Gaslighting is terrible because it is a planned, plotted, and intentional abusive behavior on the part of a cheater or emotional abuser.  Here’s a quick guide to recognizing and responding to gaslighting.

 

 

By Sarah P.

The number one thing that cheaters do is gaslight their betrayed spouse. They will often gaslight their betrayed spouse as soon as an affair begins, while the affair is happening, and even after D-Day.

While being cheated on is often the largest trauma of a person’s life, being gas-lit by a cheating spouse after D-Day will cause the trauma that you are already experiencing feel one hundred times worse.

I have written a quick guide to help you with recognizing and responding to gaslighting. Being armed with information that can protect you emotionally is extremely important.

Hopefully, you can print this post off and carry it around in your purse or briefcase. Carry it with you everywhere you go, because my intention is to give you strength, clarity, and tactics to shut down a cheater who is gas-lighting you.

 

What is Gaslighting? 

Gaslighting is a specific form of emotional abuse that is planned and intentional on the part of the cheater. Gaslighting is specifically used by an abuser or cheater to:

  • Make a betrayed spouse feel crazy
  • Make a betrayed spouse lose emotional balance
  • To control a betrayed spouse
  • To intimidate a betrayed spouse
  • To alienate a betrayed spouse from people who could serve as “reality checkers.”
  • To cause a betrayed spouse to stop asking questions about the affair
  • To make the betrayed spouse feel worthless and unlovable
  • To blame-shift the actions of the cheater onto the betrayed spouse.
  • To cause the cheater to have absolute power and control over their victim or betrayed spouse.

Why is Gaslighting so Terrible?

In case it is not obvious, gaslighting is terrible because it is a planned, plotted, and intentional abusive behavior on the part of a cheater or emotional abuser. A cheater who is gaslighting his or her betrayed spouse is knowingly abusing his or her spouse. A cheater knowingly uses this form of abuse to keep total control of a betrayed spouse and life after D-Day.

A gaslighter knows that both cheating and gaslighting is wrong, but they do it to intentionally wear down their spouse and take away a betrayed spouse’s confidence. Gaslighting will create an invisible cage around a victim. The victim could leave the metaphorical cage at any point, but they will be a prisoner of their own mind and they will see no other options but to stay. In a sense, they have been brainwashed to feel as if staying in an abusive marriage is the only option and as if they will fail if they leave their marriage.

I am aware of people in my personal (off-line) circles who have enough money to leave a marriage and who would have the ability to live the life most people dream of. But, their spouse gaslights them so often, that they cannot even imagine life on the outside.

 

recognizing gaslighting

 

Signs of Gaslighting 

  • Gaslighting is intentionally unpredictable; it happens in situation where a victim least expects it.

A gaslighter will instigate planned arguments or verbal attacks that are completely out of context and have no truth to them. A gaslighter will do this so that his or her victim will be caught off guard and stunned. Gaslighters will often instigate an attack when their victim least expects it.

Here is an example of gaslighting:

Dick (a cheater) had planned to take Jane out for date night. They had decided to repair their marriage after D-Day and they decided to do weekly date-nights. Jane put on her most beautiful clothing and make-up because she had hoped to remind Dick that she was a beautiful woman. As soon as Jane grabbed her coat, Dick scowled at Jane and looked disapprovingly at her outfit.

Even though Jane looked beautiful, Dick said, “You are wearing too much make-up and you look like a hooker. You are a wife and a mother and I refuse to take a hooker out to dinner. The way you look reflects terribly on our family.”  

Dick stomped away and Jane cried herself to sleep that night because she had been completely taken off-guard. Dick had hooked up with strippers and knew that calling his wife a whore would make her question her reality and lower her self-esteem.

  • Gas-lighters constantly undermine the reality of their victim, even when a victim presents a gas-lighter with proof.

Susan spends $10,000 a month on clothing, make-up, accessories, manicures, and jewelry. Susan’s husband Jeff makes a great income, but he often has to work 60 hours a week to keep up with Jane’s spending habits.

When Jeff asks Susan if she could cut her spending to $3,000 a month, Jeff is met with tears, Jeff is told that she doesn’t care for Susan’s well-being or hobbies, and that Jeff doesn’t know that a man is supposed to provide for someone of her caliber. (Susan is a stay at home mom). These periods are followed with Susan kicking Jeff out of the bedroom because Susan has told Jeff he wants to deny her basic needs. Susan tells Jeff he is a terrible husband and provider who doesn’t meet her needs.

Susan’s behavior is absolutely outrageous, but she has convinced Jeff he is the problem, which undermines Jeff’s reality.

  • A victim of a gaslighter apologizes for everything and to everyone, even if they have nothing to apologize for.

