How To Deal With Gaslighting (9 Calculated Ways)

Derived from the 1944 movie Gaslight, the term ‘gaslighting’ is when someone tries to manipulate you into questioning your reality, environment, and feelings. This is a behavior that is very familiar to many people who have been in emotionally abusive relationships. 

Here, the abusive partner tries to undermine the other person’s feelings and, for the most part, makes them doubt the nature of the abuse. 

Many of us have a hard time spotting when someone is gaslighting us, and even when we do, there is confusion on how to handle it. As a victim of gaslighting myself, I understand the inner battle that goes on regarding standing up to the gaslighter or giving them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps, they are right and you are the one who is overly ‘sensitive’. 

Sometimes, you want peace to reign in your relationship so much that it is easier for you to deny your reality than risk rupturing it. So you allow your partner to carry on with their gaslighting behavior. In this article, we will discuss how to deal with gaslighting in relationships. 

9 Ways To Deal With Gaslighting

1. Identify the problem

It is not always easy for many women to realize they are in a gaslighting relationship, and I know this because I was in a similar boat. It usually starts with you believing that you imagine things or are too sensitive, just as your partner always says. 

Next thing, you find yourself constantly defending his bad behavior by making excuses such as ‘I need to stop jumping to conclusions or ‘I need to tone down my sensitivity. All these are your abuser’s tactics manifesting to keep you doubting. 

An easy way to spot a gaslighting situation is by taking note of how many times you have had to question your reality around them. Furthermore, ask yourself, are they the only ones who call you sensitive and make you doubt yourself? Are you always making excuses for them? 

If the answers to these questions are yes, then there is a high chance you are in a relationship with a gaslighter.

2. Understand what triggers the behavior

A key step to protecting yourself from gaslighter is understanding the behavior itself and the person who demonstrates it. Many gaslighters have struggles of their own such as antisocial personality disorder and deep-seated anxiety, which leaves them with an insatiable need to be in control at all times. 

In essence, the end goal of gaslighters is to control the situation constantly. 

For instance, when a gaslighting husband cheats, he knows his wife will be upset, and he does not want that. So instead of admitting to his wrongs, he manipulates her into doubting the event and possibly apologizes for accusing him wrongly. Thereby dissipating the anger and turning a possibly nasty situation into one that favors him.

3. Understand there will never be accountability 

The main idea behind a person gaslighting you is that they want complete control of your feelings, thoughts, and actions so that they never have to take accountability for their actions. Therefore, people who gaslight have a hard time accepting their faults. 

Instead, they blame other people by projecting negative narratives on them. As a result, it is safe to say that gaslighters are selfish because they focus on themselves. 

Understanding that gaslighters do not like being held accountable for their actions will enable you to better interact with them. So, when next you are in this situation, approach the issue from the viewpoint of mutual misunderstanding. That way, he is less defensive and less likely to deny what’s happening now that he sees you admitting to an imperfection.

4. Don’t argue

dont argue

Arguing with a gaslighter is just a waste of your breath and can be dangerous to your mental health. You see, these people will never admit to what you’re saying, and neither will they ever be able to understand reason and logic. 

So if you are waiting for an ‘Aha’ moment from them where they admit to being wrong, don’t hold your breath because it won’t happen. Instead, your defense is like fuel to them as it will make them gaslight you more. This is why sometimes you can leave an argument with a gaslighter feeling more confused and unsure than when it started. 

In moments like this, you must learn to think of yourself and your mental state before what’s right or wrong by staying as calm as possible. So instead of digging your heels in and arguing, use non-confrontational phrases. For instance, you can say that while you hear them, it seems your experiences differ, and you will like to talk about them.

5. Take time out to step away

It is not unlikely for victims of gaslighting abuse to feel strong emotions like anger, frustration, fear, and sadness; however, never let them control your immediate reactions. Remember that your distress makes you an easy target to the gaslighter, so instead of reacting, you should stay calm and step away from the situation. 

Taking time to dwell on your thoughts alone, away from your abuser, makes it easier to identify what is true and untrue without threatening your self-esteem. Your time out will help you re-examine the event and focus on the truth. This will reinstate your confidence in your version of events and renew your faith in yourself.

6. Stick to your version of events

When you continue to allow a gaslighter to get away with their acts, they no longer see the need to stop. They continue to take you as a fool, making them confident in their control of your emotions. Instead of giving in to the self-doubt and making excuses, let them know that what they are saying is not how you remember the same event. 

Indeed, we all remember things differently, and there are times when we may have forgotten tiny details wrongly, like the color of a person’s shoe or every word a person said. However, these are small and sometimes insignificant details and not an entire event. 

So if he is trying to change a whole event, then that’s gaslighting, and you must be confident in your version of events. If possible, show him whatever proof you have to discredit his story. 

The idea is not to attempt to win an argument with him but to show him what led you to feel the way you do.

7. Focus on your feelings

Maya Angelou once said, people will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. As a gaslighting victim, it is easy to fall into the trap of self-doubt, but if you can focus on your feelings, you can overcome the abuse. 

For instance, you are upset your husband did, and he is trying to discredit your story by planting a newly refined story that suits him into your head. Ask yourself, is this new story capable of making you feel upset? If no, then it’s obvious you are being manipulated.

8. Talk to someone

talk to someone

Gaslighting can make you feel alone. It isolates you in your thoughts, and you will always wonder if the experience is peculiar to you alone. If ever you doubt what’s happening around you, instead of relying solely on what your partner is saying, seek other people’s opinions. 

Sometimes, hearing other people’s take on things can allow you to decide if indeed you were overreacting or your partner is trying to manipulate you into thinking you are sensitive.

Additionally, you and your partner can seek counsel or visit a therapist to help you navigate this disorder in your relationship.

9. Walk away and never look back

Being in an emotionally abusive relationship is not healthy for anyone. If you have shown concern and tried to address your partner’s dilemma a couple of times and nothing seems to be changing, then that’s your cue to let go. 

As you leave, remember to practice healthy detachment as it is not always easy leaving a gaslighter. So block their number, ignore their messages and if he tries to use your mutual friends to communicate, turn down the conversation. 

FAQs

What do you say to a gaslighter?

It is not wise to argue with a person who gaslights because it is like fuel to them and can be dangerous. Instead of arguing, tell them you both have different perspectives, and you will like to talk about it. 

What are gaslighting tactics?

A gaslighter will want to make you doubt and question yourself. They want you to second guess your perceptions and memories. This can happen when they twist information or selectively omit things to make you feel crazy. 

What causes someone to gaslight?

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation whereby the abuser cares solely about themselves and wants to control their thoughts. Many of them have been victims of this type of manipulation themselves, so they carry it on and try to be the manipulator themselves. 

How do I stop being a gaslighter?

Learn to see things from other people’s points of view, even if it will mean you are admitting that you are wrong. Understand that everyone makes mistakes, and that does not mean you are a terrible person. Therefore, there is no need to twist the truth in a bid for it to favor you.

How do you tell if someone is gaslighting you?

If you suspect that you are with a gaslighting partner, you can confirm this by paying attention to the signs. You will notice sudden self-doubt and questioning of your judgment. You will feel vulnerable, insecure, and alone because it will seem like you are the only one seeing things differently. 

Summary

Gaslighting is emotional abuse that should always be dealt with immediately once it is noticed. I hope you enjoyed reading this piece and found the tips helpful. If yes, please share it, and I look forward to reading your comments. 

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