If you’ve ever been a victim of gaslighting, you’ll know how traumatic it can be. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse and manipulation that can have a devastating effect on its victims, especially if it continues for an extended period.
Gaslighting is all about using psychological and manipulative tactics to make someone question their reality, sanity, and ability to reason.
Because gaslighting is all about creating confusion, recognizing it can be extremely challenging.
That’s why I want to draw attention to some signs that a narcissist is gaslighting you, like consistently telling lies or telling you you’re crazy.
The sooner you see gaslighting for what it is, the quicker you can withdraw from the situation or relationship and reduce the long-term effects of such psychological abuse.
How Do You Know if a Narcissist is Gaslighting You?
If a narcissist is gaslighting you, they may deny events that occurred, twist facts to fit their narrative or shift blame onto you.
Gradually, you might find yourself questioning your own judgment and feeling confused about reality.
This insidious manipulation can lead you to question your judgment and leave you perplexed and disoriented while the narcissist maintains control and power over the situation.
The narcissist’s goal is to undermine your confidence, assert control over your thoughts, and maintain their dominance in the relationship.
Recognizing these patterns and getting trusted friends, family, or professionals to support you through this experience is crucial for your emotional and physical well-being and can help you maintain a clear understanding of the truth.
You can also take a look at some real-life examples of the Narcissist gaslighting.
10 Signs that a Narcissist is Gaslighting You
#1 Blatant Lies
A narcissist has a strange relationship with the truth, often seeing it as something malleable rather than a fixed or finite entity. They can tell blatant lies convincingly because they want to believe them.
For instance, imagine you and your narcissistic partner had planned to attend an event together. However, on the day of the event, they deny ever making such plans, even though you distinctly remember discussing it.
In their version of events, they insist that they never agreed to attend, despite clear evidence of your prior conversation.
This manipulation of the truth is a tool they use to shape their reality and maintain control. Their ability to lie so confidently can leave you feeling baffled and unsure of your own memory.
Being constantly lied to has significant psychological and physical consequences, increasing anxiety, provoking feelings of betrayal and distrust, and even elevating your blood pressure.
No matter what you accuse the gaslighting narcissist of, they’ll deny it. They’ll use phrases like, “I would never say that,” or “That never happened,” even though you remember the incident clearly.
This denial serves a dual purpose for the gaslighting narcissist. Firstly, it allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their actions or words, effectively absolving themselves of any wrongdoing.
Secondly, it casts doubt on your memory and judgment, making you question whether your recollection is accurate.
Over time, this erosion of confidence in your own perceptions plays into the narcissist’s manipulation as you start relying more on their version of events.
The gaslighting narcissist’s denial is a calculated strategy to assert control and dominance over you.
By rejecting your account and asserting their own version of reality, they undermine your confidence, create confusion, and position themselves as the sole authority on the truth.
This tactic can leave you feeling isolated, frustrated, and increasingly dependent on the narcissist for validation and a sense of reality.
As a result, your mental and emotional well-being can suffer as you grapple with self-doubt and a skewed perception of the world around you.
#3 Double Messaging
The gaslighting narcissist rarely says what they mean or mean what they say. Instead, they use a tactic known as “double messaging,” in which they say one thing but act in a way that contradicts their words.
This inconsistency creates confusion and uncertainty for the victim, making them question their own perception of reality and the narcissist’s intentions.
For example, the gaslighting narcissist might say, “You mean the world to me. You’re the only one who truly understands me.
I can’t imagine my life without you,” and then spend the rest of the evening texting other women.
This gaslighting tactic allows the narcissist to maintain a façade of being caring and empathetic while keeping you off-balance and confused.
You don’t know whether to trust their words or accept the adage that actions speak louder.
The narcissist’s tendency to say one thing and do another undermines your ability to trust your own judgment and perception.
It reinforces the narcissist’s control, making you more susceptible to manipulation and less likely to challenge the narcissist’s behavior.
In time, this type of gaslighting could have profound psychological effects, leading to self-doubt, anxiety, and a skewed understanding of the relationship dynamics.
#4 Using Your Passions Against You
Narcissists want to be in the spotlight constantly and will manipulate you to ensure your focus is always on them.
If you’re passionate about your career or take pride in your professional achievements, the narcissist will use it against you.
If you put your children’s needs above the narcissist’s, they’ll turn that around and accuse you of neglecting them.
By attacking something you love, the narcissist aims to create doubt and insecurity within you. They want you to question your priorities, so you seek their approval and validation instead.
This tactic weakens your self-esteem and makes you more dependent on their opinions and validation.
Over time, this can lead to isolation, as the narcissist systematically erodes your confidence in yourself and your choices.
A classic sign of narcissist gaslighting is when they consistently make contradictory statements to confuse you.
One day, they might compliment you on being an excellent cook, and the next, accuse you of being useless in the kitchen and never producing anything nutritional or worth eating.
Narcissists intentionally create a chaotic and uncertain environment by contradicting themselves and distorting facts. This constant and deliberate confusion is a manipulation tactic designed to keep you off-balance and doubt your own perceptions.
Over time, you’ll become increasingly reliant on the gaslighter for guidance and validation as you seek clarity amidst the mixed messages.