For example, if someone has been a victim of long-term gaslighting, they might start to think about if they even have a right to take up space on this planet. They often feel like they have to apologize for the fact that they even exist. They probably will not actually apologize for existing, but they will feel like they need to. Some long-term victims of gaslighters will apologize if it rains on the day they planned a picnic.

These thoughts seem ridiculous to people who have not been gas-lit and these thoughts are irrational on the part of the victim. However, if a victim feels this way, the feelings are very real to them and these thoughts and feelings that the victim experiences were caused by a very skilled gaslighter.

  • A victim of gaslighting often does not know what a healthy relationship looks like, especially if their gaslighter was their first partner in life. What would be unacceptable behavior to a non-victim is acceptable behavior to a victim of gaslighting.

Someone who is a victim of gaslighting will think it is totally normal for their spouse to verbally put them down in public, to verbally put them down at dinner parties, to embarrass them and shame them in front of others, and a victim will be grateful if their gaslighter offers them one compliment a year. Sadly, these people often form trauma bonds with their gaslighters. Even the smallest amount of positive reinforcement from a gaslighter will keep a victim bound to them.

  • Someone who is gas-lit will constantly wonder if they are good enough and walk on eggshells around a gaslighter.

A victim of a gaslighter will always wonder what is wrong with them. They will find themselves thinking constantly about how to please a gas-lighter and how to be loveable.

If someone is truly married to a gas-lighter, they can spend 60 years jumping through hoops that a gaslighter gives them. They will still never be accepted and told they are “good enough” no matter how many hoops they jump through. A victim of a gaslighter could be a saint, but the more saintly a victim becomes, the more a gaslighter will constantly point out flaws.

A gas-lighter intentionally withholds approval and causes a victim to believe they are inferior.

An Example of Gaslighter

I have used this video in an older post about narcissism. This fellow who refers to himself as Social Repose made a video about his narcissism. But, instead of focusing on the narcissism part, pay close attention to how he confidently explains the process through which he “breaks” his girlfriends. He knows exactly what he is doing, he does it intentionally, and quite frankly he brags about his process. He is an excellent example of the intentionally of people who gas-light others. Gas-lighters want to destroy another person and they do so intentionally and in a calculated manner.

 

 

The one thing I admire about this video is his candid honesty. Do I admire him? NO.

But, I do admire that he is being candidly honest about what goes on inside the mind of someone who emotionally abuses another. He is telling people WHO he is. He is giving those of us who don’t understand this way of thinking a peek into the mind of the motivating factors of a gaslighter: his own insecurity, desire for total and complete control of his victim, and the desire to take his own self-hatred out on his victim instead of seeing a therapist.

I am middle-aged and I have come to realize that I prefer brutal honesty from others because at least I know WHO I am dealing with. The world would be a better place if people were brutally honest about their flaws, so that people could decide if they want to stay or walk away.

Paradoxically, I know there will be young women out there who see Social Repose’s video and still want to be his girlfriend. Some women want “bad boys.” I am not one of them. But, it would certainly be wonderful to truly know WHO you are dealing with. For those of us who wish for monogamous people.

Recognizing and Responding to Gaslighting…What to Do About It

It is imperative that you are alert to the idea that a cheater will most likely be gaslighting you. Here is what I recommend:

  • Send a short email to yourself – in a password protected account – describing each incident
  • Create a password protected journal detailing your thoughts
  • Tell trusted friends and family members that you believe your spouse is playing “mind games.” Ask them to serve as reality-checkers for you.
  • Do NOT isolate yourself, even if you feel like curling up into a ball and laying in bed
  • Join an online support group such as “Out of the Fog.”
  • Create an exit strategy if your gaslighter becomes verbally aggressive.
  • Become a volunteer at a place that you feel passionate about and make friends with like-minded people. If you do not feel up to facing people, there are thousands and dogs and cats that could use your care via the Humane Society of the United States. Local branches need someone to walk dogs and play with cats. They also need photographers to take photos of pets and create adoption profiles for them.
  • Remind yourself that no matter how much it hurts, you must NOT take in the message of a gaslighter.
  • Reframe the way you view a gaslighter. If you think about it, people who use gaslighting as a strategy are often very pathetic human beings who have poor self-control, poor self-regulation, and who must project their faults onto others. However, do not have sympathy for them because they are trying to victimize you.
  • If a gaslighter cannot stop twisting your reality, buy a body camera for $20 and tell the gaslighter you will be wearing it all the time to record and review conversations. Tell the gas-lighter that you will record all interactions and then you will bring these recorded interactions to a marriage and family therapist. Gaslighters thrive when they can hide; if you record all interactions and show them to a professional, a gaslighter will know the game is over.
  • Avoid people who reinforce the narrative of a gaslighter. For example, a cheater/gaslighter might say: “If you gained/lost 20 pounds I would not have cheated.” If you confide this in a friend or family member and they say, “He has a point,” that person is not someone you can trust to help you stay in factual reality. Remember, cheating is a choice. There is nothing you can do to cause someone cheat on you since this behavior comes from within them.

