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Gaslighting — Who’s The Crazy One Here?

Dear Chump Lady,

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.


Dear Matt,

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.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Cheaters gaslight everyone. It works for them. They gaslight the spouse, kids, affair partner, bosses, clients, friends. But one day, everyone eventually starts talking with each other and realizes they were all gaslighted. Cheater loses everyone’s trust. No one believes the cheater. No one wastes time on the cheater. Cheater moves on to new victim. Cheater dies lonely. Rarely, if ever, cheater changes.

    Cheater has the real self esteem issues. And with every gaslights and lie, they build false self esteem. But every lie eroded their own self esteem even more. It’s a downward spiral. In the end, cheaters only cheat themselves. They only lie to themselves. They only make themselves look like the idiot.


    • I hope you’re right. My ex still looks ‘wonderful’! I don’t hold out for the day he looks like an idiot. He’s too good with his facade.

    • Oh this is right on the money! She did gaslight everyone and involve everyone, family and friends, on purpose, to try to convince herself that finding another man and leaving was the right thing to do. What kind of evil person uses your own family against you to try to make themselves feel better…..and better yet, what kind of family falls for it and actually stabs you in the back? My mother (who I no longer talk to), my sister and my cousin were her main targets. She would gaslight, start fights and then run to them and tell them what an intolerable ass I was being, and they ate up every word. I found out after she left ( as cowardly as possible, with a note on the dresser) that she had them all fooled into being on “her side”. My family soon found out what she was up to after she left because she was publicly with the other man just a week after she left. I had been telling them that she was cheating and even who it was with, but she denied it and they believed her, until she ended up with him in no time at all. Her plan was executed flawlessly when it was happening, but now everyone knows that they were duped, tricked and used just like I was. In my mind that doesn’t excuse your own mother from hiding the fact that your wife is leaving you when they know. Its not easy disowning your own mother, but SHAME ON HER. I have children and NEVER would I turn my back on them for someone else. I would have never turned my back on my ex either, I was completely fooled.

      • Hugs to you Matt. I agree with you. A mother’s love should be unconditional. She should have told you in a loving and caring way. Even if your X had convinced her you were in the wrong she owed you the opportunity to speak up for yourself. I have 2 sons and will love them no matter what – doesn’t mean I can’t ever be disappointed or disapprove of what they are doing. I hope you are able to repair your relationship (and to be honest that is on her to work towards).

    • Yes, I’m thinking CL has freed up something in herself, working on a higher level.

  • I didn’t know ven know “gaslighting” was a term before my separation and coming in this forum. I was not born in this country. I left mine 30 years ago to follow him, the love of my life. Fast forward: 30 years later, 1 16 year old son and he brings home his student saying she does not get along well with other girls at the university where he teaches. She says she feels lonely and misses her country (same as mine). We need to take her in and treat her as our daughter. After all she is only 19 (he’s 50). She and my son become friends. He convinced me to take her to my son confirmation. He takes her to Spain for our trip there for our 29th anniversary to go back to the place where we met, 29 years ago. There were so many hints and every time I became suspicious he was like: “wow, really love? You don’t remember?” Or when I complained he would never answer the phone he would go “wow, dear it’s you who never answer the phone, you worry me; are you sure you are ok?” I would show him the phone and all the answered calls from him to me and the unanaswered from me to him and say I was getting paranoid. When I found all the charges of them in spain on our common credit card (after I found out of the affair and he told me he would break up with her and he loved me only) he said she paid him back for all the money they spent and He spent all that money on me afterwards, so basically she paid for my stuff. I should feel good??? When I told my son what happened he accused me of being a bad mother because I was involving our son in our issues. What should I have done? Ignore the fact and let him/her continue their life?
    A year went by since I threw him out of the house and changed the locks. We are still in court. I still have all of his stuff at home (he doesn’t have room in his new apartment) but my lawyer says I can’t throw it out or destroy/dispose. I spent an inane amount of money in attorneys. He’s up to her in debts (luckily not mine to pay). I still have the sensation that There was truth in his lies. That I was to blame because I did not give him enough love, he felt unloved he told me; he told me I never told him he was handsome (is it a common thing in the US?); I wa snot sweet; I would not listen; I did not like poetry (unlike her, he told me poetry is what brought them together); he kept going telling lies even on stuff that was easy to verify as false and when I would confront him with that he would tell me that it was impossible to talk to me because I would get emotional. He told me I manipulated him for all these years; I was cold; all of that stuff coming from someone who was the one I thought I knew best in the world. I still feel like a failure but not because I lost him but because I allowed him to manipulate me all of these years and sort of enable him to have his pedofile story with this girl, allow him to involve my son in this (my son kept saying I was paranoid to be jealous of this girl); my son will be scarred for life; he does not want to talk to his father and my ex says it’s because of what I have done that he lost the affection of his son and he brought me to court asking for my psychiatric evaluation (he lost there big time but still wrote awful things about me in the brief). I know I should be happy of NC and go in but he scarred me too very heavily and is not easy. This blog helps because I realized these stories are just copy and paste; so much that there is even a term for all the years of abuse he inflicted on us: gaslighting

    • NewItalian,

      Poetry brought them together. Is that what he calls his dick? How ridiculous. I hope someday you can laugh at his blatant lies. He is a laughable adulterous liar.

      It is scary to leave. It is hard to forgive yourself for staying for so long in an abusive marriage . You are out now. That is what counts. You had the courage to leave a cheater.

      Like you, I found so much support and love here with Chump Nation. You are not alone.

    • It wasn’t you. It was him. He’s a lying, manipulative jackass who feels entitled to deceive you but keep you captive.

    • Stay strong and please don’t doubt yourself any longer. You were manipulated by one of the best. Stay no contact as much as possible and don’t let the lawyers make you feel like you’re being unreasonable. Believe in yourself!

    • NewItalian, please know that IT WASN’T YOU!!! I’m glad that you found your way here and that hearing the same types of experiences from all of us reinforces that IT WAS HIM.

      The poetry thing still makes my blood boil. Back in the early 1990s when ExH stupidly ran up a huge phone bill, I found out that he was calling women late at night and talking about his sexual fantasies for hours on end. This was in the very early days of online chat rooms, and to this day Ex still types slowly with two fingers, so telephoning all those lonely single mothers after their kids were put to bed meant that he could progress more quickly.

      However, and this is where my fury really comes in, while he was still in the “courting phase”‘of these telephone calls, he would read poetry to those poor unsuspecting women. At that time, I was a brand-new stroke survivor who couldn’t read and who begged him to at least tell me what was in the newspaper headlines. That asshole would make a big production of reading to me only things like the price of soybeans (we were in a rural state).

      When I discovered his astronomic phone bill, he said that he was getting tired of talking to the women anyway, because they always wanted to talk about themselve and how bored he got.

      Good luck to you and your son in resolving things, and please look forward to your future happy life.

  • Im not so sure the Twat gaslit me so much but he sure as hell “couldnt remember” doing a lot of shit. Sudden amnesia seemed to set in whenever I made a valid point about his appalling behaviour. Then there were the out and out lies that “he never did that”. I think he was too much of an idiot to be able to gaslight me, to be honest. BUT I have had moments in the past with my oldest son where Ive come away from a conversation and wondered “what the hell did he just say”. Now, Im a translator and love very precise English, so that tends to be the way I talk. I say what I mean clearly and sometimes the conversations with my oldest just left me baffled. Hes intelligent too so now I know quite clearly what his intentions were (and sorry about the punctuation, my keyboard is playing up again).

    • In a true twist of Karma, I love what saying, “I can’t remember,” causes in the brain of a cheater, when the cheater is actually covering up a lie. When saying the words, “I can’t remember,” our brains actually go about making that a truth, causing the cheater to lose mind functionality.

      • “I can’t remember” was the most used answer at the ex’s deposition!
        That from a person who always boasted about his high level of recall!
        It’s enough to truly boggle a normal mind.

        • Rebecca, my husband’s deposition is next week… If they choose to attend… And I’m wondering, should I be planning on attending?

          • Absolutely you should be there.

            My lawyers told me to dress to kill, but appropriately. I chose heels, black dress pants and a chic black leather jacket. I looked professional and put together but I also knew the look would make him very uncomfortable.

            My look was the clothing definition of No Contact.

            I sat with zero expression on my face and took notes to pass to my lawyer every time he lied (which was often).

            I totally unnerved him. When my lawyer wanted to get him riled up right before the tough questions, he purposely left us alone for 2 minutes without any lawyers. He knew my ex would fight with me and throw himself off balance. Worked like a charm.

            But do NOT do what I did afterwards!! I texted him to tell him he looked like a total fool. Big mistake because his lawyers claimed how unreasonable I was. Best part of CN is that we teach each other.

            • Great advice! What Kenny Rogers sang about in “The Gambler” holds true in most life situations: “You never count your money/When you’re sitting at the table/There’ll be time enough for counting/When the dealing’s done.”

              That means no victory dance until the time is done on the scoreboard. And maybe not even then. No attention to these jackasses is the best policy.

              • With this latest round of post-decree nonsense I knew ho-wife was calling all the shots and would go with Ex to court. I assumed she’d be dressed powerfully so at the last minute I replaced my black ensemble for a dark denim skirt, mock turtleneck, cardigan and tan boots. The judge sized poor little me up against the two of them, pointed out Ex’s history of litigiousness and immediately treated us like a David and Goliath situation. Ex lost big that day. Bigger than if he had just settled with me 6 months earlier. And best of all I never competed with Ho-wife, who looked every bit the conniving tramp she is.

            • That would be worth breaking no contact for me, sitting in a room with the judiciary, constabulary and my ex passing notes to my lawyer each time my ex speaks (which is always a lie) ???? I’ve worked damn hard at not escalating things to a court room (see lies, above) and getting police involved just enough worked it’s magic (meth head so doesn’t like that kind of attention), but passing those notes, ooof, chilling ????????‍♀️

              • A deposition isn’t a court procedure. It takes place in a lawyer’s office.
                This is where money is often found and cases stopped before a trial.
                If someone gets upset or yells or loses their temper, that person’s lawyer will want to avoid going to trial.
                My ex walked out and had to be reminded he did not have the right to walk out OR not answer a question truthfully ( you are sworn in before the deposition). They also reminded him that if he walked out, the judge would be mortified and could send him to jail! And HE’S a lawyer!

        • My soon-to-be-ex has been gaslighting me for 28 years. He’s broken every promise he ever made to me. To him, a promise means, “I’ll do it if I feel like it.” His favorite excuse for a broken promise was, “I never promised that.” Which I often believed, until my daughter told me that he’d made the same broken promises to her. We both didn’t mishear him! But to show you how insidious the gaslighting is, yesterday morning, she called him. He said he’d call her back as soon as he parked his car. She waited patiently. Didn’t even want to go to the bathroom, lest she miss his call. No call. Today, I asked her how she was feeling about that, and she said, “Maybe I misheard him, and he didn’t really say he’d call me back.” Self-gaslighting! I had to correct her. She didn’t mishear. He’s just an evil bastard.

    • “I can’t remember” was part of the gaslighting for me. After D-Day, it was folded into this narrative where I supposedly always thought I was better and always had to win arguments-the natural response to which is obviously to fuck someone else. “I don’t know. I can’t remember” was followed by “You have a better memory than me. You always let me know that.” That I constantly boasted of a superior memory was his interpretation of situations where I would question his description of a conversation or event- in which he would either excuse his absence or paint me as ridiculous. So I would recall the events as they happened….”letting him know my memory was better than is”. Tracy’s right-it’s a freaking mind blender.

      • “I don’t know. I can’t remember” was followed by “You have a better memory than me”

        MadKatie63 – I got that exact response all the time from cheater x when I asked questions about his adultery timelines and events. I gave up asking when I discovered CL and absorbed the message about the pointlessness of “untangling the skein”.

        • before our numerous d-days I was always told by him that I had a shitty memory. Throughout the 8 month d-day hell and wreckonciliation all I heard from him was ‘I can’t remember’. Funny that.

      • “I don’t remember!” “I don’t know!” “Nobody cares about this kind of stuff, only you care about every little detail!” (<– and by "detail", he meant why he wasn't answering his phone for hours without explanation – or why he'd left me waiting on him for hours with no reason given)

        And "I already told you!!!"

        Ahh, SO glad to be free of that crap.

      • Madkatie,

        Wow, feel like another brick just dropped off of my back. The x pulled that ‘I don’t remember’ at the end or our marriage after 1st Dday and all was new to the ‘shocked me’. I didn’t even question his response because I was sure he was amidst a nervous breakdown/ midlife crisis or had a rapidly growing brain tumor due to his totally erratic behavior – I have since learned that it wasn’t a nervous breakdown or midlife crisis or a brain tumor but rather his disordered personality coming to the forefront thanks to CL and CN and now I ‘get it’ about the ‘not remembering’ when I would bring things up and ask him about them. Like he had total amnesia about any of his past.

        I was full into pick me dancing and spackeling back then. An avid RIC devote.

        Not anymore and now I have another piece of the puzzle that has revealed itself as part of the mind-fuckery I was living with. What a relief.

    • I was sometimes the one who would say, “I don’t remember”, and the ex would gas light.

      For example, my ex and I were driving down the street. We passed by a restaurant and he said, “We should go there again. You liked it there.” I had never been in that restaurant, so I responded, “I don’t remember ever being there”. He tried to convince me I had been there and I kept telling him I didn’t remember that and believed I hadn’t been there. Then he said, “It worries me you don’t remember this”…insinuating I was getting early onset Alzheimer’s as my mother and grandmother had.

      Gas lighting is awful. I’ve been no contact for almost 10 months and my memory is just fine.

      • what a revolting thing to do to someone who has lived with watching close family deal with alzheimer’s, who simply must occasionally wonder if they may too succumb. That is actually beyond despicable and even with no affair and nothing else, it’s on the border of being a deal-breaker of itself.

        • My ex is a total POS, yes. Since he has no empathy or moral compass, he has no problem using people for his amusement. I’m glad to be rid of him!

      • Ug, this hit me in the gut. I got “I’m worried about you remembering things wrong. Does this happen in other areas of your life? Maybe you should see a neurologist.”

        • It’s amazing how very little creativity they all had! I am reading these comments and getting convinced that there must be some other blog for all the cheaters where they find this script! They sound all like my ex! “I am worried about you” was a classic one. October 21 will be our first court date and hopefully last one.

        • Ex told me he was seriously concerned about my mental well being. He suggested that I also could be Bipolar. I remembered things wrong, he never said things I’m sure he had said.
          He was also afraid that if I sought professional help that they’d lock me up into an institution.
          I eventually sought help and found out my mental health is just fine and wasn’t institutionalized.