Your desire for clarity becomes a weapon in the gaslighter’s hands, allowing them to maintain their dominance and prevent you from recognizing the manipulation at play.
#6 Losing Your Sense of Self
Gaslighters often create false narratives that paint the victim in a negative light.
For instance, if you tell the narcissist how hurt you are by something they did, they might turn around and accuse you of being overly sensitive and overreacting to the situation, even though your emotional response is justified and reasonable.
They might twist your expressions of hurt or frustration into evidence of your supposed “emotional instability,” thereby undermining your credibility and self-perception.
Over time, you might internalize such negative narratives and start doubting yourself and the validity of your emotions and responses.
This tactic reinforces the gaslighter’s power and furthers the erosion of the victim’s self-esteem and confidence.
Gaslighting narcissists project their own behavior onto their partners to deflect attention away from their own actions and to make their partners feel guilty about their concerns.
For example, imagine you’re in a relationship, and your partner repeatedly stays out late without providing a valid explanation.
You start to worry about it and ask them what’s going on and where they’re spending all their time.
Instead of answering you, they become defensive and lash out, saying, “You’re always trying to control me and invade my privacy. I can’t believe you don’t trust me after all we’ve been through.”
By accusing you of being controlling and lacking trust, the narcissist shifts the focus away from their own actions and manipulates you into questioning your feelings and perceptions.
This projection tactic allows the narcissist to maintain control over the narrative and avoid taking responsibility for their own questionable behavior.
#8 Everyone Else is Lying
Imagine this scenario: you’re in a relationship, but you’ve got some concerns about your partner’s behavior and turn to your friends for help and a fresh perspective.
When your partner finds out you’ve been talking about them, they immediately undermine your friends’ opinions, saying, “You can’t trust anyone but me. They’re just trying to sabotage our love.”
This gaslighting technique enables the gaslighter to create a false narrative that isolates you from your support network and makes you doubt their intentions.
It makes you question those around you, as well as yourself, leaving you isolated and dependent on the narcissist for support.
This approach puts the narcissist in a position of power, diminishing your ability to seek outside perspectives and opinions and drawing you even further into their false narrative.
#9 The Love Bomb/Devaluation Cycle
The love bombing and devaluation cycle is a manipulative tactic often employed by narcissists. It can be seen as a form of gaslighting due to its impact on the victim’s perception of reality and self-worth.
During the love bombing phase, the narcissist showers you with excessive affection, attention, and praise.
They create an idealized image of the relationship, making you feel cherished and valued. However, this intense positive attention is often disproportionate and unrealistic.
As the devaluation phase begins, the narcissist’s behavior suddenly shifts. They start to criticize, belittle, and devalue you.
This abrupt change in attitude and treatment can leave you feeling confused and hurt as you struggle to reconcile the stark contrast between the initial love bombing and the sudden devaluation.
This cycle sows doubt and confusion in the victim’s mind. It makes them believe they are somehow responsible for the narcissist’s sudden change in behavior, making them emotionally dependent on the narcissist’s validation and affection.
The love bombing and devaluation cycle distorts your perception of reality, undermines your self-worth, and keeps you emotionally tethered to the narcissist’s whims.
This manipulation aligns with the goals of gaslighting, where the narcissist seeks to control and dominate you by distorting your sense of reality and self.
#10 You’re Crazy
“You’re crazy” is one of the gaslighting narcissist’s favorite phrases, and it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy if you don’t observe the signs of a narcissist gaslighting you and get out before it’s too late.
“You’re crazy” is a powerful tool in the gaslighter’s arsenal, designed to erode your self-confidence and keep you trapped within their manipulative web.
When repeated frequently enough, it chips away at your sense of reality, leaving you doubting your perceptions and judgment. As you internalize this label, your self-esteem plummets, making you more susceptible to further manipulation and control.
Some narcissistic gaslighters will take matters even further, telling mutual friends and family members that you’re losing your grip on reality or that they’re worried about your mental health.
Over time, you begin to doubt your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, which leads to heightened confusion and anxiety.
The more you second-guess yourself, the more you rely on the gaslighter’s version of events, and the deeper you sink into their control.
Do Narcissists Know when They are Gaslighting You?
Most of the time, narcissists gaslight you intentionally. They’re fully aware of the psychological impact of their manipulative tactics and use them strategically to maintain control and power over you.
Nevertheless, there are instances when a narcissist might gaslight you unintentionally.
These unintentional gaslighting episodes can occur when their distorted perceptions of reality become so ingrained that they genuinely believe their own skewed version of events.
In these cases, the narcissist’s own cognitive distortions and fragile ego might lead them to reinterpret past conversations or actions in a way that aligns with their self-serving narrative.
They may genuinely believe they’re telling the truth, even if their version of reality is far from accurate.
Unconscious gaslighting can be just as harmful and confusing as intentional gaslighting, as it further blurs the lines between fact and fiction, leaving you questioning your own memories and experiences.
Should You Gaslight Them Back?
Never try and beat a narcissist at their own game. Engaging in manipulative behavior like gaslighting can perpetuate a cycle of toxicity and escalate the situation further.
Instead, focus on your own well-being, set and keep boundaries, and reach out to trusted friends, family members, or even professionals like myself, who can provide validation, guidance, and a fresh perspective.