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What is Gaslighting in a Relationship? 10 Subtle Signs!


Every relationship is different, including the way we behave in them. One trend that is making the rounds in the relationship and dating world is called gaslighting. What is it, though? 

What is Gaslighting in a Relationship? 

Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt his/her thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them. A victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their sanity.

Gaslighting is a kind of emotional abuse. The person who performs gaslighting, also called the gaslighter, starts to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual’s mind, making them question their ability and perception. Essentially, they will deny what they have seen with their own eyes even though they know it is true. Gaslighting may not always be successful. It depends upon the power in the relationship. If some of them hold all the power in the relationship they are far more likely to be successful in gaslighting.

It comes down to how the victim perceives the person gaslighting them. Do they rely on those individuals? Do they respect those individuals? Are they clinging to this relationship? It depends on the person. It is generally a gaslighting abuser that makes the victim feel that their feelings are unreal or invalid.

People who engage in gaslighting victims are narcissistic and want to control the abused. Abusers are highly intelligent and always extremely manipulative. The abusers are way more tricky as they may not always be rude or cruel to the abused. Gaslighting can be learned from family, friends, and media. It means you are manipulating someone in a relationship and tricking them into thinking that they are going mad.


Let’s take a look at the 10 subtle signs to know whether you have or are being gaslighted. Remember, this is something that can be done by anyone close to you- that could be your friend, your partner, your husband or wife, really anyone with whom you spend significant time can gaslight you.

 10 Subtle signs of gaslighting

1. Withholding      

The most toxic emotional abuse is withholding. It is someone who refuses to listen to someone or pretends they don’t understand that. So for example a person might say “ I don’t have time to listen to you” or “ You are not making any sense here”. Withholding tends to work as this is a human tendency to seek approval. When people withhold affection or approval, it hurts. After all, no one likes to be rejected by a person with whom you want to be.                                   

Withholding makes the person feel as if they are isolated, ignored or useless or unseen or no more important and they don’t have any right to their own lives. It is so damaging that the victim cannot do anything to come out of this. The only option is to leave the situation the way it is or rid themselves of the abuser.withholding

2. You are being frequently lied to                                                                                                                                          

Gaslighters even lie to you and lie to others about you. They will tell you the incidents that never happen. Why do they do this? Why do they lie, deny or deflect responsibilities? Why do they twist the words and destroy the truth and engage in all this crazy-making? In one word- control. There is something about you that’s making them uncomfortable. People who engage in gaslighting are habitual or pathological liars.

So if you don’t trust your memory and if you often wonder if something that you think happened did happen. They will never change their stories and never accept their mistake of lying. Even if you know that they are lying, they will be more convincing. And at the end, you will start to second-guess yourself.

3. You may feel threatened 

You may feel threatened or on an edge around the person who gaslighting you. So you are not aware that they are doing something emotionally or psychologically manipulative. But you have to notice yourself feeling tense around them and feel something uncomfortable or odd with them. When you are with them, something feels just awful but you cannot put a finger on it. You often feel like you “walk on eggshells.” The main goal is to change someone, not just by their behavior. This will degrade your self-esteem and will damage your trust in yourself and your experience in reality. Even a single incident can destroy everything between the victim and the gaslighting abuser.threatens you

4. You often have to apologize first                                                                                                                                           

You often feel like you are the one who needs to apologize and take responsibility for most things, not everything. You often feel that everything is your fault. Whenever something doesn’t go right or doesn’t go as per the plan or someone is upset you feel that it is all your fault. And this happens it’s alright. But that’s different than always feeling our faults.

It is a different saying that “I take the responsibility for this part” and oh my gosh! I am such a bad person. It’s all my fault. Everything I do is wrong or bad and it’s just all on me.” They would also say that you could be a good or worthy person if you don’t have a long list of negative traits. And this will make you question our morality and sanity.apologize

5. You often feel to try to make everyone happy                                                                                                                 

You often find yourself trying so hard to make people happy. So this is not about wanting other people to feel good, caring, loving, generous, or thoughtful towards other people. This is often the time when you feel stressed or anxious and overwhelmed and try to make sure that everybody is happy all the time. Maybe it even feels like it was your fault if people aren’t having a great time. Probably, this is the gaslighter at play!

6. Your self-esteem is much lower since you have been around them                                                                            

You often find it hard to trust your judgments and you seek other people to give you answers. You feel almost paralyzed when it comes to making decisions. You feel like you often cannot make your own decisions and you need other people to tell you what to do. And sometimes you involve the third person to tell you “This is the right option. You should do this”. So you don’t have any trust in your judgments. You don’t trust your wants, needs, or preferences. And you trust yourself in many big ways. But it’s not really you, it’s them making you think like that!

 7. You become depressed                                                                                                                                                         

It is not only when you are around that person that you feel uncomfortable or uneasy but maybe even in general you feel scared, on the edge, or just kind of anxious, but can’t pinpoint why. It may be a general sense of uneasiness, often or maybe even a lot or most of the time. Something doesn’t feel right and it is because you have been psychologically manipulated in these ways that you feel imbalanced. And it is not damaged beyond repair but it is something that needs to be done or looked out into immediately so you know “It’s not you”.

Nothing is wrong with you and neither are you broken. There are chances that you have been psychologically or emotionally abused at some point in your life. Maybe it’s because someone is gaslighting you, but YOU ARE NOT BROKEN.

8. You question and doubt yourself                                                                                                                                        

You probably feel that you’re a much weaker version of yourself than when you used to be a lot stronger and more confident. What happened on the way? You cannot reflect on who you were before. You feel small, weak, and shallow. Where did that go? What happened? Maybe, someone was gaslighting you.

9. Their actions do not match their words                                                                                                                           

Why can’t people be real from the start? If the person’s actions and words do not match means they are disconnected from their thinking, which is reflected in their words and actions. When the person talks but fails to act is called a chat line said over and over again. When it comes time to back up their words with action, their behavior will reveal their deeper truth. It probably seems that their actions are louder and more clear than their words.words don't match action

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy                                                                                                                         

This is one of the most effective tools of a gaslighter. They won’t understand you or your thoughts. Even if you are right they will prove you wrong and insult you and title you insane. It is because they hate debating certain issues if your opinion differs from theirs. It’s much easier for them to call you crazy. But who cares? All this means is that you are strong and independent.


So are you being gaslighted in your relationship? Is there someone in your life who treats you as if you are not valuable and who often ignores you? Stop and try to say “NO”. You having a really strong sense of self and building your confidence is also a really good way. Trust your gut and your instincts when it comes to this to avoid the abuse that could be happening to you.

At the end of the day, we can’t expect any kind of victim to be responsible for it. But they can spring right back into action by seeking support and building on self-confidence. You have to see the gaslighting. Gaslighters will never accept their unintentional gaslighting habits. You have to recognize it for what it is and hold on to reality and your own opinions even if you don’t feel strong.

Hold onto reality; do not let go fast and essentially walk away from this relationship if you see these gaslighting signs. Don’t try to argue your point. That’s never going to work here. A gaslighter will not understand your feelings, at least not at that moment. So leave it to them and move on.

If you feel you are being gaslighted by someone, write in the comment section below so we can discuss it. Hit the like button and subscribe to our page for more updates.

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Hemali Adhiya

Hemali Adhiya is the co-founder and author of the e-magazine Love Smitten. Alongside writing and editing for several other websites, she hosts a YouTube Channel- Total Angrezi. Traveling is her way to unwind, and she loves recording these experiences!

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