        • Yes. All this. Crazy making. And when you trust them unconditionally you do start to question your own sanity. What ass hats!!

          • You got to the point Matt: “when you trust them unconditionally”. I trusted him with my life, I always thought he would never harm me, he was my companion of 30 years, the one I could count on, the one I would spend my old days with, taking care of each other. So, even when I saw him sneaking out of our bedroom at 5am, got out, check the entire house and realize he could only be in her bedroom, even when I open her bedroom door, finding her making her bed at 5am in the morning, even when I asked her if she knew where my husband was (she was a student staying with us) and she answered me he was probably in the yard, even when he later came back pretending to come from outside (through a locked door), is Ben when he insisted he was in the yard reading at 5am in the morning (he had a book with him), even when I looked at him in the eyes and asked him to tell me the truth, even then I believed him. I later found out he was under her bed that day, hiding.. like in one of those B movies

      • My cheating ex-boyfriend told me that he’d started researching a camera for the bedroom, since I’d ‘recently expressed interest in filming the two of us.’

        I never once expressed interest in filming our encounters.

        I also found a cheap mini-bottle of shampoo in his shower and he tried to convince me it was mine – then he said it must be his daughter’s.

        And when I finally did bust him for cheating and asked questions, he said, ‘It’s hard to remember what was going on in one’s head two years ago..’

        ONE’s head????

        He also accused me of asking ‘too many deep and probing questions.’

        I’m a journalist, dickhead. That’s what I do.

    • Yeah. Couldn’t remember anything. Denied what I already knew was true and when I presented evidence, first got dead eyes and then gas lighting. She quickly went on the offence, blaming me. Never took ownership for her affair. When it comes up now in therapy for custody of our kids, she rolls her eyes and says I must take ownership of my faults. How can I begin to do that when she won’t take ownership of her affair at all? She tells me I must “stop blaming her for everything that went wrong in my life”. This one baffled me – no idea what she’s on about. The only thing wrong in my life is that she cheated on me! So if she felt entitled to cheat, I feel entitled to blame her for doing so. But in the end it doesn’t matter. Past the point of no return. AP can have her. I’ve lost all love, respect and trust that somebody I once considered to be my soulmate and the love of my life.

    • My ex was diagnosed with ADD so he used the ‘I can’t remember because I have ADD’ excuse on everything. When he forgot our plans. When he forgot to mention to me that his friend had invited me ass well to her party.
      And I let him. And did everything I could to make everything as easy for him as possible. Its not until now after a year of NC that I can se how convenient it was to him to not remember.
      He did it to everybody. His family and friends. Everyone. And they bought it as well. Because he was always so nice and friendly and positive. So nobody notice that its all talk.
      He doesn’t really do the things he promise to do. And if you call him on it, well then he has ADD.

  • Gaslighting is the relationship equivalent of playing three card monte with your spouse/partner while the rest of Fagin’s team pick your pockets. In the end, you are going to lose.

    Yeah, definitely run it by others when it’s happening to you. Their dropped jaws, raised eyebrows and eyes popping out of their heads are all clues.

    “Don’t stick your head in the blender. When the conversation goes circular and swirly, STOP IT.”

    This – a million billion times!

    I hope Matt escaped with his sanity and most of his assets.

    • “Don’t stick your head in the blender. When the conversation goes circular and swirly, STOP IT.”

      Happened with every argument. I would try to run away just to get some peace from my swirling brain; he talked in circles around me.

      I always thought it was because he was so much smarter than me.

      It still pisses me off that he was able to manipulate me into these crazy arguments (usually in front of our children) so I would look like the unhinged one. And I did feel unhinged.

      If only I had known then what I know now!

      • Yup this. He made me so crazy one time I started banging my head against the steel door of the barn. I turned around and the smirk on his face stopped me cold. There were many times he picked at me until I lost it in front of others, which just cemented his story that I was nuts and he couldn’t take me any more. Not good memories but definitely lessons for the next chumps

        • My ex was a master at this. Everyone thought I was crazy because I acted crazy. He knew exactly what button to push and got pleasure out of pushing them. And I let him do it, every single time. I felt as crazy as everyone else thought I was. My ex excels at image management and manipulation.

          • They know exactly what to do to drive another person to the brink. My X never raised his voice in 24 years, but was one of the most manipulative people I have ever met. The last year of the marriage (when the devalue because of an affair was in full swing), he undermined me so much in subtle ways that I started to self-harm. I had to wear a scarf tied around my neck in 100 degree heat to hide the scratch marks down my neck. The gaslighting and criticisms in the guise of “truth” were so underhanded, I started writing down interactions with him in a diary to verify that he had been abusive.

            After D-day, when I was hell-bent on divorce, I’m sure he convinced other people that his affairs were due to my being emotionally unstable and thus emotionally unavailable to him. Thankfully, I had built up decades of people seeing my sanity and groundedness (and he had decades of assholery), so only a few people bought his bullshit. But many other chumps will have had cheaters whose public image is of a sane, caring person (covert narcs, who are even more dangerous). Don’t let them doubt your own sanity.

            • My X would do this every week, the night before our marriage counseling session. Then he’d spend the session talking about how crazy I’d been the night before. After months of that, the therapist whispered to me as I was leaving, “What did you ever see in that thing?”

              • Elderly Chump, it was not an accident. I did not do as I was told, so he had me arrested. Without cause, so he made a “citizen’s arrest.” My family bailed me out and the DAs sent me to visit with some good folks who try to save victims of abuse. I was not charged with any crime. Instead, I met with a roomful of wonderful people who mostly wanted for me not to be killed by the ratbastrd. Good people. They had a list of wonderful therapists who knew about such things. I chose one. She was amazing.

            • Tempest, thank you for pointing out the self-harm part. It should be high on all the lists of all the red flags, but it isn’t.
              The one and only time in my life that I intentionally inflicted pain on myself was to “punish” myself when immediately after hoovering me he provoked a fight and then blamed me for getting upset. It was all around mindfuckery… Looking back, knowing and recognizing that self-harm is a sure sign of abuse, I would have left sooner. I did leave when my life started to resemble a list of signs of abuse that I only read about years before, never imagining it would one day apply to me

        • My ex turned to me in my haze of rage and said, “You’re CRAZY!” I yelled back, “So I’m crazy now?! Is that what you’re going to tell the kids?! You had to divorce me because I’m crazy!!!??! Well FUCK YOU!!! I’m divorcing you!!” And I did. I’m so glad I went crazy. Finally! I was such a doormat for years. It was about damn time.

      • I know, right? That circle of logic thing is something they all do. Isn’t that the most brilliantly phrased advice? I love Chump Lady.

      • I too walked away from a late night circular argument chock full of word salad to save myself. Ex followed me into the bedroom and kept yelling at me and repeating, “you’re lying” while I was getting ready for bed. He was still arguing when I got into bed. I told him I was trying to sleep, but he kept going. Finally I yelled, “FUCK OFF!” This was the day before we were to leave for a family vacation. I’m certain he was balls deep in his affair with his married subordinate at that point, and purposely making me crazy so I would support his smear campaign I was unaware of at that point. I knew nothing about personality disorders at the time and was SO confused by his behavior. I understand everything now as I’ve learned a lot since then. I wish I knew then what I know now so I could’ve responded better and kicked him to the curb sooner, but better late than never.

        • See the actual movie “Gaslight” and the wrap up sounds about like you. She says “if I was sane, you might get me to play along and be nice, but because I am mad, I no longer give a … (well, she was much nicer about it, because old movie).

          See if this link works..

        • That’s the way I feel too. His behaviour was so confusing. He’d often say, “I never said that”. Which was infuriating as always correlated to something I felt strongly about. Indeed, hindsight is 20/20 but we would all still be mystified if we hadn’t educated ourselves on gaslighting and personality disorders.

      • Mine often told me how unintelligent and uninteresting I was, but once in a while, if we were playing a trivia game with family or friends, he’d tell everyone how smart I was. See, she knows the answers to those questions. No wonder our son is bright. Then during wreckonciliation, he told MC that it really bothered him when I would talk down about myself. WTdamnF?

  • Just a reminder to anyone who needs it … your fuckwit is now gaslighting his/her new victim on the regular. Newbie may not have figured that out yet, but they will. So be grateful it is no longer you left feeling inadequate and not compassionate enough and on and on.

  • Unspeakable! Absolutely horrendous the effects of gaslighting! You start to believe that you go
    Crazy and Inventing stuff when the abusers are the problem! Best advise, get out and do the ice law, no talking back to the gaslighter ever again!
    I almost went crazy and I left all bony after such excruciating toxic environment. I left him for good!

  • There is nothing better than getting away from this and realizing it wasn’t you.

    Two years out and I’m still discovering some of the things I thought were my fault, weren’t. Gaslighting was the foundation of my relationship. I dealt with a decade of it.

    “CC I want a divorce. I can’t take it. I do all the compromising!” But never told me what he thought I was compromising on. Cue CC trying to give him his way more often.

    “CC you’re always angry. What’s new?”
    “CC my conference is always 2 days. You must be getting it mixed up with something else.”

    He still gaslights me.

    “Lying Cheater I heard your company handed out bonuses. Per CS you are supposed to pay me x% within 10 days.”
    “CC you’re a stalker! You can take me court to get that cs bonus! Then your illegal way of getting this information will be revealed!”

    Ex and his girlfriend also gaslight our daughter. Anything she gets upset about is a misunderstanding or she’s lying to tell me what I want to hear (because I just LOVE hearing her upset?).

    Gaslighting is their base mode. I wish we could round all these people up and send them to their own island.

    • STBX does this to our son and it rips my what’s left of my heart out piece by piece.

      He tells a 7 year old: “you aren’t using words correctly” and “that’s not what you said”. However if 7 year old calls dad out on what dad has said the response is: ” you misunderstand me”.

      I’m out of the fog now and can see the gaslighting in real time and reflect over the years of all those times I thought I was loosing my mind. I’d call gimme out on something he had said or done and 15 minutes later I’d be so confused and we were arguing over syntax or the verb I used. “You use words wrong, Fearful&loathing I just can’t understand you; you just don’t know how to communicate properly”.

      • Gas lighters favorite line apparently! lol; Mine always says same thing ” You can’t communicate properly”. Even tries to tell me I have “Cognitive dissonance” because after I left I don’t agree with him (I didn’t agree with him before, he just circle talked till you had no clue what was said.). I have had the same story since I left; (following court orders and almost no contact.) I know what he is after leaving.

      • Can you tell your 7 year old that daddy acts a bit childish at times, and it’s not your son’s fault.

        • Mitz, I do what I can but it’s already eating away at my sons confidence and self worth. He’s started saying, “I don’t want to make daddy mad” for nearly everything. He’s so afraid of behaving or speaking wrong and making daddy “unhappy”.

          But of course to the courts this has no bearing on custody because it can’t be show that should na welfare is at risk.

          I couldn’t combat the gaslighting as an adult I have no idea how my ban is supposed to make it through.

          • F&L I totally get what you are saying. It’s so sad when a 7 yo or 9 yo know that you just have to go along with things to keep the peace.

            My daughter is afraid to speak her mind on anything because in the past dad guilt trips her and his gf throws a tantrum and almost kicked them out once. Now my daughter thinks that if she disagrees with them, she will get kicked out. As a result, they think things are just perfect over at the other house and if I bring up any traumatic situations with them, they tell me that that is just my daughter misunderstanding things or making things up to please me. And if I try to teach my daughter how to behave like a decent human or have conversations with her, talking her through her feelings–well that is me BEING the problem because according to them I should not talk to my child about stuff like this.

            There is no good route to take.

    • Gosh! It sounds like my life! Except he was always very “nice” when he would telll me this kind of stuff: like “I am worried about you”; “I did it already but you don’t remember”; or whenever I asked stuff like for instance “can you please put the dishes in dishwasher instead of leaving them out?” (Looking at the dishes in the sink), the answer: “yes, I Meant to tell you just that I always have to put your dishes in The dishwasher, you need to start doing that by yourself”. (So his leaving them out was a teaching moment to make me understand how one feels in seeing the dirty dishes I n the sink. And so on… I still feel guilty every time There is something in the sink

      • NewItalian,
        I learned not to ask him to do anything because he would say ‘yes’ then never do it.

        I remember asking him to do the dishes and he ignored them for 2 days, just let them sit and then, when I finally reminded him, he said he would do them when he got home from work. By then I had caught on – knew he would not do it and would yell at me for being a ‘nag’, so I just did them myself because we were running out of dishes and what was I supposed to do all day with even more dishes piling up as the children ate throughout the day.

        Grrrrr. You just made me remember this and now I see it was all part of the crap he used to pull and I just kept covering up and making excuses – ‘he works so hard’ Yeah, now I know he was a work-aholic on top of all the sex stuff he was doing. Me at home doing everything while he was out slutting around then coming home and lying about it with his best TFC moves.

        I was the model Chump and now I am pissed. It has taken some time to get here but it feels good to be seeing through his stuff and putting the blame where it really truly belongs and has always belonged. So much of my life wasted on such a low life and he thinks he is hot stuff. I don’t know how these creatures can live with themselves knowing what they have done and the x did it for 30 years!!!! Utterly shocking.

        • Elderly chump, it was 30 years for me as well. But the good thing is that now we are out of it and realize we were not the crazy ones. They are! They are narcissistic sociopaths, with no real empathy. But they are so good at pretending that the rest of the world, when things came out started saying: it’s impossible! I even had a, now, former friend saying that there is always another side to a story. This was after my Dday, when I went to her crying because I found out that my love of 30 years betrayed me in the worst way. I can see much more clearly now, after a year. He just reached a new low by taking me off his health insurance while the separation is still pending and without telling me. I found out by chance, when I neeeded emergency dental work done. I wrote him “this is a new low even for you” and he wrote back (he never has the gut to talk in person, only via text/email with copy to his lawyer) saying my comment was insulting and presumptuous. What the…?

          • Newitalian, Lawyers will tell you there shouldn’t be any changes to things while going thru a divorce until it is complete. I feel that if you contact your lawyer and your asswipes job, you should be able to get back on his insurance! He’s not allowed to change life insurance, health insurance or anything like that while you’re going thru this.

        • Elderly chump: As with Infinite Possibilities, might I suggest you change your name to something kinder, like Young at Heart Chump?

          • tizzy pins,

            I will give it some consideration but, and this is for me only, I don’t view ‘elderly’ in a negative light. I have survived a lot in my life – before and after the x, and I like what I have learned and who I am becoming and what I did survive and how, in that survival process, I did retain a vital part of me that is embraced in the name of ‘elderly’. The wisdom I have gained along the way.

            I hang out with people in there 80’s and 90’s and I adore them and none of them mind being referred to as ‘elderly’ so my perspective is subject to my experiences and my perceptions.