A word recognizing and responding to gaslighting from Psych Central:

  1. Recognize the pattern of undermining behavior. Gaslighting only works when a victim isn’t aware of what’s going on. Once you become alert to the pattern, it will not affect you as much. You may be able to say to yourself, “Here we go again” and shrug it off.
  2. Keep in mind that the gaslighting isn’t about you. It’s about the gaslighter’s need for control and power. Often the gaslighter is a very insecure human being. In order to feel “equal”, they need to feel superior. In order to feel safe, they need to feel they have the upper hand. They have few other coping skills or other ways to negotiate differences. That doesn’t excuse the behavior. But knowing that may help you take it less personally while you decide whether to maintain the relationship.
  3. Be aware that you are unlikely to be able to change the gaslighter – at least on your own. Gaslighting behavior is the only way gaslighters know to manage their world. For that reason, they are not likely to respond to rational appeals to change. It usually requires intensive therapy, done willingly, for a gaslighter to give it up.
  4. Rethink whether the relationship is worth putting up with the constant attempts to chip away at your self-esteem. If the gaslighter is your boss or supervisor, start looking for another job. If the person is a family member or friend, consider how to put some distance between you. If it’s a significant other and you want to preserve the relationship, you will probably need to insist on couple’s counseling.
  5. Develop your own support system. You need other people in your life who can confirm your reality and worth. Gaslighters often try to isolate their victims in order to stay in control. They often further manipulate their victims by repeatedly telling them that they are the only person who really loves and understands them. Don’t buy it. Spend time with friends and family. Check out your perceptions by talking to other people who witnessed what the gaslighter is calling into question.
  6. Work on rebuilding your self-esteem. Remind yourself that you are a loveable and capable person, regardless of the opinion of the gaslighter. Help yourself regain perspective by reminding yourself of other times in your life when you have felt grounded, sane, and generally good about yourself. It may be helpful to keep a private journal in which you document events that the gaslighter is likely to contest.  Record positive experiences and affirmations of your own worth as well.
  7. Get professional help if you need it. Victims  often lose confidence in their own thoughts and feelings and find themselves nervously double-checking themselves on a regular basis. Sometimes they sink into the depressive feelings of being helpless and hopeless. If you recognize yourself in this paragraph, you will probably need professional help to dig your way back out of the devastating effects of gaslighting. A therapist can offer you practical advice and support to help you recover.”

 

responding to gaslighting

 

How to Communicate with Gaslighters

While the Psych Central article provides excellent insight into the mind of the cheating gaslighter and some things for you to do, I believe it’s important to have some key phrases to interrupt the cycle of gaslighting. Cheaters who are gaslighting will be solely focused on pointing our your flaws. They will do so to assuage their guilt. But, they will also do so in hope that you don’t question their affair.

Cheaters who gaslight will often spray “word bullets” at you and they will do it so quickly that you cannot keep track. They will do this to confuse you and cause you to lose your equilibrium. The phrases below are ONLY to be used to interrupt an incident of gaslighting. If they are used within the wrong context, they could cause you to be further emotionally abused. The goal is to get a gaslighter to stop spraying “word bullets” at you and to question their reality.

Once you question their reality, you can state factual behaviors and events that you do that are contrary to what they are saying. These are a tactic to interrupt gaslighting and I do NOT in any way encourage emotional abuse. Also, if your gas-lighter wants to keep blame-shifting, keep asking them for examples. Then, be very confident, calm, and factual to show them that what they are saying is not true.

Of course, some of these phrases may cause a gaslighter to huff off. Let them be.

I would also recommend carrying your phone or a recording device with you when you ask these questions.

These questions are NOT tactics to help you relate to an abusive spouse; they are suggestions on how to interrupt someone who is actively gas-lighting you. If you want tactics on how to relate to an abusive spouse, you are on the wrong path. You don’t relate to abusive spouses; you serve concrete consequences.

