What are some subtle signs of gaslighting? Are you being gaslighted in your relationship? How to notice toxic manipulation and deal with it?
Subtle Gaslighting—a term you might have heard tossed around in conversations about toxic relationships and psychological manipulation!
But have you ever found yourself in a gaslighting situation where something just didn’t feel right, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it?
Maybe you’ve found yourself questioning your memory or even your sanity after interacting with a certain someone. If this sounds all too familiar, you might be experiencing some of the subtle signs of gaslighting – and it’s more common than you might think.
Related Article: Why an addict can’t love you?
In today’s article we’ll discuss:
- What is gaslighting?
- 25 Subtle signs of gaslighting!
- Am I being gaslighted?
- Why do people gaslight others?
- How to react if you’re being gaslighted?
- Seeking help.
So, let’s get started and uncover the evil in disguise, gaslighting!
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting refers to a manipulative tactic used by narcissistic people to make others doubt their own reality, feel confused about their decisions, and lose their sanity!
Let’s try to understand this with a few mild gaslighting examples!
– When you express your feelings—
You: “It hurt when you made fun of me in front of our friends.”
Gaslighter: “Oh, come on! You’re just being too sensitive. It was just a harmless joke, don’t take things so seriously!”
– Questioning your memory—
You: “I remember we agreed to meet at 7 PM.”
Gaslighter: “No way! We never discussed that. You must be mistaken. Maybe you need to start writing things down.”
– Twisting the truth—
You: “You said you’d do the dishes tonight.”
Gaslighter: “I never said that. You must have misunderstood me. I always do the dishes; you just don’t pay attention.”
– Denying past actions—
You: “You promised we’d spend more time together.”
Gaslighter: “I didn’t promise any such thing. You must have dreamt it or imagined it. Stop making things up.”
– Playing the victim—
You: “I felt hurt when you canceled our plans last minute.”
Gaslighter: “I can’t believe you’re trying to make me feel bad about this. I had a terrible day, and now you’re attacking me?”
– Blaming you for their behavior—
You: “I don’t appreciate being yelled at like that.”
Gaslighter: “Well, if you didn’t make me so angry, I wouldn’t lose control. It’s your fault, really.”
– Minimizing your emotions—
You: “I’m really upset about what you said.”
Gaslighter: “Why are you overreacting? It was just a harmless comment. You’re blowing things out of proportion.”
– Using sarcasm and belittling remarks—
You: “I’d like it if we could communicate more.”
Gaslighter: “Oh, of course, Your Highness! I shall bow down to your every communication need!”
– Gaslighting by omission—
You: “Did you forget to pay the rent this month?”
Gaslighter: ignores the question entirely.
All these examples of gaslighting tell a story about how gaslighters manipulate others and get out of their wrongdoings smoothly!
They even save themselves from being accused of their mistakes and simply become a victim in every situation.
This kind of manipulation can harm your self-esteem and well-being. It can affect you in personal ways, like your confidence level may go down, you may feel helpless and mentally weak!
So, if you’re being gaslighted by someone, you at least need to know! Because gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that makes a person question reality. This (?) feeling makes it more difficult to even know if you’re being gaslighted or not!
Related Article: 3 Types of men have affairs!
Subtle Signs of Gaslighting to Watch Out For!
Gaslighting is a real and serious issue that can harm your self-esteem, confidence, and emotional state. The worst part, it can be so subtle that a victim may not even realize that they are being manipulated.
But if you have figured it out and feel that something is wrong with the way a certain person treats you, you are one step out of the toxicity.
You may now learn about the subtle signs of gaslighting and how you can be safe from such manipulation. Let’s move forward and discuss 25 subtle signs of gaslighting you must be aware of!
We will share a few gaslight meaning examples with each sign for you to understand what you might be going through and relate to these subtle signs of gaslighting.
1. Twisting the truth
If someone is gaslighting you, they will always deny doing bad things even when you have proof of them doing it.
They’ll manipulate you to think what you’re saying is untrue and that you always blame them for nothing!
– You: “I was hurt when you didn’t invite me to the party.”
Gaslighter: “What are you talking about? I definitely invited you! You must have forgotten.”
– You: “You said you’d help me with this project.”
Gaslighter: “I never said that. I have my own stuff to do. Stop trying to make me responsible for your problems.”
Related Article: How to end a toxic relationship?
2. The Blame Game
One of the go-to gaslighter tactics is that they pass the blame for their wrongdoings over your shoulder and then criticize you for it.