            Maybe someday it will change but until then I view my name with compassion and dignity for this ‘entity’ that I seem to be housed in this body of mine warts, stretch marks, spider veins, wrinkles various scars….all of my most intimate history.

  • This was my life for so long!! No contact is the key and the longer you are away from gaslighting the easier it is to recognize it. The last few contacts we had I actually laughed out loud when he started. The look of puzzlement was priceless on his face!!!

    Sold the marital home (after he begged me not to accept the offer, he wanted to come home), picked up and moved a 1000 miles away and I am so happy!!!

    Question the cotton underwear Matt…better yet walk away!!

    • This is it: “Get some other reality checks. Abusers isolate. Run your gaslighting scenarios past some trusted friends…”

      This is really hard for guys, because no one wants to believe they can be victims. I wonder what role gaslighting might have in the elevated rate of suicide for middle-aged men.

      And 28yearchump, no contact is right, because once someone does that to you they don’t DESERVE contact.

    • 28yearchump,

      I didn’t know what gaslighting or blame shifting were until CL despite the fact that it was happening right under my nose -with the x and my sons too at times.

      Now I can recognize it too and I am flabbergasted that he had me fooled for so long. I know to keep my mouth shut. What a relief not to step into that blender of word salad gone haywire.

      When I have had to have contact with the x the other thing that I am noticing is his whining. My beloved sister said she has always been aware of it which means it has been going on for decades.

      So glad to be ‘awake’ now and not taking it personally anymore. Q.T.I.P. is a saying in Al-Anon and it translates to ‘quit taking it personally’. I also use W.A.I.S.T. = ‘why am I still talking’.

      Good to know I am not the crazy one after all and that someday laughter may be my first response.

      Until then, I keep learning and seeing what was spread before me all along and letting it go at long last.

  • It took more than 1 year of being physically separated for me to start to see some of this gaslighting. Prior to her sudden departure:

    Me: I’ve explained that it bothers me when you do XXX.
    Her: When have I ever done that?
    Me: Yesterday.
    Her: Once, I did this once!
    Me: No you did it a couple weeks ago and last month as well.
    Her: When? Where were we? What day was this? When did you say anything?

    Next round….after documenting specific days and times.

    Me: I’ve explained that it bothers me when you do XXX.
    Her: When have I ever done that?
    Me: Yesterday.
    Her: Once, I did this once!
    Me: No you did it a couple weeks ago and last month as well.
    Her: When? Where were we? What day was this? When did you say anything?
    Me: (Pulling out my notes) You did it on this, this and this date and time. We were here, here and here.
    Her: I can’t believe you’re actually recording this? OMG you are unbelievable!
    Me: I’m sorry. I thought you wanted me to document my concerns. I didn’t mean to upset you.

    My behavior was ALWAYS a problem for her. I worked very hard to change my behavior. I was a very compliant husband. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but compliant, very compliant.

    • This, exactly! Cheater Ex would always demand that I give him examples of when he did this or that. And when I would, he would angrily retort, “WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS BRINGING UP THE PAST?”

      • And when I gave him the examples I was accused of keeping a little black book!

        • In MC, when I was asked for the history of the affair and I gave it with months and years because it was all branded into my memory by the confusion and pain, ex said darkly “Well, I don’t remember well enough to have a timeline like you”. The subtext I’m pretty sure was that I was cold and calculating, while he was a sad timid forest creature helpless before my machiavellian memory manouvres.

      • I’ve experienced this as well but I have also requested examples of when I did things he would accuse me of. I think it’s pretty common to ask for examples of the behavior you are being accused of. The difference is when I would ask for examples he would just stare at me with a blank face. Never once in a decade did he ever give me an example of a behavior he was accusing me of.

      • Carol39, are we married to the same man? Is there a Cheaters Handbook that they all reference?

        Matt, now you know. I am very sorry you were betrayed by such an evil person. Adultery is abuse. Gaslighting is one of the favorite narc games. “Who you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” My Cheater loves the linguistic games of “That isn’t what you asked me?” If I didn’t phrase a question to his precise demands it absolved him of the lies. He damn near trickle truthed me to death.

        I did feel crazy. I was twisted into knots by the disconnect between his actions and his words. At my therapist’s urging I started journaling my life. I discovered he was gaslighting me, lying to me, betraying me.

        Then he started spending large amounts of time away from home. I didn’t feel crazy when he was gone. So I made that permanent. I left home and filed. Make it permanent Matt. You “got nothing to work with” here.

        • ThirtyThree,
          “My Cheater loves the linguistic games of “That isn’t what you asked me?” If I didn’t phrase a question to his precise demands it absolved him of the lie”

          SAME girl, same. Mine followed exactly the same playbook.

          • Fearful & Loathing, some days I swear we are all married to the same person.

            • I am so Glad this wasn’t just me & it’s an actual thing !!

              I have always and still do think its me as he is so easy going & he always told me i was an angry woman . He told me it was because of my childhood ( very hard childhood ) and i should go to anger management classes which i did .

              My 1st Class the teacher said i was not a right fit i didn’t have anger issues and refunded my money – he thought i had made it up although he picked me up from the class !

              Any disagreement we would have was because i always angry and see he was so calm because everyone in his family are just easy going like him and my family are scum ( exact words used )

              He use to tell me what i was thinking when i was not thinking anything like it at all ! He would say i know what your thinking so don’t even say a word !

              He would say something his favorite is I go out of my way for you and to be nice to you ! I would ask and how do you go out of your way for me ?
              I never said that !
              You did approx 15 seconds ago
              No I never
              Yes you did
              See what i mean you always are angry always casting things back up – then silent treatment for days !

              I am crying typing this cause i have always thought it was me and he was so easy going that i broke him ( he told me i broke him ) OMG this was not just me this happened to .

              • It’s not you, Karenb. He was absolutely manipulating you. Gear up as best you can because those attempts will amplify in the divorce process.

              • Aw, honey. I’m sorry you were abused like that. No, it is not just you and that man in an absolute monster. Easy going, my ass. My abusive cheater believed he was a great guy and that I was lucky to have him.
                They are delusional.

              • Karen-
                My husband does the same thing. Does your ex try to push your buttons and escalates, getting angry, yelling and the moment you react, he’s cool as a cucumber? Then questions why you’re so angry?
                Eventually I stopped caring and when he’d try this shit, I I wouldn’t react the way he’d hoped and he would lose himself in his own rage. It’s a weird, sick game. It’s a reactive strategy that he won for many years.

              • Karen, this was my situation exactly. It’s you anger, he would shout at me. That, that! he would say, pointing at my face, with a nasty look on his own face. See, you’re angry! Your whole family knows you’re an angry person. He prided himself on being a meek little forest creature – everybody loves me, he’d say. It was my anger that drove him to cheat. Ok, suuuuurrrre. Because the best way to deal with an angry person, is to betray them in the worst possible way. That’ll solve the problem. Of course, it’s not possible that I was angry because I’d been treated like shit for the last decade. It’s very freeing to NOT have to deal with that mess anymore. I’m seeing more and more light peek into my once-dark world.

              • Karenb6972, it never was you. They want so desperately to make you believe you are the problem. They have to do that to justify in their little disordered minds that you are the root of all evil. Then TAH-DAH, they had to cheat because you are so awful.

                Devalue and discard, it is what they do. (I think there is a song there sung to the tune of “Irresistible You”) Again, it seems we all married the same person. Of course he blamed you. In his little squirrelly mind it has to be you are the problem because these disordered cheater will not be held accountable. Ever.

                The further you get away from your abusive STBX the more clearly you can see them as a freak, a monster, a narcissist, you know just a cheater. I am certain you didn’t do anything to deserve this abuse.

                You didn’t cheat. He did. He doesn’t deserve you. You deserve so much more.

              • No, this is not you. I had the same type of man so easy going. But absolutely covertly mental absuing me and that is what he is doing to you. You think it is you because he is so easy going…it is just an act to get into your head and doubt your. He is a covert Narcissist, the worst kind…as they seem so nice.

          • My ex was good as lying by omission. VERY GOOD! So after, when he said, “I didn’t say that”, he really and truly didn’t… exactly…, he very purposeful would twist things around. Yuck! I’m so, so glad he’s not my problem anymore.

            • Mine too!
              He said “I didn’t lie to you” because he was omitting to tell me he was f’ing his howorker.

              And he totally believed it! It’s how he rationalized he was a decent person because he’s “not a liar”. He also, to this day, says he is a “pretty honest guy.”

              CAreful out there ladies ’cause he’s back on the market looking for a “real and honest relationship”. Stay off gals.

            • Yes, cheater x had a masters degree in lying by omission. I also had to phrase questions exactly and precisely to leave him no wiggle room to lie. I’m enjoying a quiet and peaceful cheater-free life free from a lying, cheating man-child.

              • Yup, AllGood. “I also had to phrase questions exactly and precisely to leave him no wiggle room to lie.”

                My life was like a frigging game of 20 questions.

        • Is permanent……divorced just over a year now but I did not realize this was happening until well after she was gone. I knew she was stepping out on me while it was happening and I kept asking her about it and she just kept saying “how dare you accuse me of cheating, I’ve never done anything like that to you”, meaning in our 24 years together I assume. For example, it got so bad that she would leave to go grab something from the store that is literally a 2 minute drive away. She would be gone a half hour or more and I would ask “what took so long?” She would say “I was only gone 5 minutes” and it would be a full half hour, as if she thought I could not tell time. I would say, “its been a half hour” and she would say, of course, “your crazy!”

          And I believe I was going crazy from it. I thought we had a great relationship until she fell in love with another. I confronted him once during this too and of course all was denied by them both but it could not be hidden for long after all of this. Right after I pushed for answers she was gone. No contact for me now. Unfortunately meh is still a ways away.

          • Glad you’re free from the gaslighting, Matt. Meh will come I hope soon for you on a Tuesday! You’re better without the crazy making and disrespect.
            I’m still frozen in hopium/confusion and am slowly seeing how I’d be better without the abuse, blameshifting and feeling used. I’m a true chump.

          • Hang in there, Matt. After years of gaslighting, it takes more than a minute to trust your perceptions and weed out the lies embedded in your memories. When you do, you’ll leave the confusion behind and be at meh. Your X was and is and always will be a disordered asshole. She sucks in a genuinely destructive way. The good news is that she’s taken her crazy-making behavior elsewhere.

          • Okay, so mine said, I am going to the post office. We lived next door to the post office you could literary walk to the post office in 5 minutes. He was gone for over 2 hours. I asked him what took you so long? I got some crazy wild story and was called controlling. What probably happened is he met up with some craigslist hooker. I never got normal answers or normal results from a simple task like having him go to the post office, because normal things we not happening with him. All this crazy making is just a cover for hiding the double life of affairs. If they can get you to doubt yourself over normal things like going to the store when the time frame is totally out of whack…imagine all the tracks they can cover about an affair! All any of this is a diversion and a test to see how much bull shit you will buy when they feed it you!

        • Same. 9 times I found things. 15 months of lying and trickle truths to me AND our therapists. I, too was told that was not what I’d asked. When the proof was revealed, I was then told that he didn’t remember. It really wasn’t worth it, still don’t know the truth, so why bother?

          • Exactly!! Do not even care about what the whole truth is, because you will never know. It is part of trying to untangle the skein of fuckedupness. It simply doesn’t matter.
            Dude cheated, lied, gaslit. That’s the real truth!

            • Super loooooooong story, but he didn’t cheat. I saw what was happening at a wedding and shut that shit down! He was, however, trying to get in touch with old flames to see if they were willing. The stuff I found out about was far worse. I literally had to phrase a question exactly so or he said he didn’t understand it. Had varying definitions of certain words that were just soooo sketchy. I stopped searching. It’s just not worth it. Truly doesn’t matter. Trying to figure out after everything just what’s acceptable to me! Waiting for the next shoe to drop and son to be out of college (2 more years), then seriously, I’m outta here. He’s been working on himself, but I’m not sure I like what he’s becoming. You’re right about the truth, we’ll never really know.

              • Ewww weddingbelle, I am sorry. I don’t know what that is like…my ex is an angry alcoholic, a dysfunctional person even without the cheating. We were 4 yrs into the big R and I truly didn’t know he was cheating again until he blew up and left.
                Your man is lying about stuff and gaslighting you, yes? And not cheating? It must be complicated for you.
                CN is always here for support. If you haven’t already told the long story…do it when you can.

              • Weddingbelle, it’s a few days later so I don’t know if you will see this, but my situation is kind of similar. Different too. At this point, I don’t think my husband actually cheated in the sense of having skin to skin contact with anybody. But he was looking. And what he was looking at was gay porn and gay sex paraphernalia and gay erotic literature and gay hook up sites and articles on gorgeous male celebrities and their body hair and YouTube videos of celebs having oral sex and eye-popping gay clothing (fitted black “running”-type tights with giant bright red ribbed upright cock sheath!) and articles on how married men could find other men for sex.

                The gaslighting and manipulation and deception after that has been extreme. He now insists he is bisexual. Like that makes it ok! And I learned months after DDay—even when he had earlier told me that he had disclosed everything— that actually, he had looked at gay sex hookup sites throughout our 28 yr marriage, and that just a year before we got engaged had initiated significant sexual activity with another man (was rebuffed). And then his verbal assaults on my character for feeling hurt by this extraordinary deception, and his insistence that I am not kind because I am hurt by all his criticisms and withholding throughout the marriage—those twists to suggest henis the victim and I am a bully—this has been stunning.

                Whatever he is sexually, does not matter to me anymore—I mean, of course it is a really big deal that no matter how he defines himself he has been wanting men for sex throughout our marriage. And it is a really big deal that although he cruelly threatened divorce and leaving because of how awful I am, apparently he decided not to divorce me because he “wanted to maintain his lifestyle.” But the REAL issue became clear—not his sexual activities or preferences so much as that he did not value me. That he would distort my reality so much for his own convenience. That he would use me to bear and raise his children and criticize me more and more throughout, telling me how much he hated being touched, how much he hated me saying “I love you,” while more and more saying he never felt I loved him, that I never showed I loved him because I was not fitting a mold of impossible ever changing expectations.

                That the person who has pledged the highest level of intimacy and trust to me could distort and devalue me so much—those are the real reasons for the divorce, not sex. It is the gaslighting and the lies and the disrespect—those are the “cheater” characteristics, whether skin touches skin or not.

      • Happened to me too, Carol. So frustrating. It’s moving the goal posts so we can never win.

