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Gaslighting: What It Is, How it Works & 33 Signs to Spot It ASAP

If you wonder if you are a victim of gaslighting, we have all the answers you need. Gaslighting is emotionally abusive and you should never tolerate it.

what is gaslighting signs

The word “gaslighting” is a pretty common one these days. That very fact is worrying itself. This is a tactic that can have you questioning your sanity and breaking even the strongest person down into a mess. 

But what is gaslighting, and how can you notice the signs of something so subtle yet powerful?

There are many types of abusive people out there who use gaslighting as a tactic to hurt others. And that means there are many toxic relationships you can find yourself in. 

But one of the hardest gaslighters to deal with is when you’re in love with a narcissistic gaslighter.

narcissist is someone who cares for no one but themselves and will cause you to question who you are and what you’re doing, breaking you down into a shell of your former self. It sounds dramatic, but it’s no exaggeration.

The term “narcissist” is named after the mythological character Narcissus, a character who loved himself so much that he fell madly in love with his reflection in the water. 

And although narcissists use many tricks to confuse the people they love, gaslighting messes with you the most. [Read: How to deal with a narcissist in the best way you possibly can]

What is gaslighting behavior? Understanding the impact of gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse designed to evoke confusion that eventually turns into an extreme form of anxiety.

As a result, the victim starts to doubt their own perception, memory, judgment, and sense of reality.

This term came from a classic 1944 Hollywood movie called Gaslight. In the movie, the husband resorts to manipulative tactics to drive his wife insane. [Read: Emotional abuse – what it is and 39 signs this relationship is breaking you]

One such tactic is dimming the gas-powered lights in their home, but he denies that the lights are changing when his wife asks about them. So, the wife starts to believe she is just seeing things.

The abuser *often a narcissist, but not always* commonly uses gaslighting to target the victim’s mental balance, self-esteem, and sanity so that they will be dependent on their abuser.

This involves a frequent, systematic, and calculated way of withholding and twisting information from the victim so that the abuser can manipulate them and turn things in their favor. [Read: Sexually abusive relationship – subtle signs you’re being abused]

Put simply, gaslighting is a dangerous form of abuse, and it’s not always easy to see that it’s happening.

Let’s give a quick, basic gaslighting example. You arrange to meet your partner after work at your favorite restaurant to celebrate doing well at work that week. You’re excited and your partner is well aware of that fact.

You head to the restaurant after work and wait outside for them, but they never show up. [Read: Silent treatment abuse – how to take a stand and get back in control]

So, you call them and they tell you that you must be imagining it, you never arranged to meet, you just talked about maybe going at some point. 

Deep down, you know you did make plans, but now you start to doubt yourself because how could you have got it so wrong?

Difference between gaslighting and manipulation? 

A lot of people wonder if gaslighting and manipulation are the same thing. This is a good question because there is a very fine line between the two. [Read: 27 signs of emotional manipulation to know if you’re being used by someone]

Manipulation is used everywhere – from advertising to a kid trying to get something out of a parent. But when it becomes a series of behaviors where the only intent is to gain control over someone else, then it becomes gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of abuse and usually, the gaslighter has a pattern of manipulation tactics throughout several relationships. 

So, the major component of gaslighting is intent. For example, an advertiser wants to manipulate your emotions in order to get you to purchase their products. [Read: Psychological manipulation – 16 signs and tactics real manipulators use]

But they aren’t trying to gain personal control over you.

Causes of gaslighting

Gaslighting is a horrible thing to do to another person. So, you might wonder, what makes someone do it? Here are some causes of gaslighting.

1. Consistent need for admiration and attention

People who gaslight others usually have a deep need for people to admire them. They also want others’ attention on them as well. [Read: What makes someone an attention seeker and how to read these traits]

This is done because they don’t feel like they are worthy or important, so they have to gaslight in order to feel better about themselves in a sick, twisted way.

2. Belief that they are better than someone else in some special way

Perhaps a person thinks that they do everything right, and so they enjoy pointing out all the flaws in other people. 

Whether they honestly and genuinely believe they are better or if they just act as they do, the result is the same. They want others to feel bad about themselves. [Read: Covert narcissist – what it is, 42 signs, and how to see the games they play]

3. Lack of empathy

Empathy is the ability to be able to feel what someone else feels and see a situation from others’ perspectives. People who gaslight are not capable of feeling empathy. 