Or they may use some non-relevant circumstances as an excuse for their hurtful comments. Below are some examples of gaslighting someone:
– You: “You made a mistake on this report.”
Gaslighter: “It’s because you distracted me with your constant demands. You never let me focus!”
– You: “You were really rude to our friends last night.”
Gaslighter: “You know how stressed I am at work! My emotions got the better of me, and you’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
3. Memory Manipulation
By indirectly contradicting your memories, they play with your mind and this is something that happens the most in gaslighting!
– You: “I remember you complimenting my cooking yesterday.”
Gaslighter: “Oh, come on, it was just average at best. I never said it was great.”
– You: “Why are you late? You said you’d pick me up at 7 PM.”
Gaslighter: “I said 8 PM; you always hear the wrong things.”
This is a wake-up call for people who have Alzheimer’s disease. Gaslighters can take advantage of you. So, if you see these signs someone is gaslighting you, make sure you confront them!
Related Article: True love is when he ignores you!
4. Creating doubt and confusion
As I said, manipulators try to mess with your mind. They create an environment where you start doubting yourself, which makes it hard for you to trust your own judgment.
They’ll bring up fake stories, outright lies, and twisted matters so that you’ll start doubting yourself. Moreover, they will judge you, constantly put you down, and leave you confused.
– You: “Can we talk about what happened last night?”
Gaslighter: “What do you mean? I have no idea what you’re referring to.”
By creating such confusion, gaslighters try to make you have less authority over your own conscience! This is a gaslight example you must keep an eye out for!
5. The Guilt Trip
Imagine: you express your tiniest bit of desires or needs, and suddenly, you feel like you’re carrying an emotional backpack full of guilt!
This subtle form of manipulation is known as “the guilt trip.” When someone uses guilt as a weapon, they aim to make you feel bad for standing up for yourself or simply expressing your feelings.
– In this sign, you may notice frequent use of phrases like, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me,” or “After all I’ve done for you…”
– They make you feel selfish for wanting something for yourself or asserting your boundaries. You feel a lingering sense of obligation to keep them happy, even if it comes at your expense!
– Whenever you disagree or assert your independence, they react with disappointment or sadness.
Carrying this emotional backpack can be exhausting and emotionally draining. Over time, you may find yourself suppressing your own needs and desires to avoid feeling guilty.
It erodes your self-confidence and keeps you locked in a cycle of catering to their wishes, neglecting your own well-being. This is one of the signs you are being gaslighted.
6. Downplaying Your Feelings
Ever had the experience of opening up about your feelings, only to have them brushed off as unimportant or entirely neglected?
That’s a classic example of “downplaying your feelings,” one of the subtle yet hurtful signs of gaslighting in a relationship. People use such tricks to dismiss your emotions!
– They respond to your feelings with phrases like, “It’s not a big deal,” or “You’re being too sensitive.”
– When you express hurt or disappointment, they might say, “You should toughen up” or “Stop being so dramatic.”
Your emotions are met with indifference or even laughter, making you feel invalidated. They change the subject or ignore your feelings altogether, avoiding any meaningful discussion!
7. Confusing Compliments
Receiving compliments should feel good, right? Well, not always!
In the world of gaslighting, there’s a sneaky trick known as “backhanded compliments.” These seemingly positive remarks are subtly laced with criticism, leaving you feeling unsure about their true intentions.
They say something that sounds nice on the surface but has a hidden sting or insult!
– Compliments are followed by phrases like, “for someone like you” or “considering your abilities.”
– They praise you in front of others but later criticize the same thing in private.
– The compliments often focus on your appearance, intelligence, or skills, and how they compare you to others.
Be aware of the subtle criticism within the compliments and trust your instincts. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you’re unsure about their intentions.
If they try to pass off their remarks as jokes, address your feelings calmly and express how such comments make you feel.
8. Withholding Affection
In healthy relationships, affection is freely given as a natural expression of love and care. However, in the context of gaslighting, some individuals use affection as a manipulative tool to control their behavior!
This tactic involves giving or withdrawing love and intimacy to reward or punish you!
– They shower you with affection, attention, and love when you comply with their wishes or do something they approve of.
– If you assert your independence or disagree with them, they suddenly become distant and withdraw affection.
– Withholding physical intimacy or emotional support becomes a way to make you feel guilty or to coerce you into doing what they want.
– They may give affection or attention to others to make you feel jealous or neglected.
Related Article: Am I overthinking or is he losing interest?
9. Double Standards
Have you ever felt inequality in your connection with someone?