        • Sorry, Grumpy, no reply button by you. I see it, even a few days later and I’m overcome with sorrow for your situation. You’re right, of course, even though it’s not skin to skin, it’s hard to accept being devalued, gaslighted, and lied to. Oh, the LIES! I want you to know that my next door neighbor had a similar situation to yours. They have 3 natural boys, one boy adopted from China and 1 girl adopted from Africa. She is SOOOO mighty. She found out about male porn, hookups, etc. and even with all the kids, ages 6-21, was divorced in 5, yes, 5 months! MIGHTY, MIGHTY, I’m envious.

      • We had a mahoosive argument about him making dinner…. went like this…

        Darling can you make dinner tonight?
        I’m always making food for us…..whiney voice……
        Ok I’ll do it then (thinking I can’t even remember when he last made tea).

        So I kept a diary, doesn’t that tell you something was very wrong. He made dinner at least once every three months. Thats 4 times in a goddam year, whoopdido.
        Frig sake

        • Bev,

          You got better results than I did. I asked the x to help out by making dinner 1x a week only.

          He did, once only, that was it in 30+ years….The kids complained, as all young children do and they did it to me too almost every night….and he never tried to make a meal for them again!!! Literally. I kid you not.

    • This is exactly why No Contact is the path to the truth and the light. You deserve better. Silence is better… much better.

      I bet most of us put up with years of this not understanding how it worked to isolate and entrap is while making our needs smaller.

      On the up side these kinds of interactions taught me how to document, document, document, which came in very handy during and after the divorce. Narkles the Clown can’t fuck with me now. All my ducks are lined up and march in unison. It’s a thing of beauty. Sometimes I parade them just for show.

      • ^^^^^ This post! Especially “Narkles the Clown can’t fuck with me now. All my ducks are lined up and march in unison. It’s a thing of beauty. Sometimes I parade them just for show.”

        • This is awesome LAJ. I am going to imagine my ducks marching around and dancing to the the song “This is Me” from the Greastest Showman. Parading them for show — hell to the yes!!

      • Beautiful! Brilliant AOoK! Wish I had my sh!t together like this……tickled my funny bone. There was a house up the street that had a duck statue in the yard. Homeowner would dress it for different holidays and seasons. Now I’m imagining your ducks in bathing suits and flip flops!

    • Exactly this!

      I said this to him many times. We need to start writing down what we agree/discuss/say.

      Someone told me that when you feel you need to start recording conversations your relationship is in trouble.

      Oh and also the famous (repeated many times).

      “I may have been unfaithful to you HC, but I’m not the unfaithful TYPE”. Huh?!

      I steal cars but I’m not a criminal.., same shit

      • “I may have been unfaithful to you HC, but I’m not the unfaithful TYPE”.

        This NEEDS to be in “Stupid shit cheaters say.”

      • One time I was speaking to my former mother-in-law and she said something very, very clearly to me. I turned to her and said, “Mary, that is untrue! I never did that!” She immediately said, “I didn’t say that.” I replied, “Yes you did! If I had a recorder I’d play it back for you!” And after that I have no doubt that the apple did not fall far from the tree. I hope she loves her skank of a daughter-in-law now. They can all gaslight each other. I wonder how they all get along.

        • My ex-MIL is an expert gaslighter and manipulator too! The Easter Sunday after D-day, she yelled at me AT CHURCH and said, “So now you are keeping the kids away from their grandparents and father?!” This wasn’t the truth at all. The kids decided on their own that they wanted to be with me for Easter. I even told the cheater and his mommy that the kids could go over to her house for Easter as I wanted them to have a nice Easter. I even GAVE HER THE HAM I WAS GOING TO MAKE!!! And my kids said, “Don’t we have a choice where we want to go?! So it was them who decided, not me. After yelling at me and accusing of things I would never do — a couple days later she said to me in front of my sister and XH, “I NEVER SAID THAT!” I then said to my sister in front of X and his mommy, “Well, now I know where he learned how to lie from.” I had yet to learn what gaslighting was, but I 100% knew she was lying. I hope there is a special place in hell for all the gaslighters that are out there. Anyone who purposely messes with someone’s brain is evil.

          • Ding,ding,ding….my ex MIL is a known liar, everyone brushes it off as harmless, but if you look at it from a distance it keeps people off balance and aggravated with each other instead of HER! When she goes too far she acts all innocent and denies what she said in the first place, causing more infighting. Glad I’m away from that….hope like hell my kids are smarter than me. Do these narc/cheaters all have crazy/drunk moms?

            • Raising hand. I had the added bonus of marrying a victim of covert incest by his Narc mom. I walked right into a disaster but because I was 18 and running away from my foo, they seemed so sweet and fun. I read the other day that if you can fake sincerity you can rule the world. My mil did more damage to me than my spouse, and in my quest to be loved, I let her. Marrying someone who has been loved conditionally is shit.

      • “I may have been unfaithful to you HC, but I’m not the unfaithful TYPE”

        Sounds to me like he’s attempting to put the blame of his cheating on you.

        • Yes we all know how this works. All of their bad behaviours are clearly OUR fault.

          I brought out those unfortunate cheating qualities in him. Still a bit unclear to me how that works.

          To further affirm your assessment he has also said “I have never been unfaithful to anyone else than you HC”. Boy, does he know how to make a girl feel special.

          In not too bothered about that statement though. It may well technically not be true at all. As he does not view himself as the unfaithful type he may well not view thing he has done in the past (that others would actually categorise as cheating) as being unfaithful. I really struggle to keep up with the dissonance…. or rather since NC I have stopped trying.

          • “All of their bad behaviours are clearly OUR fault.”

            Even now, as his Ex, I am to blame for his abysmal co-parenting behavior. His GF recently told me that it is because of ME that he drops out of communications for fear of angering me. That he is afraid to communicate with me at all out of fear that I will get angry and then he just shuts down (about anything. I seriously cannot ask the simplest of questions about our child)

            And yet, she also describes him as difficult, defensive and uncommunicative. It’s all his own issues that he needs to sort through, but cheaters lack the ability to self-reflect well. So deflect all the issues and hope something sticks to us chumps. Doesn’t work on me anymore. I old her that it was up to HIM to work on his communication skills.

    • When I would bring up something that bothered me and be specific about the incident(s) I always got, “well you do it too” or “now you know how I feel”. I’d say that if something bothers you you need to tell me. Besides, this is about me not you BUT, let’s discuss how this makes you feel. He’d just say, “I don’t dwell on stuff like you do” or “I let it go already!”
      That’s and he either didn’t remember things or when he had time to think of a lie he’d say he was testing me bee he knew I was checking on him. Idiot.

      • Your loss now I am almost certain we were married to the same person! “Now you know How I feel” was so typical! I started doubting myself in anything. These people are really cruel!

        • NewItalian, is you x also Italian too? Mine would also try to claim that I did to him the exact behavior of his that I try to address honestly. He would lie and reverse roles, always positioning himself as a victim NO MATTER WHAT!

          • Same thing he did to me! So much that I started doubting myself and my sanity. That was their game. And no, he was not Italian, all Saxon (his ancestors came here on the same boat of William Penn and he was very proud of that). That was another thing, he would never get angry, he would just look at me and say: “love, do you really not recall that? l” and then add another layer of lies. Since I am absent minded I would believe that it was me and started getting worried about the possibility of early dementia.

    • keeping a daily record/journal is what allowed me to see the gaslighting plain as day. I could go back and reference my private notes and realize I wasn’t “remembering wrong” or “mixing things up.”

  • Towards DDay, my ex started a fight out of left field. I took the bait and he was like, that’s it, I’m outa here. He just wanted to go meet his bimbette. He turned away and I caught him grinning and sharply called his name. He jumped and turned around. Then I smiled and told him I got your number, bud. It’s only when you think back through the years that you realize how many times you got played by a no good mother f’er. God I still wish he would seize up and drop dead.

  • Wow – this post was perfectly timed!

    Just yesterday, I spoke with my lawyer about some financial stuff STBX wanted to do (cashing in stock options). I wasn’t sure about his motives for it, so I sought legal advice to make sure I was protected.

    Well. STBX rapidly went from playing “good guy” who only has my best interests at heart (yeah, right) to furious that I don’t trust him.
    Never mind that he constantly lied and cheated for the past three years (that I know about). He said, “you’re taking relationship stuff and painting everything with the same brush”. He hung up on me and hasn’t spoken to me since (we’re still in the same house).

    Um. Yeah. I am painting everything with the same brush. It’s called life. I don’t have a relationship box and a financial box. It’s all one and the same – after 26 years together, you fucked me over. I don’t trust you.

    He’s PISSED that I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid anymore.

    • Brand New Bag, you be very careful. Take care.

      His statement about “painting everything with the same brush” shows his narcissistic behavior. He is able to compartmentalize like that because he is disordered.

      Angry narcissists are dangerous people.

      • Amazing how they lie,cheat,and steal,yet act all hurt and angry when we don’t trust(blindly do what they want) anymore. 33 you are right…they say for an abused spouse, the most dangerous time is when they are leaving. Cheating is abuse.

    • @Brand New Bag–I have a LOT of experience with the SBTX (now actually X) trying to play games with stock options. It trickled into this year with taxes, as my first year filing as single. You can PM me on the Reddit page if you want any tips but maybe you have it down. Just in case here’s my story. Ours were options that were granted to him as part of his salary and we had made decisions based on them. By CA law, 50% are community property if they were vested before the Date Of Separation, and then a portion of any unvested options granted prior to the DOS are 50% community property, the precise number is determined using one of two formulas (HUG or NELSON) that take into account the amount of time between when they vested and when they were granted and when they vested and the DOS. The DOS is the most important factor in determining which are community property. BUT if they are volatile then the purchase price becomes an issue. In our case, the stock price was on a nice, steady increase over the time he was employed there, and he received grants multiple times each year-each at a different purchase price. The grants that were given earlier in his employment were the closest to vesting (making them about 95%-100% community property) and were worth much more. The stock dipped after our separation and some of the ones that had been granted more recently had a purchase price that was slightly above the current stock value. Those were also the ones that, by either calculation would be only about 15-25% community property. Bottom line was that I wanted the standard formulas applied to the unvested options because a greater percentage of more valuable options were community property. He and his lawyer offered 50% of ALL the options and a reduced alimony payment -and they multiplied the number of options that constituted by the current stock price coming up with this absurd number of dollars. Everyone was buying it, even my lawyer. But I wasn’t. When I did the math, it was clear that my portion of valuable stock options was being diluted by the valueless ones and I was far better off having the formula applied to each separate grant as is standard practice. My then SBTX’s lawyer (who fell prey to the gaslighting as well) said to me, “You can’t pick and choose which grants you want.” to which I replied “I’m not. I just happen to legally own a greater portion of the more valuable ones.” I finally sent everyone -my lawyer, his lawyer, him and some accountants that were working with us, a spreadsheet itemizing each grant, its current value and the portion that would be community property using either HUG or NELSON calculations, and demonstrated how their offer was considerably less potential money to me than either of the standard methods for stock option division. On top of that, my ex was a flight risk so most likely he’d leave the company by 2020 and about 40% of the stocks they were “splitting evenly” with me didn’t vest until 2021-2023 so, not only did they have less monetary value, they were likely to never vest. It was such a sneaky, sneaky thing to do. Bottom line: even your lawyer can be confused with division of stock options especially if they were granted to your husband. It varies from state to state how they are divided but be careful. With respect to selling them off NOW-that’s fine if it’s a good price, but 50% of the ones that vested while you were married should be yours. So 50% of the NET PROFITS AFTER TAXES should be YOURS!!!! We did that as well and I was the one that pushed for it. But, this year, he tried to hit me with tax money, claiming he had paid all the taxes on the stock options we sold and I had paid none. Well, we had split the profit AFTER taxes. So I paid 50% of the taxes-it’s just they they were all on his W2. Once again I had to explain this over and over and finally got out the settlement agreement and showed my ex’s accountant that it specifically said I was to declare on my tax return 50% of the taxes paid and he was to declare 50% of the taxes paid. It all stems from their inability to understand the marital economy. He thought he just “gave me” some of “his money”.

      • Wonderful for you! I’m glad you’re ‘smarter than the average bear’! I would have been screwed.

      • you go girl! this should be included in archives as instructions for managing options in divorce settlements.!!!

      • You are mighty. Thanks for sharing this information.
        This definitely needs to be archived.

        • madkatie, I am very decidedly not a financially savvy person, so I don’t quite follow how you prevailed, but I applaud you.

          I just went with my gut feeling that whatever ExH was recommending was going to benefit him, not me. Several years ago, we divorced in late November, I sold my half of the stocks in mid-December, and when we filed jointly shortly afterward, Ex was angry that our tax refund was greatly diminished. Again, I am unschooled in complex tax matters, so I may have hurt myself financially, but I’m willing to bet that I saved myself a bunch of money by selling when I did and filing jointly.

          Please don’t anyone tell me if I’m wrong. I figure that I did the right thing for me, based on his furious reaction.

            • darn typing – stocks – also he had to share in paying taxes on your gain – whoopee

          • good job! if your tax refund was reduced it means, you made money on the sticks and had to pay capital gains. good fuck you to him and you avoided the next stck market downturn.

      • Katie: I might need to hit you up for advice. I’m also dealing with stock options, vested and unvested shares, and all that complicated crap, to do with Douche’s startup company, which he claims doesn’t allow him a salary at this point (16 months after he launched it??)

  • I think that a lot of us are the type of people that don’t believe another human(especially our spouse) could be capable of lying and manipulating to such degrees. I know that I would investigate only far enough to prove myself wrong. After the “I’m not happy I’m leaving you….” and I started to tell friends about some of the things that I experienced they validated my feelings ten fold. I didn’t want to believe my wife could be a shitty person. The weirdest part is that she seemed sincere in every single gaslight. Not even rage so much as I believe she believed her own lies. I’ll never know what was real or fake and I’m still heartbroken and trying to rebuild my life.

    • My ex hardly ever ‘raged’. My ex never swore at me in 30 years of marriage. My ex used the opposite approach whenever I suspected his lies and called him out on them. He played the poor sad sausage by making me feel that he just couldn’t come to me with the truth because I was unreasonable in my expectations, or he felt that I was just not appreciative enough of all he did. What a mindfuck. Making me doubt my real and absolutely normal feelings! Fuck him!

      • Ex nevet sore or raged either. Ex didn’t talk to me during a very hard time in our marriage because he ‘didn’t want to upset me’ or put any more pressure on me. Instead he taljed to his male bf. Later, he did the same thing only with a female friend who he went on to have an EA with. Throwaway comment of mine to that female friend about how I thought our marriage was secure, her reaction I now realise shows that she knew our marriage was in deep trouble Male bf much later told me that ‘he knew we were unhappy’. What a shame ex couldn’t have taled about the reality of my life to me, instead of to his friends.

  • Cheater Ex was a master gaslighter. But I think his grand moment of overstepping was when I complained that he bought sex toys while out of town on a business trip for two days. His response, “But you told me to do that.”