That’s because they think the world revolves around them. It’s all about their own needs and wants. They don’t care about other people’s feelings at all.

4. They believe that it’s the only way to sustain a relationship

A gaslighter might have grown up with parents who were abusive and gaslighted them as a child. [Read: What is a toxic relationship? 53 signs to recognize love that hurts you]

If that is the case, then perhaps that’s what they think normal behavior is in a relationship. They might do it because they think it’s the only way to sustain a relationship.

However, this is not an excuse for the bad behavior. Just because they think this is the only way to keep a relationship together doesn’t make it right. Gaslighting is horrible, regardless of the intentions of the gaslighter.

Where can gaslighting occur? 

You might think that gaslighting can only occur in romantic relationships. But that’s far from the truth. It can happen virtually anywhere. [Read: Sneaky people – 20 subtle signs and what defines sneaky behavior in someone]

1. Intimate relationships

Gaslighting can occur in any intimate relationship. It can be during the dating phase or marriage. It can even occur in close friendships or with family members. Any intimate relationship is vulnerable to gaslighting behavior. [Read: Internalized misogyny – how to recognize it, fight it, and win over it]

2. Parent-child relationships

Unfortunately, many parents are abusive to their children. Yes, abuse can be physical, but it can also be emotional and mental. 

And gaslighting definitely falls under this category. So, there are a lot of people who have grown up with parents who are gaslighters. And this has a negative long-term effect on them. [Read: Being raised by narcissists – 18 harmful ways it affects your life]

3. Medical gaslighting

Sometimes, a person knows something isn’t right with their body. They have weird symptoms that they can’t explain. So, they go to a doctor for help.

But there are some medical professionals who dismiss a person’s health concerns. They tell their patient that there is nothing wrong with them and that it’s “all in their head.” The doctor doesn’t take the patient’s concerns seriously. 

4. Racial gaslighting

Racial gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where one person from a racial group seeks to maintain power and control.

They do this through manipulation or bullying someone for their race and apply gaslighting techniques to an entire racial or ethnic group.

Some of the things that can be done are pretending not to understand racism or refusing to listen to the impact of racism. They also minimize the experience and the traumatic impact of racism on other people.

5. Political gaslighting

Politicians and political groups also manipulate information to control people. Think about Hitler and Nazi Germany back in World War II. [Read: How to beat a narcissist – 14 ways to win over their manipulation]

Hitler was famous for a lot of awful things, and one of them was the ridiculous amount of propaganda.

This was done to control the minds and actions of the people he wanted to control. But political gaslighting isn’t just limited to Hitler and Nazi Germany. It can happen in any country by any politician or political party/group.

6. Institutional gaslighting

Gaslighting can also occur within a company, organization, or institution. It happens when a group of respected people within an institution are posed as investigating on a victim’s behalf. [Read: Toxic people – 48 warning signs and the best ways to deal with them]

However, they are actually belittling or denying the reality of the harm that was committed.

The reason they do this is to protect the institution’s reputation. The organization can cause the victim to question their own perceptions of reality, their feelings, instincts, and even their own sanity.

Types of gaslighting

Now that you are familiar with what gaslighting behavior is, you need to know what different types there are. There are several ways that someone can gaslight you. Here they are. [Read: Relationship doubts – toxic and normal signs to read what you feel]

1. Reality manipulation

The whole point of gaslighting is reality manipulation. The gaslighter tries to make their victim question their own reality. They do this by countering their memory of what happened in the past. 

Gaslighters also will change the subject and question their victim’s thoughts by saying things like, “you’re imagining things.” The reason they do this is to bolster their own lies and cause the victim to feel like they’re going crazy and can’t trust themselves.

2. Coercion

Coercion manifests through gaslighting in several ways.

These include making you feel guilty for spending time with friends or family, humiliation, verbal abuse, and manipulating you into doing things you don’t want to do. [Read: Emotional bullying – how to recognize a bully and stand your ground]

They also might use psychological manipulation by withdrawing affection or being cruel and demeaning in order to provoke anger and rage. 

Once the victim is angry, the gaslighter will say something like “I’m not abusive – you’re the one yelling and out of control!” 

Doing this helps them create the false narrative that the gaslighter is the victim in the relationship, and not the real victim. [Read: Hoovering – what it is, how narcissists use it, and how to avoid falling for it]

3. Lying

One of the biggest strategies that a gaslighter uses is lying to your face. The lying could be blatant or subtle.

