7 Signs You Are A Victim Of Gaslighting

Narcissists and other manipulators can make you believe you’re crazy. Here are the warning signs.

Editor’s Note: Though the pronoun “he” is used throughout to refer to the narcissist, the behaviors described are also enacted by women with men as the victims.

If you are (or were) married to a narcissist, then you may be familiar with the term, “gaslighting.” It is the narcissist’s masterful manipulation technique to gain control over you. As your relationship begins to weaken, he carefully causes you slight anxiety or confusion. But as the relationship worsens, he punitively devalues you, and you thereby question your mental sanity. Extreme or long term gaslighting can ultimately lead you to having a distorted sense of reality – not knowing who is right or wrong, feeling guilty for being the person you are, and losing any remaining self-confidence.

Gaslighting is an extremely dangerous form of emotional abuse, as it causes the narcissist’s victim to question her judgment, on even the smallest issues, thereby making her dependent of him. If, for example, she is repeatedly told that she is bad with money, she will begin to believe it, and think that without her narcissist by her side, she will be financially ruined.

The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1944 film, ‘Gaslight,’ where a young woman named Paula falls madly in love with her suitor, Gregory. After an intense romance that led to marriage, Gregory begins to display pathological narcissistic behavior, leading to Paula’s insanity. In one scene, Gregory tampers with the gas light in the attic, causing the house lights to dim. When Paula mentions hearing footsteps in the attic and the lights dimming, Gregory tells her it’s completely her imagination, making Paula question her judgment. Gaslighting is now the widely used term for when a narcissist truly messes with your head.

Depending on the stage of your narcissistic relationship, gaslighting at first appears to be subtle, but then gradually worsens. Below are the signs you are a victim of gaslighting, in order in which they may occur. This list illustrates that as the relationship declines, so does your mental clarity and grasp of reality and truth.

1. You become addicted to his grandiosity

When your whirlwind romance is at its peak, you have intense feelings of euphoria – you are almost in a drunken dance with his charm and abundant attention. Your brain releases endorphins, sending you in a complete state of intoxication. And because you likely had low self-esteem before you met him, the joy you feel can only occur when you are with him, thus making you dependent on him. Before you know it, you are addicted to your narcissist.

2. You see red flags but you can’t pinpoint the problem

As your narcissist becomes bored with you, his attention begins to dwindle and he searches for new supply. He may discreetly put you down, saying you’re “needy” or “overly sensitive.” His once empathetic affection for you has now turned to apathy, and this sudden change leaves you in a foggy state of confusion. You can’t pinpoint the problem, so you think something is wrong with you, and you do everything you can to fix it.

3. When you no longer have his attention, you actually experience withdrawal

Because you are addicted to him, and no longer getting your “fix,” you experience intense anxiety. Withdrawal from him may lead you to become fixated by his every action, wondering what he is doing, trying to please him, and obsessing on how to save the relationship. Your addiction, however, only causes him disgust, despite the fact that he dispensed you the enslaving elixir.

4. You are ignored, then attended to, but then ignored again, so you lower the bar for yourself

Now that you no longer have your full fix, you will take what you can get. While a narcissist may emotionally discard you, he will still keep you around for when supply is low. So he may give you a glimpse of affection here and there, giving you hope that he is coming back to you. This further declines your self-esteem, however, making you think you are only worth sub par affection.

5. You second guess yourself and question your sanity

To keep you within close reach, he will gaslight your every request. While this seems counter-intuitive, the manipulator is puppeteering you. You may ask him to join you for a dinner party, but rather than simply declining, he will denigrate your friends and even scold you for having an interest in them. But because you are still in love with him, you now question your choices in friends. You withdraw from them in order to please him, and he further reigns in his puppet strings. Slowly, you second guess every choice of yours, making you more dependent of him, which is the narcissist’s ultimate goal.

6. You feel guilty and are always apologizing

As you now second guess yourself, anything you do to repair the relationship feels like a mistake. If your narcissist is threatened by you experimenting with a new approach, he may experience narcissistic injury, erupting into an extreme rage or placating you with deafening silence. So you apologize, retreat, and feel bad for trying something new. Unable to move, you walk on egg shells, now feeling captive by your abuser. You fantasize about breaking free, but you feel hostage due to his masterful gaslighting.

7. When you mention divorce, he will retreat into victim mode

Now that you have tried everything but failed, you want to give up and end the marriage. But when you mention divorce, he will stab at your ability to function as a human being, and that you could never get by without him. Rather than taking responsibility for his actions, he will blame you for a multitude of infractions: you don’t want to have sex, you want too much sex, you’re lazy, you’re fat, you’re insane, you’re unstable, and you should be LUCKY that he has stuck around to support you. After all, no one else would ever tolerate you but him. Now you’re giving up, how could you do such a thing, how could you do that to the children, how could you do that to him, you are so selfish. And because your sense of reality is so distorted at this point, you actually feel bad for him, so you stay.

And so the cycle continues.

If you are victim of gaslighting, you must remember why your narcissist does this. Their distorted sense of self, and their fear of being exposed that they are no longer truly special, gives them the ammo to play ultimate mind games. You aren’t the problem – they are. Do not succumb to his manipulation – you are worthy of love and safety, and a narcissist’s gaslighting will only prevent you from realizing it. You must break free before your sanity is ultimately compromised.

7 Signs You Are A Victim Of Gaslighting Reviewed by Rid on 1:17:00 PM Rating: 5


  1. The condition is real but affects both genders. This article is sexist. "The only reason you were told we live in a male dominated culture is because we live in a female dominated culture."