    Me: “I never told you to do that. I didn’t even know that you did that until I found out later from bank statements!”

    Him: “Yes, you did! You may not remember, but I do! You said, ‘Go ahead! Have some fun!'”

    Me: “If I told you to go ahead and have fun without me on a business trip, why did you throw the sex toys away before you came home?”

    Him: “Well, I didn’t want the kids to see them.”

    He overstepped with that one, because there is NO WAY I would have ever given him the green light to buy sex toys and “have fun” with whatever slut was with him on a business trip. That was when I realized that he was just throwing stuff at the wall to see what would stick. He didn’t actually even care whether he was telling the truth.

  • I will never forget the last heated discussion that was leading to the demise of our marriage. Back in November of 2017, I had asked the ex to come with me on a long birding weekend to Duluth to see the Great Gray Owl. He enthusiastically said yes. Fast forward, to five days to departure (February 15, 2018), and he asks me if he has to be me for both days. We are only birding two days and will spend 2 days driving. He knew exactly what the plan was and now at last minute he wants to change his mind. I understandably became upset because, not only, was I really looking forward to spending time with him but he also was making comments in a voice that dissatisfaction. All of the sudden, my weekend had turned to shut. Two months later, he filed for divorce.

    Things ended badly and that evening became my fault because ‘every time we talk it turns into an argument’ I really was confused, upset and not understanding what the hell had just happened. What I later discovered was that he had starting screwing whores and probably had a porn addiction. . He gaslighted and lied to me for 19 years.

    • Miss Bailey, I hope you saw the Great Gray Owl. One of my birding thrills was seeing a Snowy Owl during a Polar Vortex. I hope you are birding happily without him.

      My cheater was always thrilled when I planned trips. He would agree to go and last second back out. In the last year of our marriage he couldn’t hide his delight when I left. He even declined to travel to see our son at his first posting. He was so happy to see me go. So I am making him happy all the time with my absence.

      Now I am so happy to be without him. He always mocked my birding enthusiasms.

      • I did!! I plan on going back up this coming February for an entirely different experience without the fuckwit. For all those years, I ooh’ed and aah’es allmod his achievements. I saw a new bird and I was lucky to get a “good for you”. Never again will I settle for less.

      • I love birds! Can’t say I’m a birder but I sure love to look at them. Birds, butterflies and bees–the big 3.

        • Bees!! I hope to keep them someday. ????❤ I think of bees every time I see your lavender, LAJ

  • going no contact with my ex was the best thing I ever did. Gaslighting was his everyday way of life. He would not just deny he was cheating despite my knowing full well he was not interested in me. He would hide things and then claim to have no knowledge of them to keep me questioning myself. I would get so frustrated and then angry because bit by bit everything would just pile on top of each other and I would spend hours trying to work out what was going on and then when I could not function any more and would loose it he would take the pleasure of telling me that it upset him to see me struggling and would encourage me to confide in him with what was bothering me. He wanted to “help” me. 2 years after d’day the kids and I moved out of our family home he had left so much stuff for me to have to sort and get rid of. In the process I came across a box under the bench in our garage that had items in it that had gone missing from our home over the years items that I had turned the house upside down trying to find including some items that had been entrusted to me by a friend of ours that had gone missing that held great sentimental value. All of which at the time they went missing he claimed to have no knowledge of and twisted it to be the result of my lack of being able to be focused and organised. At the time this feed into his questioning my mental capacity every time we got into if he was cheating or not. To have it twisted every time that the only reason I was questioning his faithfulness was because I must be struggling mentally or emotionally and to be told I should probably go and speak to someone rather than take my inability to cope out on my faithful God fearing spouse was a constant mindfuck. This was compounded on d’day to find I was right he was not interested in me and preferred the company of other men and had been hooking up for years was a massive kick in the guts…..but that did not stop him. The night out daughter was diagnosed with cancer a month after d’day I sat in the hospital and told him, our marriage was over I could not fight for out marriage and help DD fight cancer. He did not respond to me but according to two sources when I left the room his response was “our marriage is not over, she just thinks it is!” I was overwhelmed how much brain space I had not being around him in the early days of DD treatment even though we were stuck in the hospital. Just physically being in cheaters company gave me massive anxiety, so did being around his supporters from church. I can only describe it as being peace that surpasses all understanding. Gaslighting is not a slight of hand magic trick it is a deliberate and calculated act to keep the unwitting spouse on edge, pushing you to the brink of crazy only to set themselves up as the saviour and bring you back again. They will give you times of respite which builds hope only to start the pattern all over again while putting all the responsibility on the victim for the friction and breakdown of the relationship.

    • Endless small deliberate acts to keep you off balance so that you would not see your situation for what it really was…yes, this. I also suffered from years of it.

      He would complain that we never “went anywhere” but when we did, he was always one annoyance from a rage (often while driving) that would terrify us all. He also spent more than we made so I worked weekends to balance the family budget then he blamed me for being “selfish” and keeping my career at the expense of my family.

      He dogged me endlessly to plan excursions so I spent 2 months planning a family weekend (extracting me and 3 kids from all activities and commitments for a weekend was a huge task) then the day we were to leave, he came home and picked a fight (clearly hoping to use it as an excuse to not go) but I wasnt having it. He ended up acting like a fool to concoct an excuse to not go.

      I grew up with a narc dad and an alcoholic mom who were impossible…when Cheater wanted to get me off his tracks, he told me that our marriage would be better if I had a better relationship with my parents and I should try harder with them. Wild goose chase of Biblical proportions and he knew it.

      He also sabotaged any attempts I ever made to cook and after insuring any given meal would be a disaster, he shamed and mocked me over it. He once did that on Thanksgiving and once it was clear that dinner was ruined, he proudly said “I cant wait to go into work on Monday and tell everyone that I had to eat McDonalds for Thanksgiving because you couldnt cook” and he did. I deplore cooking to this day.

      • Unicornnomore, May he be cursed to eat McDonald’s for the rest of his cheater days. That makes me so sad for you. Fuck him, he sucks.

        Don’t let him keep you from the creative joy cooking can afford you. Don’t let him rob you. If you can read, you can cook. The rest is being able to focus and pay attention. He found a tender spot and exploited it to hurt you which makes him a disordered fuck.

        I reclaimed parking. I could never ever park correctly. You can reclaim cooking. If that holds any value for you. McD’s for him for the rest of his disordered days.

        • UNM’s H is dead, and most likely in purgatory right now and being stuffed with burning Big Macs for eternity!!! He was an evil asshole.

        • I grew up in the kitchen. 3 of my family members are professionals. I’m not a fancy cook, but I know how to put a good meal on the table.

          XAss wanted meal on table by the time he got home so he’d have time later in the evening to do things. Then he wouldn’t come home and we’d be waiting for him with dinner cooling off and drying out. If we ate without him, all sorts of drama would ensue. XAss used to intentionally get in my way, micromanage, subtly disparage, get me flustered and angry while cooking, especially if we had guests. Then he’d be all mournful (to the guests) and spiteful (to me) because I just don’t know how to cook and ruined the food.

          He used to hold up his Grandmother as that untouchable paragon of cooking (boil everything to death and/or cover it in salt / sugar). He ragged on me for not reusing lids when canning salmon. “Grandma always did and never had any problems.” I told him, “Good for Grandma, y’all were damn lucky nobody died from botulism”.

          The funniest thing was he decided HE knew how to cook – that he was some kind of Chef savant without ever passing a single cooking class. He doesn’t -he’ll boil a pound of spaghetti in a quart saucepan and wonder why he got a ball of starch. And he would try to make some kind of fancy thing, which would turn out awful, and he’ll proudly take pictures of it and post it to home cooking foody sites like it was a plate from a 4 star restaurant. Then he “ate” up all the praise for his efforts from the people on the other side of the screen who will not be subjected to the godawful mess he created.

    • You were married to one sick fuck. I hope you are away from him and that your lovely daughter is doing brilliantly now.

      • Yes well away almost 6 years, DD is an awsome kick ass teen who through her illness got to see her fathers bullshit first hand in a way her siblings have not so she pulled the plug on visitation 2 years ago and has never looked back.

        • Good for you! I’m so glad that he’s gone and your daughter sees him for who he is. I also had things that I treasured just disappear and I looked everywhere for them. I will never know what happened to my items, but I have no doubt he would throw them away when I wasn’t looking. What a sick and twisted mind to do these things.

          • When he left to go back to the States (without emptying his 3 bedroomed farmhouse) I found my knitting machine outside in the snow, along with all my cookery videos.

            • A lot of my shoes were missing their half ! Loony tunes, all of ’em !

    • He’s a psychopath. How powerful it is that you could see that you could either bend yourself into a pretzel fighting for a marriage to someone who was trying to make you doubt your sanity or you could help your daughter fight cancer. Some of the cheaters here, like Jackass, are amateur gaslighters. They make up shit explanations and can spin spur-of-the-moment conversational circles; they can lie and deny: “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” But hiding stuff to manipulate you into doubting your sanity is straight up evil.

    • Thankful, you sure got rid of one really disordered man! Purposely hiding your possessions; that’s pretty much right out of the movie “Gaslight”!

  • During the first affair with OW#1, 9 years prior to his complete and sudden abandonment of me for OW#2, I of course challenged him about who this ho-worker was and exactly what was going on. He was staying out late (sometimes till 4am) and had a serious case of mentionitis about the first twat. “Nothing is going on, you are crazy!” was his frequent line. Variations thereof. For 18 months.

    After the lid was finally blown off there was ZERO accountability from him about all the bullshit gaslighting that had gone on. I had overwhelming feelings of “I KNEW IT!!!!” and just once I wanted him to admit he had lied and talk about why he was able to be so awful and deceitful. Of course he never made good on any of it, and of course he lied his way into the final affair before packing up and leaving while I was on a business trip. He had just learned to take his deceit underground completely and just did his lying and gaslighting after he had already poofed on me for this latest round. “There is no one else, you are just so awful I can’t live with you!!” Lies.

    They are shameless. They lie and lie and at most they will tell you later that they had to lie because you couldn’t handle the truth. More likely is that they lie about lying, and then proceed with the narc’s prayer:

    That didn’t happen.
    And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
    And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
    And if it is, that’s not my fault.
    And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
    And if I did,
    You deserved it.

    • “had a serious case of mentionitis” Oh what a descriptive word, ‘mentionitis’. STBXDick flew in on a 6 hr flight, after being away for weeks and in the first 30 minutes of convo he ‘mentioned’ OW’s name 3 times… (just a friend, yea, riiiiight). smh. That went into my journal, date stamped and WTF?s noted.

    • Mentionitis… She did it all the time. And the AP also had mentionitis,regarding my son when he was talking to me. He would tell me what a good kid he was and how much he liked him. This was before I had put 2 and 2 together. Disgusting F’N Narc! My son has not said a word to him in the two + years his mother has been with him. Well actually 3 years now if you count the year we were still married.

      • Ex had mentionitis, and when I said I didn’t want to talk about her, he said it was aversion therapy so I wasn’t so upset/angry. Gah.

  • “Run your gaslighting scenarios past some trusted friends or some anonymous online forum — what are those people telling you?”

    Just a word of warning: if you think you are being gas-lighted (gaslit?) be careful who you run it past or at least, be choosy about whose advice you listen to.
    I was living with my now-ex and was fairly sure he was cheating: the sudden trips abroad that he had to go on ‘for business’ (a total fantasy, he was never running a business), the constant unexplained absences at odd hours – what kind of father of young children goes to the library to study on Christmas Day? He must have thought I was stupid with some of his BS excuses, plus when I tackled him about it he would try and turn it round to throw suspicion on me, accusing me of cheating or being unreasonable etc.
    Anyway, I was 99.9% sure something was rotten in Denmark, so I talked to my Mum about it. Normally we have a great relationship and I trust her judgement, which is why I asked her advice but in this situation it was the wrong move.
    When I said I thought he was living a double life she told me there’s no way he could be because it wasn’t physically possible (spoiler alert, it was). When I asked her about his accusing me of stuff and said I thought he was blame-shifting she basically accused me of cheating too, asking why he would say that stuff.
    It knocked me right off balance and kept me in that relationship for another 6 months before I finally decided I had enough of doubting my own sanity.
    I guess the lesson of all this for me is that sometimes people close to you don’t see what’s really going on, they may have their own prejudices or preconceptions about you. Also many people who are no disordered gas-lighters aren’t able to conceive of someone else being THAT dishonest. Like the victim they judge others by their own standards and that makes them vulnerable to a con artist (which my ex certainly was).
    I think Tracey’s suggestion of putting it out to an internet chatroom such as this one is a good one, as those people don’t know you or your partner, so have no preconceptions about your motives. they may have their own axes to grind of course – most people do – but at least it’s a disinterested POV.

    • Early on, both my therapist and one of my friends in whom I confided thought I should give Jackass time and the benefit of the doubt because he was, in fact, dealing with the death of his father. But once I had evidence of the affair, they were quickly able to connect the applicable dots (so to speak). The one thing that helped me most? Jackass cutting off contact with me. It was horrible painful; it was puzzling; but it gave me time to sort things out and listen to my own instincts.

      • Yeah benefit of the doubt is a killer. Most normal people will tie themselves in knots trying to give someone the “benefit of the doubt” – a fact that narcs ruthlessly exploit. As long as they have plausible deniability, they will keep the fantasy world spinning for as long as they can.
        To be fair, the death of a parent is a big deal so no wonder your people advised you to give him a chance. I’m glad you all saw through him in the end though.
        Sad to say, my people took quite a bit longer to see the full extent of my ex’s duplicity. I think it wasn’t until his wife, who I thought he was separated from (he was ‘living with’ me) got in touch that they started to see I might have a point.
        Even when they realized what a creep he truly was there was a fair bit of blame thrown my way; for “letting” him treat me like that, for not tracking down his other family (the one that it wasn’t physically possible for him to have), for putting up with his behavior (despite advising me to stay).
        Often society colludes with these unscrupulous bastards in causing victims to blame themselves, when we hear about a person in an abusive relationship we ask “why did they stay so long” rather than “why would anybody treat another human being like that?” or “why didn’t anyone spot this problem?”

        • “Often society colludes with these unscrupulous bastards in causing victims to blame themselves, when we hear about a person in an abusive relationship we ask “why did they stay so long” rather than “why would anybody treat another human being like that?” or “why didn’t anyone spot this problem?””

          Warning–rant coming.

          People want to blame the victim because of (a) belief in a just world–if something bad happened to you, you must have done something to deserve it [this is total bullshit–look at all the bad things that have happened to innocent people throughout history. The world is not just.]


