What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation a narcissist uses to make you doubt your sanity.
It’s hard to see if you’re a victim of gaslighting. It happens so slowly, and it’s mixed up with moments that the narcissist is making you feel special.
Examples of gaslighting are:
They deny they ever said something, even if you have proof.
You are sure they promised something, but according to them, it never happened. It can make you doubt yourself. ‘Did I remember this wrong?’ My narcissist once told me that his wife beat him. When I brought it up later, he said he never told me that, and my active imagination must have made it up.
They use your weakness against you
You remember that night you got cozy with your narcissist? He told you that you could trust him and you decided to tell him about something personal? He will use that as ammunition against you, to make you feel like something is your fault, hurt you or control you. I told the narcissist about my traumatic past. He would often bring it up in conversations. ‘OMG you are so sensitive, you should see a therapist’ ‘I’m not your dad, I’m a good person.’
They talk the talk but never walk the walk.
Narcissists talk ALOT; they promise ALOT. Anything to get what they want. Nothing is sacred to them. But you rarely see any action. It’s maddening; they keep you hoping, believing. But in the end, it never happens. You end up doubting your self-worth. Mine used to say ‘I never promise anything unless I can make good on it.’ Of course, he never did anything he promised.
Once in a while, especially at the start of the relationship. They will shower you with compliments. ‘I didn’t sleep all night because I was thinking of you,’ ‘ You are so freaking special to me.’ ‘Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes?’. This is especially confusing. Yesterday you were sensitive, and today you are freaking special? It makes you work even harder for the narcissists’ approval. You wonder if this person isn’t as bad as you think he is. Even though these compliments give you a boost, it suits the narcissist. As long as you aren’t sure that this person is terrible, you will stay, providing the narcissist what he or she wants an endless supply of attention to boost their ego.
‘You are insane,’ says the cheating, manipulating, lying narcissist. They project their bad behavior on you. It’s easier to shift the blame on another person than dealing with their shortcomings.
Telling others, you are crazy or sensitive, or saying that other people agree with him. It makes you doubt yourself. ‘If others agree with them, he must be right.’ You feel like other people won’t believe you if you tell them about the manipulation. ‘Everyone else thinks he’s great so it must be me,’ and you end up staying with the narcissist.
I was gaslighted for months. I didn’t realize it until after the relationship. I honestly thought I was crazy and sensitive. I would apologize to the narcissist, begging him to forgive me for things that I wasn’t to blame for. I thought I was a horrible person and I made his life hard. I know now that it was his way to control me. As long as I would doubt myself and he could make me feel better again. I wasn’t going anywhere.
Gaslighting is a very effective tactic for the narcissist. You are slowly being brainwashed. If you think that this is happening to you and you are afraid to talk about it with family or friends, seek professional help. A psychologist can help you see things clearly and get away from the situation.