It’s when someone holds you to a set of rules or expectations they themselves refuse to follow. This inconsistency can leave you feeling frustrated, confused, and questioning the fairness of the relationship.
– If you make a mistake, they may criticize and hold it against you, but if they make a similar error, they expect you to forgive and forget.
– They have a sense of entitlement, believing they have the right to do things that they would not tolerate from you.
In such an unequal environment, you might feel like you’re walking on eggshells, trying to meet their expectations while knowing they won’t do the same for you.
Over time, this can lead to resentment and a growing imbalance of power in the relationship!
Related Article: Mindset of a cheating man.
10. Isolation from support
Gaslighters may keep you away from your supporters or your lovers. Like if you are close to your family or some people and the manipulator knows they’re good for you, they will ask you to keep a distance from them.
Manipulator will make sure that you’re away from your supporters. They will not allow you to go out with them, meet them, or see them in their absence.
11. Changing the subject or avoiding discussions
Whenever you try to bring up any underlying issues in the relationship or confront them about certain mistakes that they’ve made, they change the topic.
Remember that people who avoid discussions when they know they’re wrong are big-time manipulators. So if a person avoids honest conversations, it’s a sign that he/she is a gaslighter!
12. Love Bombing Cycles
Love-bombing is like a whirlwind romance, where someone showers you with an overwhelming amount of affection, compliments, and attention, making you feel like you’re on cloud nine!
However, this seemingly perfect phase doesn’t last. In gaslighting dynamics, love-bombing is often used as a manipulative tactic to keep you off-balance and emotionally dependent.
– They come on very strong in the beginning, declaring their undying love and admiration for you.
– Once you’re emotionally invested, they start withdrawing affection, becoming distant and unresponsive.
Love-bombing cycles can create a sense of addiction to the highs of affection and validation. It can also leave you emotionally reliant on their attention.
Try to recognize this pattern and don’t ignore the red flags!
13. Mocking and Belittling
In a healthy relationship, humor is meant to bring joy and lightness. However, when humor turns into mockery and belittlement, it becomes a harmful tool for gaslighting!
Mocking and belittling involves making fun of your opinions, achievements, or vulnerabilities to lower your confidence and self-esteem.
Let’s understand this with some examples:
– “Oh, you got a promotion? Congrats on becoming the office coffee-runner!”
– “You seriously believe that? Ha, good luck with your ‘brilliant’ idea!”
– “Here comes Miss Perfect, who can do no wrong. Oh, please enlighten us with your greatness!” ‘
This kind of mockery can make you feel lower in class as compared to others even when you do your best in life!
14. Playing Innocent
Ever confronted someone about their hurtful behavior, only to be met with a blank expression and a statement like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about”?
That’s “playing innocent” – a classic manipulative tactic where the person acts as if they are clueless about their wrongdoings or your feelings. They pretend like they aren’t aware of what they did wrong or why they are being confronted.
– Faking Ignorance: “I don’t understand why you’re upset. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
– Pretending Forgetfulness: “I genuinely don’t recall saying that. Are you sure you’re not making it up?”
– Minimizing Impact: “It was just a joke. You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
Playing innocent deceitful is a manipulator’s tactic to keep your emotional outbursts in control. They entirely neglect their negative actions and pretend as if the real problem is in you!
15. Gaslighting Amnesia
Gaslighting amnesia is a distressing experience where someone denies any gaslighting behavior, leaving you questioning the validity of your feelings and experiences!
They conveniently “forget” their manipulative actions, making you wonder if you’re imagining things or going crazy.
Instead, they may turn the allegations over to you saying, “You’re the one always trying to manipulate me with your lies and false accusations.”
All these subtle signs of gaslighting just ring one bell: Leave this person and stay out of their life!
Related Article: Do cheaters miss their ex?
Do gaslighters know they are gaslighting?
Yes and no. There can be a possibility that a gaslighter might not acknowledge their behavior and do it unconsciously.
It’s usually an outcome of gaslighting for so many years that it becomes an unconscious choice. Some people are not even aware of the term ‘gaslight’ but are obviously certain of the lies that escape their mouths.
It doesn’t change the fact that they are indeed manipulating you or trying to escape a situation by making you doubt yourself. Most of the time, a gaslighter is well aware of their actions/words and it’s intentional.
They’re aware of their manipulative behavior/tactics and are using them to control and dominate the relationship without ever having to take responsibility.
So, how do you differentiate between them? The above-mentioned signs he’s gaslighting you will help you decide whether the gaslighter knows that they are manipulating you or not.