          (b) New Age trollop about the Law of Attraction and “manifesting” what happens to you. Don’t get me wrong–I agree by thinking positively about wanting a new career or a healthy relationship, you can increase the chances of that happening both because of confidence and taking steps to achieve those things. And, yes, if you marry three alcoholics in a row, you are probably manifesting dysfunction and need to work on your issues.

          But that we “manifest” everything that happens to us? including bad things or relationships that turn bad (because of cheating or something else)? No. This viewpoint is a great way to create the illusion of agency–“I have control over EVERYTHING that happens to me so all I need to do is change my thinking!”–but the universe is not that simple a place. We don’t have control over what other people do (and thus we did not “manifest” their abuse of us), multiple social and cultural factors affect us & our behavior AND the behavior of others. Furthermore, events and people can be a combination of good and bad–e.g., did I manifest the good things Hannibal Lecher brought to my life (intellectual stimulation, travel) or the bad (cheating and emotional abuse)?

          While the Law of Attraction can be motivating to “attract” a better life or relationship, it also causes a Blame the Victim mentality that flies in the face of tons of psychological and historical evidence. E.g., did the victims of Jeffrey Epstein “manifest” what happened to them? Throat punch to anyone who thinks that.

          Anyone who asks an abuse victim, “why did you stay?” or “what did you do to cause your spouse to want an affair?” is likely operating under one of the two erroneous principles above.

          • I still wonder why I stayed. However, I am a lot more compassionate when I see others going through similar things. I know that we stayed because ‘that’s all we knew’. We didn’t know any differently. I remember after my divorce when I asked somebody, “Why do I still love him?!” He said, “Because that’s all you know.” And he was right. Well, I know differently now. I love myself and I’d rather be alone the rest of my life than ever deal with a dick again.

            • We stay in part because society tells us the marriage is more important than either person in it; and because children seeing abuse is better than children being in a broken home.

              • I remember doing the math in my head… if he is regularly present but only horrible some of the time, is that better than not being there any of the time?

          • The question to ask is “Why did you keep abusing your partner/spouse with the cheating ? You knew you were hurting them yet you continued. Why ?”

        • I should add he went to huge lengths to keep the fact that he was still married/ still with his wife a secret. Before we moved in together I went to ‘his’ flat where he supposedly lived (he didn’t). I was divorced/ separated myself, so didn’t think anything odd.

        • So true. Why is the questions why did they stay so long? It really should be how could a human being treat someone they supposedly loved like this.

    • Not cheating related but relevant to your post. I used to work at a horrible, bullying place. One day a colleague told me that the cabinet where she stored the data was being accessed without authorisation.. She suspected her bullying boss so she could sabotage her work. Soon, there was an investigation that my college did sloppy work and a lot of data was entered inccorectly. Still, I thought my colleague did a few mistakes which were now blown out of proportion. Until I read a bullying study a few years later where they documented exactly such incidents. My point is, it unbelievable for ordinary people to imagine, even less believe to what extent these people go. That’s the problem.

      • Yes, you’re right, it’s a tactic that’s used in many contexts – not just romantic relationships. Often horrible bosses do it to employees or politicians do it to voters. Many people just can’t imagine that someone – especially a respected figure – would just tell bare faced lies. Most normal people go to huge lengths to avoid outright lying – hence things like lying by omission. My ex didn’t bother with lying by omission, he just told outright lies; family members dying of imaginary cancer, businesses that didn’t exist, invented charity concerns and good works he had done etc etc.

      • My first cognizant experience of a gaslighter took place my first year at college with a psycho roommate. I was eighteen years old at the time.

        I would remove my class ring to bathe, come back into our room and she would have moved it. This happened several times. My bulky flannel lined LL Bean sleeping bag that had to be STUFFED into its sack and mysteriously ended up on floor of my closet after her high school boyfriend visited ? “Oh I didn’t use it !” when I asked her what happened. I washed it, just in case. My water only hot pot left dirty on my desk soup remnants ? “I don’t know what happened” she said.

        I was shocked by her obnoxious, disordered behavior. I complained several times to my dormitory floor’s resident advisor and scheduled a meeting with the dean of the women’s college. “Bye crazy ! Time to find another roomie.” She graduated a year late, attended law school but didn’t pass the bar and went after a married man. Married him, had two sons and helps her husband manage others money in La Jolla, California. Total whackadoodle.

        p.s The final straw was when she and h.s boyfriend had no qualms about screwing in her bed next to me. I was NOT going to sleep in the lounge or on a friend’s floor every time he drove an hour from his college to get laid.

        • I forgot to mention she was raised in Cos Cob (part of Greenwich), Connecticut. So much for the privileged (which I used to equate with well mannered) upbringing. Guess she was raised to be a real princess !

    • Right, be very careful who you talk to. Mine involved my family and convinced them that I was the problem so she could justify her cheating. Found out everything I said to my sister went straight back to her. Talk to your lawyer, no one else.

  • Gaslighting might be worse than the betrayal itself. Or just close to just as bad anyway. It did such a number on my mental health. I had so much anxiety over the three years of the affair(s), and it turns out that everything I was having anxiety about ended up being true. So instead of the whole, “Why I am I so untrusting? There must be something really wrong with me,” that ensued, I should’ve just listened to my gut to begin with. Instead, my anxiety made me question my worth and sanity, which perpetuated depression about that, which made me anxious about that in and of itself, into a vicious cycle of anxiety and depression, culminating in a failed suicide attempt. Thank God that didn’t work.

    Now, the divorce is finalized; I’m off all meds, and I’m doing great. It turns out my mental health issues are plenty manageable with diet and exercise, but the gaslighting and betrayal significantly exacerbated everything.

    Side note–My ex wife often gaslit by using “half-truths” where she could feel like she wasn’t lying.

    Me: I’m not very comfortable that schmoopie is going on that mission trip with you.

    Cheater ex: I don’t really talk to him any more. We’re not even connected on social media.

    Truth: They blocked each other again a week prior to that conversation and started sexting again shortly thereafter.

    • I actually said to ex once “my gut is screaming at me.”

      I’ll never be persuaded by anyone to ignore that gut again.

    • Yep. Lying by omission and half truths. I hope they do the same to each other.

    • Freed_chump, I agree wholeheartedly. I doubt Ex maliciously gaslighted to send me bananas, but the stress of having him promise he wouldn’t see or contact her, when he was doing both and my gut was telling me so, led to a minor breakdown. But I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I had to get away for a week because I was going round the bend. He picked me up and when we got back, very late, I asked to see his FB messages. I got a 2 hour headfuck argument in the middle of the night with full-on “If you can’t trust me there’s no point in trying” folderol. I stood my ground and at last he agreed I could see the messages. I’m almost proud of my cosmic ultra-chumpiness in letting him go start up the computer by himself. Of course when I got there the messages had all been deleted.
      Artist (stunned) “You said I could see the messages. You just deleted them.”
      Ex: “I did it before tonight, the conversation was just too heavy.”
      I just didn’t bother after that. I knew he would lie about anything and everything. It was the lies, the omissions and the manipulation that hurt the very most. Not to hurt me on purpose but to cover up the truth, which was all I wanted. Hugs to you Matt, grats on your escape! X

  • what would really piss him off was I started to get clarity before d’day sometimes when he would try and gaslight and tell me I was forgetful and that he had told me something but I had clearly forgotten usually around him needing to go and do something when he knew I had plans or would agree to something and then change his mind or not follow through he would try the “but I told you” and my stock standard answer became “no, you didn’t because I am pretty sure my response then would be the same as now and I don’t recall us already having had this fight” So then he would turn it to “how would you know you are angry about everything” Sadly I was not quick enough with a come back for this back in the day and it would then lead to the “your struggling speech” or “your always looking for a fight”…….gaslighters suck at communication and think that you are just an extension of them so you do not really count unless you are doing for them.

    • Gosh! It sounds like my life! Except he was always very “nice” when he would telll me this kind of stuff: like “I am worried about you”; “I did it already but you don’t remember”; or whenever I asked stuff like for instance “can you please put the dishes in dishwasher instead of leaving them out?” (Looking at the dishes in the sink), the answer: “yes, I Meant to tell you just that I always have to put your dishes in The dishwasher, you need to start doing that by yourself”. (So his leaving them out was a teaching moment to make me understand how one feels in seeing the dirty dishes I n the sink. And so on… I still feel guilty every time There is something in the sink

      • Oh, the dishes!! How the disordered slowly break you down and make you feel like you can’t do anything right!

        We were just married and he criticized me for closing the cap on the dish soap and putting the bottle under the sink. The “right way” was to keep the bottle open and have it on the counter by the sink. He even demonstrated to me how much extra effort it was to grab the bottle under the sink and to have to open the bottle up!

        The “right way” to wash dishes was to leave the water running with the drain open. My way was “wrong”. I would plug up the sink, add soap and rinses the soap off the dishes as I went. One time I plugged up the sink and let the dishes soak while I went and did something else. I came back about ten minutes later and he drained the sink and let the dirty dishes sit in the sink. I questioned him as to why he did this and he said, “I’ll never drain the sink again!!” And he didn’t! A few times he would wash the dishes after I had them soaking and he would PURPOSELY leave the dirty dishwater plugged up in the sink. This went on for over tens years. I never said anything to him about it as I knew he was trying to get a reaction out of me. There are just so many examples like this ranging from laundry, cleaning, lawnwork, etc. Now I know it was a part of his game to keep me off balance and questioning myself. What an evil bastard!

        • When the kids were little I kept a mop and bucket in the kitchen. Whenever he saw it he would hurl both straight into the garden.

          • Wow, Attie! They show us how disordered they are, but we truly fail see all the multi-levels they are until one or multiple D-days!

      • OMG! Mine would say things like “you’ve been under a lot of pressure lately. Maybe you should stay home and relax” when he’d “find” the keys in the same place I’d already looked and exactly where I knew I’d put them to begin with. He’d be so concerned and I’d feel so confused and crazy. And of course I’d stay home. Now I see he never wanted me to go anywhere with him.

    • Thankful – “how would you know you are angry about everything”. This just totally hot home for me. He said this all the time. My two sons even picked up on it. My oldest recently said the same exact thing. I became so upset. When someone constantly accuses you of something when you are not, of course you are going to get upset. Total mindfuck!!!

      • XAss always loved to tell me what I was feeling. “Why are you so angry?” When I was not. Made me sit back and think, “am I being aggressive? Is my tone angry?” Then I realized he was just doing that to knock me down. I then began responding every time he did that with, “Please do not tell me what my emotion is.”

        • Skunkcabbage – exactly. He was doing it to knock me down or make me appear crazy because that fit his narrative. He was in full blown character assassination mode during the discard phase. If only I knew now what I didn’t then. Live and learn.

  • My XH not only told me that I was crazy, and imagining things, I didn’t know what I was talking about, blah blah blah, but he told my family members I was crazy and needed mental help. Gee, thanks. ????

  • I would like to add that there will come a time when the cheater will stop putting effort into the gaslighting so the lies will sound completely ridiculous. Example- “Of course I bought $237 worth of silk underwear. Our neighbor’s dog is having a birthday.” This is a dangerous time for a chump you are no longer worth the effort of coming up with a plausible lie. Get out if you haven’t done so already! Trust me on this!

  • Being gaslighted was how I finally began to discover I was in a relationship with a narc.

    I came home from work out of town to discover photos of him and his “ex girlfriend” on the fridge. He said they’d been there all along. When I didn’t buy that he said he’d found them on top of the fridge and (since they were magnetic) used them to secure some important documents to the fridge to help him remember the dates, no biggie. He couldn’t figure out why I was upset. Their relationship had been over with a long time. Magnetic pics were merely utilitarian he said.

    I tried to wrap my head around this, but insisted he take them down anyway. A few days later they were back up. When I called him out he laughed and said it was a joke and to stop being so sensitive.

    6 weeks later I discovered they’d actually never even broken up. They had been dating/ fucking for the entirety of our relationship.

    After this discovery I typed in “lies, cheats, disappears, but tries to win you back” into the search bar and narcissistic personality disorder filled the page. That’s when I started to realize I’d been raised by narcopaths and married to several and it had become a pattern in my life. I gravitated towards these dark people without realizing it.

    I reached meh a few months ago (after 2 and a half years away from the most recent narc cheater) but I keep reading here to keep my boundaries in check. Thank you CL and CN!

    • Someone who deliberately does something he/she knows bothers you (like the magnets)? Not relationship material.

  • That didn’t happen.
    And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
    And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
    And if it is, that’s not my fault.
    And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
    And if I did,
    You deserved it.

    NowIC – this is exactly it.

    My STBX gaslight me mainly about his phone and cell bills. I wanted access (as we had always shared passwords and he changed everything) and he gaslight me constantly about it – making it seem I was being unreasonable. He also gaslight me about returning phone calls or texts. I was never a spouse who felt the need to have a short leash and he used that against me.

    He gaslight me but mainly he stonewalled and shark eyed it once I started to catch on to what he was up to. He was so truly terrible to me and what is the worst is he feels like he is amazing and he felt entitled to treat me like a pos after I had loved and supported him for 26 years. This is the part that I may never get over. I am as NC as I can get and that is so much better but quite frankly I still get teary and angry whenever I reflect on what happened (which I try not to do).

    Now I have one son who seems to be playing games. He is likely depressed but keeps putting off seeing a doctor (and is 19 so legally an adult). He wants to vent to me about his Dad – that his Dad won’t own up to what he did and just keeps pretending everything is okay, about how Dad moved close to him and keeps bugging him, about how horrible his Dad was to me and feels he did not stand up to his Dad. He said he wanted to confront his Dad about this stuff in order to have a real relationship. Then of course I keep hearing about his seeing his Dad and doing things like driving him to the airport for all his marvellous trips while I help my son with his college stuff etc. Quite frankly, I feel so done. I need to put myself first (for once) but I am having difficulty doing this with my kids as I feel so badly about what their Dad has done to us.

    • I’m not any kind of expert, but it might be time for you to enforce some boundaries with your son. He needs to be able to work through his issues with his dad, but you’re not the best person to do this with as it’s impacting on his time and relationship with you. From an outsider perspective it sounds like he is venting to you because you are the sane parent in whose love he is secure and maybe he is scared to do this to his dad directly (in case of rejection perhaps?).
      However, it’s not healthy for him or for you for him to use you as a dumping ground for his resentment against his father. I know you say he keeps putting off going to the doctor but have you tried making an appointment for him with a counsellor?
      You can frame it as him helping you out, eg “Son I love you very much and I will always listen to and help with your problems. Lately I feel like your issues with your father are beyond my capability to solve and I’m worried it may be putting undue pressure on you. I hope you don’t mind but I made an appointment for you with (Counsellor’s name). I thought we could go along together for the first appointment? It would really help my peace of mind if you were to go for a few sessions with (counsellor) to talk this through, just to help me rest easy that you have the support you need.”
      If it works, then hopefully it will help him to talk to another person who is objective and can give disinterested support, which would take the pressure off you in turn.