When they are confronted with evidence of their lies, they will repeat the lie over and over and find “reasons” why the evidence is false.

They might fake memory loss or fully deny the facts even when they are caught lying. Usually, this is accomplished by saying things like “I don’t know what you’re talking about” or “you’re just making stuff up.” [Read: 15 ways a pathological liar hurts and confuses you with their lies]

4. Trivializing

Gaslighting also involves trivializing the victim’s feelings and experiences through acts such as telling them to look on the bright side – which is called “bright siding.”

This is a type of toxic positivity that gaslighters use to invalidate their victim’s feelings.

They trivialize their wants and needs by making their feelings seem unimportant. They could say things like “you’re too sensitive” or “you’re going to get angry over something like that?” [Read: How to spot a compulsive liar – signs it’s time to walk away]

Trivializing can also be accomplished by undermining someone through humiliation or backhanded compliments. Then, they will also trivialize your reaction to these statements by claiming to be “only joking” or that you’re being dramatic or paranoid.

5. Scapegoating

Another thing that gaslighters do is never take responsibility for their actions. Instead, they will blame their victims for their own actions.

They will make false accusations and blame the people around them. [Read: 36 signs of disrespect that reveal a lack of love and respect]

It’s common for them to call their victims crazy or emotionally unstable in an effort to seem like the “balanced” and “calm and cool” one.

They create a narrative where the victim is the one who is causing all the drama. Even if they admit to losing their cool, they will say that their victim “made them” do it.

How gaslighting works – The truth is that gaslighting happens over time

A gaslighting abuser will withhold information, ignore you, minimize their own mistakes, question everything you say, trivialize your values and feelings, divert the blame and conversation, and deny their own words and deeds.

They will do all these just to manipulate you so that they have power and control over you.  [Read: Why people fall for narcissists and secrets that make them so addictive]

Be wary, though, because these gaslighting tactics happen gradually. It can start off so subtly that you may not even notice it or even recognize the signs.

Your partner’s words may seem so harmless, and they might be so charming and affectionate that you won’t even believe they’re capable of such manipulation.

Over time *sometimes even months or years later*, though, you will start to notice the signs we shared above. Eventually, you will feel confused, powerless, incapable, anxious, and probably even depressed. [Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship and shut it down for good]

You actually begin to lose the sense of what reality actually is. That’s how dangerous gaslighting can be.

Is it like this for everyone? No. Everyone is different, and perhaps there are different degrees of severity.

What we need to point out, however, is that no matter whether gaslighting is a simple and small thing or not, it still has the potential over time to be extremely damaging to a person’s emotional and mental health. [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]

Are gaslighters narcissists?

Not at all. Anyone can use gaslighting, it’s simply that this is a very commonly-used manipulation tactic by narcissists to make the victim overreact and question their own sanity. 

Someone with narcissistic tendencies may be a master of this art form, but for sure, anyone can do it. It’s not advised, however, and it’s something you should avoid doing at all costs.

Sometimes we can all be a little manipulative, but there’s a big difference between simply being a bit manipulative occasionally and using gaslighting as a type of emotional abuse. [Read: What types of narcissism should you be on the lookout for?]

Almost always, gaslighting is a premeditated thing, and it takes a lot of thinking to pull it off. That’s not something you can really do by accident.

The truth is that people who gaslight use this abusive behavior to keep their partners where they are. It makes them stay in the relationship when perhaps they may otherwise see through the facade and choose to leave.

You’ll believe that you’re the problem and then think that nobody else would put up with you. So, you become ultra-reliant on your narcissist, and they use this type of manipulation to gain total control over you. [Read: How do narcissists hook you and how to avoid their toxic bait]

Gaslighting examples in everyday life that make you start to question yourself

Before we get to the signs of gaslighting, here’s something you MUST know. 

Gaslighting comes in many forms, and you need to understand that gaslighting situations aren’t really restricted only to romantic relationships with manipulative husbands, wives, or partners. 

You can see it in workplace relationships, with friends, and even in everyday life. [Read: 20 traits and signs of a toxic boyfriend that predict a painful relationship]

A friend could say something like “I was just joking…” or “it didn’t happen that way…” even when they’re caught lying. 

Your colleagues at work might make a big deal out of nothing. 