    1. Read the Editors note in the beginning-

      Editor’s Note: Though the pronoun “he” is used throughout to refer to the narcissist, the behaviors described are also enacted by women with men as the victims.

    2. IKR they should change, He To They.
      Oh and i agree with you 100% the only men who dont bend over backwards for woman like cock

    3. Yeah they could change He to, They.
      and yes we do, everything revolves around woman and sex. pressure from both parties but females are in the position of power in those regards. behind every great man there is and was a woman. so i don't get the whole new aged feminist movement? its kind of a contradiction if you ask me.

  2. Here's the book to get if you want to find inner freedom.


  3. Replies
    1. This article is 100% legit. I was in a relationship with a narcissist and this described life with that person to a T. I've ready multiple books in effort to help me recover that were both personal stories and clinical research studies. This is extremely accurate and if you think it's stupid then you're only ignorant and naive.

    2. This article is 100% legit. I was in a relationship with a narcissist and this described life with that person to a T. I've ready multiple books in effort to help me recover that were both personal stories and clinical research studies. This is extremely accurate and if you think it's stupid then you're only ignorant and naive.

  4. Funny,but it's 100% always women who are left after a longer relationship who use the word narcists after being left

    1. you can't even spell it, you are blindly showing your complete ignorance. I, the woman, was the narcissist many times as my exs' told me.

    2. you can't even spell it, you are blindly showing your complete ignorance. I, the woman, was the narcissist many times as my exs' told me.

    3. lol, another "victim" of emotional abuse attacking someone's intelligence over a typo. Ohh the irony

    4. I think, if you actually read what Lisa said, you'd discover that she never admitted to being the victim, and in fact, the opposite.

      It's pretty bad if your ignorance and self loathing is so bad that you automatically assume a female is playing the "victim card", even when saying otherwise.

  5. Narcissist is just a word until you have one in ur life. Everyone displays narcissistic behaviors from time to time but these people will make you question what you thought normal is. A relationship where both partners want eachother mutually is rare. Usually one person likes the other more. If youre always the one that everyone wants, it can result in making you narcissistic. The things a narcissist will put you through will stand out from previous partners. For example; mine lived about an hour n a half drive away, one time I drove to see her and she wouldnt open the door or pick up the phone. Many times she would ask me to leave at 3am cause I was somehow disrupting her sleep. On one occassion she invited a guy over, told me "he just a friend" then asked me to leave. Sometimes when shed get mad shed just call other guys to pick her up and flaunt it in my face. Narcissist behavior is outrageous and just when you thought you seen it all they pull out another trick out of their bag. They make you think WTF most of the time.

  6. I lived with narcissist for 20 years, at first I believed everything he said but after about 10 years I realised what he was, but he was a master manipulator and persuaded me to move far away from my family and friends so that I would have to depend on him. I finally escaped and I'm free now but I do regret the damage he may have caused my children and the wasted years.

  7. I had an on and off relationship with a narcissist. At first I did't get it but It finally sank in when I realized she was telling me I said things that I knew I would never say to anyone. She would insist I said these things but my memory was going. I knew my memory wasn't as good as it used to be so I bought into her B.S. Then it hit not only was my memory still good it was better than most peoples my age, and these were nasty things I just wouldn't say to anyone. Once I caught on I wouldn't play her games anymore and since she couldn't manipulate me anymore she left. So long to bad rubbish.

  8. Sexist article and quite possibly a form of gaslighting in itself. What a perfect ad hominen attack. Accuse someone of being abusive via this manipulation tactic and suddenly all your own imperfections and manipulatatory techiques become invisible. Let us face reality here, all individuals in a relationship manipulate the other party. This is in and of itself not necessarily a bad thing. Relationships, be they romantic or otherwise, comprise a social economic exchange. In any exchange each party will endevour to maximize their personal return and minimize the investment required to receive that return. We, as people, do not like to admit to this fact and so we try to shift any example (albeit an extreme one in this case) into the realm of psycopathy. Please just stop with the narrative of the special snowflake abused by the evil man. I am not a special snowflake and neither is anyone else. Grow up.

  9. While much of this article is good, the author clearly does not understand the difference between gas lighting and normal (if you can call it that) psychological abuse. Furthermore, I have to doubt that they actually saw the movie "Gaslight"- because if they did they would be aware that the villain's motive was to drive his wife crazy by denying facts visible to the naked eye in addition to telling her she was imagining things she heard. I actually am a victim of a gaslighter as well as people who were psychologically abusive in more traditional ways, AND have a degree in sociology (classes for which are where I first learned the term "gaslighting"). The reason I am mentioning these inaccuracies is not to nitpick. I only say anything because these kind of inaccuracies can do a LOT of harm in a society where people often believe everything they read. I have been in the situation where I quoted a bad reference (who was only a little off, like this author) when trying to explain what was going on at home. Because I used bad information to explain what was going on, no one believed and/or thought it was a big deal. I was just a little girl at the time. No one ever helped me. No one ever believed me-& my relatives STILL treat me like a liar, or (at best) like I am insane and delusional. I don't want another person to suffer because an author didn't bother to really do all the research and/or didn't understand what they were writing about.

  10. Why is it not both genders? I have been in the presence of couples in which husband was the abuser, and the wife was the abuser in gas-lighting. Indirectly, this article gives power to the woman abuser now armed with more ammo pointing the finger to her subservient husband about how he has gaslit her life.


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