      • Thank-you Gothalgal for the advice. I appreciate it. Both my sons are very resistant to counselling at this point but I will revisit it.

        • Just because you’re the sane parent doesn’t mean your kids get to dump on you like that. They’re taking after the abusive spouse, in my opinion. Strongly encourage them to get counseling. Put a limit on how much they vent to you about their disordered parent.

      • I reached out to a psychiatrist for my 22 yr old son whom I felt was suffering from depression. The office insisted that they speak to my son & called him directly to solidify/confirm the appointment. They told me that because my son was an adult I couldn’t make appointments for him. My son would never have initiated the call. But thankfully he agreed to see the doctor. It can be so frustrating because those who are suffering don’t know how to deal with their pain. My son wouldn’t tell me what he was going through but he could tell a stranger.
        The disordered leave many victims in their wake & rarely see the consequences of their disordered ways. Children are very vulnerable. We can be supportive of our kids without carrying their burdens for them.

  • I wonder if my first indication was early in our relationship. I was sitting on his lap at the dining table which was an old fashioned metal edged one. He got up abruptly while pushing down on the table with his hands so the edges slammed into my thighs. I yelped in pain and he was — offended. He didn’t apologize. He yelled loudly I didn’t mean to do that. Considering that even if we bump into strangers we say a quick sorry, you would at least want to apologize and otherwise be nice to someone you just physically hurt. Nothing. He insisted that it wasn’t his fault since he didn’t mean it so he doesn’t need to apologize.
    Failure to ever apologize.
    If they make you feel crazy and like you need to document things – that’s gaslighting and emotional abuse.
    Something CL wrote rang a bell – why did he gaslight? I think now he knew that he would leave me as soon as he graduated. I didn’t know that. So for the last year or two of our relationship he hated me and was just biding his time. The gaslighting became impossible. He didn’t believe he owed me anything at that point – sex or conversation or togetherness or meals or watching tv or taking a walk or meeting friends. He moaned about everything. He wouldn’t acknowledge that we weren’t having sex. He refused to accept it. And of course that’s what gaslighting does as well – makes you desperate. Why did I need him to validate that the sky is blue? He denied that we weren’t having sex. He did the lizard stare. He did the I don’t know I don’t remember you’re always fighting – he would drive me mental with cold stares and I don’t know and end with we have been at this for an hour. Which was true. But the simplest conversation will take an hour if the other person lives in your house and hates you. I couldn’t let go. I needed validation.
    He started saying he realized he was asexual. That he didn’t need sex. That people don’t need sex. That relationships are fine without it. That is gaslighting. Take the most basic pieces of information and twist them around and around and around. Shift the goalposts of the conversation. So it’s not that we aren’t having sex – it’s that it isn’t necessary to have sex.
    A few weeks or months later the it’s not that we aren’t having sex it’s that he is asexual. He realizes (oh when did this happen?) that he doesn’t need sex. Or very rarely. Or or or. The goalposts keep shifting.

    And this was years ago. I had a three month panic attack once after something he did. My heart was racing for three months. They do a lot of damage.

    • Never said he was sorry. Check
      Made you feel the need to document things. Check
      He would deny your reality. Check
      Lizard stare. Check
      Felt he would leave once he completed his degree. Check
      You’re always fighting or angry & he isn’t. Check
      I needed his validation…until I didn’t.
      I couldn’t let go…until I did.
      I became an anxious person & jumped every time someone entered the room. My heart raced too.
      They DO do a lot of damage.
      Thankfully they are gone to suck out the life from another who deserves the mindfuckery since they volunteer to be with a known cheater.
      Our stories sound so similar it’s
      unnerving at times.
      Def found my tribe.
      No one understands like CN does.
      Thanks for the validation.
      I don’t need it but it’s nice when it shows up. Peace????

  • My ex never remembered anything. I showed him a picture of Skankella on a toilet that she sent him bus facebook. His remark was I don’t remember her sending that. He also did not recall his response to her. He told her she was one sexy women even on a toilet. Eww.
    He would start fights and blame me. I was at the point where I was questioning my mental health. He often would say these things to me.
    1. Only a person like you would think that.
    2. I did not say that you said that.
    3. You are just like your Mother. She lies all the time.
    4.I don’t remember.
    5.Of course you would not care. You don’t care about anything.
    6. No one likes you. Not even your daughter.
    I could go on and on. Now that I am away from his mindfuckery. I understand that he needed to me to second guess myself. It gave him the chance to sneak around with Skankella. Thank heavens I never have to deal with his abuse anymore.

    • DARVO.
      Reverse Victim and Offender.

      When you see it in action, time to leave. There’s no fixing a relationship with someone who uses DARVO as a relationship tool. Never mind the infidelity, the lying, and the sneaking around. DARVO is the giant waving red flag that says “Don’t suck on the hopium pipe.”

      • I so wish I had known this! Cheater Narc Ex is the KING of DARVO. He’d get me so sidetracked, I wouldn’t know which way was up! I’d end up trying to explain to him what I REALLY meant, or trying to give examples from situations he never remembered, or trying to convince him that I did actually care for him and did actually show it (all the frigging time!
        Unlike him!), or trying to bring the conversation back to the very real problem I wanted to discuss. Then I could never figure out why nothing contentious ever got actually resolved between us.

        Then at one point I said we needed to do something about our inability to work out disagreements. We didn’t disagree about much (turns out that was because he had no personality, was super lazy, and didn’t know much about a ton of things; he just let me take the lead and decide on most stuff), but when we did, it was bad.

        His response? ‘You’re right, You should see the couple’s therapist (that we had seen after his 1st affair, until he refused to continue) to figure this out.’

        I remember looking at him and asking; ‘you’re suggesting I see the couple’s therapist ALONE, to work out a way to better resolve OUR disagreements?’ He just shrugged and walked away.

        He was so good at DARVO that I kept having that feeling that if I could only make things clear to him, get him to understand, then he would change how he dealt with the kids and I, and things would be so much better for all of us. Now I see that was delusional on my part!

        It all came to a head in a post-separation discussion, when he’d been trying to hoover me, while still in a ‘serious committed relationship’ with Shmoopie. I found myself trying to explain to a grown-ass man (with a Ph.D. and and MBA) why honesty is so essential in close relationships. THEN I stopped, and thought ‘we do not share the same values, THAT is the problem, not that he doesn’t understand’. Very empowering. 15 years and two broken-hearted kids too late.

        • KarenE

          At least you got it more quickly that I did. For me it was over 30yrs and 3 kids.
          When he finally agreed to counseling he said he was doing it on his own – without me. I sat there stunned at his words. Talk about being discarded!

          I had suggested counseling many times and was always declined and when he brought it up I felt hopeful…for a few seconds only. Still shocking to me that he actually said that to me and then actually DID IT without me! Shocking too that I just sat there hoping HE would see the light. HE HAD and was heading out as quickly as he could while I was prancing around doing the pick me dance like it was a whirling dervish.

          Luckily I failed at the pick-me dance and he exited and I discovered LACFAL, CL and CN. Myy life has not been the same since. Still shocked but getting better every day.

          Thanks for posting!

          • Sounds familiar. I was ecstatic when he took himself to a therapist – actually three! (?) But he’d come back from therapy, saying “My therapist says you’re too controlling.” Or “My therapist says I’m downtrodden.” Umm, your therapist has never met me.

            • Mine wouldn’t tell me anything and I didn’t ask for details. Can’t believe that I actually put up with that but I did at the time.

              I made no demands at all which turned out to be a good thing. I learned early on that knowing too much wasn’t the best thing to do to myself emotionally and I am glad I figured that one out with the help of really good/strong friends.

  • My cheater had me convinced that he was the better parent.
    He was rarely home. Left for work before the kids were up & got home mostly after they were in bed. But I still believed that he was a better parent than I was! I can’t believe how messed up my thinking was back then. When I revealed to my kids that their father had me convinced he was a better parent than me, my 16yr old son told me “that’s what sociopaths do Mom.” My kids are so much smarter than me.
    My son is studying psychology in college now. Sometimes I think it’s because he wants to get inside his father’s head & understand his type of charismatic & chaotic but on the surface “normal” personality.

      • Damn straight

        My kids keep me focused.
        My daughter reminds me that sometimes I am too nice & helps me reel that in.
        It helps to have support IRL but CN helps fill in the gaps.
        Thanks CN for being there????

    • renee,
      Me too. Did it on my own and he would step in and take the credit for his brief stints at actually being present. Like once every few years or so. I was too busy raising the kids, keeping the house, garden, dogs etc to notice – actually thought it was normal because my mom did the same thing so I was following right along in her footsteps.

      It was my daughter who woke me up. She too is studying psychology and knows all about this stuff. She hit the nail on the head while I was still in the RIC camp.

      She isn’t interested in figuring him out though. She went NC ages before I did and doesn’t even want to waste her time thinking or talking about him because she sees him for what he is and knows what a ‘good’ father is.

      The contrast is startling and I am amazed she is so clear about it all. I sure wasn’t at her age when my father left us. Even now it I don’t have the same clarity she has but I am catching up!

  • Wow! Thank you CL! I KNEW I was gaslighted but only AFTER the fact. To this day I cannot believe the gall of that dick. And I was an Amazon of a Chump wanting so badly to save my marriage that I bought all the self-help books I could find so that I could be more appreciative, show him how much I loved him, and figure out his love language. I finally figured out his ‘love language’ and it didn’t have anything to do with love.

  • Gaslighting and DARVO are, themselves, sufficient grounds for breaking up. Also the silent treatment. All are abuse that screams, “I don’t give a fuck about your mental health.” And why would we stay in a relationship with someone who doesn’t care about our mental stability? Or who uses the relationship strategy/ies of a 12-year old.

    I’m serious. Life is too short to put up with that nonsense. And if you’re staying “for the children,” why would you want to model tolerating abuse so your children can grow up and do the same (or worse yet, model the gaslighter)?

    I was dating a guy exclusively who revealed he had told a big lie 8 days into the relationship. When we discussed the lie, he went full blown DARVO on me (“you didn’t give me enough face time to tell you in person,” among other accusations). Bye, Felicia. It really is that easy. If a person uses one form of abuse, they will use others. Once you detect the abusive strategies, leave.

    • The silent treatment was X’s superpower.
      He would go mute to control a discussion or situation, with one exception…
      When the inevitable frustration mounted as a result of his silence and I attempted to draw him back into the conversation, X would accuse me of assuming things.
      He would do this and then sit back and watch me squirm.
      Additionally, if our twins were in the vicinity, he would point out that I was assuming things and encourage them to shame me for doing so.
      It was humiliating.
      If you’ve ever dealt with a person who used the silent treatment as a source of power, manipulation and control, you’ll understand how it strips you raw and tears your self esteem to shreds.

      • Cheater Narc Ex tried the silent treatment early on in our relationship. That was the ONE manipulation that I recognized and wouldn’t put up with. I told him very clearly (but diplomatically; I was crazy in love at that point) that this was a ridiculous way to deal w/upset, and I would not put up with it. I explained why it was problematic. Then I got on with my day. After I did this a few times, wasn’t intimidated or confused by this ridiculousness, he stopped doing it.

        I thought this meant he had understood what I was saying! And he had made an effort to deal w/upset in a more mature way! He could self-reflect, and grow! This one change was a huge source of hopium for me, for years and years.

        Naaaaaaah. Much later I realized he’d stop the toddler sulking BECAUSE IT WASN’T WORKING FOR HIM. No more, no less.

        And I didn’t recognize the other manipulations, which worked very well indeed. And kept trying to EXPLAIN stuff to him, thinking that would somehow make a difference, because I assumed he actually cared about me and the kids. Sigh.

      • Gosh the silent treatment! And accusing me of assuming things! We were all
        Married to the same person! For real!
        The damage they do is incredible. Could I ask my lawyer to add that as emotional abuse?

  • Good timing this one. Today as I had a bit of time I put together a folder of various bits of emails, hone bills, social media posts and things I should keep in relation the hideous situation that is my life of the last two years as they are all over the shop and they keep cropping up and I need them but want them tucked away somewhere, safe keeping, where I don’t get to see them. Just re-reading some of it was horrific. All still love you still care for you and we can still have each other in our lives unless you throw in a grenade (note UNLESS I throw in a grenade) and then once found out the table turns and basically no real attempt to co-operate. Decision making one sided largely. Any issue I raise has, of course, been ‘my fault’ no blame to be accepted here on any level. All of it was my fault of course. Timely reminder that there is no remorse and in fact they would wish you dead once they’ve discarded you. Now I am just an expensive thorn in the side. I wish I could do total No Contact but have a 9 year old daughter and 50/50 parenting. A great reminder that you will feel crazy and my natural instinct is to try to ‘put things right’ and I sadly know I can’t. Made for an enlightening reminder reading it all again today how much someone can hurt you and gaslight you in frankly not a lot of contact and how profusely they are prepared to lie. Never experienced that before in my life. I suppose I should think myself lucky that this was a first.

  • Dealing with the personality disordered is like trying to nail Jello to a wall.

    They get their jollies stymying people. They must ‘win’ every encounter. They are hopeless.

    • And they think they NEED to win! They think our closest relationships (as well as all the others, like friendships, work relationships, etc) are about WINNING.

      It took me a very long time to wrap my head around this attitude.

      The minute you think you need to WIN in a disagreement with a loved one, you have lost everything that is of value.

      • KarenE,

        So shockingly true. I am going through this with my son right now and am very aware of it whereas I wasn’t before. This stuff never ends.


        They want the second scenario and if all else fails, in really dangerous situations, it can go to lose/lose which equates to murder/suicide.

  • you go girl! this should be included in archives as instructions for managing options in divorce settlements.!!!

  • Oh I have more than the cooking trauma above…I honestly didn’t know what gaslighting was until most of this was over, but I now wish I could have been appropriately wary of it.

    After Dday he told me during an argument (over his schmoopie) that early in our marriage that I had kissed a guy at a party. He recounted a specific party and people there and i remember being embarrassed because I fell asleep at the party (I was a night shift nurse and sleep was a thing) and because I was so tired my memory was fuzzy and he tried to claim I made out with someone and I never ever did.

    The “I forget “ thing… this is seriously disordered and worthy of divorce on its own but he had a terrible rage problem . He would get mad and go into wild, out of control emotionally violent rages where he said mean, crass, accusatory, blasphemous things and after he came out of his furious state, he would claim no memory of it.

    My shame is that as a coping skill, my mind also shut off and if you asked me to recount it, I could not. I have never processed this in any formal way but maybe now I can understand people who have lapses of memory of abuse. I do remember that every rage ended the same “marrying you was the biggest mistake of my life”.

