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4 Reasons Why Gaslighting Works

As mindfuckery goes, it doesn’t seem like gaslighting should work. It isn’t concealing the truth (lying) — it’s denying a reality you have actual evidence of.

Gaslighter Jim: Nice dog you have there.

Bob: That’s a pygmy goat.

Gaslighter Jim: What breed is it? Labrador? Newfie?

Bob: PYG-MY! Goat!

Gaslighter Jim: I don’t know why you’re getting so defensive about your dog. Anyone can see that’s a dog.

(Bob looks quixotically at his goat/dog.)

How damaged you are by this encounter really depends on how deeply invested you are in Jim.

If Gaslighter Jim is just a random stranger, you’re going to dismiss him as nuts. If, however, you’ve invested a lot of money with Gaslighter Jim, or he’s your father, or your favorite child, you’re going to give a lot more credence to his erroneous pronouncements.

But, but… Jim is unassailable! 

Also, if Gaslighter Jim has the trappings of authority, say he went to an Ivy League school and he wears nicer sports jackets than Bob, you may also doubt if goats are dogs.

But, but… Jim is man of intelligence and discernment! And has a perfectly folded pocket square!

At the end of the day, none of these things — your investment, your opinions about Jim, your hopes — changes a goat into a dog.

Dogs are dogs and goats are goats.

So, why is gaslighting a THING? Are gaslighters just that good at their mindfuck craft, or are we really just gullible saps?

I think it’s a bit of both, but frankly, more of the latter. Gaslighting works because we want to believe.

Let’s break down our chump tendencies around gaslighting. (And don’t beat yourself up.   No one gets chumped without letting some real whoppers go by.)

Gaslighting works because:

1.) You want to believe. If Jim is your spouse, you’ve got some deeply invested sunk costs in believing him. Dog versus goat is pretty low-stakes poker. “That wasn’t a kiss you saw, I was swatting a bee off her face with my mouth” is higher stakes. You don’t want to believe Jim is a cheater. The evidence suggests otherwise.

Antidote: Trust your senses and the critical faculties God gave you.

2.) You give this person power you shouldn’t. Gaslighting is just a contest of narrative wills. The truth versus mindfuckery. You’re either going to let this fuckwit steamroll you with bullshit, or you’re going to stand up to it. Jim isn’t better than you. He may have a perfectly folded pocket square, but he’s NOT the final authority on goats. You have no idea what his pernicious agenda is behind saying a goat is a dog, but you’re a pretty damn good judge of both dogs AND goats, and your perceptions matter.

Antidote: Don’t give away your power. Does Jim really deserve this much benefit of the doubt?

3.) It’s very upsetting to your world order if you accept the truth. And don’t think Jim doesn’t know that. If you accept reality, you also much accept that Jim is a Bad Person who mindfucks. You will hit a wall of pain.

Antidote: Hit the wall of pain and then realize fuckwits are not worth your tears.

4.) It’s exhausting. As I said, it’s a contest of wills. And if you’re going to stand there and argue with Jim who is deeply invested in getting you to doubt yourself (for some evil Dog v. Goat scheme), you may just give up to keep the peace. (And let Jim go about his nefarious business.)

Antidote: Let go. Trust the truth. You know reality, it doesn’t matter what Jim says. The only winning move in mindfuck games is not to play.

How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg. — Abraham Lincoln


A rerun. Still moving. If you want a Friday Challenge, you could share most outlandish gaslighting stories. 

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.
  • None of my own, but this list is very helpful for understanding things like Bad Vegan and the Tinder Swindler. I saw so many people online try to say they wouldn’t fall for that kind of thing, and their confidence seemed misplaced.

    • People are dangerously kidding themselves that they’re completely immune! It’s part of that typical cognitive fallacy that bad things could never happen to them because they’re special. Someone might not fall for that exact kind of thing shown in the two documentaries but for every person on earth, there’s a con artist with just the right line of bull and just the right “smell” to get past defenses.

      I would have thought the Tinder Swindler guy was gross and skeevy on first sight and that the perps in the “bad vegans” were creepy bimbos before I learned of their schemes just because I have particular biases against those specific types. Like any bias, mine is not always fair. Because of bad experiences, I’m hinky about transnational jet setters, particularly overly groomed men wearing flashy designer clown gear (Shimon Hayut), or people who look and act sort of like provincial auto trade show models who double as escorts on weekends (Sarma Melngailis and her haughty-bored, tacky melted-Barbie vibe). I’ve never seen video of Anthony Strangis but at first glance he looks like a classic scary manbaby faking a jawline with a studiously casual stubble beard that screams– in my experience– “porn junkie!” and “screamer.”

      In contexts where perfectly wholesome, nice people come off like the above because of regional fashions where they live or the norm in their line of work, my biases would be just plain mean so I’ve had to keep them in check. But there are other breeds of predators– maybe more subtle, more “authentic” seeming, exuding something playing to my own specific “positive” biases– that could probably still get past my radar, at least at first. I’m not immune and God doesn’t love me more than other people even if I’m scared of melted Barbies and jet set clowns. I’m sure there are understated, sober-seeming con artists somewhere who comes off exactly like, say, Christiane Amanpour or Mark Rylance.

      As for whether someone has special abilities to suss out liars, just think of the FBI whose technicians and experts can only detect lying in about 50% of cases.

    • I saw Bad Vegan today. It was much better than I expected! Although I will say she should have known something was hinky when he told her he could make her dog immortal. 🙂

      • I love my two dogs so so crazy much. If someone could make my dog immortal, I’d give them a listen.

    • Probably wouldn’t fall for “it” in the duration of a 90 min movie, but if “it” happens after falling in love, years of investment (likely time and money and other sunk costs) – its a completely different story!. My gaslighter happened to be very tall and handsome and had a sexy voice. He was nothing short of amazing the first year and was I ever invested. After that the gaslighting was very very subtle. One particularly odd thing he’d do is thank me profusely for very small things like making one meal but when I did a pretty big favor (which often had to do with his kids because as a professor my career was a lot more flexible than his 15/ hr cabinet finishing job) such as pick up a sick kid from school or have them with me for almost an entire week during the summer he’d find something to criticize every. Single. Day. Rather than appreciate such as where’s the youngest’s jacket – why is she wearing this new one (it’s in the wash – this one is also cute), why did they eat this not that today. Always followed by a disapproving look. It weirdly broke me down and made me feel awful and not good enough. Setting me up for bigger whoppers down the line. He rewards and ‘punishments’ were very unpredictable as well.

  • Exactly. From the time we’re little, our parents insist that we are actually hungry when our bodies are telling us that we are not, or we are cold when we aren’t cold, or that it does not hurt when another kid kicks us, but that we are too sensitive to kicking. We deny what our bodies and minds are telling us. It’s so much easier to think “Everything is ok. I’m just too sensitive”, than to see that people are self-serving and that we’re actually alone. There’s nothing as bad as a lie.

    • This ???????????????????????????????? My parents literally beat me into “accepting” their false narratives and disregarding/eliminating my reality. Learning about gaslighting, DARVO, and blameshifting after Dday was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. It explained so many thoughts I had, insecurities, life choices that seem irrational and self-harming. I truly thought there was something intrinsicly wrong with me. Narcissistic abuse is insidious when it’s parents, spouses, bosses. I’ve experienced all three most of my 55 year life.

    • I want to second Mia’s astute observation. Many people get trained away from their feelings and intuition from the get-go. Essential components of the navigation system, feelings and intuition, are dismissed and disabled, which make us vulnerable.

      I’ve been with the same therapist since I was pregnant with my daughter, and have gotten high praise for strengthening that navigation system (which means I have had to tolerate her being angry at me in the course of her fifteen years, which is really scary because in my own disabling I was taught that if I was angry, love would be withdrawn).

      I think my parents ripping out the
      emotional wiring and my intuition, which I’ve worked hard in therapy to restore, has had a huge negative impact on my decision-making abilities.

      It’s like when the dentist tells you not to eat until the Novocain wears off because you might be chewing on your cheek without feeling it.

      Animals work to hone their intuition and humans tend to dismiss and discourage it, sadly. ☹️

      Con artists also put a lot of effort into their Nice Guy/Gal act which only makes the water muddier.

      Between his expertly crafted Nice Guy facade and my partially-restored wiring at the time we met, I can safely say I was a sitting duck.

      Running On Empty is a great book about childhood emotional neglect and how to recover, by the way.

      Traitor X is even more disconnected from his navigation system than I was and has done no work to restore it. I believe now that we should not have gotten married, and by the same token it’s very unlikely that his subsequent choices in romantic partners are going to be good ones.

      • Clarification…

        I’ve gotten high praise from my therapist for strengthening my daughter’s emotional wiring and intuition, which has meant that I’ve had to tolerate and support my daughter being angry at me and not punishing her for it (I was punished for anger, often physically. Is it any wonder anger is so difficult for me?).

        One day when she was a toddler she was SO MAD at me for something and so I turned her over to Traitor X when he got home from work. She glared at me from the high chair and told me, “Just go!”

        I decided to step out and cried all the way to Starbucks, convinced she did not love me anymore.

        Nope. She was just mad, and she still loved me, just like I still love her even if I feel angry at her.

        I still haven’t graduated from Emotional Recovery school. The learning is ongoing. ????

        But I am way better than I used to be! ????

        When in co-parenting therapy with Traitor X, Dr. Kickass Co-parent often looked at him and said, “That’s not a feeling.”

        I do believe that without that system intact, the odds of making a good choice for a romantic partner are slim.

        And interestingly, Schmoopie comes from
        a country and a culture which traditionally does not talk about feelings…..

    • I just did 8 months of EMDR. A lot of it dealt with being gaslighted by my father (abusive alcoholic and narcissist). Made me not see the danger of my ex wife who was the Queen of Gaslighting.

    • Yes. Many adults – not just parents -do this to children because they see children as “other,” not fully human in the way adults are. Children’s feelings and sensibilities are dismissed or ignored by adults, often to appease their anxiety or to deflect responsibility. It’s a pervasive issue that creates problematic adult relationships later on.

    • I was brought up to use my brain, question authority, and listen to my gut. And from stories I’ve read on this site, I was fortunate. I think this has kept me out of a lot of messes in my life.

  • I had always been required to attend his dr appointments. He needed me to help remember everything etc. then I was not allowed to attend, yay! FW came home from doctors appointment, claimed Dr said he had never seen someone smoke for 40 yrs and have such clear lungs. (He was angry I had finally been able to quit smoking). Latter that evening the dr himself called concerned. Dr said if FW had any chest pains or shortness of breath, take him to the ER. He had a heart attack that night. Was put on hospice a few weeks later when no surgery could fix issue. He never had chest X-ray that day, he had EKG. He just made shit up.

    • I had a similar situation when my ex fell and did damage bad enough that we had to get a wheelchair in the house. As the weeks went by and I kept questioning why he wasn’t starting in-home PT, he would say the doctor said to wait. I finally called his doctor and said that I was concerned and that I knew for HIPAA reasons she couldn’t discuss anything with me. Within 15 minutes his doctor called him and had ordered in home PT to start the next day.

  • “It’s important to have good quality underwear. The cheap stuff wears out so easily!”

    • Reminds me of an event from my childhood in the 50’s in very rural area. I was six and using our homemade backyard swings that were pretty high. I was standing-pumping and fell off. I broke an ankle. Before taking me to the ER, my mother laid me out on the kitchen table to wash me off and put on clean underwear.

    • Reminds me of an event from my childhood in the 50’s in very rural area. I was six and using our homemade backyard swings that were pretty high. I was standing-pumping and fell off. I broke an ankle. Before taking me to the ER, my mother laid me out on the kitchen table to wash me off and put on clean underwear.

