage further.
You have the option to not continue the fight because their is no way of winning against someone who is trying to manipulating you.
Fifth- Think about walking away. Literally. There’s no point in staying in a relationship where you’re feeling manipulated and confused.
There is also no changing a person who gaslights someone else. That’s the nature of who they are.
Sit down and think about how much more you want to take from that person. It may be time to simply cut ties and walk away.
Someone who gaslights is a master manipulator who only want to control others.
They disregard other people’s feelings in order to meet their own needs. There’s no changing this type of behavior in someone.
Gaslighting is a very real form of emotional abuse. Just because the abuse doesn’t come with scrapes and bruises to your body doesn’t mean that it’s any less harmful to you.
It’s actually extremely harmful to your mental health.
This type of emotional abuse can take it’s toll on your psyche, self-esteem and future relationships for years to come.
I should know because I’ve experience gaslighting first hand in a past relationship.
At the time, I didn’t realize it was gaslighting. There was no term to describe this type of emotional abuse.
I just knew that it was emotional abuse.
This type of relationship is hard because you find yourself trapped in a cycle of abuse that continues on repeat.
After a while you feel is though you are suffocating. To this day, I still have lasting effects that stem from a gaslighting relationship that includes self-esteem issues; over apologizing; feeling like everything is somehow my fault.
Unfortunately, the pain of emotional abuse doesn’t go away.
If you’re experiencing emotional abuse in the form of gaslighting, please realize that you didn’t cause this!
There are ways to help slow the progression of gaslighting behavior and tactics.
But often times it’s best to cut ties with someone who is gaslighting you for your own sanity.
No one is worth losing your identity over. You are uniquely you! Keep yourself this way.