If you have a gaslighting partner, you often feel uncomfortable, confused, and even crazy. That’s the point. Your gaslighter wants you to feel uncertain and crazy. That way you are positioned as someone in the wrong, who needs to defend him/herself all the time. You’re the person always trying to make things right. A people-pleaser, you can’t help thinking about the other person, not your own feelings or needs. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse.
Being gaslighted in a nutshell is being lied to all the time. When you are lied to, you can’t make any healthy decisions about your own life. You can’t grow up and be your own person. It’s hard, if not impossible to do anything on your own.
Your gaslighting partner’s goal is to gain control
A gaslighter lies to get you to do things you don’t want to do. It’s that simple. How do you know it’s happening? You know it’s happening because you’re off balance all the time. Something in your relationships isn’t right, but you can’t fix it no matter how hard you try. You can’t explain what’s wrong, argue or reason with your gaslighting partner, or boss or friend, or mother. Are you right or wrong; are you being fair are the things you worry about, not the facts.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation to gain control. The term comes from the 1944 movie Gaslight where a husband tried to drive his wife crazy. Gaslighting happening in other relationships, too. Bosses, brothers and sisters, parents and children can all be guilty of gaslighting.
Gaslighting works by altering your reality
We wrote a lot of articles about gaslighting as a destructive behavior in the family disease of addiction. Those with Substance or Alcohol Use Disorder (addiction) lie about their use to create an alternate reality about what’s happening. The whole family becomes involved. Users gaslight everyone around them to hide and disguise their destructive behavior, and it works to confuse family members and bosses who want to believe the best not the worst. Then the term gaslight entered the political arena and gaslighting went mainstream. Some of our politicians do it all the time to hide their true motives and actions.
Gaslighting is also a technique narcissists use. In narcissistic families there is a constant use of gaslighting to frighten and control. But what can you do about it? There may be a hundred reasons you’re afraid or reluctant to leave someone who gaslights you. The first step to change is accepting things won’t get better. If you absolutely know things won’t get better, you can start thinking about what you want for yourself. You don’t want to feel crazy, or alone, or abandoned emotionally, or always in the wrong, do you?
Leaving a gaslighting partner is a process
You need to go through all the steps of understanding who you are, why you made the choice you did, and the reasons you’re afraid to change. Change takes time. Don’t hate yourself if you need to process the steps for doing something different. Leaving is more, or less, difficult depending on your support system and your relationship to your gaslighter. Is it a boyfriend, a husband of many years, a wife you desperately want to love? And you may have real fear about physical abuse as well. If you are in danger, before you do anything else call the hotline.
Here are some things to think about to get ready to move on
- Don’t accept anyone’s lies as your reality.
- Rely on facts instead of stories about who’s to blame. Especially if the other person thinks you’re to blame. Get the facts.
- Don’t even think about arguing. There’s no way you can win in an argument with a manipulator.
- Stop listening to anger and hurt feelings. It doesn’t help the other person to vent to you, and only hurts you to listen.
- Your actions can be guided by the truth, your feelings, and what’s right for you.
You will be able to take the step and move on when you trust yourself.