  • Welllllllllll.
    1-Confronted FW about all these massages and got eye rolls, grunts, and hands in the air. After 2 weeks of not sleeping finally found the place online which literally described it as a “happy endings” place with pictures to prove. Again denied until my eyes must have turned red and threatened fire. Then he still brushed it off as a “they just watched me do it”. Next was “well a couple of times they sat on me or did the job”. I lost it! He finally started admitting things. Still get bullshit about cost and what was done but I have statements that prove how much was spent. Why not grow a pair and just be honest? What good do they feel watching us upset?
    2-me: you ordered a hooker the night of your sons birthday!
    FW-no I didn’t. I didn’t make that call you see on the statement. I didn’t get cash out of the hotel atm right after making the call and then answering a return call to confirm my hotel for her. Nope! Where are you getting this from?
    Me:mothers€|!!€,£+^, *^_^*, +=+|+, go &/@;& yourself. Immediately followed by tears.

    • Constantly get told that I know more than him. He keeps claiming to just not remember.

      • BTAW, I got the convenient memory lapses too. I think some of them were actually real, because the scumbag later admitted he could deliberately delete unwanted memories. So he’d do something shitty and just wipe it away. Right after Dday he frantically started deleting memories so he wouldn’t have to answer questions. He stupidly admitted doing it, but claimed it was because he did not want to remember anything about OW. Total B.S.!

        • How lovely for him OHFFS to be able to absolve himself that way. Utter tw*t

        • BS for sure. We can’t know what is/was in their alleged minds, and maybe sometimes the compartmentalization and cognitive dissonance really do lead these FWs to conveniently erase some memories. However, I witnessed my “forgetful” cheater FEW ex hold onto plenty of minutia where it suited him, and he also lied shamelessly about what he did/didn’t remember, just like he lied about everything.

          • So true bread&roses, same with mine. If it interested him, he could remember everything. Crap bits of life and responsibility, not so much

            • Right? Mine could remember minutia about every Little League game & high basketball game he ever played, but could he remember to call when he’d be late from work?
              He had wonderful selective memory – it all revolved around him & his desires, and functioned only to serve him.

          • Yes, they do lie shamelessly, though they’ll often tell you “toxic shame” is at the root of their actions. They have no shame, toxic or otherwise. That’s the way it is when you’re so self-important and deluded you can justify anything you do.

            • Of COURSE “toxic shame” is a common FW preoccupation. I should’ve known. Your comment made me remember wreckonciliation, when I was pick me dancing with PTSD and learning everything I could about infidelity, communication, mindfulness and forgiveness — while FW was absorbed with toxic shame. He was clueless enough to cry to me about it. Even then, I thought WTF… he actually buys this? And has the gall to cry to me about his pain? Toxic entitlement.

        • That’s a super power, to be able to erase memories.
          I could use it to remove a whole crap load of pain.
          But without those memories, I would still be mired in a horrible relationship with ex.
          And he’s most likely lying, anyway.
          So easy to say “I don’t remember” when the hard questions are asked. Much easier than admitting to being a monster.

        • Yeah, I got the same thing. Convenient memory lapses. When I said – backed up by couples therapy, which I should NOT have been doing with STBX – that I needed answers to my specific questions, STBX said she didn’t want to go back through the records to figure out the answers.

          So, when I found the dump of texts STBX had saved, I read all 500 pages of them. It was like swimming in poison, but I got my answers. And I saw that there were many things that STBX certainly did remember, and just wasn’t willing to tell me.

          Which is why we have to Trust That They Suck. They will only cop to what they think we definitively know already, and then pull the Sad Sausage act about how it’s so hard for them, and we should just forgive them already. ????

          • Right, they’ll only admit to something of which you already have definitive proof.
            And even then, they’ll try to spin it into either “you made me do it” or “it wasn’t that bad”.

        • I got the opposite of “memory lapses.” My ex would tell me I had done things I knew I had not done, like seeing a movie with him that I knew I had not seen at all. I have a very place based memory system, in which memories are linked to places, so if I had seen that particular movie, I would have a good recall of the theatre in which I’d seen it. (Not to mention I had no memory of the plot…) He would also rewrite things he and I had spoken about. I had been asking for years to have a child, and he had been saying we couldn’t afford it. Twenty five years after we had the child, he told me that he was the one who wanted the child and had to pressure me into it! Yet I have a very clear memory of talking to my mother about the dilemma, of me telling her he didn’t want to have a child until he had decided we could afford it, and my mother saying, “If you want to have a child until you think you can afford one, you will never have a child.”

          • My ex did the movie thing too! Multiple times! Only now, looking back, I think he was actually trying to see how much sh!t he could get away with before I broke. He would always have a smug look on his face and seemed to be waiting for me to argue with him. I’m guessing that he actually saw those movies with one of his APs, knew it, and was getting his jollies watching me try to figure out what the truth was.

      • Yep. Mind blender. No point in engaging. To quote CL, “The only winning move in mindfuck games is not to play.” Took me years to stop projecting and start accepting, but once I left and went NC, it all became clear within a matter of months. I now see gaslighting everywhere, especially at work and with FOO. Awareness of gaslighting is good, although I find it leads to meta crazymaking instead, now.

  • My ex tried to get me to believe she just had a friend after taking her diaphragm and spermicide out of our condo while I was on a work trip. She was just picking up sime stuff ????…. But she left her jewelry from her grandma. Priorities, I guess.

  • I was receiving strange phone calls with a woman telling the x she was leaving the key out for him. After weeks of these strange calls and the X ignoring my pleas as to what was going on, she left a voice mail which I played back for him. He stood by the phone listening then told me it was nothing, like there wasn’t a woman leaving a call at all. One day I came home from work early and a woman was rushing from the direction of our apartment with a guilty look on her face. He said she was there as a client just picking up some things, he had his own business at the time. Our two young children were home, but they were too young to know what was going on. Then the final blow, the same woman showed up the door drunk, claiming the X was hers and he was in love with her. I tried to drag her in the door to explain what was going on as the X was trying to drag her out. After she finally left, he then proceeded to convince me she was just a crazy person with a crush on him. We had a 6yr old and newborn at the time, so I wanted to believe him. And just like that, the gaslighting was complete.

  • How about being gaslit by your “such a godly man” pastor? I know my memory is accurate, because my sister was there during the meeting with the pastor, cheater and myself. The pastor said that it was time for the cheater to leave the house. My sister and I went back to my house, and we even said “Yay!” over the pastor saying it was time for the cheater to leave. Days later, I said to the cheater, “When are you leaving? Pastor said you needed to leave.” He said and I quote, “He never said that.” He then proceeded to speaker call the pastor up and then the pastor said, “I never said that.” No doubt in my mind that the cheater and pastor had a talk after we left, and the pastor decided to lie for the cheater. That wolf in sheep’s clothing is no longer my pastor! I wouldn’t be surprised he was a cheater himself as he loves hugging all the women at church and he was always on the cheaters side during marriage counseling. Gag! Never again!!

  • FW was desperate to believe that a hot, busty babe less than half his age wanted to marry him, so he accepted all sorts of gaslighting from his online AP, even though he watched the show “Catfished” weekly. For example:
    1) That she was a good Catholic girl and even though he was married with children, her priest supported their marriage because it was Twu Wuv.
    2) That although she was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the US, ICE agents were actively pursuing her and would deport her because she couldn’t find her papers. FW explained to her that if she was born in Puerto Rico, she already HAD American citizenship and could readily replace her papers for less than $50; at the same time, he sent her thousands of dollars to replace her papers, and promised if she was deported he’d go with her.
    3) Although he’d sent her tens of thousands of dollars via online transfers, and they planned to marry, she wouldn’t give him her address, which he needed to mail her a credit card he got for her. She emailed that she only gave her address to close friends she trusted, and apparently he didn’t qualify, despite all the money he’d sent and their plans to marry. She told him to mail it to a friend in NYC who supposedly worked full time yet was able to drive roundtrip (NY to AZ to NY) every other weekend to visit AP.
    4) When FW said he was going to visit her, she announced she had to leave Arizona at 2 am on a bus that very night, on a church mission of mercy from AZ to NYC. A few hours later she emailed that she’d arrived at a city near Seattle, in Oregon. When he asked how she got there in less than half the time it took to drive a car, she said it was a very fast bus and made just a few stops. He told her she got the state wrong, and she was in Washington, totally ignoring the fact that she said she went to the NORTHWEST COAST, on the opposite side of the US from NY.
    While falling for the AP’s gaslighting, he emailed the AP about gaslighting me when I found the receipt for a gift card he sent her. Afraid I’d catch on, he worked hard to convince ME that I didn’t remember things, was terribly confused, and needed an MRI to see why my brain was failing. After I had one, he told our friends that my MRI, which was NORMAL, supposedly showed my brain was deteriorating rapidly, making me paranoid and violent, and he advised them to stay away from me for their own safety.

  • I sometimes think that gaslighting works because Chumps have literally no idea how far Cheaters are prepared to go to avoid being held responsible for their actions or to get what it is that they want, regardless of the consequences for others.

    Fundamentally, a Cheater’s relationship with the truth is only as close as the truth is to serving their purposes.


    • spot on plus FWs take advantage of the fact that most chumps love their spouses and trust them

    • I totally agree with this. I got lied to and gaslighted so much I wonder if he did it just for sport. He had absolutely fantastical tales and things were always going on for him. For example one night he ran out of the house at around 9pm saying he had to buy something. He was gone a long time so I was calling him and texting. I was worried as he didn’t say what he needed to buy. I finally got hold of him and he said he needed to go somewhere else because the one store didn’t have what he needed. Odd. Then he got home later and crashed down on the floor telling me of his horrible drama. Apparently a drunk woman was on our street and she ran into the road so he stopped to help her. She was apparently so drunk that she was kissing him and he kept pushing her away. Poor baby!! He was so shaken by this tale. I felt so bad for him! I made him a cup of tea and tried to calm him down….it wasn’t until a few months past DDay that I realized that this tale, and many other weird things like this were all bullshit. My world was so jacked that I had no idea what was real. I just kept loving him, trying to be good and kind while all the while getting completely lied to. Gaslighting is the hardest thing to heal from❤️‍????

  • There are so many to choose from. Hmmm… I will say that knowing that he drank a lot (later realized he hid most of the drinking), I could assume that he was saying this untrue thing because he was drunk and didn’t remember. However, he certainly convinced me of a few of them:
    1. Drunkenly backed up his car into a neighbor’s tree and smashed the back window of our SUV– “the cold weather made it spontaneously break” AND (to the neighbor) “someone shot the back window out with a gun” (neighbor and I compared stories and had a good laugh about that one.
    2. I found a very large bottle of wine in the recycle bin that I had never seen- he was red-faced and slurring his speech and told me “The neighbors must have put that in there”. (they hadn’t- I actually believed that one for months though)
    3. We were spackling and painting our kitchen (I did most of the work he would constantly take credit for stuff that I did) I spent an enormous amount of time spackling over an old phone jack that I’d removed so it would look perfect (I was, after all a GRADE A SPACKLER in every sense). He 100% claimed that HE had done that spackle job. I was sure he hadn’t but backed out of that argument. I still to this day cannot believe how insistent he was that he did that work. I had no idea what gaslighting was at the time, but I love that I have a spackle story about spackling over his gaslighting.

    • My ex-husband had a knack for telling friends my stories (things I had experienced or done) as if they were his own – right in front of me. I’d later ask him why he did that and he’d say, “I didn’t do that!” (Sigh…)

  • Fair point! I didn’t think it through to be honest. The topic abuts against women’s rights and safeguarding issues. It’s a 2+2=5 reality issue too. I’m being vague as whenever you speak about it, certain activists call you a bigot. Just ask JK Rowling.

    • This sounds like a story where you do not have all of the facts. Just because a woman in prison got pregnant does not mean that it happened from another inmate that was transitioning from male to female. There are male prison guards and other staff. There are spousal visits where that could occur also.

      Please don’t make this thread about some weird off top political rant.