How to know if you’re being gaslighted?
What does gaslighting look like? When you start falling and breaking into the manipulative tactics of your partner and still want them in your life, it is when you become a victim of gaslighting!
You wonder, “Is my boyfriend gaslighting me?,” or “Is my husband gaslighting me?”
The thought that a gaslighter is draining your love in a relationship and the negative effects of being gaslit leave you clueless about your romantic future.
Emotional gaslighting is so much in your relationship, that you start feeling disconnected from your partner and hope to get out of this toxic affinity.
10 Signs you are being gaslighted!
It’s quite tough to know when you’re being gaslighted. If you are someone experiencing gaslighting or have experienced here are some signs you’re being gaslighted to make sure of it:
1. Doubting yourself
When you’re being gaslighted, you often doubt yourself— you doubt your memories, decisions, and whether you are right, or if you are wrong just like your boyfriend tells you constantly.
You doubt if you are being unreasonable or paranoid. You might even hesitate to put forth your feelings because you think your feelings are invalid, wrong, and shouldn’t be spoken.
Your confidence level goes down and you don’t trust yourself anymore with your decisions or choices.
2. Feeling confused
If you’re being gaslighted, you’ll feel confused—what is right, what is wrong, you’re not sure about anything. You doubt your statements and agree to believe what others say to you without giving voice to your own thought.
“Did I tell her to meet me at 10 PM and not 9 PM? I probably didn’t mention it! I misunderstood the whole situation and yelled at her for being late when I was at fault, in reality. God! Am I going crazy? I’m ruining this relationship.”
— Gaslight in relationship.
3. Lack of confidence
Your confidence level goes down the hill when you’re being constantly gaslighted. You doubt everything in your existence, including whether you are capable of making the right decision or intelligent choices.
You unconsciously start to rely on your gaslighting partner and their advice. Their gaslighting tactics bloom in such submission and they would continue to manipulate you in order to have power over you, your decisions, and your life.
They wouldn’t mind making you believe that you are incapable if it gives them rights over you and your life (common gaslight example).
Being a gaslight victim, you consider yourself to be wrong all the time, and you rely on and agree with everything your partner says.
They might use this opportunity to control you and separate you from your loved ones. Your partner knows your friends/family will speak against them and their manipulative behavior.
This is one of the most common signs someone is gaslighting you. A gaslighter would always want to keep you isolated to ensure nobody gives you a piece of mind.
When a manipulator asks you to isolate yourself from your loved ones (family or friends who support you in every way possible), it’s highly possible that you are being gaslighted and manipulated.
5. Apologizing excessively
Because you are made to believe that you are wrong all the time, you automatically develop a habit of apologizing constantly.
Being constantly criticized or manipulated has its own adverse effects. You may accept all that negative criticism internally and become what they expect you to become— the wrong person in the equation.
You internally and unconsciously accept being the wrong guy!
You constantly feel that these fights, arguments, miscommunications, and differences are all because of you. So, you get this irresistible urge to apologize.
6. Sense of guilt or shame
You think everything is your fault; you are constantly made to believe so! So, you naturally feel guilty over every fight, argument, or indifference. You may even hate yourself for hurting your partner or upsetting them. When in reality, you are not at fault. You are a victim, I’m afraid!
7. Feeling powerless
You feel like you cannot control your life, there’s nothing you can do about your life. This is because of the manipulator who has taken over all the control of you and your life.
Feeling weak in the gut and underconfident is one of the signs of being gaslighted!
8. Unexplained anxiety or depression
There are days when you cannot tell what you’re feeling. You simply feel numb, uninterested in life, and mentally exhausted.
You have noticed that you prefer being quiet even when the current situation is bothering you instead of reasoning out your feelings with the other person.
You remain silent instead of raising your concern. You feel helpless, guilty, and wrong all the TIME! It has started to take a toll on your mental being. You constantly feel overwhelmed, reckless, and helpless; it’s a sign of anxiety and may lead to depression.
9. Difficulty communicating
When someone has consistently shown no interest in you it becomes hard for you to communicate. Communication has become a goner in your relationship. You simply listen and agree; you never talk or express.
10. Loss of identity
You’ve lost what you were back in the time, you don’t remember yourself anymore! You think less of yourself and your abilities. Your actions are just a reaction to what your partner asks of you! Nothing you do is about yourself anymore. Do you miss who you were back in time?
You have lost your confidence, self-esteem, and power.
What happens when you ignore a gaslighter?
