You might have heard the term “gaslighting” but not known what it means. It gained widespread notoriety from a popular 1944 film titled Gaslight in which a suave, cunning husband uses psychological trickery to convince his vulnerable wife that she is going insane. He is a master at relentlessly wearing her down, little by little. She remains with him, not wanting to think that the romantic gentleman she swooned over could possibly be so cruel.
Gaslighting in relationships and marriages is not a phenomenon exclusive to Hollywood films. It still happens. The gaslighter’s goal is to erode the other person’s confidence and make them second-guess the soundness of their instincts and judgment. That makes gaslighters feel superior and more empowered, which is their aim. When the behavior persists and causes emotional pain, it can drive a couple to the point of no return in their marriage – with divorce on the horizon.
What strategies does a gaslighter use?
A gaslighter can use a variety of techniques to control their target. Their methods can be clever and stealthy.
- They keep you away from the people closest to you, fearing that they might reveal the gaslighter as the narcissist they really are.
- They make you begin to believe you are losing touch with reality.
- The gaslighter gets you to rely more and more on them by making you increasingly uncertain of yourself.
- Gaslighters insist they did not do or say something that they actually did do or say.
Being with a gaslighter is unhealthy and can even endanger you. If you feel that a divorce is your best route out of the relationship, with experienced legal guidance, you can permanently end the marriage. That can be an important step in re-establishing control over your life.