A barista could intentionally give you decaf and claim your coffee is caffeinated. [Read: Manipulative behavior – why it is toxic and signs you shouldn’t ignore]

Sometimes, even a doctor you visit may deny your health concerns or symptoms, simply because they don’t care enough to investigate it *this is called medical gaslighting.* 

And, of course, there’s also racial gaslighting where you question your own experiences of racism.

If you think about it, gaslighting often happens all around us in small ways. Of course, you’d be annoyed when you experience it. [Read: How to start a new life – 20 must-do steps to leave toxicity behind]

If a trivial incident of gaslighting involves a random stranger, it’s easy to brush it off. But when it’s someone you love, then you’re a victim of gaslighting because this is something you have to deal with every day.

The common signs of gaslighting and examples of gaslighting most people miss

Gaslighting isn’t that clear sometimes. Someone on the outside will be able to spot it a mile away, but when you’re in the middle of it, it can be a totally confusing and extremely subtle tactic of domestic violence or emotional abuse.

By learning the warning signs of gaslighting, you’ll be in a much better position to identify this type of abuse and do something about it. [Read: Toxic family members – 15 signs and reasons to cut them off for good]

1. You’re being led to believe that you are something you’re not

Calling names can have a harmful effect on a person over time. So if your partner starts to call you “cuckoo” or tells you that you might be manic-depressive or bipolar *like they’re an authority in diagnosing clinical disorders, right?* – be wary of that.

Anyone who seems keen on trying to alter your perception of reality or tries to put a psychiatric label on you might have something up their sleeves.

2. You regularly think “it’s just in my head”

And you start to believe it. When you talk about your feelings or observations, a gaslighter may dismiss your feelings like you’re the only one thinking those thoughts or seeing those things. [Read: Narcissistic abuse – 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you]

They also bring other people into it and tell you that those people have certain opinions about you as well. Then, you start to wonder whether your version of events and theirs are the same.

3. Much of what you say is used against you

Especially when it comes to your fears. Have you ever had moments when you confide in your partner, and after a while, your partner brings those things up at their own convenience – like to win an argument or get their way?

They know which buttons to press, and they’ll subtly use them against you. Why? Because they know the effect it will have on you. You’ll feel like your fears are a reality, and that weakens you. [Read: 20 biggest narcissistic traits to recognize the narc in your life]

By that point, your partner is gaslighting you and totally has you under their control.

4. They question everything

Does your partner make you feel incapable by questioning your decisions all the time? Do you feel frustrated by always having to explain your choices and your values?

By second-guessing your decisions and abilities, you may eventually start to question if you can accomplish anything. And that makes you feel inadequate. [Read: How to respect yourself – 37 secrets of self-respect, self-belief, and self-love]

5. You start to doubt your perception

Manipulative people will not acknowledge your perceptions, but instead, they will twist things around just to make you doubt yourself.

For example, if you’re going out with friends that they openly disapprove of, a gaslighter may use this opportunity to tell you your friends are not who you think they are – and they’ll eventually make you believe the same.

6. Your needs and feelings are trivialized

If you’re wondering what is gaslighting when it comes to being put down, here’s an example and a common gaslighting tactic. [Read: Narcissistic victim syndrome – what it is and how to escape the mess]

So, you had a rough day at work. And at the end of the day, you sit down to tell your partner all about it. Your partner brushes it off as something insignificant *when you almost saved your company from doom.* In fact, they’ve made it a habit to minimize your triumphs, as well as your feelings, like they don’t really matter.

7. You feel small and inadequate

Compared to your partner, you feel small. [Read: 21 ways to stop being manipulated and used by someone you love and trust]

They have downplayed your ideas as well as your needs so much that it seems like the only thing that matters, *or a person who matters, in the relationship* is your partner. 

So, you start to blindly follow them because you see no other way.

8. They say they know you better than you know yourself

For instance, you tell them you don’t like Chinese food, and they’re like, “What do you mean? It’s delicious! You like it!” [Read: How to get to know yourself and reveal your life’s true passions]

And they act like that with you all the time, imposing their own wants and whims on you, like you’re into the same things as they are.

And after a while, the gaslighting gets more severe, and you don’t know what your real preferences are anymore.

9. They have a selective memory

An abusive partner may also be highly confident and convincing in their version of things. They forget or deny that something ever happened, such as their promises to you. [Read: Dark triad personality – what it is, 25 signs, and ways to deal with them]

They’ll say things like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about…” or “That didn’t happen. I have no recollection of it.”