    • Let’s not go down that particular road, please. There are differences of opinion among us on this specialist topic, I’m sure, and it seems like a potentially community-damaging digression, though I’m not implying it was intended that way.

      I thought you were talking about the attempted coup against the U.S. government. :-

      • More lies – there was never any proof of a stolen election…. talk about gaslighting!

      • I thought she was referring to Australia’s sinister attempt to convert Americans to eating vegemite on toast for breakfast. You should really try it. It’s actually peanut butter jelly. If you think differently please get help.

    • I agree and on other forums I do speak out very plainly about this issue – and in my own name. I suppose the other reason I was being vague here was because it is off topic, so out of respect for you all and for Chump Lady. But make no mistake, I take the sex vs gender / women’s rights and children’s safeguarding issue very seriously indeed. There is a horrendous amount of gaslighting going on and our voices are being silenced, while our rights are eroded and – crucially for the topic at hand – reality is being denied.

      I’m more aware of gaslighting since being chumped, so I feel the injustice that women across the world are experiencing because of this issue more keenly.

      That’s all I’ll say on the matter on this forum. Back to living better lives after being chumped. Apologies for triggering a derailment, let’s get back on the same sane train. 🙂

    • What an excellent idea mentioning JK Rowling on a CL post about gaslighting! Some journalists have noticed Rowling’s skill in rewriting reality, such as using rhetorical tricks to reverse victim and offender. If you want to see what I mean, Google this phrase, ‘jk rowling terf sleight of hand futrelle’ (remove quote marks before googling). If you don’t use the key words “terf”, you’ll see her writer tricks from the Harry Potter books, which are good but not gaslighting. Adding the key word “futrelle” puts the best, shortest article on top, the one most focused on her sleight-of-hand, mind tricks in politics.

      It makes sense that an author so skilled at creating a fictional reality might be skilled at rewriting reality. I’ve noticed this with other authors like Neil Strauss. Good storytellers are quite skilled at stripping out the truth of an incident. JMHO.

  • So much gaslighting from XH. I think the gaslighting, DARVO, blameshifting, rage we’re far worse and more painful than learning my beloved had put his nasty dick into another woman. When my XH’s mask slipped after Dday it was terrifying. In a matter of days the man I loved for 26 years was seemingly transformed into a cruel, hateful, raging stranger who wanted to destroy me and our 4 children and pets . . . The shark eyes were like looking into the gates of hell. . . Even now, 7 years later and long divorced, I’m haunted by his utter transformation. Today I understand that is who XH always was—It was all a long elaborate con-job designed to use me for the respectable front of family and marriage, cook, clean, work, earn money, keep house, have and raise kids. Sickening.

    • Yes! Our friends and I were astounded at transformation. Who is this man we all loved? Jekyll and Hyde.

      • It messed with my family, too, Thrive. They treated FW, warts and all, as a family member for many years, and they genuinely loved him. But they also had front row seats to my side of the double life and to the insanity that led to and followed the ddays and me leaving; they knew how terrible the years of gaslighting and secrecy were because they saw the surface, saw what it did to me, and learned most of the truth. He also betrayed them, and he never came back to apologize or say goodbye. They got zero closure. We’re all recovering, but it really did mess with my family, and not just because they were so worried about me for a little while there. They all, to some degree, experienced nightmares, false sightings, ruminations, revenge fantasies, grief, avoidance.

        I’ve observed that Switzerland friends compartmentalize when the truth feels too uncomfortable or threatens unwanted consequences. People who love you might not fully understand, but at least they don’t turn a blind eye. They’re on your team and they make it known. Same goes for acquaintances who might not love you, but who have integrity and know you enough to trust and respect you.

        • 100% EXACTLY the same with my family. My parents, in their mid-70s at the time of Day, still suffer. My mother just cried for months. 22 yr marriage and he was loved (warts n all) like a son – his own family being on other side of the world. (Oh yes, no coincidence … I was his ticket away from *their* narcissistic mindfuckery!)

          Just recently he asked my brother if they could catch up. Almost the first thing he wanted to discuss was having lunch with my parents! He’s heading back to the Mother Country soon with his fiancé (former close friend of mine who understands that he only went to brothels and gay saunas for the last half of the marriage because the harridan wife was just SO awful and he was “keeping the family together”). He’d so love to be able to take a story of how everyone has “moved on” and we’re all wonderful friends.

          Also you are completely correct about Switzerland friends bread&roses. It’s extraordinary how determinedly some people are to avoid discomfort. In the end, it is simply about the trust/respect they have for you … to believe that your perceptions – your “narrative” – is beyond doubt. Otherwise, they’re simply adding to the gaslighting … implying that you don’t actually know what your own experience is.

          • LMAO, she thinks he went gay because you nagged him?! Oh my gosh, that’s rich. My wife is getting on my nerves, better go suck some strange dick! LOL She already deserved what she’s going to get with him for betraying you but she extra deserves it for that BS. What a moron. Thank God you’re rid of those absolute idiots.

    • I’m haunted my ex’s transformation as well. Dday was 12 yrs ago/divorce 10 yrs ago & who was he really?

  • I didn’t stand a chance since everybody I knew unknowingly participated in the gaslighting. They were so invested in believing he was an awesome guy that everything I was dealing with was dismissed without question. I’m not sure why they were so invested as to do that to me. I mean, even complete strangers would come up to me to tell me how lucky I was to have such a nice man. WTF? To this day I don’t completely understand how he pulled that off. I know part of it was him being so passive and low affect that they mistook if for an inherently gentle nature. I did too. But how would people who didn’t know him get that vibe without even interacting with him much?
    These people are scary in how effective they are at bamboozling.
    I’ll never forget my grandmother telling me if I “didn’t stop” I was going to lose him. I asked her what I was doing that I needed to stop and she had no answer. He somehow gave everyone the impression he was hard done by and downtrodden without saying a word. In reality he was a lazy, entitled fucker who got way more out of life than he ever deserved or gave back.
    This mass gaslighting ruined relationships with people I loved.
    Just another casualty of life with a covert narc.

    • I had a parent like that. When she was done with my father, she then turned on me. She would claim is was damaged to all of my friends, our family and social circle. I didn’t understand what was going on until my late teens to early 20’s . She was always hard done by me and didn’t know what she was going to do with me. It has all come home to roost for her now. Unhappy, living with another man, her golden child abandoned her and the other child just as selfish as she is. It is hard to see because it was at one time my “family” but I am better off like you are.

    • OHFFS this was my experience as well. Sam Vaknin’s doormat to psychopath videos described the deterioration that followed once the ex was exposed and was therefore mortified. I am sure that no one would have ever believed me if it weren’t for the bizarre texts and emails that followed as he became manifestly disconnected from reality (although he always was, but I unknowlingly participated in the fantasy).

      • WF, so true. That is my fave Vaknin video. Chillingly accurate.
        They start off so fantasy driven and if it’s a gradual slide we don’t notice it. Before we know what’s happening, they are already living in full blown delusions of their own making. My FW started his descent a few years before cheating. Vaknin says narcissistic mortification is the most common cause, but I have also read that substance abuse, having PD friends and the use of pornography are also factors. My FW had all those problems. Did yours?

        • OHFFS ~ all of the above. One day a few years before ex became seriously unhinged he didn’t return home from a night out with his workmates (one of whom was his AP who I suspect has BPD based on what I’ve been told). I rang to see where he was and he was wandering around the city having a psychotic episode. I suspect he had been taking acid and MDMA for the last few years of relationship because I accidentally found out (my fault for invading his privacy of course ~ don’t set up family sharing with your email account ya fwit). Porn yes not that I was privy to it but he certainly liked genitals in a dead ringers type way. His mother is a narc who openly brags about their superior bloodlines despite them mostly being mentally deficient. One of my kids is ASD and the pediatrician met my ex and said he is more severely autistic than our son. My son is a typical autistic brutally honest whereas my ex is a pathological liar and manipulator. Vaknin did a video about autistics that develop the mask to cope with a Narc caregiver. When your mother teaches you to lie, cheat and steal as a child to protect the family image, I guess that’s what happens. What a mindfuck.
          PS My name is because one day my 7 yo son and I were weeding the garden. Ex walked out and sprayed glyphosate pretty much all over the garden and us, and when I told him to stop he yelled “I don’t know what you want me to do ~ why are you treating me like this”. He stormed off and, I discovered later, met with his sister (also a deranged wanker) to buy pills before they had a night out at a dance party with his affair partner. My sister in law took her two 12 yo kids. Morally reprehensible freaks.

          • Wow, WF. Thanks for telling me your incredible story and the origin of your screen name. You obviously suffered a lot because of that freak. The dead ringers thing and the creepy stuff with his sister and her kids are both very disturbing. My FW’s OW liked exposing her kids to affair partners just as so many other cheaters seem to do. IMO it is child abuse to deliberately expose one’s children to a degenerate, harmful lifestyle like cheating and substance abuse, yet it is legal.????

            I can relate to your brutally honest son. I hope he does not have to spend a lot of time with his fuckwitted substance abusing father. Most people on the spectrum are nothing like him! His character is defective.
            I guess the best we can hope is that they continue to be fucked up losers somewhere else instead of bothering us. They sure as hell aren’t going to change.

  • Even those of us reasonably happily married have heard this one, and I include most of my friends.

    Me: Please stop talking to me in that tone of voice.
    Him: What tone of voice?
    Me: You know.
    Him: Why don’t you pay attention to the words instead of some socalled tone.

    At that point the joke would be. He is in room 203 but can’t have visitors yet.

    • Letgo, you just described a major gaslighting theme in my relationship with ex.

      After the final dday, when some heartless, controlling mindfuckery from my ex led to my discovery of several incriminating and incredibly cruel emails between my ex and one of his OWs, I was in a complete state of shock. Not eating, not sleeping, isolated, ashamed, heartbroken. Terrified and in a state of temporary paralysis because I knew I needed to leave because I couldn’t love him and our relationship would never be “acceptable,” but I didn’t know where to go (scary pandemic time made it even harder) and didn’t really care because it felt so overwhelming and hopeless.

      I was there, but I wasn’t really. I felt fragile. I was quiet, calm and detached. Ex sat there on the couch, as far from me as he could get. Arms crossed, legs crossed, hunched away from me, hat pulled down, teeth gritted, glowering. I said that I wasn’t going to do that. I needed compassion. He snarled, “What do you mean?” I said, “You know, like how you treat people when someone they love is sick or has died, or when they’ve lost a pet. You wouldn’t even treat acquaintances the way you’re treating me. I can’t take this from you right now.” Then I walked into the kitchen and started mindlessly doing dishes because I was losing my mind. That’s when FW growled, “Don’t ACCUSE me of not being compassionate.” So I walked over, looked him in the eye, and surprised even myself by screaming in his face, “FUCK. YOU.” (Sorry, I’ve told pieces of this story before but it is just so textbook.)

      • THE FW credo; “Don’t you dare accuse me of doing the thing I’m doing and being what I am! My actions don’t reflect my intentions, which are always noble.”

        Yeah, FUCK YOU, Liarface McSmellyballs.

      • I thought I was being emotional until I shared with a few friends. Same exact conversation. I am a pretty tough woman so it never really penetrated, but I did mention over the years that I never heard him use that tone with anyone else.
        My advice to anyone getting married is to make a silent vow to themselves, that day, to never tolerate sarcasm. It is contempt disguised as humor. I am not talking about CL/CN because snark is called for on this blog. I am talking about those little remarks muttered under the breath. My husband doesn’t do that anymore.

        • I believe that you are a tough woman, Letgo, from your comments on this blog. Surviving years of abuse, getting out somehow, and finding kinship in CN, in my opinion, demonstrates mightiness . We’ve been conditioned, by people who want to control and take advantage of us, to believe that spackling is the tough thing to do. However, I am working to reprogram myself to believe that true power and toughness comes from standing up to abuse, having expectations and boundaries, and living true to my values.

