Psychological abuse comes in many forms. Gaslighting describes a type of manipulating someone. Generally, it happens when one partner makes the other feel delusional. Anything a friend or lover does that makes you question your perception of reality falls into this category.
Sadly, many people don’t realize they’re being abused until years after suffering emotional damage. You often hear of people carrying baggage from their past. When you’ve been a victim of gaslighting, the past can haunt your present and future.
Twelve Common Signs of Chronic Gaslighting
Ironically, gaslighting in a romantic relationship is much more commonplace than you might imagine. Manipulators want to change your memories, sanity, or judgment, and there are some alarming signs to consider. One of the main issues with gaslighting is that it can become chronic, explains Dr. Michelle Riba, who collaborates with The University of Michigan’s Psychiatry Department.
She further states that going through these intense manipulations can cause depression and anxiety, along with other mental health concerns. Since mistreatment can take many forms, here are the most common indicators that you’re experiencing gaslighting.
1. Gaslighting Often Means Criticizing and Undermining
Toxic manipulators want to undermine you to destroy your confidence. Your children are a big part of your identity and passion in life. Narcissists want you to feel you’re failing at parenting so that they will cut you down with verbal tirades. They will destroy your self-esteem and make you think you’re failing at the most important thing.
2. Manipulating Includes Reputation Discrediting
The manipulator wants to make themselves look like a creditable source so that they will demean you. Gaslighting commonly involves tactics where you tell lies and spread gossip about the person so that it shows you as emotionally unstable.
If manipulating you means they must make it appear that you’ve lost your mind, they won’t think twice about it. Once they spread lies about you, they will tell you that others say you’re crazy, a liar, or unbalanced. They want to isolate you so that you have no one to trust but them.
3. Using Bias
Manipulating through radical gaslighting is another form of emotional abuse commonly used. The toxic person will seek out anything about you that stands out from the crowd and makes you different. They might use your race, gender, nationality, religion, or age group to carry out their manipulations.
It’s not uncommon to see these actions in professional relationships too. For instance, if a man is uncomfortable with a female boss, he might try to undermine her to other employees to make her look irrational or delusional because of her gender.
4. Persistent Lying Is a Sneaky Way of Manipulating Others
You can’t believe a word that comes out of the mouth of manipulators, as they are habitual liars. They can look you right in the eye and tell a story you would never question. The problem is that their deceptions are a part of the foundation they’re using for the continued abuse.
You might believe they’re being dishonest, but they will turn it around and somehow find a way to convince you otherwise. Additionally, you may start second-guessing your gut instincts and judgment as they can tell you anything, and you believe them.
5. Alienation Underlies Gaslighting
Remember that the primary goal of manipulators is to get you by yourself where they can help you see things their way. Manipulating you means taking you away from the people you love. They want to remove any outside influence from your life, as these folks will likely see through their scheme.
Manipulators get upset when you go out with family or friends. They fear moments when you’re out of their control because someone might become wise to their unhealthy ways. The more people in your life, the probability of trouble increases.
So, to avoid having their tactics called into question, they become very jealous and want to alienate you from the outside world.
6. Questioning Memories
Manipulating you so that you question your memories is a common tactic. The scheme makes you doubt your recollection, as they will tell you that you’ve recently been tired, confused, or forgotten a lot.
Anytime you question their actions or words, they will counter to dismiss your claims. Of all the manipulation techniques used, this one is the most convincing.
7. Constant Denial and Gaslighting Go Together
Psychological manipulators are infamous for denying their insensitive actions. These toxic people always have a rebuttal for everything. They are like football players because they become offensive when you get defensive. They pretend they forget a lot, as it helps to further their scheme.
The goal is for you to question events, circumstances, or other memories. They want you to see things through their skewed lens, so the more they can make you question your reality, the better. When you suffer from long-term invalidation, you will find that your baggage from this relationship becomes a cumbersome burden.
Thus, moving on without them, or finding someone new, becomes challenging. Trust issues are commonplace, and it puts a bitter taste in your mouth regarding future relationships.
8. Love/Hate Relationship Tactics
Toxic manipulations can be all over the board. For instance, one day, you’re being put down and told that you’re worthless, but the next day you’re being showered with praise. It’s a constant emotional roller coaster because you never know what will happen from one day to the next.
Gaslighting is a scheme, so if the manipulator feels they’re coming on too strong and you might leave, they will pull back. Additionally, a person who alternates back and forth between tearing you down and building you up is shaking your mental stability.
Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking they’re genuine when complimenting you, as there’s another motive.
9. Disregarding Emotions
You’ve had a bad day at work. Everything that could go wrong did, and now you’re at home sobbing. Rather than being a supportive partner, your spouse laughs and calls you a crybaby. They state that you can’t handle the pressure because you’re weak.
They tell you you’re too sensitive and overreacting to the situation. Manipulators want to trivialize your emotions as it gives them a feeling of power. Not only are they ignoring your feelings, but they’re accusing you of blowing things out of proportion.
In a healthy relationship, your partner would listen to you, let you cry on their shoulder, and sympathize with your bad day. However, when you’re dealing with a toxic person who loves manipulating you, they want to make you doubt your sanity. When they’re done with their verbal tirade, you will doubt yourself.
10. Playing Mind Games and Manipulating are The Same Thing
Toxic manipulations can include many games, and the silent treatment is often used. These series of tricks are to gain control. They might withhold affection from you or give you the cold shoulder.
In an intimate relationship, it’s easy to make the person feel insecure or insufficient when they’re not hugged or kissed anymore. While gaslighting is most discussed in romantic relationships, it can also occur in the workplace.
11. Gaslighting Means Blame Shifting
Some people refuse to take the blame for anything. Even if they’re caught red-handed doing something, they will still find a way to turn it around on someone else. If you grew up with siblings, you probably used this tactic a time or two in manipulating your way out of trouble.
For instance, your parents were upset because the bedroom was a mess. Rather than take the blame, you implicated your sibling in the disaster. Though that’s a benign example, it illustrates how easily this can happen.
It becomes a chronic headache when dealing with these manipulations because this person will never take responsibility. Narcissistic deflection often uses finger-pointing to keep the heat off them.
12. Twisting Reality
Toxic narcissists are good at twisting or manipulating the story to make it fit. When you confront these people about something they said or did, they will make you believe that your memory is failing. They may also blame someone else, saying you were wrongly informed.
A typical scenario would be that your partner pushed you down, and you hit your head during an argument. They won’t see things your way when you want to talk about the incident. They might see you as tripping over something or falling on your own. What makes these folks more believable is that they can look you right in the eye and lie without flinching, as they’ve become masters at manipulations.
Final Thoughts on How to Identify Chronic Gaslighting
There are many social dynamics of gaslighting, and the University of Michigan is conducting a study devoted to understanding this psychological phenomenon. It’s sometimes called “crazy-making” because one person tries to convince and doubt the other person’s sanity by using manipulations. If you notice any of the signs of this abuse, get out and get help!