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5 Warning Signs of Gaslighting In A Marriage Or Relationship

While the term gaslighting may be unfamiliar to you, its description and detrimental impact on relationships might not be. Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic aimed at gaining control over someone by making them doubt their own reality. This often leads the victim to question their perceptions rather than the motives and behaviors of the gaslighter. Our experienced family lawyers at Sullivan Law & Associates are all too familiar with this and can give you a comprehensive understanding of gaslighting and offer guidance on recognizing it within your own relationship or that of someone close to you.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a manipulative technique aimed at controlling someone by discrediting their perception of reality. This method involves Partner B consistently dismissing and belittling Partner A’s viewpoint, which erodes self-confidence and fosters insecurity over time.

Signs of gaslighting encompass persistent lying, denying occurrences despite proof, blaming the victim, manipulating their emotions, questioning their sanity, attempts at isolation, a refusal to apologize, and inducing doubt about their value in the relationship. Victims may not recognize the manipulation or may feel too intimidated to confront it, fearing they are merely overreacting.

Suppose you find yourself a target of gaslighting. In that case, it’s crucial to reach out to individuals you trust, collect evidence, understand that you are not to blame for your partner’s actions, refrain from engaging in futile arguments, affirm that the abuse is not your fault, and understand when it’s time to exit the relationship.

Distancing yourself from your partner is a vital step towards restoring your self-worth and diminishing self-doubt. Professional advice from a therapist or counselor can offer immense support. Exiting an abusive relationship is challenging, but an experienced divorce attorney can guide you through the legal and emotional hurdles involved. For talented legal assistance, contact Sullivan Law & Associates to book a consultation.

Signs You’re Experiencing Gaslighting in Your Relationship

There are many signs of gaslighting in marriages and relationships but there are five major signs of gaslighting that we often see. Here’s what to look out for and why.

1. They Cause You to Doubt Your Understanding of Reality

Gaslighting is significantly indicated by your partner’s denial of your perception of events, your self-view, your thoughts, your emotions, and your behavior. A major warning sign is the persistent sense that your observations, experiences, and feelings are deemed invalid, or that you didn’t actually perceive, experience, or feel them as you believed.

2. They Continuously and Flagrantly Deceive You

A spouse engaging in gaslighting crafts falsehoods to manipulate and assert control. If you suspect gaslighting from your partner, engaging in self-reflection with questions such as, “Does my partner frequently cause me to question my own perceptions and experiences? Do I catch them in lies?” is recommended.

3. They Erode Your Confidence by Dismantling Your Self-Esteem

To assert dominance and control, a gaslighter often exploits the insecurities of their victim. To ascertain whether your partner is systematically undermining you, consider whether their remarks are intended to cause you distress. Reflect on the nature of their criticism: Is it relentless and specifically targeted to degrade your self-esteem consistently?

4. They Try to Alienate You From People Who Care About You

Spouses who engage in gaslighting within their marriage or relationship typically aim to dominate the narrative. Their objective is to estrange these bonds by instigating conflict, seeking to isolate their partner, and fostering a dependency on themselves. Consequently, they attempt to weaken any robust connections their partner has with others, further solidifying their control.

5. They Deny Making Statements Despite Evidence to the Contrary

Gaslighting is designed to make the victim doubt their own perceptions and sanity. Typically, the gaslighter will negate their own words or actions, treating the victim as if they’re delusional. This tactic, often called “countering,” involves the gaslighter challenging the victim’s recollection of events, outright denying those events ever occurred, or feigning forgetfulness about them, even in the face of evidence. They will either devalue or manipulate the truth of your proof to suit their narrative.

Examples of Gaslighting in Relationships

Being immersed in a situation can often obscure the realization that you’re a victim of gaslighting. Here are key examples to watch out for, enhanced for better awareness and understanding.

Using “Love” as a Defense

When you encounter phrases like “I do it because I love you,” or “Trust me, this is for the best,” in situations that seem abusive, controlling, or simply wrong, it’s likely that you’re experiencing gaslighting. Gaslighters often masquerade their manipulation as love, implying that any disagreement with their actions or words is a sign of weak affection from your side. They might even sabotage your opportunities (like jobs or friendships) to maintain control over you, all under the guise of concern or love.

Allegations of Paranoia

A common strategy employed by gaslighters involves falsely accusing their victims of being paranoid, particularly in situations where a romantic partner is unfaithful. Instead of acknowledging their misconduct, gaslighters shift the blame to their partner. They might make statements such as, “Do you really think I’d cheat on you? You’re just feeling insecure,” or, “Why are you acting so paranoid? You know I’d never do that.” By labeling the victim as overly sensitive and jealous, the gaslighter aims to undermine their confidence in their own perceptions and instincts.

Constant Criticism or Disparagement

A gaslighter often resorts to verbal abuse to undermine their victim, aiming to trap them in the relationship. They might frequently use derogatory comments such as, “You know you’ll never find someone better than me,” or, “You’re terrible with money, which is why I need to handle our finances.” Their goal is to convince you that you’re unworthy or incapable without them, compelling you to stay. Insults like being labeled “dramatic,” “hysterical,” “ungrateful,” or “crazy” are tactics designed to make you doubt your own sanity.

How Gaslighting Impacts Divorce

Many individuals suffering from gaslighting hesitate to file for divorce, having been coerced into tolerating detrimental circumstances and led to believe they are incapable of independence. Often, it requires a significant episode of abuse or other extreme misconduct for a victim of gaslighting to pursue divorce. When they do take this step, they might not fight for their rightful share, having been subjected to an imbalanced power dynamic in the relationship for an extended period.

If you’re enduring gaslighting, securing a dedicated and strong divorce attorney is crucial to fervently protect your interests during the divorce process, despite any manipulative tactics from your spouse. Engaging a third-party advocate to handle communications with your spouse can be a pivotal move toward reclaiming your independence and self-esteem. Contact Sullivan Law & Associates today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.