  • Mine is chapter one, paragraph one, line one, in the cheaters handbook…
    “We are just friends”
    Okkkkkk. Why did you hide the “friendship” for 2 1/2 years until I found out about it?
    Gaslight answer: “I knew you’d never understand a friendship between a man and woman”
    (Clearly I’m too unevolved)
    “Why was she sending you gifts and food to your office …?”
    Gaslighter: I was afraid you and the kids would eat the cookies…
    “Why did you erase all texts (evidence)from her?”
    Gasbag: “They must have deleted in my pocket”
    I really, really wanted to believe my husband / love would never betray me. I bought it all, hook, line and sinker. Stinker!

  • Yes, I agree. I wanted to believe, and I didn’t want to rock the boat. Being a SAHM, I was in a very vulnerable position as it was. He threatened divorce periodically and even clued where he’d go. That put the relationship into a very unsteady position but made his actions predictable after he left the second time. When I questioned his version of things (“I never did that”), I was conditioned to think that it was my thinking that was scrambled. Of course, it was all my fault that he “had” to take off. As if a grown man can’t face problems in a mature way. Later on, I heard about people who divorced easily with dignity and respect, and mine promised that and turned into a way to punish me that went on and on. That told me how little he truly thought of me all along.

    Eventually, I got my thinking together and worked on my issues that contributed to the problems. Sure, I messed up, but I didn’t abandon the marriage. I didn’t threaten divorce for so very long and then threaten to cut off support out of spite. He put me into a position of no trust and no path forward with him.

    It all had to be. Ironically I dreamed last night that I was having dinner with my attorney and his wife (the firm’s financial manager). We laughed and teased and had a great time. He was the first male in my life to deeply confirm that my thinking wasn’t messed up and that getting out of the marriage was the only path forward. Now he’s retired and doesn’t even live in the area anymore, but it was a happy dream.

  • I found an empty bottle of viagra in his truck. FW: I used them to beat-off.” Fortunately I did not believe that and kicked his ass out 2 hours later. Hugs to newbies! Glad and sorry you are here!

    • I found it in his toolbox in the garage. I think if you are looking for evidence, the garage is an obvious and easy place to start. Also, recently read about a woman who swapped his viagra for a pill of similar appearance, then began dissolving the real viagra in his drink or food just before he left the house – gave him inconvenient and public erections. I find this truly inspiring!

      • And also, I believe, a felony. Don’t try that (food tampering) at home. As CL says, it’s a dog and pony show. Be the best pony. Squeaky clean wins the best settlement.

    • Same. Secret boner pills (herbal and medical) were for masterbating.

      The lie, of course, doesn’t make any sense. I mean, if you can’t get it up for yourself maybe you just… don’t actually want to masterbate? I don’t have a penis so I don’t claim to know. Maybe a male chump can chime in.

      • Unless he truly has ED because of a medical condition, he doesn’t need Viagra to masterbate. ????????????

  • I just want to share with you all my wonderful Friday news!!

    My solicitor called today to give me the fab news that the judge has rubber stamped my settlement. In 7 days I will receive all what is rightfully mine.

    This ‘Battle Royale’ has lasted 17 months and FW tried his damndest to prevent me from getting anything!

    Someone quoted on here ‘how do you eat an elephant…. One bite at a time’. Well I’ve eaten the last bite. I’m free!

    I wanted to share this because without LACGAL, CL & CN I probably wouldn’t have made it.

    For any newbies, hang in there guys because you really can do this. It really does get better. You can heal. You can be free. I’m no spring chicken. I had a long ‘mirage’. But today is my day. I have my family, a (new) job, my own house. money, a pension and will be taking a long trip to Thailand in March with all my children and grandchildren. I have fought for this and WON.

    Happy Friday people ❤️

  • Gaslighting is different from plain old lying. Gaslighting is lying about something that both parties know is true, with the aim of getting the other party to doubt his/her sanity or memory.

    For instance:
    1. Lying. “No, I have never had an affair”.
    2. Gaslighting. “What? I never admitted to having an affair. You are remembering that wrong”.

    #1 is pretty bad, but #2 truly makes your head spin. In my experience, #2 was effective because it occurred on top of extreme emotional upheaval, panic attacks, insomnia, etc. I think I wouldn’t have been as bewildered by it if I’d been more compos mentis at the time.

    To be fair, XW didn’t do a lot of gaslighting. She mostly did (and does) paltering: making a technically true statement that you know will be misconstrued by the other party
    3. Paltering. “I am taking the kids to visit friends for a week”. (Takes kids to friends, drops them, spends rest of week out of state at AP’s house, picks up kids on the way back).

    • Thanks for the new term “paltering.” XH did this a lot. I just called it omission of truth, but he obviously knew I would misconstrue the facts he told & continue to believe he was an honest, faithful husband.

    • My gaslighting example would be.

      Me, after him coming home early in the am after being out all night: Why were you out all night?

      Him: I was talking to one of the guys all night who is having marriage problems.

      Me: Have you been with a woman?

      Him: you are fucking crazy; part of my job is helping other officers, if you are going to accuse me, then maybe I should just do it.

    • One gaslighting experience really sticks out like your example Involuntary Georgian.

      At his deposition, my lawyer showed FW a copy of a check that AP had written to help pay for his new apartment during the closing. I never knew about the apartment until months later.

      FW could have simply lied and said “I don’t remember why she wrote a check”. But no! He calmly told my lawyer that there was no check written. That just because the lawyer said this was a copy of a check that was part of the closing documents, there was no prof that the check actually existed. My lawyer pointed out that FW and his lawyer provided the closing documents. FW said that there was no proof that the copy of the check was truly sent with the documents and that my lawyer didn’t just add it in.

      FW is a real estate lawyer!!!!

      Made me wonder if there is anything that these people won’t try and manipulate.

    • I have learned a completely new word! And apparently my ex did a lots lots lot of this! Never knew!

  • Just this week, klootzak tried to gaslight me in front of our child. I wish I could remember what it was but the fact I don’t tells you how much weight and value I gave his comment. He said something about me that was patently false. When the words hit my ears, they were so laughable, I had to fight the urge to laugh out loud. I think I smiled a little and said the classic gray rock, “OK.” His statement was so patently false, who was I to argue with his delusion? I knew there was no point. He made no sense. He turned around and walked off and my son looked at me, grinned, rolled his eyes up, and shook his head. I had only said “OK” but my 7 year old clearly recognized the batshit crazy without my saying another thing. Klootzak must think he is gaslighting us both. He is a legend in his own mind.

    I worry that klootzak’s gaslighting attempts won’t always be caught by our child. Klootzak will always have time with him without me around and all I can do is to teach our child to pay attention to what is real and what truth is based on what he sees. Evidence is everything. And sometimes we just say “OK” because you can’t waste your breath arguing with someone who wants to convince you the goat is a dog.

  • Here’s a surprising idea: don’t give people the benefit of the doubt. I actually heard Dr. Phil say that the other day (probably on a rerun show). Don’t give people the benefit of the doubt.

    If you have a doubt, look at it. Figure out what you are doubting and what it means that you doubt. Most of the time people talk about “the benefit of the doubt,” the person they are giving that benefit to has already done something shitty. Pay attention. Over time, it might be clear that the shitty thing was a one-off or there is some reasonable explanation. Or more likely, if you pay attention, the person who needs or wants that “benefit of the doubt” turns out to be dishonest, untrustworthy, careless, selfish or cruel.

    Pay attention to the DOUBT you have. That’s your intuition talking. You lose nothing by refusing to make a judgment but staying aware and paying attention.

    • I agree. I wish I didn’t hear echoes of my mother teaching me to give others the benefit of the doubt.
      In line with this is Sophie Hannah’s recent book called “How to Hold a Grudge.” Yes, the mystery author & poet Sophie Hannah.
      “Grudges have the power to transform your life for the better” on the CD case at the library sold me on trying the book. Couldn’t help but think of CL as I listened!

    • A ‘benefit of a doubt’ means that you think someone did something bad, but perhaps it seems out of character for them or you believe in an innocent-until-proven-guilty kind of high-road. So you think they did something bad but you give them the ‘benefit of a doubt’, that you don’t have solid proof, or that you misconstrued what you saw. You are, in essence, willing to acknowledge that what you think heard or saw might not be true.

    • Giving people the benefit of the doubt was my modus operandi. Was. Once I decided giving the benefit of the doubt was on the same continuum as spackling, I decided that I’d go with skepticism first.

  • I have a beautiful copy of The Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s a good reminder to be like the little boy in the story, who stands by what he sees.


    Traitor X criticized my love of books.


    • “Traitor X criticized my love of books.”

      Who does that? It makes no sense, unless he felt somehow threatened. ???? ????

      Year ago (pre D-day) my kids gave me tickets for the Metropolitan Opera. FW walked out during the first intermission. He actually said something about how he felt uncomfortable because it wasn’t “who he was” or some such. He was more comfortable at a sporting event. At the time, I UNDERSTOOD, and left with him. We were staying in a hotel, and I wanted so much for the weekend to be fun.

      Now I marvel that he wasn’t able to suck it up for me. I just realize how many times I went to the things HE liked, such as fly-fishing trips abroad and all-day fly-fishing shows.

      This one time he was in a position to do something for me, and he couldn’t. But I excused it. Maybe that’s spackling. I don’t know. I feel as though there’s a connection. Maybe spackling is a form of self-gaslighting.

      • When I would suggest seeing a music band that I liked and she didn’t, she wouldn’t want to go. It ALWAYS had to be her way.

      • I have to endorse this insight-from Spinach – spackling is a form of self-gaslighting. Covering up via active spackling hides the cracks that are so unsightly.
        Also it promotes hopium taking
        in that if I sparkle over this disturbing fact -out of sight-out of mind-I don’t have to see it and I can discount it as evidence of ongoing manipulation.

      • I might add that my kids were appalled that we left early because of him. They could see how nutty it was, but either I couldn’t acknowledge that or I wasn’t willing. *sigh*

        p.s. I’m convinced that the kids see things that, for whatever reason, we don’t. They know.

    • Velvet, I got the same, for years. Was an English major, came into the relationship with many books…endless criticism. Even threw some away knowing it would upset me. Thank goodness he could sooth himself from the trauma of my reading and learning by looking at underage porn.

  • This isn’t the most outlandish gaslighting story but I believe it is the germinal gaslight that my ex husband ever pulled on me. We had been dating a few months. We were out to dinner waiting for our table and making conversations with some guys at the bar. My then boyfriend mentioned he had he graduated from such and such state university with his bachelors in geology. “Wait,”. I said, “you told me you went on to get your masters I metallurgy.” The men at the bar all said “busted!” My then boyfriend looked me in the eye and said “I never told you that. Some other guy must have told you that”. I doubted myself. Maybe he was right. I was 21 and a lot of guys would chat me up back then. Now I believe that is when he knew he had me. I was insecure. Even though I was an intelligent, ambitious young woman, I had just enough self doubt that he could f@@@ with my sense of reality. Five years into the marriage I learned he had dropped out of college before even finishing his bachelors. Just two of the many many lies he told me over our 26 year marriage, 31 years together including dating. He acted so sure of himself and indignant when I would catch him in a lie. “I never said that” “I never did that.” He did give me two beautiful daughters so I don’t regret it all. But I do regret a lot of it. Thankfully I am free from him now.

  • The biggest gaslight I get from family and “friends” is “stop playing the victim” anytime I talk about my heartbreak after discovering her affair, her leaving, and then her smear campaign.

    So I don’t talk about it anymore to anyone except my therapist.

    • Same…I get ‘aren’t you over it yet, it’s been a year’. This from my ‘friends’. Sigh. I’ve stopped talking about. I just post on CN.

    • Boy does this hit home. I came here out of curiosity and stayed because CL/CN helped me understand why I could not stop grieving for my brother, a Chump. It was rage. It has simmered down but I will never forgive his ex for abandoning him and their children. I have had people wonder why I was so unforgiving. You know, it’s history. After all he remarried and had more kids. None of them saw what I saw. A man overwhelmed with grief and fear and young children who lost their childhoods. I do not understand why anyone questions grief, rage, dreams of revenge. I hope everyone here reaches meh on a Tuesday but we all hope for a little karma.