When you use these phrases, move your body in a way to have an open stance, make direct eye contact, and assume very assertive body language when a cheater is gaslighting you. You must establish yourself as at least an equal using body language. Once you have done that, here are some examples of key phrases to use to interrupt a gaslighter:

  • Can you explain to me what you mean by (fill in the blank)?
  • What factual information do you have that causes you to believe (fill in the blank)?
  • Can you describe (fill in the blank) in concrete terms? We all know that nothing is “always or never.” Can you be more specific?
  • It’s easy to see that I have done something to upset you; can you tell me more about it?
  • How would you feel if I were telling you what you are telling me now?
  • How would you feel if I called you a (fill in the blank?)
  • How would you like to be treated? Can be specific about things I can do to make you happy?
  • How can I communicate in ways that are better?
  • Give me concrete steps that I need to take to improve. Please walk me through this step-by-step process, so that I can understand your viewpoint. (Then tell them it’s a two-way street and tell them things they must stop doing.)
  • Can you please make a list of behaviors that you would like for me to display and behaviors that you do not want me to display? It would be great if you could get started on that list now so that I can review it as soon as possible. I will post it on the refrigerator for constant reference. I will also make a list for you.
  • Can you describe how you perceive me and can you give me factual behaviors that I do everyday that reinforce your perception of me?
  • I am always happy to discuss things constructively and it would be great if you lowered your voice.
  • Now is not the time to discuss (fill in the blank) so let’s discuss this after (such and such a time).
  • You are projecting your own behaviors on to me and I need you to stop now.
  • Uh huh. Oh I see. Got it. Okay. Yeah. I was thinking of doing (fill in the blank) on Saturday. Would this interest you?

Finally, there will be times that you need to tell a gaslighter that the conversation is heading nowhere good. Tell the gaslighter that you will get in your car and take a drive for 20 minutes so that each of you have time to clear your head. Or, ask the gaslighter if he or she would like to have some alone time in his or her office/car.

 

 

The Wear and Tear of Gaslighting

Gaslighting takes a toll on a victim. If anyone is in an abusive relationship, I would ask that you seek a couple’s counselor. I would also ask you – the betrayed spouse – to go see several different attorneys. There are always attorneys that give free consults and some that will work for free if you cannot afford steep fees.

If a cheater continues to use gaslighting as a mode of conversation, you must tell him or her upfront that you refuse to be treated this way. You need to take the hard line, be confident, state over and over again that your spouse chose to cheat, and set appropriate boundaries. Any abuser must endure excruciating pain before he or she stops.

I do not recommend staying in abusive relationships. However, if you are in one, you must do things that cause your abuser to feel pain from his or her abuse. Abusers often get a rush of power when they abuse others.

If that rush of power is turned into deep despair, a person will stop doing something. Every creature, whether human or animal, seeks the thing that makes them feel good and attempts to escape what makes them feel bad.

In Summary

This article only scratches the surface of the topic of recognizing and responding to gaslighting. Whole books have been written on this topic alone. The most important thing about gaslighting is to know it is happening to you and to find many different ways to keep your reality in tact.

Also, some people have told me there is no such thing as objective reality. (That’s a gaslighters favorite phrase). You must remember that there is such a thing as objective reality and that it can be seen, measured, and repeated.

If someone breaks into your car and the entire thing is caught on video by a motion-activated camera, that is objective reality.

We can also look to mathematics as objective reality. Two plus two will always equal four. Someone can argue for the next million years that two plus two does not equal four and they will be wrong. They can repeat this delusion as much as they want and it will never be true.

When you are being gas-lit, keep taking yourself back to objective reality, such as: My spouse cheated, I did not. My spouse did something wrong, I did not. I did not do x, y, z, and I refuse to take the blame for actions I never committed.

Surround yourself by people who have your best interests in mind and who will serve as trusted “reality checkers.” Don’t talk to people who use this as a chance to criticize you or reinforce abuse.

Hey readers….

Do you have any stories about being gas-lit?

What were the most outrageous things a gaslighting/cheating spouse said?

How did you stay tethered to reality or did you go through a phase where you believed you were the problem? If so, how did you get out of this mindset?

Does anyone have tips on how they effectively dealt with a gaslighter?

Where is your personal pain this week? What are you struggling with the most?

Please share!

 

 

Sources:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/7-ways-to-extinguish-gaslighting/

 

    18 replies to "A Quick Guide to Recognizing and Responding to Gaslighting"

    • Shifting Impressions

      Sarah, the best book I have ever read on “Gaslighting “ is the book THE GASLIGHT EFFECT by Robin Stern. The book is extremely good at helping one recognize if someone is gaslighting them. She also talks about the different stages of gaslighting.

      The examples in your post of gaslighting are fairly extreme. The subtle gaslighting can be much harder to spot….and can make one feel extremely unbalanced without actually knowing why. There are people that gaslight in the most “seemingly nice way”…….no yelling or swearing etc, just that sly way of undermining etc that can leave you wondering “what just happened??”

      Any gaslighting my husband did was subtle to the extreme…….he would come out smelling like a rose, so to speak. Dr. Stern’s book helps you decipher some of what is going on and is also very practical in helping one turn the gaslighting off. We have to recognize our own part in the steps of the gaslighting dance. There is power in our own response.

