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Gaslighting. What is it, how to recognize it, and how to protect yourself.

The definition of gaslighting is that they want to distort our perception of reality.

It came from a movie where we see a couple, where the husband would say to his wife, “Did you turn off the light?” and she would say “yes” and he would reply, “but you didn’t!” and the light was still on. Because the husband wanted to drive his wife crazy and would secretly turn the light back on!

Gaslighting is very difficult to understand until you experience it. A first sign to recognize it is when you start feeling like you’re going crazy, when you begin to doubt yourself, when your mind starts getting confused, and you start asking those around you.

For example, you have an argument with your partner, you remember the events happening in a certain way, and then they present them completely differently.

One way to confirm this, because it is quite manipulative, to the point where you really start to doubt your memory and whether you remember things correctly, you can ask the witnesses you have in front of you if things happened that way.

The reason gaslighting happens is not necessarily to manipulate you. It usually happens in romantic relationships. Suddenly, when there is a disagreement, the member who decides to leave to assert things, let’s say the woman for example saying “I’m leaving because you’re not doing this and that,” the man, at that moment when he is relaxed because he thinks his partner will never leave, begins to realize the danger, so he enters into a negotiation “I want to keep her,” so he starts to reinterpret everything by saying “okay, I didn’t say it so absolutely, I didn’t mean that. When you were asking to start a family, I said at this moment I don’t want to, not that I don’t want to in general!”

The goal is for the person doing the gaslighting not to lose control of the situation, not to lose their partner! So they might say to them, “why are you taking it so seriously, things didn’t happen like that, you’ve confused things in your mind!”

It mainly happens from men to women and this has to do with patriarchy and the fact that roles were once very clear. That the man was the provider, bringing money home, while the woman was the satellite orbiting the family and the coordinator and she was the one organizing everything. Completely clear roles. But when women entered the workforce and started working, asserting themselves, getting promotions, and in today’s era becoming this dynamic model we see, which in some cases makes more money than their partner, this brought an imbalance and a loss of roles.

That’s why we now observe more “dowry hunters” to be men and not women. Women don’t chase the rich groom, but men chase the rich bride. There has been a reversal in this as well. So a man who feels he’s losing his role in a relationship, who is no longer the man who will be admired by his Greek mother raising her son like a pasha, who will be served by her and his sister if he has one.

When he finds himself in a relationship where suddenly he has to be equal and his partner tells him “I want you to clarify 5 things for me, I feel you’re flirting with so-and-so colleague and cheating on me” and the man says it’s not what you think, you haven’t understood it properly, it never happened while the woman may have seen messages and he distorts reality for her, he does it to lighten his position and not lose his partner.

If there are no witnesses present, the one who is subjected to gaslighting could, to protect themselves, record some events so that later in a conflict they can have evidence. Or they could create a circle of close people they trust for the relationship and talk about it and what’s happening, narrating events and asking friends not to judge but to listen, so later they can reintroduce the information by asking “how do you remember me saying these things?”

The issue is for the person subjected to gaslighting to come out of this position of abuse, to become an observer and to have control over the situation with a clear mind to make a decision about what to do.

The biggest victims of gaslighting are mainly only children, perhaps because they didn’t grow up in a small community like children who have siblings.

For the people who do the gaslighting, for this manipulative behavior to occur, it means they already have enough conflicts with their partner and something is not right in the relationship, so when to leave depends on how much one can tolerate such behavior.

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