      • But of course it’s not history. The effects of that abandonment are ongoing. It beggars belief that people don’t understand this until it happens to them.

  • Please stop making this political. Your comments are hyperbole attempts to make liberal people seems crazy. Most of this is not true and just made up ‘facts’ .

    And calling people ‘tranny’ is a slur that just indicates your prejudices.

    • I agree NB. Fumigation of the thread may now be required of CL, who is much too busy for this. Yeesh.

    • Yeah, i got called a bigot during my divorce because i dared to speak aloud one of my ex’s fuck buddies chosen screen name of “fat ugly tranny whore.” Like sorry, i don’t know their real name, that’s what they call themselves. That was a fun little turd on the shit Sunday.

    • This seems like gaslighting, WATC. From the tone and context of how you used the term ‘tranny,’ and from your subsequent comments, it seems quite clear that you meant it as an insult. Your comments are also blatantly political, and to claim otherwise is gaslighting.

      CL has made it clear that sexism, homophobia, racism, and politics have no place on this blog. We all get off topic at times, but your comments today have been pretty blatant. She usually steps in to shut it down but has told us she’s busy packing… so let’s leave her to it?

      • Oh? Sexism, homophobia, and irrelevant politics seem to have a pretty good place on this blog, given the number of upvotes for this hijacking a discussion for chumps into one about the original commenter’s pet brainweasels.

        Sad that this is going to be yet another site where links to great posts come with a “but DON’T read the comments” warning.

        • You can’t change biological sex. This is not controversial. Anyone claiming you can is a gaslighter.

    • My daughter played this album for me in the car as we started off on a road trip. She and I sang angrily along with “Gaslighter” and smirked at each other at “Tights on a Boat.” Then came “Young Man,” about Natalie Maines’ teenage son’s learning the truth about his father. Natalie’s pain and heartbreak resonated with mine and I started sobbing. How I wish the trauma had stopped with me.

      “I had no words for you that Saturday
      As we both watched our entire worlds change
      Your hero fell just as you came of age
      And I had no words, but now I know what to say

      You’re of me, not mine
      Walk your own crooked line
      I promise you’ll be fine
      Take the best parts of him
      As your own life begins
      Leave the bad news behind you

      Young man, take a good look at my life and
      Try to understand I’ve done my best
      The best I know how to
      And my blues aren’t your blues
      It’s up to you”

  • Someone ‘hacked’ into FW’s Instagram account to follow young, nubile women online. How did that happen. More fool me believed him. OW now believes all his lies like I did. He actually ended up with his stalker

    • One of my ex husband’s whores (whom I thought was a very close friend of mine) told me he’d been framed when I told her he has sex with girls as young as 16 (I have proof that that’s not it’s legal here) and wants to rape children according to the shit he posts online publicly. (Not a crime to want to do it here unless you act on it so I can’t have him arrested.)

      I said really? So someone stole his pictures, made these fake accounts, hooked them to HIS email address, broke into our home, cracked the password on his computer, and then posted this shit from our house without us knowing? Really?

      Then she went off on how I had no right NO RIGHT! to dare look at his computer! No concern about him being a pedo and spending the night in her home with her daughters. I’m the bad person for finding out he’s a a pedo but he’s just great for raping children. She has him over for holidays. Maybe they cruise high schools together looking for teens to rape, who the hell knows.

      You can’t make this shit up. If I wrote this into a a story people would tell me it’s not believable because what kind of mother would do that. Well, unfortunately I’ve met plenty of them. There’s lots of female pedos out there too, they just don’t get caught.

      • Ugh, typo, I have proof of him sleeping with 16 year olds but unfortunately it is legal here. That’s what I was trying to say.

      • KatiePig, wherever you live where it’s legal for adults to fuck 16 year old girls is not a place I’d ever want to live. UGH. GAG. So sorry. Gag again.

        • It’s Nevada. A lot of people don’t know that but it’s legal in several states in the U.S. In fact 16 is the most common age of consent in the United States.

      • Many of these women have Dependent PDs. They will give their children up to stay with their provider.

        • Not the ones I’ve unfortunately known. My ex husband was not a provider to a single one of them. They do not have that excuse.

  • Please stop making this political with your off-topic racist, homophobic rants.

  • how about rolling gaslighting, also known as re-writing history?

    my X flirted heavily with friend of ours when we were all four out together for dinner. it was cringeworthy. i confronted him about it and he initially apologized. i suggested he apologize to the other man, his good friend of 25 years, and X did so (by phone).

    in the midst of the breakdown of our marriage, X started re-writing the scene and by the end, he’d never even flirted and, even if he did, it was harmless because flirting is being alive (sounds Perelesque). “at least i’m alive and can flirt. not like you. you’ve given up on life.”

    it wasn’t as if there were 3 people watching his behaviour and dealing with it, uncomfortably, or that he actually telephoned his friend to apologize for his behaviour.

    again, the guy is dumb. i can’t believe i thought he was smarter than this behaviour.

  • I thought you meant Pootin and his “it’s not a war/invasion it’s a special military operation and none of our soldiers have harmed any innocent civilians” kind of gaslighting.

    • Thumbs up, that’s where i found the most relevance to the topic of the day, ChumpMD. Not just gaslighting par excellence but also quite a bit of DARVO, and even some reports I’ve detected sound like claiming to be the victim – in a world where many others have had to learn to stay inside their lines, so what makes that person so special? There’s probably more.

    • That is another example. What the Kremlin is doing to ordinary Russians is gaslighting on a mindblowing scale. Genuinely devastatingly manipulative.

  • Thanks ChumpQueen. Your comment bridges both sides of the aisle. Instead of right versus left we should be looking at this as gaslighters versus gaslightees. There is no political party ever that is entirely innocent, so if you’re here to attack one side or the other, find a new platform. You’ll hear your own echo better there.

    • And if people are going to start calling me names, I’ll bite back. It’s an example chumps need to see. Why are some people here so complacent and buying into what’s on the suface? This applies to all areas of our lives, and the reaction here is quite telling. I’m old. I stoped giving a shit if I’m accepted or not just because I don’t go along with group think. Maybe I’m like this because I used to be a chump and got tired of it. No one, from the family I grew up with, my exes, bosses, or society at large can tell to not see what is before my eyes and happpening in front of me.

      • You have your rights- and so do I. I have supported this site and been a reader for over nine years. I have hosted Chump meeting to help newbies- regardless of their political stance. I profoundly disagree with your statements- i find them offensive. BUT i don’t get to voice my POLITICAL disagreements here- that is disrespectful of this site. This is supposed to be a safe place for Chumps- hijacking it for your own political validation/soapbox is wrong , selfish and quite frankly cowardly. That is what i am “seeing”.

      • So I’m a scientist. Degree in developmental biology. I also have a close relative who is FTM transgender. Sexual identity is incredibly complex and can be influenced by medications that were taken during pregnancy or congenital adrenal hyperplasia or androgen insensitivity syndrome or other unknown epigenetic influences. There’s no “agenda”; it’s just people trying to live authentic lives unlike cheating cheaters.

  • My X was so successful at gaslighting me because he started by gaslighting himself.

    “I have always known that I was bisexual.” This from a man who hasn’t been capable of sex with a woman for over two decades.

    Why even argue with the guy?

  • Mine also has a whole team of people supporting his bullshit and I was dying of a disease that affected my cognitive abilities. I do remember telling my shrink I thought my husband was lying to me and he said, “Your husband would never do anything to hurt you.”

    And I sat there for a moment and then said, “ What an incredibly stupid thing to say. You don’t even know him and there are terrifying statistics about how many husbands murder their wives but you’ve decided mine can’t even tell a lie? That’s not logical.”

    And he got defensive and started saying paranoia was part of my illness and then claiming I thought my husband was attempting to murder me because I’m so paranoid. I’m glad that doctor left that clinic and moved because I might break his kneecaps if I could get ahold of him now. I look back on that and think was he just an evil doctor who enjoyed abusing his patients or was he fucking my ex too? Is that why my ex to me to a doctor across town? Maybe. I’ll never know. Oh well.

    • Katie, so glad you stood up for yourself when your doctor made that incredibly stupid comment. Having been the victim of an evil therapist, I completely understand. Good for you. Wish I’d had your strength (tho I do now).

  • I just thought of an example. Klootzak would pretend he wasn’t openly flirting with other women right in front of me. It was not flirting at all! It was being “social!” Then the classic turn it back on me, “You just don’t want me to have any friends.” Funny that all his friends were female. Funny that he wasn’t up at 2 AM texting his few male friends from our bed on a burner phone. Only the ladies were on there. I was also to blame for him having a burner phone because I was such a shrew not wanting him contacting females in the middle of the night. I was ruining his social life. These women “needed” his advice, shoulder to cry on, you name it. Then he’d crawl in their pants. By the time I found the burner phone, I was not buying his song and dance.

    Once you trust that they suck, you stop having faith in anything they say. It’s all lies, lies, and more lies. I remember doing the taxes and him lying right to my face about a dollar amount I could see on a statement in my hand. It’s insane.

    • I got the same thing when I pointed out it was proper for a married woman to go with other men or go over to their houses. She said “I told you when I married you that I am keeping my male friends. You don’t want me to have any friends.”.

  • WAC-this is not the forum. It brings up too many issues, debates and ignorance. As a Chump- i respect all opinions – when it is given respectfully and based on facts.

  • A few times turned into two and I’ve had to explain for two years that a few is three-ish and a couple is TWO. And cheating is cheating and it really doesn’t matter if it’s ONE TWO THREE etc. one is too many in this instance.
    But seriously- a few and two are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in ANY case.
    It’s maddening

  • Gaslighting is one of the ex’s favorite strategies.
    Of course, outright lying will always be the first tool he pulls from his fuckwit toolbox, but gaslighting is easily his second favorite.
    Some examples, some of which go back more than 40 years:
    Cheater X: I didn’t get so drunk on our wedding night that I had to be carried out to the car. Me: Pictures don’t lie.
    CX: That’s not a ‘rug burn’ on my knees, I have dry skin. Me: On just your knees?
    CX: Similar situation with his penis, “I zipped myself up too fast”. Me: Were you putting on your pants upside down?
    CX: I never told her that we would get married and move out to the country. Me: Then why did a realtor come by and drop off brochures for lots, he knew your name but called me by her name?
    CX: Oh, that smell is from the liniment I rubbed on for my back pain. Me: I know what your liniment smells like…and it doesn’t usually smell like cheap perfume.
    CX: No, you didn’t see me grab her butt, I think it’s time for new glasses for you. Me: Wha?
    CX: I never threatened divorce. Me: I have you on tape.
    CX: I never cheated. Me: STD tests tell a different story.
    CX: I always loved you. Me: I’m out.

  • It took me a long time to understand gaslighting. The ex just didn’t lie blatantly- his MO was lied of omission.
    But I come from a family of emotional gaslighters. My brother would punch my arm. I would cry & he would tell me “that didn’t hurt!”
    My parents would tell me “you can’t feel that way” if I expressed anger or sadness. Or say something like “you don’t like that color, do you?”What a way to undermine a child’s confidence!

  • Some of the more egregious examples of ex’s gaslighting (content warning for rape) in no particular order:
    -Ex claimed I supposedly promised not to tell a mutual friend (who ex was trying to sleep with btw) about the cheating with one of the affair partners. Ex got PISSED at me that I told said friend and punished my viciously for breaking a promise I would never dream of making.
    -Ex claimed to I had said I was okay with ex being polyamorous, so long as she never told me about it. *eye roll*
    -Ex aggressively demanded that I give her pity because two people made “false rape accusations” against her. I told her that as a rape victim myself, I believe victims as a rule when they speak out and asked her to stop talking to me about it because it was extremely triggering. Instead she just got angry and more aggressive in demanding I accept her narrative of innocence and victimhood.
    -After years of no contact, ex sent me text messages, which I did not respond to, telling me I was an awful person because I told people how dangerous she is and she claimed I was “isolating a person in recovery.” *serious eye roll* In recovery?? She should be in prison!

