The term “gaslighting” is more than just a trendy word referring to toxic and immature relationships. It’s such a common occurrence, “gaslighting” was actually Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2022! What does gaslighting even mean, and how do you know if you’re experiencing it in your own relationships?
Gaslighting is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
“Psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”
Take a look at this real-life example to reflect and compare your own experience:
You and your partner had a long and productive discussion about your holiday plans and agreed on where and how you would spend your time. The holiday is finally here and you’re getting ready for your day, but your partner is not on the same page. You plead for them to get back on track, but suddenly they claim that you never talked about your holiday plans. They’ve committed to different plans already, so you can just deal with that. You are certain that you made these plans and have even written them down in your calendar, but your partner is insistent that this discussion never happened; they would not have made their own plans otherwise, right? Suddenly you’re not so sure. Did you imagine the conversation? Did you mean to outline your plans and then it slipped your mind?
It didn’t slip your mind. You definitely made those plans. You even have evidence that the discussion took place! This is a classic form of gaslighting. It’s always possible that your partner simply forgot, but the main difference between a simple mistake and gaslighting is based on how your partner reacts to these situations and how consistently they arise.
Gaslighting is often much more sinister than it seems. It’s not just an uncomfortable hiccup in communication; it’s a malicious and intentional attempt to inflict emotional violence in many cases. Here are some common phrases to look out for if you’re not sure you’re being gaslighted:
- “That never happened.”
- “You’re just too sensitive”
- “If you really cared, you would have known already.”
- “Everyone thinks you’re crazy.”
- “You aren’t thinking logically”
- “I’m sorry that you think I hurt your feelings”
If you’ve heard these phrases or anything like them, you are being gaslighted. Relationships require love, patience, and mutual respect. People who truly love and care about you would never intentionally harm you. If you’re still not sure if you’re being gaslighted, the next best step is therapy. A third party can help shed light on your situation and may even validate your feelings or suspicions. If your partner is unwilling to participate in therapy and incorporate positive change in their life, then it may be time to move on from this unhealthy and abusive relationship.
You deserve a happy and fulfilling life, with or without a partner. There is a happy life waiting for you. Our trusted legal team provides bilingual legal services in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. We handle all financial aspects of Florida Divorces, including Mediation, Postnuptial Agreements, and Asset Protection, contact us today to schedule an appointment.