10 Signs of Gaslighting: Are You Being Manipulated?

Have you ever questioned your own recall or sanity following a conversation with someone? You inform them that they said something cruel, but they flatly deny it. You lend them something worthwhile, but then they say you never did. These encounters can be quite puzzling, leaving you questioning if your recollection is wrong or if you're exaggerating.

This is the insidious nature of gaslighting, a type of emotional abuse that manipulates a person's view of reality. Gaslighters gradually damage your self-esteem and trust by denying events, diminishing your feelings, and manipulating the truth. This essay will teach you how to recognize gaslighting's red flags. With this understanding, you can protect yourself and form healthy connections.

What is "gaslighting"?

The 1938 drama "Gas Light," in which a husband deceives his wife into thinking she is insane by decreasing the gaslights in their house and refusing to acknowledge it, is where the phrase "gaslighting" originated. The drama manipulates light in a literal way, but the fundamental idea of gaslighting is far more subtle. Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse in which the perpetrator purposefully causes the victim to doubt their own sanity, memory, and sense of reality.

To do this, gaslighters use a variety of strategies. Even in cases where there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, people may plainly deny things they have said or done. They might downplay your feelings, which could make you feel dramatic or too sensitive. They might even distort the facts and hold you accountable for their deeds, which would cause you to doubt your own judgment.

It's critical to discern between constructive conflict and gaslighting. Open communication and a sincere effort to comprehend one another's viewpoints are prerequisites for disagreements. Contrarily, gaslighting is all about power and control. The goal is to instill self-doubt and dependence on the victim's perception of reality. As we'll see later, this can have a catastrophic effect on the victim's mental health.

10 signs of gaslighting

Here are 10 warning signs that could indicate that you or someone you know is gaslighting:

1. Constant Denial

Gaslighters are experts at rewriting history. You may recall an argument or an occurrence, but they will vehemently deny it ever happened. They may even attempt to persuade you that you dreamt of it or that your memory is defective. This can be especially confusing, making you question your own perception.

Example: You confront your partner about a cruel comment they made earlier. They sneer, "I've never said anything like that!" You're just being sensitive again."

2. Trivializing Your Feelings

They frequently disregard your emotions as trivial or exaggerated. They may utilize statements such as "you're overreacting," "you're too sensitive," or "you're making a big deal out of nothing." This repeated invalidation might make you feel as if your emotions are invalid, leading you to question your own judgment.

Example: You might voice your dissatisfaction with a workplace condition. Your friend rejects it, saying, "Oh, come on, it can't be that bad. You just need to toughen up a little.”

3. Shifting blame and responsibility

They excel at diverting blame and making you feel accountable for their behavior. They may twist things to make it appear that you are to blame, or they may use guilt trips to influence you. This can leave you feeling confused and accepting guilt for situations that are not your fault.

Example: You mention that your spouse was late again, leading you to miss your dinner reservation. They blame you for not reminding them sooner, and you use the chat to demonstrate how rude you can be when you're furious.

4. Making You Question Your Sanity

Gaslighters frequently use comments like "you're crazy," "you're paranoid," or "you're losing it" to challenge your sense of self and reality. They may sow seeds of doubt about your mental health, prompting you to question your own observations and judgments.

Example: Suppose you discover that a crucial document is missing and inquire with your roommate. They deny seeing it and claim that you are misplacing items due to stress.

5. Using What You Love Against You

They can manipulate you by exploiting your vulnerabilities and the things you value. They may use your anxieties, insecurities, or even loved ones against you. They use this strategy to isolate you and increase your dependence on them for emotional support.

Example: You tell your partner you're nervous about giving a public presentation at work. They exploit this information to disparage you, saying things like, "With your anxiety, how will you ever succeed?"

6. Keeping You Off Balance

Causing uncertainty and disruption is what they excel at. They may contradict themselves repeatedly, change plans abruptly, or commit outright lies. This unexpected behavior keeps you on edge and makes it tough to believe your own intuition.

Example: Your supervisor assigns you a specific task with a specified deadline. The next day, they deny assigning you the task and accuse you of being irresponsible for failing to do something they never assigned.

7. Isolating You from Others

Gaslighters typically attempt to regulate who they interact with. They may make disparaging remarks about your friends and family, discourage you from socializing, or even attempt to undermine your relationships. This seclusionist approach makes you more open to deception and less likely to seek help from others.

Example: Your partner is continually criticizing your best buddy, referring to them as a terrible influence. They pressure you to spend less time with them and encourage you to rely on them for all of your social needs.

8. Gaslighting by Proxy

They can occasionally manipulate you with the assistance of others. They may spread stories about you, pit you against friends or family, or distort the truth to make you appear terrible. This might ruin your reputation and make it difficult to trust others.