  • STBX also flirted with women right in front of me and denied it. Several times. He always goes out of his way to read a woman’s name tag. When I told him it sounds like flirting as he talks to her saying her name over and over, he started then acknowledging men and their name tags. ???? so then I thought I was just being overly jealous. Many other examples that I am just now thinking about over these past several weeks. I don’t know why I kept shoveling forgiveness his way and never investigated or pushed further. I was too tired, I was with him too long to be tapping sounds or hacking emails anymore these days. Denial, who knows.

    D Day 7 weeks ago
    Me: why do I have ?! After only being with you for the past 25 years?!
    STBX : I have never had sexual contact with anyone
    Me: The doctor says that’s impossible
    STBX: there are cases where people have contracted this from public pools. Maybe even a wet towel.
    Me: I haven’t been in any public pools or used any wet towels.
    STBX: I take full accountability
    Me: for what
    STBX: all of these problems that we are in.
    I really tried to believe him. But when I realized that he was lying to my face willingly and repeatedly, I couldn’t UNsee that. My entire opinion of him is completely different. He has likely lied and definitely gaslit for many years. I always gave him and most people the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t earn. I’m working on it. CN is pretty damn inspirational.
    Can’t wait to be away from him and see what life is like.

    • chump no mo, life is better and less “stabby” without the cheaters. It hurts, there’s a wound, but the knife is out and not causing the same kind of pain. You can heal. You’ll always have a scar, but it can be a useful reminder.

    • When I asked him (when we were engaged) why I had crabs and why didn’t he tell me when he had them first, he said his doctor told him he got them from sitting on a public toilet seat.
      They suck!

  • Thinking on this is very triggering but from the other hand, I can see most of us have had experiences that are surprisingly similar. The things they come up with are just insane. My STBX accused me of cheating as well stating that I got cals in the middle of the night at times. Well sorry FW, that was a call when we had alerts (yep military). Have been accused of acting crazy during the divorce (I have not spoken to him, emailed or texted him at all in over 8 months with anything other than my catch phrase). My catch phrase is ” run it through the attorneys”. How is that crazy? He had a ten minute rant when we were in mediation (different rooms but thin walls about all I ever said to him is run it through the attorneys………..). Even his FW lawyer said well that is what I advise my clients too. I think we could write a whole volume of gaslighting lines used by cheaters. Ugh!

  • So much gaslighting…
    It was back to school night during Covid and I grabbed his phone to get the link…
    But wait, why are you texting this woman who I ended a friendship with 7 years ago due to her lack of boundaries with me and my family????
    I grab the phone and run into the other room and scroll and scroll. Hundreds and hundreds of texts – heart emojis selfies (same ones he sent me) the word ‘hunny’ a lot, no nudes, nothing outright saying we’re having an affair. But I was blind by this point and our teenager daughter was 5 feet away. I walked out of the house, made it a block, and then turned around. I knew I needed to look at his phone more. But, shocker, the texts had been deleted. Over the following weeks I actually bought his story – she’s needy ( he does collect needy people). She reached out every few months to chat (well, it had been 7 years since I had seen her). But the worst was ‘How can you not trust me? What else can i say?’ (Uh huh – ok this is my best friend and life partner so maybe? He wouldn’t do this to me! He loves me!).
    6 weeks of me falling for this- it’s wild to think that I was so gullible and trusting. He actually had ME feeling bad! But then a friend told me to try to pull up the deleted texts on one of his old phones. That didn’t work, but I did search her name in his email (he used my password for everything) and they were sharing flight information. They’d been on several vacations together…. This he couldn’t deny. And it reminded me that as I unpacked his bag way back when after one of his solo trips (because he would just leave it on the floor for 6 months no joke) I found condoms. He said they must’ve been from when we were dating- over 15 years ago. I believed him immediately and completely- yes, you haven’t used that duffel in a while have you! Turns out they were using condoms when they had vaginal sex (not anal) but just until she got her iud put in.
    Wild wild wild. Still dead inside. Still amazed by myself. Who would fall for that?!? I’m a top notch chump. I had no clue. None.
    The gaslighting phase (that’s what I call those 6 weeks) almost feel like the worst part. Could you have any less respect for me???

    • devastating. so sorry. I understand and have been gaslit. I’ll never be the same and probably will never trust again. too painful. hopefully you got very thorough STD testing…

    • Oh, Lost. That is all so terrible, and all I can say is I’m routing for you. You are so much better than this dirtbag. Just get yourself through this time however you can, and know you’ll be able to face it all from a much more stable, safe place soon.

  • The thing about gaslighting is that in long-term relationships it’s “boiling a frog” and you’re the frog. The gaslighter isn’t necessarily consciously aware of what they’re doing, only that they know they have to “win” and that every interaction has a winner and a loser, that there is always blame to place. They never take responsibility therefore the blame is placed elsewhere. In my case, my maternal instinct to “keep the peace” and keep the kids safe, I didn’t challenge the BS. Eventually I did, but it was too late for it to have a positive effect on our relationship or the family.

  • Uneffing, as an election-stealing drag queen who reads Dan Savage columns about rimjobs to pre-teens and plays non-binary kink bingo with toddlers, I deeply resent WATC’s remarks, and so do all my murderous BLM and antifa friends. I have referred this vitally important discussion involving JK Rowling’s tweet catalog and gender bending Deep State pizza parlor pedophiles to my globalist Illuminati compatriots for review. 😉

    Daaamn, this shit is weird today. What can one do but snark?

  • It works because you love them, and you trust them, and you cannot imagine that they would do anything to harm you or the relationship. Once you become suspicious, they trot out the old “you need to see a counselor” bullshit. My FW had me convinced for YEARS that I had a poor memory, because he would relate memories of meals we’d eaten, restaurants in cities we’d visited, and I could not recall them…and then my doctor told me I had an STD and suddenly, everything made sense. All I had to do was challenge him once with: “Pretty sure you must have me confused with OW” and he was shocked. Never had another “forgotten recollection” to share with me. And I let him get away with that FOR YEARS!

  • This was helpful to me. Aristotle reasoned people are persuaded on either Ethos, Pathos, or Logos.

    Ethos puts the person as the authority or expert as a way to persuade. Gas Lighters use Ethos as being adamant and bully they are right. They are the authority/they know more than you and you second guess yourself. “Maybe he is right and I should believe him.”

    Pathos, means using emotion to persuade. It helps the gas lighter sway the other with either through some emotional appear either through anger, indignant, or self pity plays of crying.

    Last is Logos which uses data and facts to persuade. The Gaslighted can use false data or blur data to make their point. “Here check my phone, there is nothing in there.” Even though the true data was deleted.

  • I truly thought Chump Nation was globally better than descending into petty, divisive sniping on a day our beloved (and exhausted) Chump Lady can’t moderate posts. She’s in the middle of a major life event — one we, of all people, are supposed to be supporting her through, and one that she’s very happy about.

    Frankly, I am horrified. We owe her better. We owe each other better, too. This space is for shared pain. Minimizing the importance of respectful behavior is a bad fit, and it distracts from the site’s mission.

    (If you don’t agree with CL’s boundaries, and you do feel intolerant of others’ identities that don’t fit your belief systems, you can easily blather unmoderated about it, without any pesky boundaries — simply create your own echo chamber website. There you can talk all together about how stupid the rest of us are, all day every day, unopposed. In fact, please do that if it’s your jam. The internet is big, and it totally has space for you. Make the space you want. Be our guest.)

    Now, I’d like to refocus and honor CL. So, I’m going to spend my time writing a bit about the topic she has asked us to write about today. Gaslighting.

    Much of the gaslighting from the Cowardly Liar was about small stuff, just small factual mismatches to keep my attention distracted — like saying he had done things, but only completing the most visible part of each task, so I then had to spend time and attention cleaning up little messes. The absent minded professor routine was common, and very effective on me. Kept me super busy, and distracted, every day.

    One bigger one is the time he suggested that he said he hadn’t had sexual contact with a particular person, and later he explained that it wasn’t dishonest because they didn’t kiss and it was just hand stuff so it wasn’t “really sex”.

    Another was post marriage, how he would email me with these long missives about his sad life and how he couldn’t make a support payment because of some unforeseen hardship, and in the very same hour post online about how he had just booked a multi-week overseas vacation or bought something very expensive he was super excited about.

    Gaslighting is super shitty. And mean. A massive moral failing, in my view. And it’s not just about big stuff. Death by 1000 cuts.

    • Thank you for your missive, in the first part. I agree.

      It does, really, come down to this: “Gaslighting is super shitty. And mean. A massive moral failing, in my view. And it’s not just about big stuff. Death by 1000 cuts.”

      Failed morals. It’s always the reason for the downfall.

    • Appreciate the defense. I must’ve invited trolling when I said I had to step back for a couple days. Onward…

  • It REALLY SUCKS when you raise controversial issues when Tracy is moving and can’t monitor the chat.

    Talk about cheaters and gaslighting. There are plenty other places to talk about every other issue. This is NOT THE PLACE.

  • I ended a relationship some time ago where I was constantly being told that there were things that the other person had said to me that I had no memory of. And I have a good memory. Usually to find fault in something I did or didn’t do. Then when I said that I really didn’t remember, the attack came as “Deny / Attack / Reverse Victim Offender” to make it all my fault. I could actually almost count off the DARVO as they worked through the steps.

    It’s a control thing. Perhaps in their world they did think they actually said what they said they had, it just never entered my ears.

    In time I had enough of having my needs minimized and being at fault for everything and ended it. Much quieter now.

    • Ex FW mostly used the same type of gaslighting on me as well. He was constantly pretending he had not promised to do something or that I had agreed to something that he never mentioned before. Always trying to make me believe I was remembering things wrong when I have an excellent memory. When I got mad at him for it he told me that if I acted crazy and angry like this he couldn’t let me near our kids. That scared me enough that I started seeing a therapist to try and understand what was happening to me. That was several years before my DDay. Luckily I think that is what saved me and helped me regain enough clarity to get away from him and file for divorce right away.

      • This is so sad. They will do anything to protect their interests. Despicable behavior. I have always liked your name. FuckThatShit is right.

        • Thanks! I love your name too UpAndOut. I have been “told” so many times to not use the word fuck when I meant fuck, I thought that was only fitting.

  • I found a ton of evidence in my ex’s phone pointing to him having slept with hookers (he had their numbers saved directly to his contacts in his phone) and being on dating apps trying to hook up with other women (found the registration emails along with searches for “How to meet real people on dating apps”, “How to Take a dick pic for a Dating App profile”, “Date wants to come to my house”, and “date wants to talk on the phone every day”, “I Want to abandon my family”, etc.) I also found TONS of pictures of women he knew personally. They were all thirst trap pictures that look like they got skimmed from instagram or facebook profiles, so with the exception of 1-2 women, I don’t think most of them knew he was doing this with their pictures. I still consider it emotional cheating because it was people he actually knows he was fantasizing about, and he did have EAs with 2 of the women I found pictures of. He insists this was all a mental activity for him and that he didn’t need to take it to a physical level with anyone because “just fantasizing” was enough for him. Anytime I tell him I don’t believe him AT ALL, or some variation thereof, he accuses ME of gaslighting HIM and tells me that it’s emotionally abusive of me to “tell him how he feels” (I said him doing all this is a sure sign he never loved me or our baby, and thats what he’s calling gaslighting/telling him how he feels.) It’s completely maddening and I can’t imagine how bad what he got up to actually was if he is stubbornly sticking to his total bs “I was thinking a lot about it but didn’t actually go through with it….” story.