      • Doug

        Great point about the subtle art of gaslighting, SI. Here’s a link on Amazon to the book mentioned, if anyone is interested in checking it out: https://amzn.to/2JYuW0K

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Shifting,

        Thank you for the great comment!

        I agree that Dr. Stern’s book is the best resource I have come across. Also, the best gas-lighters do it in a way that can often be undetectable to others who could be potential allies to a victim. That is, witnesses to a situation or conversation may not see or hear anything unusual. Yet, a woman or man is being gas-lit while others don’t see it due to the subtlety of the gas-lighter. It may not hit the radar of many people in a casual environment, if these people are NOT aware it is happening. Sometimes a victim will be told she is too sensitive or she is misinterpreting something or that she is blowing something out of proportion. That makes a victim of gas-lighting less likely to reach out to others, if others tell her she has misunderstood a situation.

        Shifting, can you give us some concrete examples of what your husband did that allowed him to fly under the radar?

        From my own personal experience, I have had interactions with very brazen gas-lighters. I have not experienced the subtle kind, which is why I would love to hear what subtle gas-lighting can look like. I know it in theory, but if you have concrete stories to share, hopefully you can give others some ideas of the signs of subtle gas-lighting.

        My experiences with gas-lighters have looked like this:

        When I did not know my ex was cheating, he planned a dinner party at a restaurant for a coworker that we knew and I was friends with the coworker’s wife and sometimes babysat their toddler. My ex had never been to the restaurant. We got there early and only to find out it was a bar. All kinds of coworkers started to arrive and I asked my ex – in front of all our coworkers – how we could accommodate the coworker’s wife and child. The coworker and his wife had NOT arrived yet with their child. I was brainstorming if we could move this birthday dinner close-by and secure a table at a nice restaurant that welcomes children, and have all of this sorted out before the guest of honor was to arrive. In my family, I was raised to think about ALL attendees and ensure that everyone was taken care of and had their particular needs met. I could anticipate in my mind that the guest of honor, his wife, and their toddler might show up and feel awkward since it was a bar and their child would not be allowed in. I wanted the issue solved so that no one had to feel bad. As I was explaining this out loud, my ex started to yell in front of 20 friends: “I can’t bring you anywhere. You are such a wet blanket wherever you go and you ruin everything for everyone!” I was so shaken I went outside and started crying. A female coworker/friend followed me. She had never seen him treat me like that and she asked if I was going to stand for such an absolute insult and being humiliated in front of all these people we knew. She told me to go back inside and let him have it. Well, I am a diplomat and not a fighter. I went in and told everyone I was heading home for the evening and wished them well. Then I left. Looking back, that lines up with the timeline when he was cheating and I am sure the other woman was putting all kinds of ideas in his head. However, he owns his actions regardless of how she was influencing him. I have been exposed to very obvious gas-lighting. If I have been exposed to the subtle forms, I may not have recognized them.

        Shifting, can you share any examples from your life that made your H come out smelling like roses? Any advice you could offer is much appreciated!

        How about others?

        What kind of gas-lighting did you face and does anyone have any suggestions on HOW to interrupt the cycle of gas-lighting?

        Please make your voice heard because we are all here to help each other. One powerful way to do this is through discussing our own experiences.

        Hugs,
        Sarah

        • Shifting Impressions

          Sarah, as you know the book talks about three different types of gas lighters, one of them being the GOOD GUY GAS LIGHTER. When dealing with that the book says often you can’t quite say what is wrong….. I have experienced that. There is no yelling or name calling etc you are just left with the feeling that somehow you are in the wrong. I’m just going back over some of the things I noted while reading the book etc. and just see if I can come up with some examples. It’s somewhat difficult to come up with examples as you are quite often left wondering “WHAT JUST HAPPENED??” And then you actually begin to doubt if it happened at all.

          • Sarah P.

            Hello Shifting,
            Bingo. When you said: “It’s somewhat difficult to come up with examples as you are quite often left wondering “WHAT JUST HAPPENED??” And then you actually begin to doubt if it happened at all.”

            That is really the perfect way to summarize the gas-lighting experience. Some recipients of gas-lighting first ask “what just happened” because they are trying to wrap their mind around the experience.

            It turns out that (as humans) our physical body takes in all information, whether good or bad, and processes it microseconds before our brain can put the words to the experience. The more illogical the situation, the more we can doubt ourselves. That is a huge red-flag that someone is being gas-light. An individual may feel something and that something takes a person off guard. Their body knows something is wrong. But if the experience is subtle, a person may be left wondering if they are interpreting something correctly or if it happened. I don’t know if that was precisely your experience.

            But, what you said about gas-lighting is really the perfect way to encapsulate the experience from the point of view of the person who is being gas-lit.