When you finally decide to ignore the gaslighter; it can have both positive and negative consequences in your life.
- You no longer can be controlled by people.
- You’ll be able to live a happier and non-manipulative life.
- You’ll regain your confidence and can practice self-love again.
- A step forward to protect yourself from further harm (emotional and mental.
- To focus more on rebuilding self-esteem and to create healthier boundaries.
- The gaslighter can make more attempts to gaslight you.
- Once when you’ve made them powerless, they’ll even use more tactics to get you in control.
- You can feel frustrated and lonely at timed.
- You might choose to isolate yourself after getting away from a gaslighter which is gonna bring you loneliness.
- Gaslighter may use love-bombing (overwhelming you with affection) or guilt trips to get you back into their manipulative cycle.
Despite these consequences, I urge you to take the step and stand up for yourself!
Overall, it will take some time to get over this phase of your life, but know that it would be the best decision you will be making for yourself.
How to react and stand up for yourself after being gaslighted?
You now know your partner’s cheap (manipulative) tactics, but how to react and stand up for yourself? Is he gaslighting me? How do I get over it? Here’s how you can raise your voice and not be manipulated anymore in the relationship:
1. Educate yourself
Learn about gaslighting and its tactics. Knowing about it will help you be aware of your relationships and the kind of partner you are dealing with.
Educating yourself will help you differentiate between someone who’s genuine or if someone’s being manipulative.
2. Seek support
When everything goes wrong, family and good friends would be your power pillar. It’s common to feel lonely or frustrated after bieng gaslighted.
Reach out to your family, your friends or support groups and talk to them about how you feel and discuss it. Communication is a safe place and you can always heal from it.
3. Keep notes
You may not be ready to confront; but keeping a keen eye on your partner’s behavior will fuel the courage in you. Taking notes can help you recognize what’s actually happening.
Keep the memory to yourself, learn the patterns of gaslighting and then you have the evidence. You can confirm if it’s gaslighting or not.
4. Set boundaries
Let your gaslighter know that you cannot tolerate their behaviors or emotional manipulation. Draw healthy boundaries and keep a distance from them.
Do not let them have full control over you. Don’t let them walk all over you and don’t be scared of speaking for yourself.
5. Avoid isolation
Gaslighters try to isolate their victims so that they can keep on manipulating them without letting the world know of their behavior.
You must avoid isolation and keep your friends and family close to you! They speak for your own good. Your boyfriend may even gaslight you into believing that they are bad for you, never let it happen!
6. Practice self care
Do more activities that involve self love and emotional being. Get a new hobby, practice meditation, exercises, yoga or anything that you prefer.
You can also spend time with your loved ones who support you; go on and enjoy a small vacation with them. It will give you a new sense of identity and who you are as a person. It will also boost your confidence and self-esteem.
7. You are not the problem, they are!
It will take some time to accept that you are not the ‘wrong guy’ in this equation. They have made you believe that for such a long time and I know it will be difficult to overcome that phase.
8. Seek professional help
Sometimes you may feel like nothing is working out for you and that the world is against you. It’s only natural to feel left out or helpless. That’s when it’s time for you to seek professional help.
Get a therapist and take sessions. It’ll help you with your emotions, confidence, relationships and probably with all the problems that you have.
9. Limit contact
Limited contact with the gaslighter is important especially when things are now out of your control. If you think you cannot stand up for yourself at the moment, distance yourself for the time being. Taking some time away from them will bring light to a newer and better perspective.
10. Consider ending the relationship
If you think this relationship is only going to hurt you or manipulate you; it’s time you reconsider breaking up with them for good! You have probably given them multiple chances to change and get better, but if it’s going nowhere and they continue to manipulate you— let go!
Like I said, you have to keep healthy boundaries but if it’s not working, consider ending it. Your peace, emotional being should be your first priority and everything else comes after.
11. Be yourself
You become numb, you feel different, you look at yourself in a different way, and think your personality has changed. It’s only natural to feel these emotions after being gaslighted for so long.
Remember, that’s not you; you became a fragment of your partner’s manipulation. It’s alright, but it’s time to acknowledge your true identity again! Don’t let anything change you. Hold tight onto things that make you who you are.
The decision to break up with them is solely yours! I understand if you want to give your partner a newer chance, but do it with firmer boundaries. Ensure your partner doesn’t cross those boundaries and don’t be scared of speaking about them. If you want them to change or if you want the relationship to get better; you have to take your stand!
Don’t let anyone ever manipulate or gaslight you; live life on your terms!