  • CN, I’ve been distracted today, thus the rerun — but now I’m moderating and deleting. Please don’t bring divisive shit on to my site. I despise moderating. The beautiful thing about this community is shared experience and having a safe space to deal with difficult topics. I intend to keep it that way.

    • I’m so sorry that you had to take time away from all the other shit you are in the middle of to do this.
      I am so grateful to you and the vast majority of Chump Nation.
      You probably hear this at least once a day: you saved my life. Thank you! Like that’s enough, but truly from the bottom of my heart – THANK YOU!
      Hopefully, everything else outside of this situation is going smoothly (as most moves do ;)!) and you and Mr. Chump Lady can sleep in your new home tonight. It’s such an exciting time, I always got first day of summer camp feelings, and I hope it’s the same for you.

  • I started journaling because I thought I was loosing my mind. Many months went by and I never to my now ex I was doing that. One day she was busy trying to change history with me and I finally said to her “That’s not how it went down. I know because I’ve been journaling for a year or so”. The look on her face was priceless and then the anger kicked in. Wow!

    If your feeling crazy start keeping track. After I found out she’s been cheating (proof positive) I was finally able to see the history as it REALLY was. Everything became crystal clear in literally a moment.

    • That is exactly where I am at now. FW and friends always commented on my ability to remember things it was my trade mark amongst friends. When she started the ” I told ……” Shit, I would correct her with proof. ( I too journal. Have been doing it since medical school). Her response was ” you wrote it down wrong, probably a result of the chemotherapy you had”. What an illogical answer.
      Thinking about that manipulation she tried just pisses me off because she is really not that bright and to take advantage of a person with cancer is just evil. NC is the way to go.

  • He blamed my feeling bad/sad/mad on menopause. Yes definitely menopause – he told the kids “thats what happens to middle age women, they go crazy”. Problem was I was only “crazy” when he was around. He kept this up for 4 years until I found out about the secret sex basement where he met his “best” friend, a friend I always felt sorry for. ps I still feel sorry for her and may they live happily ever after. And you will be glad to hear my symptoms disappeared when I severed the cord to the fwit of 32 years who was such an authority on menopause!

    • In the push to “destigmatize” menopause by openly talking about it, many seem to miss that the original cause for silence wasn’t necessarily “internalized toxic shame” but self protection because hormonal events have been consistently weaponized to discredit women’s perceptions and emotions. The same goes for premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, etc.

      • Yes! Which ties in to today’s gaslighting theme all too well. I bet many a cisgender female chump has heard “you must be having your period ’cause you’re acting crazy” when confronting their gaslighters? The persistent association of women with irrationality due to hormonal events is low hanging fruit for a FW gaslighter.

  • I would probably have added another reason for getting entrapped by gaslighting– that some of it is actually coercive control and involves threats tailored to individual vulnerabilities and fears. An abuser may spew blatantly fabricated accusations at a victim as a demo of what the abuser is capable of spewing to third parties. It’s a shot across the bow.

    Only a novice or someone willfully ignorant would argue that “If it isn’t true, you have nothing to fear!” Not so in every situation. As any chump falsely accused of DV can attest, some aspersions are gordian knots. The more you struggle to escape, the tighter the trap can get.

    FW in my case threatened in a not-so-subtle way that my rapid weight loss before D-Day and the time I fainted in public during one of his DARVO attacks could be used to prove my parental unfitness. Apparently I was nuts and had an eating disorder and this made me a dangerous parent. The subtext was obvious. He could not have been ignorant of what this meant to me since I’d done research for an online legal series about how people with various physical and mental disabilities (even a dad with depression and mild mobility issues following chemo) were having their children removed by the state and in custody disputes despite lack of evidence the children were at any risk. In those cases, truth didn’t matter as much as perception.

    No surprise– abusers exploit social injustices to gain advantage. In my case, FW wouldn’t even have known there was a common injustice to exploit if not for my work. He also depended on the fact I’m not a victim-blamer so it impressed me how these tragedies could happen to pretty much anyone– including me if it ever came to that. I wasn’t immune to being scared by what I was learning. Professional hazard.

    Fortunately my work also created a hazard for FW. I’d gotten close to the disability lawyers I’d worked with several years before. I think we were all getting broken up over these cases. I eventually confided my concerns to one. She not only didn’t minimize my perception of threat but she immediately guessed FW was cheating, gave me a list of related risks and laid out a preemptive strategy to foil those potential dangers. She said, “You can’t just wave a newspaper at this wasp, you need to kill it with one blow” (proverbially speaking; get evidence and hoist the FW on his own petard).

    I’m really lucky I had access to free expert legal counsel. How many people do? How many people feel like they’ve been check-mated by threats even if the threats are based on bs? Abusers can use immigrant status or any number of vulnerabilities against their victims to ensure paralysis and instill silence and capitulation. It’s not necessarily about whether the victim believes the abuser’s bs but whether the victim fears that bystanders or legal authorities will believe the bs and that this could lead to dire consequences like unjust loss of child custody, loss of livelihood or any other kind of intolerable loss. That level of fear can be brain-scrambling.

    • ““If it isn’t true, you have nothing to fear!” ”

      I hate when I hear that, peoples lives have been destroyed over lies, that were proven lies. There have been many documented cases. Unfortunately the victim of lies most time do not get compensated, and they never get made whole again. And many times they are never vindicated because because it just takes too much effort to many bystanders to use their brains.

    • HOAC- Your post just described my marriage. He set up coercive control by using my emotions and perceptions against me.
      The endless gaslighting was in a mix of joking, lying by omission, silent treatment and distracting with live bombing.
      When I challenged lies I was called over-sensitive, can’t take a joke or crazy. The Gordian knot got toghter when I challenged the name calling and dismissiveness.
      The threat of this happening in front of the kids kept me in a vise.
      The double bind was emotionally abusive: call out a lie- you get gaslighted-call out gaslighting you get called crazy. Stay silent and you are modeling ignoring/living with lies.
      Your description of how this dynamic is employed shakes me to the core. I lived it but couldn’t name it.
      Administered with intermittent episodes of live bombing it was paralyzing.
      Provoking extreme upset and weaponizing your own emotions against you is domestic violence.

    • My biggest fear is being separated from my kids. That’s what FW weaponizes. I do realize that the threats are totally based on bullshit, and that she probably doesn’t want full custody. But the irrational fear remains. Prior to the conciliation meeting I was catastrophizing that the moment the judge and the attorney set eyes on the oddball me and the sparkling her, I would stand no chance in regard to custody. I was very wrong about that. FW (notwithstanding being exquisitely dressed) made a fool of herself with her rages and lies (and offering nothing whatsoever to the kids’ expenses). Nevertheless, the fear remains.
      As for the weight loss, my FW XW gets to see me twice a week for hostage exchanges. Some weeks are harder then most and I lose some weight atop of what I already lost post DDays (nearly 15 kg). Whenever she sees me emaciated, it is not long till some flying monkey calls or texts to “check on me”. Thanks but no thanks. I think her point is to show people (unaware of her indiscretions) how ill I am – underhandedly hinting at some underlying mental health issue -(ergo, unfit for taking care of our children). If I just could get over the disgust and nausea I feel seeing and talking to her, maybe I could eat more and gain some weight.

      • Sorry to hear about the stress. I also lost a lot of weight with the post D-Day stress and depression – I just didn’t want to eat and didn’t feel hungry, didn’t see the point in cooking any more because it felt like my world had bigger problems. However, I needed to fuel myself even though I didn’t feel like it as the weightloss was starting to worry me. I had some luck with liquid foods – smoothies and protein shakes meant that I was getting important vitamins and stuff to keep my muscle tone up. Nuts are also great powerhouses and you don’t need a lot to get the benefit. Little and often is the trick. And something – anything at all – is better than nothing. For example, I didn’t have the energy to put a sandwich together for myself, so I literally just got the bread, tomatoes and some cheese slices and ate them like toddler food. It’s the same stuff, it’s just going in a different way! Take shortcuts – buy the presliced cheese, get a ready meal. Don’t eat for any reason to do with her, eat because you need to nourish your body and you deserve to be taken care of <3.

  • Traitor X is also guilty of gaslighting our daughter, but her initial response is to dismiss it and get angry. She seems to really trust herself (she is fifteen now). I sometimes wondered over the years if my participation in outside help was neurotic overkill, but now I think it was a very good idea. (It was clear to me for years that I did not have parenting I could copy and I’d need a lot of help deleting and reprogramming if I had children).

    She asked me other day, “Are you still attracted to Dad?” I laughed and said no. She said, “Good. I was worried that you might be a moronsexual.”

    (She explained that a moronsexual is someone who is attracted to morons)

    I was attracted to him when I thought he was a good man, and unfortunately it took way too long for that spell to be broken. I am totally repulsed by him now.

    Good people don’t lie and have affairs. Period.

    • There’s nothing like an intelligent 15 year old daughter to put things into perspective ❤️
      Mine just walks away with an eye roll when he tries to gaslight her.
      I love that – moronsexual!

  • This happened recently while discussing the terms our our divorce.

    STBXFW – I don’t like what you’re asking for. Don’t make me resent you.
    Me – Is that a threat?
    STBXFW – Is what a threat?
    Me – You saying “Don’t make me resent you”
    STBXFW – I never said that
    Me – You literally said that 2 seconds ago.
    STBXFW – I didn’t say that
    Me – You did! Just now. You said “Don’t make me resent you”
    STBXFW – No I didn’t.
    Me – You’re telling me that I’m making up what you JUST SAID to my face, just now?
    STBXFW – I didn’t say it. Let’s start over.
    Me – You’re gaslighting me.
    STBXFW – Let’s just start the conversation over.
    Me – Because your gaslighting didn’t work this time? You can’t make me believe your bullshit anymore. I’m done. Conversation will be finished through the lawyer.

    And I left.

    • Glad you left because truly you would be gaslighting yourself at this point if you think you can discuss divorce terms with a FW!

      • Astoundingly, we did finally come to terms and he agreed to everything I asked for.

  • I’ve been reading this blog for about a month (love it!), but this is my first time commenting. I didn’t even know what gaslighting was until a few months ago. The therapist I’ve been seeing – since I discovered my husband’s emotional affair with a coworker – has been slowly teaching me about narcissistic abuse and all it’s lovely components.

    So here’s my gaslighting story:

    When we were living together and not yet married, my gaslighter came home on a Friday and said he was going out to dinner with a contractor who worked for his company. When I asked a few questions, it came out that they’d made a bet, and whoever lost had to take the other out to dinner. I said that’s what people do when they want an excuse to go on a date with each other. We argued about whether it was a date until he left (to go on the date). When he came home he admitted that she’d kissed him at the end of the night, but since he wasn’t expecting that, it wasn’t a date. That was over 25 years ago – I didn’t understand what that was until the last few months. Years later, when something else suspicious happened, I brought up “the date that wasn’t a date,” and he denied it ever happened.

    • Welcome Enough! Don’t you love it when cheaters minimize what they’re doing right in front of your nose by categorizing it as something vague – like “not a date”. I got “two friends hanging out.” It isn’t what it obviously is ’cause I say it isn’t – like that old comedy routine (Richard Pryor?) “who you gonna believe? Me? Or your lying eyes?”

  • Me: I think the only reason you stayed to work things out is because OW broke up with you. I feel like your back up plan.
    NeX: Oh, no. It’s always been you.

    2 months later and OW messages NeX she wants him back. NeX responds to OW, “It’s always been you. You’re my soulmate.” ????
    I knew it the whole time! I just wanted to believe him rather than trust my instincts and believe in myself!

    • I hate that happened to you.

      I read somewhere that the worst feeling is watching someone you love, love someone else. In the beginning it was like that for me.

      I am betting if this is recent, you will be feeling a lot better soon.