10. You can’t trust your instincts anymore

Even if you think that you’re about to do something right out of instinct and common sense, your partner flips it 180. Then suddenly, what you’re doing is all wrong.

You believe your partner instead of your instincts, and this can start a pattern of submission to their will. This would, in turn, make you feel like a failure, and you’d lose your self-worth as well. [Read: How to follow your gut instinct and listen to yourself]

11. Even your memories are all wrong

The only thing that is right and true is what your partner remembers. Even if you tell them otherwise, because you remembered some detail they conveniently left out, you’re still in the wrong. As a result, you think it was all really in your head.

12. You’re starting to give up on expressing yourself

An argument or even a mere conversation with your partner is pointless. You only end up upset, confused, exhausted, and even ridiculed at times.

And so, you give up even if you have an inkling that they’re gaslighting you. [Read: How to express your feelings and get your point across the right way]

You stop speaking your mind because you know you won’t be listened to, and even then, you start to lose sight of what you want to say anyway.

13. You always settle to keep the peace

You lie and settle just to avoid an argument or a difficult conversation. Worst of all, you lie to yourself — all just to keep the peace.

Of course, your partner will not stop insisting on their version of things to the point that you’ll end up in a nasty fight, and they’ll make it all your fault. 

14. You’re always saying “sorry”

It seems that nothing you do is right. When it comes to your relationship, it feels like you’re walking on eggshells.

One wrong move and there’s an outburst, and you’re in the wrong again. You’ve been saying “sorry” so much that you start to believe that it really is all your fault. [Read: Relationship arguments – 27 dos and don’ts to remember]

It doesn’t matter if they killed your cat, if you attempt to get a narcissist to take the blame for anything they do, you always end up walking away and apologizing. It is just a thing.

If you have ever dealt with a narcissist, then you know what it feels like. They whittle you down until you have no more tools in your arsenal besides apologizing just to make it all go away and stop.

15. You’re miserable, but you try to convince yourself that everything is fine

When it feels like you’re so emotionally gagged that you can’t even hear your own voice because of all the gaslighting, you end up depressed. [Read: Unhappy relationship – 25 signs of sad love and lies you tell yourself]

Everything you do is magnified, and you’re constantly criticized *and in the most awful ways.*

You have no say with regard to your own feelings because your partner won’t validate them – not even with a simple acknowledgment.

But, despite knowing that you’re not happy, you try to convince yourself that you are fine. You’re so reliant upon your partner that as long as they’re there and they’re in a good mood, you’re fine. In reality, however, you’re really not.

16. You’re starting to believe you’re crazy

Intense manipulation and gaslighting can really get to you, especially when it’s done constantly and by someone you share intimacy with.

At first, you may think that your partner is wrong. But then their words start to sink in so much, and all too often, that you start to wonder if there really is something wrong with you. You think maybe they are right and you’re just crazy. [Read: Psychological manipulation – 16 signs and tactics real manipulators use]

A narcissist is very good at one thing: doing what they do.

When you confront them about anything, they twist the situation and story and then go on to say how “crazy” you are and that you “always do this” as if your feelings are nothing but a reflection of your own mental deficit. By the time you leave, you end up wondering if they are right and then you need to seek counseling. [Read: Feeling trapped in a relationship? Should you stay or break free]

17. You doubt your own sanity

On top of starting to think that you’re going crazy, you then start to doubt your sanity completely. Are you seeing things? Did you really hear them saying that? Did you make plans, or were you dreaming it?

Not only will you be confused, but you’ll be so tied up in knots that you really won’t know which way is up or down.

18. You stop making your own decisions

The fact that your partner questions every single decision you make leads you to feel like you’re incapable of doing anything properly. [Read: Decisions you should never let your partner make for you]

You’re also doubting your own mind, which means you’re far more likely to avoid making decisions and instead, you’ll rely upon your partner to make them for you.

You might not come out and say “make this choice for me,” but you’ll ask their opinion and then simply go along with what they say or recommend, without question.

19. Your friends and family members have expressed concern

Gaslighting may seem pretty obvious from the outside. You won’t be able to notice it so much when it’s happening to you, even if you have a slight inkling that something isn’t right. [Read: 17 whys and ways to care less in a relationship when you’re being used]

But those around you will be able to see what’s going on.

So, if your friends and family members have expressed concern about your partner and they’ve told you that they think you’re being exposed to gaslighting, you really should take notice.

