Do you feel you’re going nuts? Are you repeatedly doubting yourself? Do you feel minimized all the time? If you feel you and your emotions are getting crushed by your partner, then you may be a victim of gaslighting.
If you are (or were) married to a narcissist, then you may be familiar with the term, “gaslighting.” It is the narcissist’s masterful manipulation technique to gain control over you. As your relationship begins to weaken, he carefully causes you slight anxiety or confusion. But as the relationship worsens, he punitively devalues you, and you thereby question your mental sanity.
The extreme or long term gaslighting can ultimately lead you to have a distorted sense of reality—not knowing who is right or wrong, feeling guilty for being the person you are, and losing any remaining self-confidence.
Gaslighting is an extremely dangerous form of emotional abuse, as it causes the narcissist’s victim to question her judgment, on even the smallest issues, thereby making her dependent on him. If, for example, she is repeatedly told that she is bad with money, she will begin to believe it and think that without her narcissist by her side, she will be financially ruined.
The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1944 film, ‘Gaslight,’ where a young woman named Paula falls madly in love with her suitor, Gregory. After an intense romance that led to marriage, Gregory begins to display pathological narcissistic behavior, leading to Paula’s insanity. In one scene, Gregory tampers with the gaslight in the attic, causing the house lights to dim. When Paula mentions hearing footsteps in the attic and the lights dimming, Gregory tells her it’s completely her imagination, making Paula question her judgment. Gaslighting is now the widely used term for when a narcissist truly messes with your head.
Depending on the stage of your narcissistic relationship, gaslighting at first appears to be subtle, but then gradually worsens. Below are the signs you are a victim of gaslighting, in order in which they may occur.
This list illustrates that as the relationship declines, so does your mental clarity and grasp of reality and truth.
7 Warning Signs He’s Psychologically Manipulating You
1) You become addicted to his grandiosity
And because you likely had low self-esteem before you met him, the joy you feel can only occur when you are with him, thus making you dependent on him.
When your whirlwind romance is at its peak, you have intense feelings of euphoria—you are almost in a drunken dance with his charm and abundant attention. Your brain releases endorphins, sending you in a complete state of intoxication. And because you likely had low self-esteem before you met him, the joy you feel can only occur when you are with him, thus making you dependent on him. Before you know it, you are addicted to your narcissist.
2) You see red flags but you can’t pinpoint the problem
As your narcissist becomes bored with you, his attention begins to dwindle and he searches for new supply. He may discreetly put you down, saying you’re “needy” or “overly sensitive.” His once empathetic affection for you has now turned to apathy, and this sudden change leaves you in a foggy state of confusion. You can’t pinpoint the problem, so you think something is wrong with you, and you do everything you can to fix it.
3) When you no longer have his attention, you actually experience withdrawal
Because you are addicted to him, and no longer getting your “fix,” you experience intense anxiety. Withdrawal from him may lead you to become fixated by his every action, wondering what he is doing, trying to please him, and obsessing on how to save the relationship. Your addiction, however, only causes him disgust, despite the fact that he dispensed you the enslaving elixir.
4) You are ignored, then attended to, but then ignored again, so you lower the bar for yourself
While a narcissist may emotionally discard you, he will still keep you around for when supply is low.
Now that you no longer have your full fix, you will take what you can get. While a narcissist may emotionally discard you, he will still keep you around for when supply is low. So he may give you a glimpse of affection here and there, giving you hope that he is coming back to you. This further declines your self-esteem, however, making you think you are only worth sub-par affection.