Example: A coworker complains to your manager about a little argument you had, misrepresenting your actions and painting you in an unfavorable light. This leaves you bewildered and unsure of who to trust.

9. Making You Feel Like a Burden

They might make you feel like you're constantly causing problems or inconveniences. They may guilt-trip you for requesting assistance or attention, making you feel as if you are asking too much. This can lower your self-esteem and make you reluctant to voice your desires.

Example: If you need help with a home duty, ask your partner. They sighed deeply and said, "Here we go again." "Why can't you do anything yourself?"

10. The Fog of Confusion

A persistent sense of bewilderment and self-doubt distinguishes gaslighting. The victim feels a gap between their perception and the gaslighter's version of reality. This constant influence can make it difficult to believe your own judgment and memory.

Example: You continuously doubt your own decisions and actions. You may apologize for something you haven't done or feel as if you're treading carefully around the gaslighter to avoid any dispute.

The effects of gaslighting


The effects of gaslighting extend well beyond the initial bewilderment it causes. Persistently controlling someone's emotions can seriously harm their mental state. Those who are gaslighted frequently encounter:

  • Anxiety and Depression: Persistent uncertainty and doubt can cause persistent anxiety and helplessness, which can result in sadness.

  • Low Self-Esteem: Gaslighting weakens a person's confidence and sense of self-worth. The victim can begin to doubt their own judgment and recollections.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): In extreme circumstances, gaslighting can produce symptoms including nightmares, flashbacks, and hypervigilance, which are hallmarks of PTSD.

  • Isolation and Relationship Issues: The gaslighter's attempts to isolate the victim may have a negative impact on their relationships with friends and family. Victims' mistrust and terror might also make it difficult for them to establish wholesome love connections.

These consequences emphasize how crucial it is to identify gaslighting and take precautions to keep yourself safe.

How to Deal with Gaslighting

Here are some vital actions to take back control in the event that you suspect gaslighting:

  • Document the abuse: Maintain a journal or document conversations (with consent in your community) to monitor the gaslighter's actions and offer proof of their tactics.

  • Trust Your Gut: Never discount your own emotions or senses. If something feels strange, it's probably something else.

  • Confide in Trusted Individuals: Seek out assistance from loved ones, friends, or a therapist who can provide direction and validation for your situation.

  • Set boundaries: Try to avoid getting too close to the gaslighter. If not, set unambiguous boundaries and be ready to end exploitative relationships.

  • Put self-care first: Make an effort to engage in activities that enhance your emotional and mental health. Exercise, mindfulness practices, and quality time with loved ones are a few examples of this.

  • Seek Professional Help: To build coping skills and recover from the emotional abuse, think about pursuing professional treatment if the gaslighting is severe or you're finding it difficult to handle.

Remember, you are not alone. Recognizing the signs of gaslighting and taking these steps can help you reclaim your sense of self and live a healthier life.


Gaslighting is a severe kind of emotional abuse that can have long-term ramifications. However, recognizing its symptoms and taking action can mitigate its impact.

This essay has taught you how to recognize gaslighting's red flags in yourself and those around you. Remember, respecting your instincts and prioritizing your health are critical. Don't be afraid to seek assistance from reputable individuals or professional help if necessary.

If you notice gaslighting in your own life, you are not weak. It takes enormous strength to see the deception and seek a healthy route. There is potential for healing and developing stronger, more supportive relationships.

Are you questioning your own reality in a relationship or dealing with the consequences of gaslighting? A therapist can help you explore your emotions, create coping strategies, and boost your self-esteem.

Consider scheduling a consultation to discuss how therapy can help you heal from gaslighting and build healthier relationships.

FAQs about gaslighting

1. Does gaslighting equate to a straightforward disagreement?
No, gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse in which the victim is purposefully led to doubt reality. Open communication and a desire to understand one another are prerequisites for disagreements.
2. How can I determine if a friend is gaslighting me?
Does your friend make you feel like you're overreacting or consistently discount your emotions? Do they attempt to distance you from other people or fabricate stories to paint you in a negative light? These could be indicators of deception.
3. What consequences does gaslighting have in the long run?
Low self-esteem, anxiety, and despair can result from gaslighting. Additionally, it might make it harder for you to trust people, which could be detrimental to your relationships.
4. If I believe someone is gaslighting me, what should I do?
Have faith in your intuition! If it feels that way, something is probably off. Keep track of the gaslighter's actions and disclose them to a therapist, family member, or trusted friend. Prioritizing self-care and establishing boundaries are equally crucial actions.
5. I feel like he's gaslighting me, but I'm unsure if I should end our relationship. How am I able to help?
Getting out of an abusive relationship is really tough. A therapist can offer a secure environment in which you may consider your options, create coping skills, and strengthen your resolve.