But, as a victim who’s experiencing gaslighting, will you honestly listen to others? [Read: Avoidant attachment style – the types, 32 symptoms, and how to love one]

20. You’ve become isolated

If your friends and family members have told you that they think something is wrong, you’re unlikely to listen if you’re really under your partner’s control. 

You’re so reliant upon your partner that you’d much rather isolate yourself away from your friends and family members instead.

You don’t want to hear the truth, so you see less and less of the people who care about you. [Read: How do narcissists control you so subtly?]

If that’s not bad enough, it pleases your partner that you’re doing this because you’re far easier to control when you don’t have people around you.

21. You second-guess absolutely everything

The emotional and mental fallout of gaslighting means that not only will you doubt your sanity in the end, but you will second guess absolutely everything. You’ll become distrustful of everything and everyone, except for your partner.

You’re so controlled that forming thoughts for yourself becomes extremely difficult. By this stage, your partner’s gaslighting efforts have worked for them. [Read: Controlling relationship – 42 signs and ways to love without being bullied]

22. Deep down, at some point, you actually know something isn’t right

It could be that deep down, you know something isn’t right. It won’t be enough for you to stand up to your partner and tell them that they’re gaslighting you, but it will be a tiny inkling. This means there is hope for you.

If you can hold on to that inkling and allow it to grow, you’ll eventually find the strength to face things and leave. 

But, even for those who really are under a partner’s control, there may still be a tiny thought every now and again that says, “I know I’m right, I know I didn’t say that.” [Read: How to get over trust issues in a relationship and move forward]

23. You walked in sure you were right and left barely knowing your name

When someone gaslights you, they throw all kinds of doubt into your conversation. Confusing you to the point where you aren’t even sure what your real name is, they make you question everything.

24. The subject that you started with was not even covered

When you bring up something to a narcissist that they either don’t want to discuss or has the potential to make them admit wrongdoing, they twist and weave so that they don’t have to hear or acknowledge it.

Taking things out of the closet that you haven’t seen in years and hurling things at you at ferocious speed is the way they divert your truth. [Read: 16 signs your lover is messing with your mind]

25. The story you remember and the one that comes from their mouth are incongruent

When you are in an argument with someone you know you are being gaslighted when you tell your side of the story and hear theirs. It is like you are in two different universes.

Things you did, what you said, and vice versa, always sway in their favor. Your two versions don’t even sound like the same story.

26. You end up being the jerk

It doesn’t matter how much you plead your case, you always end up being the jerk who did a narcissist wrong. They aren’t capable of seeing how their actions affected you. [Read: Abusive signs of a devious lover]

You are a jerk for merely suggesting they aren’t perfect or they might be in any way responsible. You always put your bad feelings off on them or blame them for your mental instability.

27. Deja vu, you feel like you have been here before

Every time you approach a narcissist, you have a feeling of hope, like if you just say things the right way and explain them, they will see it your way.

But, when dealing with a narcissist, you always leave thinking, “I’ve been here before… How did I get here again?” [Read: 30 mean ways your boyfriend could hurt you emotionally and how to react]

28. They are way too angry about the inquiry

When you try to put a narcissist in their place, you will be met with swift and severe anger. Most of the time you avoid saying anything because you know that the punishment for questioning will be quick.

But, on those rare occasions when you can’t move along and hold your tongue, their attitude will go from zero to PISSED in twenty seconds.

29. They aren’t above calling you names

Stupid, insane, crazy, bitch, asshole, whatever they hurl to catch you off guard, you have been gaslighted. They say anything to shut you up. [Read: How to deal with a narcissist in the best way you possibly can]

Shaming by calling someone a name is just one more tactic that tells you, you have been gaslighted.

30. They try to get everyone involved either by mentioning other names or actually calling people in for their opinion

What is stronger than numbers? Someone who is a narcissist has a band of those who stick up for them and follow along.

If they can’t convince you that you are wrong and crazy, then they find recruits to help tell you that you are. There is always safety in numbers when gaslighting. [Read: Emotionally manipulative boyfriend – 22 signs and reasons to walk away]

31. You feel like you aren’t good enough or on the same level

The way that a narcissist protects their ego and fosters it is by using other people. They have to make others feel less than to make themselves feel awesome.

