Can we talk about the horrible act and effects of gaslighting by cheaters and how they try to make you think you’re crazy?
My ex started fights with me deliberately all the time during the last year of our marriage and I didn’t realize what was going on until we were well into the divorce process.
I’m glad she’s your ex and I’m sorry you went through that. I suppose there must be some alternative universe of maturity where partners have respectful discussions about their unhappiness and end their relationships ethically. But where’s the advantage in that?
Uh, I wouldn’t have a twitch?
Wrong answer. The advantage to starting fights and gaslighting is that you remain clueless — and at fault. So while a chump is scrambling to improve themselves (let’s start with a hundred Amazon titles on How Mindfuckery Makes a Marriage Stronger!), the cheater is hiding assets and feeling superior.
Gaslighting — I’m not doing this thing I am clearly doing — keeps entitlement alive. It’s a distraction to either maintain cake (you and Schmoopie) or it buys time to take the money and run. It’s a fog bomb. Are you lost? Exactly.
Um, that’s really evil, Tracy. Maybe she’s just really vulnerable right now in a time of great confusion and Matt is seriously annoying.
People who care about you, don’t mindfuck you. (Even if you’re annoying sometimes. Even if you wear pilled sweaters and smell of cabbage.) People who deliberately mindfuck you are concealing something. Odds are it’s not a happy surprise party. They’re hiding their advantage — their rigged set-up — their entitlement. So it’s important you not fuck this up, Matt.
Matt: “I found this sales receipt for lingerie from the House of Peek-a-Boo. Dated two months ago. Did you get new underwear?”
Cheater: “GOD HOW COULD YOU LOOK AT OUR JOINT ACCOUNTS LIKE THAT?! Yes, if you MUST KNOW, I bought cotton underwear.”
Matt: “It says $237.45 silk chemise.”
Cheater: “Chemise is french for COTTON UNDERWEAR, you moron.”
Matt: “I’ve never seen you in a silk chemise.”
Cheater: “Because you NEVER NOTICE ME AT ALL! (sob) I could prance around in fairy wings and you’d just go back to ‘Storage Wars’ or whatever that dumb show is you watch on TV. Sometimes I console myself at how much you suck by buying sad, drab cotton underwear.”
Matt: “$237.45 worth? I think I would notice fairy wings.”
Cheater: “YOU WOULDN’T. I wore fairy wings last Friday!”
(Matt scans his memory. Can’t recall fairy wings.)
(Narrator voice: This would be the time for Matt to say, “Are you sure that was me? Or the guy who saw you in the silk chemise?” But Matt will not say that. For Matt is a chump.)
Matt: “I’m sorry I questioned your purchase. You know I love you. I’ll do better at noticing you. Buy all the underwear you want.”
Cheater: “(Sniff) I need to be alone for several days to process this. At a spa retreat. In New Mexico.”
Gaslighting. When you know the subtext, is it that hard to figure out what Cheater Girl is up to? She’s buying lingerie for some other guy she doesn’t want Matt to know about. Admitting that would screw up her advantage — so she DARVOs this shit. (Deflect, attack, reverse victim offender).
1.) She accuses Matt of invading her privacy — how could he check her purchases?
2.) She makes an outrageous claim, chemise doesn’t mean chemise, and enjoys the delicious high wire act of getting away with it.
3.) She flips to self-pity, because rage wasn’t quite cutting it. You never notice me! Now the onus is on Matt to bolster her. Matt is the bad guy. She is the timid forest creature who has been hard done.
4.) She pushes that advantage as far as she can. Okay, now that Matt is questioning himself and accepting her entitlement to secrecy (don’t look at my underwear purchases), and her sad state (notice me! more kibbles!), she wants more. (Reward me with a trip to New Mexico. Alone! Demonstrate the trust you have in me!)
What’s the way out of this quagmire?
Evidence-based research. Connecting the dots and drawing painful conclusions. And checking your sources.
When you suspect you’re being gaslighted:
1.) Ask yourself — is this reaction proportionate to the offense? Should someone really flip out over a cotton underwear purchase?
2.) Follow the evidence, wherever it leads. In our fictional situation, if Matt trusts reality — what the evidence is saying — he’ll make some painful discoveries. But not discovering is WAY more painful than discovering. Take a clear look at what’s going on — this person is deceiving you because she’s cheating on you.
3.) Don’t stick your head in the blender. When the conversation goes circular and swirly, STOP IT.
4.) Don’t be so quick to assume the Bad Guy position. I know as a chump, it’s your natural state of being, but in a healthy relationship, you both examine yourself and are at pains not to give offense or hurt the other. Yes, even when you feel aggrieved and wronged. Respectfully hold your ground.
5.) Get some other reality checks. Abusers isolate. Run your gaslighting scenarios past some trusted friends or some anonymous online forum — what are those people telling you? Are you too deep in the spackle to see you’re being played?
6.) Don’t spackle. Lucidity is your friend. If you find yourself thinking “Well, maybe in certain French dialects, chemise means cotton underwear” or “I have been known to forget fairy wings…” you have a problem. Don’t make excuses or rug sweep. Protect yourself.
Gaslighting is psychological warfare. It’s an act of aggression — of maintaining the upper hand at the expense of your sanity.
You don’t have to take it. No contact turns the mindfuck channel right off. Reclaim your sanity today.