    Cheaters mother tried to warn me about his anger a few days before we got married but she didn’t express herself well and I was a foolish young bride who thought my love would conquer all.

    I am so ashamed that I didn’t remove my kids from his venom.

    • We get so wrapped up in the picture of marriage and steadfastness that we lose sight of what’s actually going on around us. You were trying to keep your family together and there is no shame in that.

      Every once in awhile, we had to find something whether it was a paper or something else. Of course, it always fell on me to find it because I was the one who supposedly put it some place. The Dickhead would start getting perturbed, grumbling, yelling about how I’m could never find anything. I think this stemmed from my childhood but my mind goes blank in those circumstances. I couldn’t think, react, move, do anything which just made him more angry. It seemed like everything big that ever happened was always my fault – always.

      • Yes, if something was missing, he got very mad very quickly and was ass-bastard nasty until the thing was found.

        Doing taxes was awful…with no request ahead of time for what forms he would need, the King positioned himself at the computer and the millisecond he needed a certain form he screamed at me to find. This went on until the return was finished.

        After he died and I did the taxes myself without screaming at anyone, I sat there reeling over the realization that he used it as an occurrence of abuse that never had to be.

        • I am very organized and knew where everything was. The Twats father died suddenly and he was looking for son no. 2 US passport (over here he always carries his British passport). I knew exactly where it was, or should have been, but couldnt find it, so son had to travel on his British passport and carry an out of date US passport. The Twat was so angry he tipped the 5 drawer filing cabinet upside down. When he eventually ran away back to the US without emptying his rental place I found sons US passport stuffed in a box up at his place AS WELL AS MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE. Seems when he left he just reached into the filing cabinet and grabbed a bunch of stuff, anything, just to say he had taken something. Dickhead.

    • unicornomore– I had the same issue. I think it is due to PTSD, all the trauma causes many symptoms, one being memory loss. We could have a fight and I couldn’t remember anything he said as soon as it ended. Then he would gaslight me about what actually happened. I started writing everything down as soon as I could just so I could get a handle on what the truth was. It got so bad, that it affected my work and relationships even after the divorce. The first time my now husband told me he loved me, I couldn’t remember what he said. That’s when I admitted to him I had a problem. As soon as I realized that, and what it was, I was able to work on it and overcome most of the symptoms, like heart palpitations, night terrors, and anxiety attacks.

      I also carry the guilt of not getting the kids out sooner, especially since he targeted one of my kids when he was actually mad at me. So much abuse, but thank God I finally got out.

      • Towards the end of my marriage with XAss I told him I was going to get a GoPro and start recording every single interaction I had with him since we never agreed later on what had been discussed/happened.

        I did keep a journal for a few years before I left him. It helped immensely. It was also quite beneficial when I burned that notebook after I left. Though at times I do wish I had kept that tome of toxicity if for nothing else to remind me how badly he treated me and how I reacted to it.

        • I have a terrible pile of proof of his actions and he has been dead for 6 years and Ive been advised to destroy it but I havent. It is my anti-gaslighting defense…for me it os like a journal and I am not ready to destroy it.

          When I tried to “go to him to discuss” issues, it most often turned into a steaming mess of gaslighting and abuse and his rages were horrid. Like the poster above, I was so tempted to somehow record him to later prove how awful he was (that he would deny, of course) but I never managed to.

          As I said before, I believe in Purgatory where we experience a review of how we treated people. One day he walked into the kitchen and said something mean/vile/inappropriate and I looked at him and simply said “you will hear that back one day” yet I assumed that he would live for many years. He died within 2-3 years of saying that awful thing (whatever it was) and Im not sure what Gods timeline is, but if I were a betting woman, I would put money on it having happened already.

      • Chumped, this helps – my short-term memory is very unreliable now and it worried me a lot, especially at work! Not glad you also have the problem but glad it’s not just me!

  • Here’s one: I’m lying to you because you do things that make me lie to you, like ask me where I am and when I’m coming home. That is none of your business. Oh, and I need my alone time and personal space to do things without you because healthy couples have their own interests. That’s why I have my own email account and facebook page. If you’d just take responsibility for your actions – like prying and making things up when I don’t tell you everything – and learn to mind your own business then I wouldn’t lie to you.

    • The Dickhead never said this me but I’m surprised he didn’t. People like your ex and like mine don’t understand that a marriage, heck any relationship or friendship, needs openness and trust. You ask me what I did after work and I will gladly tell you. I have no secrets. These disordered fools try to make their own rules and then make you feel bad from not understanding their guidelines or trains of thought. Healthy couples can have their own interests but they are not secrets.

      You did absolutely noting wrong.

    • RVA, Wait a minute. My military cheater said those same things to me very nearly verbatim. I swear he was married to all of you.

    • Oh, yeah, Ex tried to pull this one, too, after I confronted him about Affair #2. I didn’t tell you I was unhappy, because you’re so hard to talk to. I should have told you, but it would have been just too hard, so I ended up cheating. And I should have made my needs clearer. But I didn’t, timid forest creature that I am, and you are so difficult and intimidating, so I cheated.

      I actually had to stop and think about who I was. I reviewed my relationships w/pretty much everybody else I’ve ever known, including an ex-husband and 2 ex longish-term boyfriends.

      Nah. I’m damned easy to talk to, an easy-going person in general. Even when annoyed or angry I’m usually pretty reasonable, and certainly if someone openly brings a problem forward. I do have one very big problem, though, that has impacted my romantic relationships; I have terrible taste in men. (One of those ex-boyfriends was a great guy, caring, easy going, and fun. So I got bored and broke up with him. Sigh.)

  • No offense to anyone suffering from bipolar…. my ex tried to tell me I had that.. I know now he was looking for an excuse to tell people for leaving me…. image management. He convinced me to go to the doctor. When he got home that night, he came up to me. Held me, hugged me tight, said I looked great, asked how I was doing. Super sweet. Kissed me and said he missed me that day. Then asked. What did the doctor say? I said he said no. Face mask drop. Hit the floor. Sweet no more. Left the room. Back to the drawing board……..

    What a piece of shit. I just wish I found chump lady before I made every mistake.

  • My x was always blaming me for everything. A couple of years before we split.. He kept telling me there was a lien on our house because of a bill I hadn’t paid. Now understand, it was a medical bill. Being a Sahm he was responsible for this co payment. On one of his “work” trips out of town,. He once again mentioned the lien on the house. How irresponsible I was.. etc. I had enough. After searching online, I couldn’t find any information of it. I called the county clerk. She put me on hold for several minutes . When she came back on the phone, she informed me there was no lien. Never had been. Our property had always been free and clear. I had her email me the county records. I then forwarded it onto him. The only response I got from him? Crickets..I now realize just how badly he fucked with me all those years.

  • Yesterday I talked about song lyrics touching me and describing a feeling I experienced better than I could. There was some talk about the artist not living up to the impression given by the lyric. I think gaslighting is a similar experience, for us. We want to believe there is a rational reason for something that appears irrational, we trust our partner to provide us a comforting reason why an action was taken. The partner may well know the words we want to hear, or experiences we have had which makes us vulnerable to an unreasonable explanation. The words sound like communication, but they may be diverting the truth or the blame from the partner. It takes a lot of skill to carry on a good con, especially long term. We know we are not perfect, and are sometimes fallible. We know our intentions are good. So we give a benefit of the doubt to someone who does not deserve it. They know how to use words.

    The fact that they abuse concepts like love and truth, and twist things around does not make our belief and feeling about love and truth wrong. We loved. We tried. We were sincere. The words may have been pretty enough to keep us from seeing what was really going on. However, sooner or later we get tired of trying to believe the unbelievable, and the mask keeps slipping once you learn where the cracks are. Your belief in the lie was not the problem. Telling the lie so skillfully was the problem. The truth eventually does set you free.

  • This was my life for 15 years. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I spent trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I convinced myself I had Autism, Borderline Personality Disorder, and a hundred other mental illnesses.

    Every single day, he told me I was crazy, bad, angry, negative. He told me my child was afraid of me and didn’t love me. He told me my mother thought I was crazy too. He said she wrote a letter saying I needed to be watched around my child because I had a tendency to abuse people and was unstable. He told me people didn’t like HIM because I was crazy and his social life suffered. I could go on and on and on.

    I believed every word of it. When my daughter was an infant, I was too terrified to be alone with her because I thought I was going to hurt her. I didn’t trust myself at all. I didn’t think I could be around other people because I thought I was what he said I was.

    And then one day, a light bulb went off and I realized that I was not at all what he claimed. That HE was the one who I should be terrified of.

    15 years. Way too long. He doesn’t get another moment of my life to gaslight me.

    • I’m so sorry, Chumpachump. I’ve read hundreds of stories on CL and this still makes me tear up for you. What a horrible sociopathic person he is. To tell you, the mother, that your child was afraid of you. I hope to hell you have put distance between him and you. He deserves nothing from you.

      • I haven’t spoken to him in almost 2 years. Neither has our child. I closed the door on him when he told me he had been ‘collecting evidence’ of my horrific abuse for 15 years – in the form of video and photographs and diary entries, etc – and he was going to make sure I was left to rot in the gutter. That didn’t make much sense to me. Who systematically documents abuse but does nothing about it? He’s not the Catholic Church, so I figured he was lying. Then I figured out how much of a liar he is.

        It’s all good now. No contact is the way.

        • I’m so sorry, Chumpachump. The man admits to spending 15 years “collecting evidence” against you with the intent to destroy you? I’m smelling a lunatic, and it’s not you.

    • Terrible. I experienced a much lesser version of this. Despite all evidence to the contrary, my ex had me convinced that I was a bad mother who wasn’t meeting the needs of her child. Whenever our daughter had a problem–mild or severe–it was always my fault. That he had me doubting my parenting is horrible. That he prevented our daughter at times from receiving care that could have helped her with some issues is unforgivable. She’s turning out just fine, in spite of his roadblocks. But I can’t stand that guy and am gobsmacked that he gets 50% custody of a child he never wanted and basically ignored during her formative years. I’m more gobsmacked that I allowed it all to happen. Never again.

      • I got this too! He told me that’s he wished every day that I had taken the morning after pill. This was news to me. He never mentioned the morning after pill before Dday. He told me I trapped him into being a parent and that I used him to have a baby because he was my last hope. I was 32. He is a complete and utter moron.

        I’m glad your free too.

        • I am so sorry chumpachump that you went through all of that. He sounds definitely like a lunatic and maybe dangerous too. Now you are free of him though!
          Mine came to the house to pick up some of his stuff, I had a friend with me because I wanted witnesses and at one point, totally out of the blue, he told my friend to “please keep her away from me or else she will attack me again!” What?? I asked him what he was talking about and he started saying to please not go towards him because he feared for his safety!! My friend, who did not understand what was going on, took me by the hand, held me and said to me “camon, don’t play his game” I told her she was playing his game by holding me. In all of that he kept saying “yes”, keep her away from me;” and then to me “you have to calm down and be reasonable”. I didn’t do absolutely nothing!

  • Gosh my ex was a master at this. By the end he had me convinced I was a selfish, mean, lazy bully. But, I knew myself to be a kind, hardworking person so my inner self–demolished as it was–kept fighting to see the light. Once we split and I reconnected with friends, I was reminded about who I am. It is so insidious this gaslighting–so subtle and abusive. Of course, he had me convinced that I was the exact person that he, in fact, is.

    I worry very much that he is doing this to our daughter on his custody time. The lionshare of my parenting at this point focuses on vindicating her reality, acknowledging her emotions, and instilling in her the mantra that she is a good, kind person with smart ideas and it is not her job to make her father–or anyone–happy. I hope I can help her navigate his web of gaslighting and get her to stand up for herself in ways I didn’t.

  • This topic is one of very few that can still bring tears to my eyes and fear to my heart – remembering how it felt to be gaslit by someone who was supposed to be my best friend. By the person who I had trusted with everything. All while I had no clue and he knew everything that was happening. Scary! Somehow him stealing my time, my trust and my friendship all pales in comparison to him attempting (and sometimes successfully) stealing my sanity and my memory. In the years following, he admitted that he had no idea how much his lies affected me at all – he said that he only lied to protect himself. So, there ya go.. selfish, shallow, self-serving. clueless about how his actions affected anyone else. AKA – not my type!

    I hope that everyone reading about gaslighting who feels like it may be happening to them gets out sooner than later. This crap will destroy you and has far reaching and long lasting effects. Save yourself and your future and GET AWAY FROM IT NOW.

  • Gaslighting – what would happen if I protested the status quo of “DejaBlue’s rights as a human being end where the asshat’s entitlement begins”.

  • “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. “

    Covert narcissists are masters at gaslighting. When I think of the layers of deception he used to create an advantage in his rigged setup I know it came naturally. Entitlement, with a covert is so masked its difficult to spot. My gut was telling me all the while with that sinking feeling of disappointment.

    Being vulnerable often times makes it nearly impossible to say no. Recognizing your own vulnerability is important. Coverts make their move when the upper hand window opens; it’s when you’re sick, taking care of s parent, earning a degree or pregnant to name a few.

  • I found it hard to recognize gaslighting when i was in it. It is much easier to see it now that I don’t live it every day. It’s really unbelievable that I couldn’t understand it back then, but that’s part of the craziness. He tried it on me recently in a communication about money he owes me, and I actually laughed. I also sent it to my lawyer, who said he is clearly reaching.

    It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick.

  • I have been gas lighted by many people over my 56 years, including both of my parents.
    My husband (Jerry) had me so befuddled, I couldn’t do anything but sink further and further into the dark pit of depression/ self loathing.
    His affairs were MY FAULT!
    3 children together just made him worse because he was jealous of my pure love.

    Finally, I lost it when my 6 year old daughter became suicidal.

    I had to suffer many horrible,twisted, and sick actions from him and his family but I used the no contact method which totally pissed then off.
    On D- day they all came to court; 7 adults and 4 children! They lied and stood up for his character to the judge.
    And they are supposed Christians…

    Over 20 years later I still suffer but my kids have become happy, productive members of society.
    I went to college and have a wonderful job with a huge supportive bunch of friends and family to cheer me on.

    He eventually died. And I’m still living!
    I guess Karma had my back.

    If you are asking questions, you already know the answers. It only gets worse.
    Get the fuck out and do it now!

  • So sorry that’s your story, Never. I’m the product of 2 alcoholic patents which, I’m sure is why I didn’t see the shit for what it was. Someday I’ll tell my story. It’s so long and heartbreaking for me that I can’t seem to put pen to paper. It’s been over 2 and a half years since that wedding and being totally blindsided for the next 15 months. Ugh. Anyway, be mighty! I’m trying…???? ((hugs))

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