Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where the victim is made to doubt their thoughts, action, judgement and memories. Gaslighting in any relationship is a sign that it is toxic and abusive and you need to break free from it.
A suspense film released in 1940 titled ‘Gaslight’, shows how a manipulative husband tries to make his wife into believing that she is losing her mind by making subtle changes in the environment. Not only that but he also abuses and controls her by cutting her off from family and friends.
As a result of this the wife is constantly second guessing herself, her feelings, memories, perceptions, judgement. Gradually she started feeling neurotic, hyper-sensitive and out-of-control. This is what a gaslighter targets, to make the victim feeling-off kilter and unsure of what is true and what isn’t.
Signs of Gaslighting in a relationship
According to Robin Stern, PhD, Associate Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and author of "The Gaslight Effect," following signs show that you are a victim of gaslight.
- Self doubt: You start doubting yourself, your reactions and emotions and try to convince yourself that maybe things aren’t that bad and you are overreacting.
- Second guess everything: You second guess everything and start doubting your judgement and perceptions. You are afraid of speaking up or expressing your emotions. You have learned that sharing your opinion usually makes you feel worse in the end. So you stay silent instead.
- Feeling Vulnerable and Insecure: You feel vulnerable and insecure all the time. It feels like walking on a eggshell around that person. You feel on edge.
- Feeling Alone and Not being Understood: You feel alone and think people don’t understand you. Sometimes you even start believing their perception of you which might make you feel trapped and isolated.
- Self-loathing/disappointment: You start hating yourself, the person you have become. You become disappointed with yourself and feel weak and passive.
- Sense of impending doom: Whenever you are around your partner you feel like something wrong is going to happen. This may include feeling threatened and on edge without knowing why.
- You spend a lot of time apologizing: You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.
- Feeling inadequate: You feel like you are never “good enough". You try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable.
- Struggle to make decisions: You struggle to make decisions because you don’t trust yourself and your judgement. You would rather allow your partner/friend/family member to make decisions for you, or avoid decision-making altogether.
- Hiding information from family: You hide information about your partners from your family to avoid avoid confrontation about your partner
- Not enjoying life and things that make you happy: you start feeling hopeless and nothing in life interests you take little or no pleasure in activities you used to enjoy.