            Shifting, please don’t feel you have to take time flipping through Robin’s book for examples. I was just wondering if you had an example of what the Nice Guy gas-lighter looks like. \
            They are the hardest to spot!!!

            I cannot even come up with a good example because I have been personally exposed to the more outrageous ones.

            Here is an article by Dr. Stern. It’s a short one and she talks about the gas-light tango.

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/power-in-relationships/200903/identify-the-gaslight-effect-and-take-back-your-reality

            That is one dance I NEVER want to be caught up in again. The Gas-light Tango is harmful beyond words.

            • Shifting Impressions

              Sarah
              When I read the book I highlighted several sentences that jumped out at me so I have just been quickly rereading them…..just trying to see if I can put into words some of the examples from my own life. Looking back, though somewhat difficult, has also been encouraging, in the fact that there are no recent examples……our communication patterns have become much more open and honest.

              I also found Dr. Stern’s concept of three stages of gaslighting enlightening as well.

              Also, hope you feel better soon!

    • Nearly Normal

      Hi all. Nice article as usual, Sarah.

      I was not aware enough at the time to know whether there was gaslighting, but I’m pretty sure now that there was. I was pretty isolated and did not have friends to help ground me in reality.

      The reason I am pretty sure I was being gaslit was that I was constantly unsure of myself and what I knew or did not know. I would wonder, Am I being paranoid? Or is this a legitimate reason to be upset? At the time I was told repeatedly, “We’re just close friends,” and I had no hard evidence to go on. But I’m not sure I can pinpoint exactly when or what was said that was precisely gaslighting.

      P.S. Having a tough couple days. Just little things, plus some flashbacks to the “bad times”. I know I’ll get through it, and I can ride it out, but not pleasant at the moment. Hope y’all are doing better.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Nearly Normal,

        What has been going on the past couple of days? Care to share?

        I have had a bad past couple of days too; a flare -up of a rare, genetic disease that affects the liver, which is never fun. I had to cancel all appointments yesterday because it was so bad.

        Ugh… the “we are just friends” thing. Now I know when I hear someone talk about that, it’s red flag time.

        Nearly Normal, what has triggered you in the past couple of days?

        • Nearly Normal

          Hi Sarah.

          My wife and I had been talking about airline tickets for an upcoming trip. For some reason, my memories went back to an incident when she and the AP hugged in an airport. This was before DDay, although I had had suspicions and my wife and I had talked about my concerns. Her response was mostly “We’re just friends,” etc. (you know the drill). The airport hug went on a little too long, and then he got on a plane and left, and I never saw him again after that.

          It was a very unpleasant memory, especially when run through the later knowledge of the affair. I had not thought about it in a long time, (the actual incident happened about nineteen years ago) and then it just popped into my head when we were talking about airlines.

          Mostly, triggers like that have been fewer and less intense. Yeah, this one hurt a little and made me kind of grouchy for most of a day.

          Today I’m doing great. Did some activities with my wife. Communicating well. Nothing bad.

          I guess things never quite go away, but they get less intense over the years.

          • Nearly Normal

            Belated P.S.

            Hope your liver gets under control soon. That’s rough stuff. Will be praying for you, if that’s all right.

    • Sarah P.

      PS- I found a summary of the gas-lighting types in Dr. Stern’s book. Here they are:

      The Three Types of Gaslighters Defined
      In her book, The Gaslight Effect, Dr. Stern says that there are three types of gaslighters. She exposes the Glamour Gaslighter, Good-Guy Gaslighter, and the Intimidator.

      My abuser was a combination of the Intimidator (primarily) and Good-Guy. Do you see your gaslighter’s type in Dr. Stern’s list?

      Intimidators bully, withhold and guilt-trip.
      Verbal abuse in the form of a joke (“I’m just teasing! Can’t you take a joke?).
      Frequent temper tantrums, loud and scary.
      You feel afraid of him.
      He uses your worst fears against you (“You’re so stupid!” or “You’re just like your mother!”).
      He uses silence as a weapon.
      He does not seem to like you at all – he doesn’t like your attitudes, beliefs, etc.
      He threatens to leave, take your kids, leave you ruined, gut you like a pig, etc.
      Good-Guys need to appear good and reasonable while getting their own way.
      You can’t quite put your finger on “what’s wrong” or feel dissatisfied even though he appears to help and support you.
      He works to please you and others yet you feel unsettled and unheard.
      You feel he always gets his way in the end but you can’t figure out just how it happened.
      You describe a great relationship to yourself and others but increasingly feel depressed and discouraged about life in general.
      Glamour Gaslighters create a special world just for you.
      You and your friends are impressed by how romantic he is.
      He doesn’t seem to take your tastes into account when surprising or treating you romantically.

