Gaslighting in a Relationship?
This is a guide on a topic that is often misunderstood but crucial to understanding the dynamics of unhealthy relationships – gaslighting. My name is Sian Jones and I am a professional relationship therapist. My aim is to shed light on this subtle yet destructive behaviour. So you are able to recognise it, protect yourself and nurture healthier relationshiops.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic that can occur in any type of relationship, from romantic partnerships to friendships and even between family members. The term comes from a 1944 film, called “Gaslight” which involves one person systematically undermining the other’s perception of reality to gain control and maintain dominance in the relationship.
- Denying Reality: Gaslighters frequently deny something they’ve said or done, even when presented with evidence. They make you doubt your memory, causing confusion and self-doubt.
- Trivialising Feelings: They might belittle your emotions, making you feel like your feelings are exaggerated or irrational, further eroding your self-esteem.
- Shifting Blame: Gaslighters are adept at shifting blame for their actions onto you, as a result leading you to feel responsible and to blame for what they did.
- Withholding Information: Furthermore, gaslighters may withhold information or conveniently forget conversations to keep you in the dark, making you feel isolated and powerless.
- Projecting: Gaslighters project their own negative traits onto you, making you believe that you’re the one with the problem.
The Impact of Gaslighting
Gaslighting can have severe emotional and psychological consequences, including:
- Low Self-Esteem: Constant manipulation can lead to a diminished sense of self-worth.
- Anxiety and Depression: Gaslighting can contribute to anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
- Isolation: Victims may withdraw from friends and family due to confusion and fear.
- Dependency: The gaslighter may intentionally create dependency on them for emotional stability.
- Loss of Self: You may lose touch with your own thoughts, feelings and identity.
Dealing with Gaslighting
- Trust Your Instincts: If something doesn’t feel right in your relationship then trust your gut. Seek support from a trusted friend or therapist.
- Set Boundaries: Try and establish clear boundaries in your relationship and communicate them assertively.
- Seek Professional Help: If gaslighting persists, consider couples therapy or individual counselling.
- Build a Support System: Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who can help you stay grounded.
- Self-Care: Prioritise self-care to maintain your emotional well-being.
Gaslighting in a relationship is a destructive behaviour that can erode your self-esteem and mental health. Recognising it is the first step toward protecting yourself and fostering healthier relationships.
If you or someone you know is experiencing gaslighting, don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified therapist. Remember, your reality is valid, and you deserve healthy, respectful relationships.
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