So, if you question them or in any way threaten their superiority, they do whatever they can to squash you and put you back into your subordinate place. [Read: 18 ways to have high self-esteem and start winning at life]

32. You feel guilty for even thinking the worst

You catch them in the act of screwing your best friend and a narcissist messes with your head so royally, you end up feeling bad that you felt mad.

Making you feel horrible for even questioning that they didn’t always have the best of intentions is what they do best.

33. It took all the energy you had to bring it up, and now you wish you hadn’t

Again, you have been here before. Although gaslighted a hundred times, when in a relationship with a narcissist, you still have some courage left to try to get your point across. [Read: 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you]

It isn’t something lacking in you; it is all them.

Impact of gaslighting abuse on mental health

A person who is a victim of gaslighting might start to believe that they can’t trust themselves as time goes on.

They might even start to believe that they have a mental health disorder. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, isolation, and psychological trauma. [Read: Being taken for granted? 71 BIG signs, why it happens, and ways to stop them]

All of these can have a long-term impact on someone’s self-esteem and mental health. And because of this, it makes it even more difficult to leave an abusive situation.

If the gaslighting is happening in a personal relationship, it will become part of an overall pattern of coercive control. This is a form of emotional abuse that gives the abuser control over their partner’s life.

This kind of emotional abuse can escalate into physical abuse. So, a victim of gaslighting early on in a relationship might be at risk of physical violence later. [Read: 27 signs of emotional manipulation to know if you’re being used by someone]

How to respond to gaslighting behavior

Once you’ve learned to spot gaslighting, you want to stop it. However, it won’t happen immediately. 

What is gaslighting if it’s not emotional abuse? So, it could take time, but by learning to trust yourself again, over time, you’ll get there.

Then, your first instinct may be to fight back. If someone is lying, you tell them they’re lying. If you have proof, you shove it in their face. You stand up for yourself. [Read: How your self-respect in a relationship affects you and your love life]

That all sounds good, but gaslighting is irrational. It is impossible to have a rational, adult, or calm conversation with someone who depends on gaslighting as their form of control.

1. Disengage

The best way to fight gaslighting is to disengage. Do not respond. Do not give them the satisfaction of your thoughts, feelings, or anger.

Their intent is to get a rise out of you. They want you to feel unhinged and crazy.

If you stand back and disengage from the situation, they will have lost control. After a few attempts and no response, they will have to give up. [Read: 21 emotionally abusive relationship signs no one should ever, ever tolerate]

2. Turn to loved ones

Gaslighting is abusive behavior. So, it’s likely that the gaslighter will try to keep their victim away from their friends and family.

That’s because they don’t want them to convince the victim that they are actually sane and that the gaslighter is the problem. So, that’s exactly why the victim should turn to their loved ones.

They can offer their perspective and help you get clarity on the whole situation and relationship. It’s important to maintain connections so they can provide emotional support. [Read: How to be yourself – 26 steps to unfake your life and love being you]

3. Take notes

Another one of the best ways to deal with gaslighting is to take notes. Write down what you say and do and what the gaslighter also says and does.

That way, you can look back and know for sure that you aren’t crazy. Plus, it is evidence to provide the gaslighter.

Recording evidence is important so that you don’t need to second-guess yourself. [Read: How to be more confident with simple daily self-love habits]

You can either write it down in a notebook or computer, or you can audio or video record the conversations between yourself and the gaslighter.

This strategy might work best so you can play it back for them to prove that you are sane and that they are wrong.

4. Set clear boundaries

Gaslighters don’t like strong victims. In fact, they purposely try to find people who aren’t going to stand up for themselves and will overlook their bad behavior. [Read: How to set boundaries in a relationship – 19 rules for healthy love]

That’s why it’s also important to set clear boundaries. Stop acting like the victim and tell the gaslighter “no.” Don’t let them get away with their gaslighting. After a while, they will either stop doing it, or one of you will end the relationship.

5. Hold on to the things that make you who you are

When you are getting gaslit, it’s easy to lose your self-identity. That’s because the gaslighter is weaving a web of lies around you, and it’s easy to get caught up in all the confusion.

So, make sure that you don’t lose yourself. Hold on to the people and things that are important to you and make you who you are.

Now, if someone is gaslighting you, we would suggest ending that relationship. This is a behavior that is unlikely to quit without the help of intensive therapy or meeting with a licensed marriage and family therapist. 

And that’s something most people who choose to gaslight will never commit to or even consider.

