Are You Being Gaslighted by Your Partner?

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Are You Being Gaslighted by Your Partner?

The term “gaslighting” is increasingly being used on social media and on popular TV shows such as Married at First Sight, Love Island and in soaps.

Gaslighting is an old phrase that originated from a 1938 play ‘Gas Lit’ and its subsequent adaptations. In the story, a husband manipulates his wife into doubting her sanity by dimming the gas lights in their home and then denying that the lights are changing.

Gaslighting in real life follows a similar pattern. The perpetrator systematically undermines the victim’s confidence in their perceptions, memories, and judgements.

Whilst the phrase is sometimes being misused or used in a trivial, comedic way on social media – it is not something that should be ridiculed. It is a particularly nasty form of coercive behaviour as it can be difficult for the target to see it for themselves. The more the abuser is able to inject this self-doubt into their partner, the more they are able to control them, and they become increasingly dependent on them, often not seeing the signs or being confident enough to leave the relationship.

Examples of Gaslighting in a Relationship

Gaslighting can take many forms and it can occur in many different relationships – not just marriages or partnership. It can happen at work, with friends and in families.

Some typical examples of gaslighting in a relationship include:

  • Denying events, experiences or conversations, making someone question their memory and sanity.
  • Deflecting attention away from their actions onto their partner.
  • Downplaying the victim’s feelings, concerns or experiences making them feel irrational.
  • Accusations of being ‘over-sensitive’ or ‘over-reacting’.
  • Twisting the truth or exaggerating to place fault on the other person.
  • Isolating their partner from friends or family.
  • Calling you names such as crazy, delusional, mental etc.

How Gaslighting Can Make You Feel

It is often not until you see the behaviour portrayed on the TV, talked about or witnessed with someone else that it can become apparent that it is or has been happening to you.

Some things that you might feel if you are being gaslight by your partner include:

  • Doubt – constantly second guessing yourself for getting things wrong
  • Confusion – getting muddled in your own head when they contradict you
  • Self-Critical – being hard on yourself for making mistakes in your relationship
  • Isolation – feeling unable to lean on your support network
  • Shame – feeling ashamed about expressing your feelings
  • Losing yourself – feeling unable to be your true self
  • Lack of confidence – losing your self-esteem and feeling more reliant on your partner
  • Mental Health worries - heightened anxiety, paranoia or depression

What to do if you are Being Gaslit by your Partner

As you can imagine, talking to an emotionally abusive partner and telling them that you think they are gaslighting them will probably be laughed off or twisted.

It is essential to take proactive steps to address the situation and protect yourself.

  1. Trust you Instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
  2. Start to record issues including dates and times.
  3. Set boundaries. Establish clear boundaries, communicate assertively and refuse to engage with manipulative or abusive behaviour.
  4. Seek support. Reach out to trusted friends, family members or mental health professional for support and validation. Taking to others can help.
  5. Consider professional help. If you feel unsafe or trapped, there are a number of places that can help you to either seek support and guidance or leave your relationship safely.

Gaslighting is a harmful form of psychological manipulation that can erode self-confidence, disrupt relationships and cause serious emotional distress.

By understanding the tactics used and the signs that you are being affected by gaslighting behaviour, you can start to recognise patterns and plan a way forward.

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect in a relationship.

Divorcing a Gaslighter

Separating from someone who has been emotionally controlling you is likely to be a difficult step to take. Especially if your confidence is at rock bottom.

Gaslighters are likely to act difficultly during divorce proceedings – they may try to talk you out of it, prevent it from progressing or try to influence your friends and family.

If you need legal support with a separation, divorce or child contact, then please get in touch with our approachable and understanding Family Law Team. We can provide you with the support you need to move on from an unfair and difficult situation.

Call us on 03444 124348 or email

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