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Understanding Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation. The perpetrator creates a false narrative to make targets question and doubt their judgment or reality. Over time, the targets will become unsure about their perceptions, memories and thoughts. Some may even start to wonder if they are losing their sanity.

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that can happen to anyone. It is especially prevalent in abusive relationships where the abusers gaslights their partners to keep them under their control and to prevent them from leaving the relationship. By being repeatedly gaslighted, a person will become increasingly more uncertain about their emotional and mental stability, and experience a loss of confidence and self-esteem, thus becoming more dependent on the perpetrator.

Some signs that your partner may be gaslighting you include them:

  • Making you question your experiences, feelings, thoughts and memories

  • Persistently blame you

  • Often lying to you and doubling down on the lie even when they get caught

  • Making you feel insecure or minimizing your feelings

  • Alienating you from people who support and love you

  • Using their “love” for you as a defence or using other compassionate words as a weapon

  • Accusing you of being paranoid

  • Overly critical of you

  • Insisting that they are “right” and refusing to take into consideration the facts or your perspective

Some common forms of expression used in gaslighting are those along the lines of:

  • “That never happened.”

  • “You’re so sensitive/dramatic.”

  • “You know I only do it because I love you.”

  • “Believe me, I know what’s best for you.”

  • “I’m sorry that you think I’ve somehow hurt you.”

  • “You should have known how I would feel/react.”

  • “You’re crazy, and others think so too.”

Gaslighting often stems from deep-rooted issues. People who gaslight others may also have mental health challenges of their own. They may do it to achieve a sense of being in control. Unfortunately, the gaslighting leaves the victim feeling vulnerable, insecure and powerless. Being gaslighted for an extended period may lead to serious mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.

Some questions that may help you identify if you are being gaslighted:

  • Do I have less confidence and self-esteem than I used to?

  • Do I often feel confused?

  • Do I often feel like I’m always “overly-sensitive” or “just being dramatic”?

  • Do I doubt my thoughts and opinions?

  • Do I doubt my abilities despite what others tell me?

  • Do I feel isolated and alone?

  • Is something that feels not right, but I can’t figure out what?

If you answer yes to some of the above questions, talk to someone you trust about what you are going through. You can also try saving evidence such as texts, photos or emails to refer to when you become confused or doubt your reality. Set boundaries with your partner and be assertive that invalidating your emotion or gaslighting is unacceptable. Where necessary, propose couple therapy to work on the differences. If the gaslighting continues, you may want to reconsider whether it is helpful to continue with the relationship.

Seeking a professional counsellor or therapist can be extremely helpful in your journey. They can work with you to understand your situation, teach you new coping strategies and learn ways to deal with your challenges.

Restoring Peace Counselling & Consultancy offers counselling and psychotherapy services to help individuals, couples and families with various psychological and relationship challenges. For more information, please visit or Whatsapp us at +65 8889 1848.

Keywords: Singapore, mental health, psychological services near me, therapy, therapist, counsellor, gaslighting, gaslight, manipulation, relationships, abuse, anxiety, depression

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