The Marriage.com Editorial Team is a group of experienced relationship writers, experts, and mental health professionals. We provide practical and research-backed advice on relationships. Our content is thoroughly reviewed by experts to ensure that we offer high-quality and reliable relationship advice.
A common saying attributed to many sources goes like this: “if you repeat a lie often enough, it will soon be accepted as truth.”
People who have mastered the art of gaslighting in relationships have brought these sayings to perfection.
Stages of gaslighting ensure that a person gradually loses their perception of the truth and regard for their version of things. The heightened manipulation
What is gaslighting in a relationship?
Gaslighting was first brought to light through a film released in 1994 called Gaslight.
In the film, a husband persistently tries to convince her beautiful wife that she is insane by constantly causing her to interrogate herself and her reality.
In typical form, gaslighting is simply a form of tenacious manipulation and indoctrination, which results in the victim beginning to doubt themselves and ultimately losing their perception of the truth, self-worth, and identity.
How does gaslighting manifest?
Stages of gaslighting can present themself in different degrees.
In its mild forms, gaslighting creates an elusive yet unbalanced power dynamic in a given relationship. The gaslightee is exposed to unreasonable scrutiny, micro-aggression, or judgment that has no basis (not fact-based).
In other times at its worst display, gaslighting institutes a type of mind-control couples with severe psychological abuse.
Personal relationships, whether at the workplace or in an entire society, are all possible victims of stages of gaslighting.
Signs of gaslighting in a relationship
The stages of gaslighting can present themselves in any relationship and leave the victim dealing with various issues. The more you know about the signs of gaslighting abuse, the more easily you can protect yourself from these.
The different forms of gaslighting in any relationship showcase themself in the form of various symptoms that the relationship or the people within it exhibit.
The alarming power of gaslighting can affect a person’s sense of self, their confidence and create an unhealthy imbalance in the relationship. However, it often does not take place all at once. There are different stages of it.
Gaslighting emotional abuse can occur following many stages, which may differ in the order of occurrence and depend on different situations.
1. Lies and exaggerations
The gaslighter uses baseless, generalized false presumptions and/or independently unverifiable accusations to create a negative narrative about the victim of gaslighting.
Thus, this gaslighting stage is an attempt at pushing the gaslightee on the defensive by lying vehemently by denying the other person’s version of reality.
For example, a person might undermine their spouse’s housework by saying, “The work you do in the house is very simple and requires minimum effort. How can you even compare it to what I do?”
2. Gaslighter escalates disputes when challenged
Whenever a gaslighter is called on their lies, they employ typical tactics of defense and escalate the argument by doubling and tripling down on their attacks, fiercely refuting any substantive evidence brought forth with blame and denial.
This introduces more false claims and misdirection and, in the process, plants more doubt and confusion.
In other words, they will deny any wrongdoing even in the face of undeniable evidence and immediately go on the defense to accuse the gaslightee of wrongdoing.
For example, a boyfriend red-handedly caught sexting someone, then flatly denies it and blames the girlfriend for imagining things. They can even go to the extent of calling her names.
For gaslighting in relationships, the gaslightee is kept vulnerable, controlled and nearly submissive to the gaslighter by being exposed to constant insecurity and anxiety by the gaslighter.
The gaslight has no control of the relationship and the gaslighter retains the powers of approval, safety, security, acceptance, and respect. Furthermore, the gaslighter, unfortunately, also keeps the power to withdraw all these and often continually threatens to do so.
This creates a direct relationship with codependent relationships, built of vulnerability, fear, and marginalization.
5. Wear out the victim by constantly being put on the offensive
Being continuously kept on the offensive can be tiring, and the gaslighter is already facing it.
Having mastered their tactics of keeping victims on the offensive, the gaslighter will soon wear them down, making them resigned, pessimistic, discouraged, self-doubting (best gift to the gaslighter) and fearful. Soon enough, the victims may question their identity, perception, and reality.
And this is how the gaslighter wins the battle in the relationship.
At this stage of gaslighting, the gaslight employs manipulative tactics and tries to deviate from what they have portrayed.
As one of the stages of gaslighting, the abusers are likely to start occasionally treating their victims with some moderation, mildness and may even top it up with some superficial remorse or kindness that elicits some false hope in the gaslighter.
This is when the ‘let’s give it a chance’ feeling starts to grow in the gaslighter.
But all these are calculated moves aimed at instilling some complacency on the side of the gaslighter to bring down their guard before the gaslighter pulls off the next phase of gaslighting.
At this stage, the gaslighter also tags the codependent relationship tendencies with them.
7. Dominate and control
Dominance and control is the ultimate goal of all pathological gaslighting in relationships.
You can identify a gaslighting abuser when they always aim to gain control, dominate and take advantage of unsuspecting individuals, groups or even a whole society, given a chance.
The gaslighter maintains and intensifies a constant stream of coercion and lies, which, in effect, keeps the gaslighter in a state of doubt, fear, and insecurity.
Consequently, this grants them the freedom to exploit the gaslightee in a bid to propagate their power, influence and personal gain.
To learn about the difference between love and control, watch this video:
How to deal with stages of gaslighting in a relationship
The different stages of gaslighting present their own set of problems. However, one has to be careful and read the signs in time to prevent gaslighting from having lasting effects on a person’s emotional health.
Once you identify the problem, you must make sure that you handle it quickly and in a manner that lets your partner know that you won’t withstand their gaslighting ways.
You can also access the Save My Marriage Course if your relationship seems at risk and you wish to make positive changes to safeguard it.
How do you break a gaslighting cycle?
You can break the gaslighting cycle in their relationship by being confident about their version of things, focusing on self-care and consulting an expert. Furthermore, you must consider the possibility of ending the relationship if things don’t change for the better despite all your efforts.
What happens after you’ve been gaslighted?
Gaslighting can make a person doubt and eventually disregard their version of events or how they feel, as they have been manipulated systematically. It can harm a person’s self-confidence. It can lead to stress, anxiety, isolation and/or depression.
Gaslighting in relationships is a sad affair.
Some people may be unable to identify what’s happening in their relationship. They are therefore left wondering whether they are just losing their minds or simply being paranoid.
If you suspect some bit of gaslighting in your relationship, seek help immediately or talk to your partner if you can reach help for whatever reasons.
The Marriage.com Editorial Team is a group of experienced relationship writers, experts, and mental health professionals. We provide practical and research-backed advice on relationships. Our content is thoroughly reviewed by experts Read more to ensure that we offer high-quality and reliable relationship advice. Read less
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