Gaslighting is a term you’re not as likely to be familiar with as you are its definition.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a loved one presents you with false information, insists it’s true, and thereby causes you to lose perception of reality over time — possibly even blaming yourself for their actions, along with problems in the relationship.
Gaslighting behaviors are most commonly perpetuated by partners in an attempt to cover up sexual infidelity, financial instability, or some other ongoing bad behavior.
One of the most disturbing things about gaslighting is that anyone can be a victim — regardless of intelligence or social status. Many times this is because the behavior tends to start slowly, with small lies and believable excuses.
“I’m sorry I got held up at work, babe.”
“Traffic was unbelievable. Must have been a wreck.”
Certainly, these are both real world things that can happen and that are probably true. But, in the case of someone who is “gaslighting”, these lies get bigger over time, and the excuses get flimsier.
If you’re worried about the possibility of gaslighting in your relationship, here are three questions you should ask yourself:
- If you question your significant other about where s/he was and what s/he was doing, does s/he flip the script, making the problem yours instead of hers/his?
- Does your partner cause you to feel as if you are emotionally and psychologically fragile, and that’s the reason you don’t fully trust her/him?
- Do you find yourself denying your instincts and your perception of reality because that’s the only way you can believe what your spouse tells you?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, there’s likely a problem in your relationship. And…it’s more than a little likely that you’re NOT the problem.
Our advice? Ask those closest to you that aren’t invested in the relationship on an intimate level what their take is from an outsider’s perspective.
Generally, these individuals are a lot more in touch with the reality of your relationship than you might expect. If they agree that betrayal and gaslighting are issues, take action. Break free of the cycle. And move on. Your future self will thank you.