Ideally, no one sticks around for gaslighting. The best response is no response — because you’re not there. But if you’re still in the thick of this infidelity crap, and every day is a whizz in the mindfuck blender here’s a pro tip — disengage and stop trying to help the manipulator “understand.”
They understand perfectly. They’re mindfucking you.
If you must stick around for this nonsense (and I suggest you don’t), then flip the script and try ridicule.
When you’re heartbroken, it hardly feels like a chuckle fest, I get it. But the sooner you can tap into the utter absurdity of the situation, the faster you will heal.
And that begins with seeing fuckwits as the pathetic, ridiculous creatures that they are. Please divest them of their power — LAUGH at this shit.
Laugh at them. To their face.
Narcissists HATE this. I think they hate it even more than no contact. With no contact, they can imagine you still care, that you’re just too torn up right now to speak with them, you were going to take the bait, but you fell into a canyon and were unable to answer the phone…. They can continually delude themselves that you’re still kibbles.
But when you ridicule a narcissist? They can’t pretend. You’re no longer kibbles, you’re kryptonite.
And come on, cheaters give you such a rich vein of humor! The Stupid Shit they say, their utter predictability, their pomposity… You will NEVER run out of material. NEVER!
Cheater: I didn’t answer my cell phone because I was sleeping in my car. Yes! In January. In Vermont. I don’t like your insinuations!
Chump: HahahahaahhaahHAHAHAHA! OMG you must really think I’m stupid. I hope your nuts froze off. Poor Schmoopie probably had to shave your back hair off so you could fit into your snowsuit, you poor benighted sod.
Now, admittedly, this is engagement — and after you land a few zingers, do go straight on to no contact. But what ridicule communicates to the cheater is — your mindfuckery will not work here. Move on. Also laughter shifts the power balance from the cheater (who thinks his lies are convincing, and doesn’t really care if they’re not because you’re beneath him) to the chump (who refuses to bow down and accept this shit). Narcissists are incredibly thin-skinned, so to point out some mortal flaw — like a tufty back that must be frequently mowed — is wounding.
Duck, because narcissist rage comes next. MY BACK IS AS SMOOTH AS A BABY’S BOTTOM! HOW DARE YOU!
Oh you dare, all right.
I would just add, about CL and CN, that the special sauce here is ridicule. When I was pitching my book, I pointed out that most self-help is dry and earnest. Infidelity, frankly, is absurd on so many levels. Yes, it’s abusive too — but isn’t every tinpot dictator a joke? Nothing helps you take back your power like snark.
So the next time someone tries to mindfuck you? Laugh. Laugh hard.
This column ran previously. Snark on.