The Collaborative Divorce Center

Translating Gaslighting in Relationships

Translating Gaslighting in Relationships

We hear a lot these days about gaslighting and sometimes it is hard to understand just what that means. One definition is the action of repetitively (and often brazenly) lying to someone to manipulate, and ultimately control them and the relationship. It could be divided into four different types: outright lying, manipulation of reality, scapegoating and coercion.

Here is another: Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim’s mind. Typically, gaslighters are seeking to gain power and control over the other person, by distorting reality and forcing them to question their own judgment and intuition.

If you are like me, neither of those definitions are easy to understand, so here are some examples:

Respectful: That’s not how I thought it happened
Gaslighting: That’s not how it happened

Respectful: I am sorry I made you feel that way
Gaslighting: I am sorry you feel that way

Respectful: I meant it as a joke but it came across really wrong
Gaslighting: You can’t take a joke

Respectful: I now see that this is a very important issue for you
Gaslighting: You are overreacting.

Respectful: What I did was wrong and I am really sorry
Gaslighting: I guess I’m just a really bad partner.

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