  • The running theme during my marriage to ex FW was “I can’t make you happy”. Also “I am doing all this for the family”. And truthfully I was pretty depressed by the end, and I thought it was all my fault. After I moved out with the kids and filed for divorce I realized I couldn’t name one thing he had done to “make me happy” and I had no clue what “all this” could have been… and funny thing, I am not depressed any more.

    The other big one was about the existence of OW. When he decided he wanted to separate and get a divorce, I immediately said: “so that you can finally be with OW” because I knew who she was and that they had been spending a lot of time together “for work”, to which he replied they were just friends. 2 years later after separation, while he was dragging his feet through the divorce, he was still denying they were together, in spite of all the evidence. Until my kids found her bra in the laundry at his place… after which his stance was: “of course you knew”… to this day I have no clue why he hid her for so long, since we live in a no fault state and I truly didn’t give a shit at that point. Image management for everyone else I guess. What I can’t stomach is how much he was gaslighting our kids about this.

  • We would have these circular conversations where I would think I just need to explain myself better so he finally gets it, then he’ll understand….but he had no desire to understand. That’s gaslighting. It’s hard a concept to grasp when you’re used to dealing more with people that are on the up & up.

    • Not Bitter, I can now see that the circular conversations were there from the very beginning of my relationship with FW — even when I was happy and felt safe and in love, even before he began to devalue me and cheat. They are the thing I am probably *most relieved* to be free of. These inane circles were characterized by my earnest efforts to communicate (to listen, be heard, and move forward with a shared understanding or fair compromise) and his need to feel in control and his disinterest in my needs and feelings. Never again!

      • Wow, reflecting on those circular conversations had me thinking about how that abusive, uneven dynamic really is the perfect setup for betrayal. One party (chump) sees the other (cheater) as a true teammate and has genuine concern for the other’s growth and well-being. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the chump, the other cheater sees them as a disposable appliance, or in some cases maybe even an enemy. Chumps are easy targets for these disordered cheaters, who exploit our goodness to run us in circles for years. It’s so obvious and so wrong that it doesn’t seem possible to outsiders, nor even in retrospect, when you’ve lived it yourself. When I flashback to younger, chumpy me, I actually picture myself like a caricature from America’s Funniest Home Videos or Candid Camera, where I’m standing there, almost comically naive and surprised: jaw dropped, eyes wide, off balance, being laughed at.

        • I found myself having “parallel conversations” with FW many times. I was trying to talk about X and he would respond talking about Y. It would drive me nuts and I caught him smirking a few times. Once I said “fuck you” when I did, it was so maddening. He then proceeded to tell me that I didn’t mean that, because English was my second language.

          Gaslighting, straight up lying, circular conversations, changing the subject, it’s all about “winning” the conversation. It’s never a normal exchange between two people, it is about who has power over the other. It is crazy making. I am so glad I don’t have to play FW’s games anymore. Fuck him, and I mean it.

  • I had access to his phone records, receipts he placed in credit card files, and bank statements.
    DM: You got a hotel with her last week.
    Limited: What if I was too drunk to drive?
    DM: You booked it in advance, went to dinner at my favorite restaurant, went gambling at the casino, and had breakfast in the morning.
    Limited: crickets.

    • Going through phone records/text messages/Cc records is so heartbreaking. You think about a certain day and time and see that although they were with you, they really weren’t. It also reveals, or it at least revealed to me, how morally bankrupt FWs are.

      Using the term Gaslighting makes FWs sound like they are smart, diabolical geniuses. They are not in most instances. They are just liars trying to sell their lies and get away with it. Self survival at any cost and they don’t care how much harm is done to others.
      Last week in her deposition FW was asked to explain texts of why she planned to mail a birthday gift for AP to one of his friends and not directly to him?
      FW answer: because his wife is president of NY nurses union and I don’t support that union so it would upset her.
      My lawyer: But you don’t live or work in NY correct?
      FW: Correct.
      My Lawyer: And you never met her?
      FW: Correct….but it would upset her because I know her and she is all about support for the union.
      My Lawyer: So you know her but never met her?
      FW: yes, of course.

      My lawyer said even her lawyer laughed at that answer.

        • I did worry for a while that she was getting forgetful. She was on a med for trigeminal neuralgia and I wanted to blame it on that. ( Spackle)
          Now I know she wasn’t smart enough to keep up with multiple men. And after reading LACGAL I right through her. It would be comical if I wasn’t the punchline

  • The wasband started in on me just a few weeks into the relationship. Telling me I said things that hurt him but couldn’t tell me exactly what, or when I said it but it hurt. And that he couldn’t believe how little I cared about him because I couldn’t remember it either. Once my “bad memory” had been established it was a 17 year journey through hell, tap dancing as fast as I could to keep him “happy” with me. One weekend afternoon, I was watching the movie “Interstellar” on tv. He came into the room and said , “you’re watching that again?” I’d never seen it before and said as much. He instantly flipped out on me, going on about how little I care about him and the time we spend together, I can’t even remember when we watch a movie together, does he even matter at all? Being well trained, I fell for the whole thing, begging for forgiveness for being so tired and forgetful (tired because I have a thyroid condition and was working 13 hour days running a business plus doing all the adulting while he smoked pot, played video games and worked on his “music career”). I had never seen that fucking movie before. Now that I know what was really going on, yeah, he probably saw that movie with one of his girlfriends and when he realized, he went nuclear on me to cover his ass.
    I am so glad to manage my own reality now. And grateful for the lesson, I’ve had men try to start that shit with me on the first date. One tried to tell me that he had to make fun of me because he thought if he said what he really felt, I would make fun of him (he was criticizing my home decorating) Oh, it’s my fault you had to make fun of me. I totally understand. Bye Felicia!

    • Wow, I had forgotten about all the times the ex mentioned a movie or restaurant that “we’d” seen or eaten at and I couldn’t remember.
      He would elaborate on a certain scene or menu item, and say that he couldn’t believe I had forgotten. Used to make me so insecure because my dad had Alzheimers.
      That bastard knew that I had so much worry around memory issues and he would just double down. Fucker!

  • After 2 years of lies & denial, he sat at the table after an argument & said “my brother & I couldn’t believe you started divorcing me so quickly’
    I said “you were cheating on me’
    “But you didn’t know that then!!’
    “Boom, Finally !!” I shouted
    Then he said “that’s not what I mean’ & has denied every time saying that!!!
    His sat nav was linked to the family computer, I could see exactly when & where he went, he first accused me of getting someone to hack his phone as he couldn’t work out how I knew, when I told him he said no it’s wrong!!!! I have it all on a memory stick,
    Now divorced, house sold, about to move to my own place, I’m almost at Tuesday ????

  • Gaslighting works even when it doesn’t work. My ex was constantly gaslighting me. We blew off dinner with the family for nights on end, promises to see school plays or Christmas concerts, and when I called him on it, he called me crazy and insisted that he was present. There was something wrong with my memory if I thought he wasn’t there.

    I never believed him, so I thought I was good. I documented like crazy (which was useful in the divorce), but thought I had it under control. I did not realize the level of trauma I was experiencing until I left. Even though I didn’t “fall” for it, we are not made to have our supposed love ones to abuse us so. It has been 8 years, and I’m still not fully healed. Although I continue to get better, I am still surprised to find some trivial thing triggering my past and it immediately puts me into fight mode.

    I want to second what Mia said about how we are trained to ignore our feelings and intuitions as kids. It’s so harmful, and I’ve tried to teach my kids to listen to their intuition. The one thing I learned after the whole ordeal was that my intuition was right on all along, and if I had listened more closely, I never would he married my ex.

  • Didn’t have time to read many of the comments, and I guess what I have to say might have been already written by other people here, so I apologize in advance for any unneeded repetitions.

    Cheaters (and fuckwits in general for that matter) rob us essentially from our time and energy (also money and opportunities, which are conventional, socially agreed upon tokens for combinations of these basic, physical things). Their outright lying rob us from informed agency, which is bad enough. But gaslighting is many notches up on the evil scale. It is stealing one’s own sense of reality, one’s own confidence in decision making. It is the worst in my opinion. And none of the above are deemed crimes nor even sufficiently frowned upon on a societal level. There’s a huge shrug of shoulders over these acts, as in the sayings “a fool and his gold are soon parted” and “a fool is born every minute”. As if it is somehow the chump’s fault for being too gullible.
    This is to add insult to injury.
    In my experience, gaslighting comes hand in hand with character assassination. It is instrumental in painting the chump as unhinged to bystanders and enablers and also allows the smearing campaign to be denied to the chump for years on end (“nobody is treating you differently, you’re being paranoid – maybe that’s why people are treating you differently”). Since these tactics have not any legal consequence for the perpetrator, and are widely used within wedlock, I think marriage is a high risk, high stakes contract, as contracts go. With hindsight, it takes a lot of trust in the other part to behave ethically, because virtually nothing would prevent him/her to do otherwise.

    I will not even try to enumerate instances of gaslighting I was subjected to; my 20 years marriage was a whole gaslighting experience since dating days. I learned the term ‘gaslighting’ here on this site, and it hit home immediately. I can’t describe the relief of realizing I was not (that) crazy. That gave me the resolve to fight for what I believe is right and the best for my kids. Then therapy. The term has never shown up explicitly, but what we struggle with most in our sessions is my hard-wired habit of second and third-guessing everything I think and feel. And having to rely on the judgement and reality-checks of others all the time. I guess this is going to be a life-long battle. This shit is insidious.
    I also think there are two ‘pre-existing conditions’, so to speak, that make you an easier target to gaslighters: being a child and being neurodivergent. If you’re a neurodivergent child of a fuckwit then, may god protect your sanity. Mine are, and I am losing my shit over having to witness their FW mother gaslight the eldest. “No it didn’t happen”; “no, you are not recalling this correctly”, etc. But the kid is strong and doesn’t cave in. Don’t know whom he took after; I wasn’t that strong-minded – she succeeded in melting my brains. A child relies on adults to interpret the world for them to some extent; neudivergent people coupled with neurotypicals often do the same regarding their partners. And there lives the danger. You can be offerred an alternate version of the reality of your relationship(s) in which just everything is your fault, and you have reasons to believe it to be so. It does not need to be bald faced lies. In order for it to work better, my guess is that the slightest the distortions from actual events, the more effetive this shit gets.
    As old sayings go, there is another one, if I recall correctly, that reads “those the gods want to destroy, they unhinge first”. Fuckwits do like to play gods.

    • BrazilianChump, wow. Your comment just gave me so much insight I copied and pasted it in my notes so I don’t forget. As the ND spouse of an NT fuckwit – what you say tracks with my experience 100%. I had chills reading your comment because it was like I was seeing my own life. Thank you.

  • I don’t think I actually ever believed my ex’s lies. I mean, the facts are the facts, right? But I spent way, way too many hours arguing with him, begging with him to acknowledge the obvious truth. I wanted him to have some ah-ha moment and just be honest with me. So, I wasn’t exactly gaslighted. I just failed to take action to get away from him, until I did.

  • Here are my favorite comments from STBX:
    1. “We’re just friends. You’re only jealous because she’s female and young” (he’s 43, her professor and she’s 23, a graduate student – so cliché)
    2. “You just don’t want me to hang out with anyone or have any friends.” Meanwhile, I’ve been telling him for years he needs more friends and even try to introduce him to possible friends (not students) when we first moved here.
    3. “You just don’t have a life of your own and you want all my free time.” I have a career as a physical therapist and have more of a social life than he does.
    4. “11:00 pm is not late. It’s late for you but not for me. I can hang out with my graduate class as late as I want.” Meanwhile, he asked me to change my work schedule to an earlier shift a few months ago because I was getting home too late (8:00 pm). BTW, class is from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
    5. “My first wife and I divorced because she had issues.”
    6. “I don’t want to go to couple’s therapy because I already did therapy after my first divorce. You need to go to therapy to work on your issues.”
    7. “When I met you, you wanted to move” (when I tell him that I had a life of my own and my own career when we moved for his job).

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