5 Common Signs You’re Being
22nd August 2020
As seen in collaboration with
Gaslighting was named one of the most popular words in 2018 and it seems to be popping up in conversations ranging from politics to relationships. But what does it actually mean and how do you know when it’s happening to you?
In the context of a relationship, gaslighting is the act of undermining another person’s experience by manipulating or denying facts. At its core, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse as it is used to gain control and emotionally damage someone.
Let’s talk about some common signs that someone is gaslighting you:
They’re denying facts that have proof
Gaslighting is a powerful form of manipulation that challenges a person’s reality. A common sign to spot is the denial of a fact you know to be true, even with proof. An example of this could be:
You asked your partner to make the bed, which they hear, and then leave for work. When you arrive back home, you see the bed unmade and make it yourself. Your partner arrives home and you ask why they didn’t make the bed, to which they reply that they did. You counter back no, to which they insist they did make the bed and that you’re the one that is confused.
Common phrases might include: “You’re crazy!”, “You’re being paranoid” or even, “You’re making that up”.
They manipulate your feelings towards others
In a bid to try and gain further control, sometimes people who gaslight will try to turn you against others. Common tactics are telling blatant lies or gradually influencing you to stop hanging out with them. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about:
Your partner tells you that your close friend said something very disrespectful to them. When you ask your close friend about it, your friend denied they ever said that. Your partner then uses their denial as proof that they’re a bad person, influencing your opinion of them.
The issue escalates fast when they’re challenged
Often, when approached or confronted, people who gaslight others will get angry and defensive really fast. They will deny your feelings and the situation at hand. They may say things like this: “You’re hysterical”, “You are always so dramatic”, “You’re overreacting” or even call you names.
They hide your things from you
Sometimes people who gaslight will engineer a situation to gain immediate control or power over you. A common form of this type of gaslighting is if they begin to hide your things from you constantly. Again, gaslighting is a form of manipulation that changes your idea of reality. This type of manipulation comes in the form of confusion tactics, just like the first example we gave you. It might go a little something like this:
You’ve just come home and placed your phone down while you unpack groceries. When you go to find your phone, it’s not where you last left it. You ask your partner about it, to which they reply “You’ve lost your phone again?”. You ask if they moved it or took it, to which they angrily say “There you go again! You are so paranoid”.
They give you false hope
Another common sign of gaslighting is a period of high feelings of hope followed by the other signs we’ve talked through. Giving false hope is a manipulative tactic used to make you think that: “maybe things aren’t so bad after all”. People who use gaslighting often use false hope as a way to bring your guard down before they begin to tear you down again. Sometimes, it can be a way to solidify the co-dependency in your relationship.
If you recognise any of these common signs of gaslighting, we recommend you seek help outside of your relationship. A great place to start are friends, even if you’re not close with them anymore, or helplines such as e-headspace: 1800 650 890.
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