Gaslighting is manipulative behavior used to confuse someone and make them second-guess their own beliefs, instincts, and actions. It’s designed to make the victim feel like they’re going crazy or that what they believe isn’t real, when really the perpetrator is to blame for making them feel this way in the first place. If you’re worried your man might be gaslighting you, read on to see 10 signs he might be doing just that!
Gaslighting occurs when a person is manipulated to doubt their own perception of reality, and it can be terribly damaging to a relationship. Whether it’s done through self-doubt or other means, keep an eye out for these telltale signs.
1) He Fails to Make Eye Contact
A healthy relationship consists of open, honest communication. Your partner should be looking at you while he’s talking to you; if not, there may be something fishy going on. If eye contact is a problem, it can be a sign that your significant other doesn’t respect or trust you—that he’s hiding something. (source)
But when your boyfriend consistently avoids making eye contact with you, don’t worry…there might just be a perfectly valid explanation for it! Psychologist Amy Morin reveals why some men avoid eye contact: Some guys aren’t as skilled in communicating nonverbally as others.
2) He Constantly Misunderstands You
According to Psychologist Robin Stern, author of The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life, if a partner constantly interprets what you say in a way that’s unflattering or unflattering, he may be trying to manipulate or confuse you. Your words are being twisted against you, she explains. Your perceptions are being challenged by someone who wants to convince you that you don’t know what you’re talking about. You start second-guessing yourself. You might even start lying to avoid feeling bad about something—or having something held over your head later on.
3) He Discredits Your Feelings/Intuition
Is he constantly telling you that your feelings are wrong? Do his actions or words make it seem like he doesn’t respect or value what you have to say? If so, pay attention to these subtle hints because they could be a sign of deeper issues. Remember: Never ignore red flags! Even if they feel minute at first, they can grow and develop into something more sinister over time. It’s best to deal with problems as soon as possible before they escalate.
4) He Interprets Things Too Literally
While many people tend to be overly literal, a person who’s trying to manipulate you will use that tendency against you. To him, it’s not a metaphor or a figure of speech when he says he’s keeping score, and if you don’t follow through on your end of an agreement exactly how he wanted it done, then he thinks something is wrong with him—not that he pressured you into something. He also doesn’t realize his behavior can have serious consequences for you. For example, if he makes threats about hurting himself in order to get what he wants from you, but then actually follows through on those threats, his lack of awareness can make him feel like it was all your fault.
5) His Explanations Don’t Seem Logical
If you’re ever questioning whether or not something he’s doing or saying makes sense, trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, that probably means it isn’t. Be wary of any explanations for his behavior that don’t quite add up to what he does. For example, if he says I didn’t say that! You must have heard me wrong! when you know you didn’t mishear him—it might be a sign of gaslighting.
6) He Reminds You of Every Flaw in Your Relationship (Or in Yourself!)
A classic tactic of a toxic partner is to tell you about all of his ex’s flaws. He might say things like, My ex-wife didn’t have nearly as many friends as you do, or If my ex-girlfriend had an education like yours, we probably wouldn’t have broken up. This trick will help him convince you that he has low standards and that it would be silly for him to let go of someone like you.
7) He is Amusing at Times, but Overly Critical Most of the Time
If his idea of a good time revolves around playing mean-spirited pranks on other people, laughing at others’ misfortunes, and making fun of everyone else in any way possible… run. While most normal people have both fun-loving and critical sides to their personalities, a person who alternates between being hilarious (but insensitive) one minute and hostile or bullying (and often inappropriate) the next minute might be using humor as a cover for deeply ingrained insecurities.
8) He Always Has an Excuse for Not Following Through on Promises or Plans
If he’s always making excuses and never sticking to his word, he might be trying to manipulate you into thinking that things are really his fault when they aren’t. For example, if he repeatedly reschedules dinner dates or takes forever to get back to you after promising something, there’s a chance that he knows it will make you angry and/or upset. In turn, he manipulates those feelings by making himself out as innocent.
9) His Lovableness Changes Suddenly and Frequently
It’s normal for us to have moments of impulsivity. We often say things we don’t mean when we are angry or hurt. But if a man’s behavior toward you suddenly changes after he gives in to an impulsive moment and then doubles down on it, he might be intentionally manipulating you with techniques associated with emotional abuse called gaslighting. Gaslighters make their victims doubt themselves and everything they do.