      He is overly charming in most situations.
      He appears two-faced in that you know what venom he spouts behind the backs of those he is most kind to in public.
      Your friends become nervous about how romantic he is (they sense a false front).
      Insists on being physically or otherwise romantic after you’ve told him you’re not into it right then.

      ‘You can find Dr. Sterns book on Amazon at The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life by Dr. Robin Stern. I recommend you read the product description near the end of the page as it offers 15 tell-tale signs of gaslighting.

      https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/10/gaslighting

      • Hopeful

        I am sorry you are not feeling well. It is such a challenge. Always take care of yourself first!

        This hit home. My husband is a master gaslighter. Even now I think about it. And what annoys me is he has begun using the term often in the past year. He was for sure the good guy gaslighter. I think some of this has to do with his profession. He has always been great with his words but add his education, training and real work experience and he is smooth. I always felt like what was wrong with me. I became quiet since it was easier to just not speak up. I turned to myself and created my own world. He tends to say statements that start with “you”. “you are always so stressed out, you need to relax, you need to not worry so much, why are you doing that, why are you making such a big deal out of xyz”. His perspective was and still is that he is very different than me. I always explain to him though when I have an issue I talk about how it makes me feel and he in turn tells me how that is wrong/not right/off. It is almost like we have a philosophical difference. And at the crux of it all is the dynamics in our marriage/society along gender lines. As I have told him he has never once had to worry about purchasing anything for our home, fixing anything, taking care of our kids etc unless I ask him in advance and schedule it with him. I still do not think he understands what a different life he leads only worrying about himself. He goes to sleep when he wants, gets up when he wants to, showers when he wants to, works all day without interruption, goes on trips etc. For me non of that has been my life since having kids. And I know I agreed to be the primary caregiver but it is so off balance. His comeback is that I have a relationship that he will never have with our kids and that once they are at college I will miss all of it. And he is right on both accounts but the emotional energy expended is adding up. Since dday things are different but still a huge imbalance. He also will say or do something and I literally have a physical reaction. He just has no idea and is shocked when I tell him. He does hear me and I think that is hard on our relationship since he knows how bad he hurt me and he was 100% the cause. Early on right around 5 months after dday right before dday 2 I remember him telling me he feared he had done too much damage for me to recover and heal (I think he meant in our marriage). Things are a lot better but that thought sits with me. Some days I feel like I am too damaged and affected by this still.

    • Nearly Normal

      Hi Hopeful.

      Yeah, Good Guy (Girl) Gaslighter for me too. Lots of putting me on the defensive. Easier to keep quiet.

      Don’t give up. Some days I feel damaged too, and sometimes i wonder if I’ll ever be completely healed. Maybe not. Perhaps some damage will always be there. Things get better, as you say, and overall they will keep getting better. From time to time it will still hurt, but you can get through those rough times.

      It sure is hard to get through to a Gaslighter. I remain convinced that my wife is not intentionally gaslighting, it’s just a defense mechanism that she can’t control. I could be wrong about that. But regardless, I think your husband wants to do right. “He does hear me,” and “He knows how bad he hurt me and he was 100% the cause.” Those two things make such a difference!

      (I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t know. Maybe it helps to hear it anyway.)

      • Hopeful

        Thanks for your reply. I will say he is no longer defensive. That is a huge change. I do think a lot of it is how he looks at the world. I call him on it every time. I still use the “i feel” statements and avoid “you” statements. It is just not easy. And I find it crazy since my husband is super successful. More than ever now. But he has a hard time handling all of the pressure and gets tired. So many stories I read are about men struggling with failure. He is the total opposite. Idk it is all complicated. He does appreciate me and listens it is just a challenge. I find what is hard that I never thought marriage would be easy but betrayal is such a major trauma and an extra layer. Sigh. Thanks!

    • TryingHard

      A favorite phrase for a gaslighting situation is “you’re crazy”. You’re crazy is a go to for every gaslighter. Especially for females.

      Before DDay we were cleaning his car and i found an earring in his car. Back seat 🙄. So I showed it to him and asked who’s it was. He innocently shrugged. He didn’t know. Said it was mine. I KNEW it wasn’t mine. It was a cheap replica of a pair of earrings from a famous designer. I knew that because i HAD the real ones in my drawer!!! I kept looking at the earring that day and asked him continually if he knew who’s it could be. We hadn’t had any woman in his car for a long time. I did think of one couple with whom we’d gone out. I even asked her if she lost an earring. She said No. i asked him again a couple days later. My hackles were raised. Then it came out “you’re crazy. It’s got to be your earring”!!! Gruess what? He almost talked me into believing it was mine. I even went so far as to check my own earrings to see if it was indeed mine!! I knew it wasn’t. I kept thinking about that damn earring but i had no other evidence. It couldn’t be what i thought it was. I AM crazy!!!

