After a recent break-up, I was shocked. I had no idea what the signs he was gaslighting me were, and I let the relationship go on for much longer than it should have. Learn from my mistakes and read these signs that he’s gaslighting you before it’s too late.
1.He denies he said that.
Has your boyfriend or husband ever denied saying something, even when you know he did? Does he claim that you’re crazy or misremembering things when you know you’re not? If so, he could be gaslighting you.
2.He makes you feel crazy.
He might say something like, “Are you sure that’s what happened? You might be confused.” Then, when you try to describe your version of events, he’ll say things like, “That’s not what I said,” or “I don’t know why you’re getting so upset” or “I can’t believe I have to keep repeating myself.” These comments can make you begin to wonder if your memory is faulty.
3.He constantly contradicts himself so that he always seems right.
A relationship with a narcissist is a roller coaster ride of emotions. The person will be charming and nice one minute and then turn mean and callous the next. They often contradict themselves because they have no real sense of self or identity.
4.He ridicules your feelings.
A gaslighter will often make fun of your feelings or belittle them, making you think that your emotions are irrational or unreasonable. This can lead you to apologize for how you feel or question whether or not you should feel that way.
5.He doesn’t want you talking about certain topics.
When someone is trying to hide something from you, they won’t want you talking about certain subjects. A gaslighter will try to deflect attention away from subjects they don’t want discussed, such as spending time with certain people or having certain hobbies.
6. He plays dumb.
He often says things like, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about” when you try to talk about something he did or said. This makes you think you’re crazy because obviously, he remembers what happened. He may even playfully accuse you of having a short memory while secretly hoping you believe him. But if someone can’t even own up to saying something as simple as, “I love you too,” then there are obviously bigger issues at hand.
7.He questions your memory.
He plays off certain things that happen as if they never happened at all in order to confuse you and make you second-guess yourself. If he forgets his keys at your place but claims he never brought them or that they were never there at all, you start thinking maybe they weren’t there at all. Maybe it was just your imagination playing tricks on you again, right? Wrong!
8. He tells you he “won’t tolerate” your behavior.
This seems like a reasonable statement at first glance, but consider the subtext: Your feelings and needs don’t matter as much as his feelings and needs do. You’re expected to change your behavior (e.g., stop being so sensitive) in order to please him, but he doesn’t have to do anything except complain about how you’re acting. This is classic gaslighting — making you feel like your behavior is outside the norm so that they can manipulate you into thinking there’s something wrong with you.
9. He accuses you of cheating.
In this situation, he’s laying the groundwork for blaming you for anything that he goes on to do, while simultaneously making you question your own sanity. If he cheats or engages in other inappropriate behavior, he can simply say that you were doing the same thing — after all, didn’t he already call you out on it? And if you’re crazy enough to cheat on him, maybe you did do those things?
10. He makes you doubt reality.
He tells you things about the past that he knows are untrue and then tries to convince you that your memory is faulty. Or he tells you that something didn’t happen the way you remember it happening, and then tries to convince you that what he says is the truth. If a man does this repeatedly, he is trying to manipulate your perception of reality so that he can control your behavior. (Gaslighters often do this as part of an effort to make themselves appear more competent than they actually are.)
11.He constantly denies saying or doing things that he did say or do.
For example, if he promised to take care of something and then failed to do so, he denies making the promise. This tactic is meant to make you question your own memory and perception of events, which allows him to get away with his lies and manipulations.
12. He minimizes your feelings.
A healthy relationship requires both partners to acknowledge and validate each other’s feelings. If your partner makes fun of you for being upset over something or tells you that you’re overreacting, he’s gaslighting you.
You consistently feel confused and on-edge, even though he won’t admit to doing anything wrong. He tells you there’s something “wrong with you,” not him, so it’s up to you to fix it. Gaslighters are also quite adept at twisting everything you say, and substituting that negative interpretation for reality. If you’re friends with him on social media and see any of these signs, or even see anyone posting about your gaslighter, avoid “liking” or commenting on their posts. Statements or behaviors essential to the gaslighting can be denied later by saying the person interpreted them (or their context) incorrectly. The gaslighter may use your participation in that way as an excuse to further isolate himself from you—and others—by saying things like, “I thought she was my friend, but clearly she’s with them!”