They know you trust them, they know your weaknesses, and now they use those weaknesses against you so much that you think you are going mad.
When you enter a relationship, you are mostly full of positivity and trust your partner readily. However, you might forget to gauge if the partner is on the same page as you. Initially, you're unaware if they are reliable and trustworthy. So, it is important to keep your eyes open to make sure that the person you are intimate with deserves to be taken seriously. You never know if they're the toxic type, because more often than not, they might be very charming.
Toxicity comes in various shapes and sizes. It's a spectrum, really. One of the more common traits of a toxic person is gaslighting. It's how they control and manipulate you; they make you question reality and confuse you, in order to gain power over you.
Even the most intelligent person can fall victim to this as the manipulative person is rather slick about it. Imagine if the person you trust the most starts telling you things that didn't happen. Wouldn't you believe them? Clearly, anyone can become a victim to gaslighting and abusers, narcissists, and toxic people are pros at victimizing you this way.
They start out slow so that you, the victim, don't realize you are being told about a different reality than you are experiencing. The term gaslight came from the movie with the same name in 1944 where a man manipulates his wife so much that she thinks she is losing her mind. In recent times, if you have watched Gone Girl or Girl On The Train, you would know what it means to be shown a different reality.
You don't have to ever become a victim to gaslighting ever in your life, if you know how to catch it in the act. Here are eight signs that are dead giveaways:
They lie blatantly and consistently, even when you know that they are lying. Unless you confront them every time, the lying doesn't stop and the only reason they do it is to set a pattern so that when they start lying about the big stuff, you let those fly too.
Even when you have proof that they said something different, they deny it. And when it happens over and over, you end up doubting yourself. Imagine them telling you that they would be picking up the groceries and later deny making the promise entirely and instead blame you for not doing it. Would you not cave in, even for a minute, and wonder if you really promised to do it instead?
They make you believe that what you have is not good enough and who you are is not good enough. They can use your job or kids to tell you how bad a mother you are for continuing to work and not giving enough attention to your kids. They could also tell you that you have many negative traits for which nobody would accept you but he does and so he starts making you dependent on him by killing your confidence.
Since the process of gaslighting is slow, it takes a while for them to unleash its full effect and you to feel it until it's too late. Gradually, you start doubting everything that the two of you have spoken about and even your lived reality. For instance, in the Girl On The Train, the main character genuinely believes she is an alcoholic when that was not the case.
If they were negative all the time, you would catch on. Instead, they use praise as rewards after telling you for a long time that you are worthless. It makes you trust them again and also makes you work for their validation. Soon, you want to please this person because you have only received negativity from them that you want the positive reaffirmation badly. They make you think that their approval of you matters to you. These people are deliberate and calculative in what they do.
They tell you how badly everyone thinks of you and soon you are a fish in a bowl, completely alone. They create a situation in which it's you against the world, whether the world was actually against you or not. You end up thinking of this individual as the only trustworthy person for being next to you but you never figure out how they divided you from your loved ones.
They say something but do something else entirely. Later, if you try to confront them they remind you what they had said instead of what they did to maintain the confusion. It is important to focus on the actions than what they are saying because the action is where the real intention is.
They want you to think that your mental ability is out of whack and they are the only person you can trust. They make you think that you are living a different reality so that you think that you are crazy. They could also be telling others that you are crazy behind your back. If they keep telling tall tales about you to others repeatedly, eventually they will believe it.
They accuse you of things that they are doing so that you are busy fighting to save your reputation and defending yourself instead of focussing on their actions. They could be unfaithful, all the while accusing you of doing that!