      So i took a picture of the earring. He took it and kept it in his console in his car. He told her i found it. They decided a good cover was to leave it in his car patiently waiting to be returned to its owner 😡 Ha worked for me.

      When DDay came i looked up that picture and the date. It was about a year and a half before DDay. I asked him at the time of DDay if that earring was hers. He said Yes it was. He also admitted how nervous he was that I’d found it. He thought for sure he’d been caught. He couldn’t believe i let it drop. But in my mind i hadn’t let it drop but i believed his assertion that it was I who was crazy. He’d convinced me that that earring just magically appeared in the back seat of his car. As if stuck on someone’s shoe or clothing. He was innocent. How dare i accuse him?!?! Did i believe him or my lying eyes and mind?!? Yep i believed HIM. What an idiot, fool, dolt, CHUMP!

      There were other examples too as i looked back. When you don’t KNOW you don’t know. But the best friend a gaslighter has is your own willingness to WANT to believe them. They’ve got you in their back pocket then. This works across most relationships. Not just marital ones. I’d say all relationships.

      I warn to all. Check your own beliefs. Believe and trust yourself and your own gut. Ask yourself if you’re wanting to believe your gaslighter a little to much? Stand firm in what you know. Stand firm with the evidence. Ask an outside person, if you heard this or saw that what would YOU believe/think? This will validate your gut. Ask yourself if my friend or relative told me this gaslighters story what would you tell them? Reframe the story. And mostly know YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. You are quite sane and you are RIGHT.

      • Shifting Impressions

        Trying Hard
        You make such a good point about wanting to believe…..in fact we want to believe so badly that we silence that niggling feeling deep in our gut. I think that reframing the story is an extremely good idea. I know that usually when a friend is telling me about a particular situation, my radar immediately starts buzzing when there is gaslighting going on. Much easier to spot when it’s not you. I even find that happens as I read some of the comments here…..I think that person is being gaslit!!!

        Years ago a close friend told me how she found condoms in the back of her husband’s car. When she confronted him…..he said his high school students planted them there to play a joke on him…..really!! She bought it….me not so much!! Note: he cheated in the past and had a history of using porn. Yet she really wanted to believe him.

    • TryingHard

      SI—exactly !! Now had you told your condom friend that same account she’d have looked at you like you were nuts. Why were you buying that story she’d gave thought? Lol that story reminds me of when my mother found my birth control pills. I told her i was keeping them for my friend “Judy”. Pretty sure she bought because of course Judy was a tart!!!

      When you’re being lied to and gaslit it’s so easy to buy into the story. And you do feel crazy and the liar/gaslighter is more than happy to affirm your idea that you are crazy or dramatic or making stuff up for attention. It makes your world wobbly. What’s up is down what’s down is up. Nothing makes sense anymore and you end up not trusting yourself.

      And i get why. Who wants to upend their life their world their safety, or rather perceived safety. Honestly since i wrote that comment I’ve been shaky all morning. It brings back so much i went through. That earring incident gave him the perfect opportunity to confess. If he was so unhappy he needed to cheat he could have gotten out at that point. He didn’t plant the earring. That i believe and maybe that’s what real gaslighting is. Maybe his was just a bold face lie!! But why make me think it was I who was being crazy and dramatic and how dare I accuse???? and the evidence was right there ?? It’s cruel.

      As i said there were other instances where i felt he was lying or gaslighting. I don’t know if he was trying to drive me nuts or just covering his pathetic ass!

    • Shifting Impressions

      Trying-yes, had he planted the earring, that would have been gaslighting to the extreme. But by keeping the BS somewhat “unbalanced” it takes the focus and suspicion away from them.

      I can relate to you being shaky after writing your comment. Just looking back at the things I underlined in the book THE GAS LIGHT EFFECT, brought up all sorts of memories and bad feelings.

      When I first started dating my husband (we were in our teens) he was a smoker but unbeknownst to me he kept that hidden from his Mom. Easy to do since his Dad was a chain smoker and the house reeked of smoke. So for his birthday I bought him a really nice lighter (the good old days, lol!!). Later that day his mother asked him what I had gotten him for his birthday and he said I GOT HIM NOTHING. Thy lie fell so easily off his lips…..he made me look bad so he could look good. That should have been a warning sign. The thing is, his Mom probably wouldn’t have liked that he smoked, but she would not have made an issue out of it.

      But it was during the two EAs and for a few years after that the gaslighting, albeit very subtle kicked in. Should it start up again for any reason I would consider it a huge warning sign that he might be cheating again. It’s hard to even put that in writing.

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