Gaslighting is unhealthy for your mental health and should never be tolerated.

How to leave a narcissist who tries to gaslight you constantly

Of course, it’s very easy to say “you need to leave this person,” but you have feelings for them.

That’s something that people who have never been in a relationship with a gaslighter don’t understand. [Read: How to use the grey rock method to get a gaslighter to get out of your life]

How can you possibly love someone who is abusing you in this way?

The truth is that you’re so controlled and manipulated that you believe this person to be someone else entirely.

But, the good news is that you can break free. There will come a point where you start to have those “I’m not wrong” moments. When you spot one, grab onto it firmly. [Read: How to leave a narcissist and free yourself from their web of control]

The more you question the thoughts you’re having and the behavior you’re spotting from your partner, the easier it will be to break free.

We’re sorry to say that it’s not possible to have a normal, loving relationship with a gaslighter. You’ll always be unhappy and always be gaslighted and manipulated. So, the only answer is to leave. But, how?

1. Make the decision and don’t go back on it

When someone is gaslighting you, of course, you’ll question your choice. But, believe that you’re right. Make your decision and be firm. [Read: How do narcissists end a relationship?]

2. Leave when they’re not around

If you live together, grab your things and leave when they’re at work or somewhere else. It will be far easier for you to get out when they’re not there to fire more gaslighting techniques at you.

Go and stay with a friend or family member. Speaking of which…

3. Reach out to your circle

If you isolated yourself from your friends and family, now is the time to reach out. They’ll be waiting for you, we promise. People who care about you will be desperate to help, whenever that call comes. [Read: 15 early signs of an abusive relationship that reveal a dark side]

And if you can’t rely on a close friend who lives nearby, you can also approach mental health professionals. 

After all, professional help and therapy can help you and guide you in the right direction, especially if you feel lost and confused right now and want to regain your ability to trust people again.

4. Block all contact

Your gaslighting partner won’t like the fact you’ve left them, so get ready for an onslaught of contact. The best way to protect yourself is to block it all. Social media, their number, everything – block it. [Read: How to beat a narcissist – ways to win over their manipulation]

5. Distract yourself

You’re going to have doubts, this is a breakup, even if it’s escaping from a gaslighting narcissist. So, distract your mind and focus on yourself. 

Do things you’ve never done before, spend time with friends, and keep your mind busy.

6. Give yourself time

There is no right or wrong amount of time it will take for you to feel better and to be able to move on. All you can do is give yourself all the time you need and heal in the best way possible. [Read: 30 secrets to get over someone you love fast and not give a damn anymore]

Learn to love and trust yourself again, and if you need to, reach out and speak to those around you. 

If you really feel you need extra help, which many victims of narcissistic abuse do, then reach out to a therapist to help you work through your thoughts and feelings.

Gaslighting is a severe and damaging control tactic that is designed to manipulate to the highest degree. Learn the signs of gaslighting, know what to do, and if it happens to you, know that it’s not your fault. [Read: What is the worst thing you can do to a narcissist to hurt them deeply?]

Sometimes, the people we love simply don’t turn out to be who we thought they were. That’s their issue, not yours.

When to seek help

As you know by now, gaslighting is abuse. So, you should never put up with it if at all possible. However, a lot of victims aren’t exactly sure how to do it all by themselves.

As soon as you recognize that you’re being gaslit, then you should try to put a stop to it right then and there. But if you can’t do it by yourself, then you should seek help from a therapist. [Read: Relationship therapy – 25 clues to know if it’ll help your romance]

Seeing a trained professional will help you put things into perspective and also gain some skills to either put an end to it or the strength to end the relationship.

Final thoughts

Being gaslighted is a horrible form of abuse. It is the way a narcissist keeps you in line by throwing water on the fire every time you threaten them. [Read: How to get out of an abusive relationship – a step-by-step guide]

It is a tool to make you stop second-guessing them. The worst part – it works. Before you know it, you are left bottomed out, insecure, slightly scared, and learning to keep quiet.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, being gaslighted isn’t the only thing that a narcissist does to keep you in line. Likely, it isn’t even the worst thing they do.

If you wake up one day wondering what has become of the person you used to be, then we hate to tell you, but you know the answer.

[Read: The games narcissists play to suck you back in]

What is gaslighting – abuse, nothing less. And now that you know the signs and examples of someone who has been gaslit, you should also know that it won’t stop until you break free.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...