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Home / Girl Talk

Confessions: Am I crazy or something is wrong?

 I really love him but some funny things have started happening recently (Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

My boyfriend tells me I am too sensitive and emotional, and I am beginning to believe it. In fact, I think I am going crazy.

We have been together for a year now, and I really love him. But some funny things have started happening recently.

Like I am sure I saw him with another girl, but he totally denies it. He says I must be paranoid to think he would cheat on me. If I tell a joke, everyone laughs, but he tells me later that it was not funny.

When I chat with a waiter he says I am flirting. I did not intend to, but could he be right? He is always saying, “I never said that,” when I am convinced he did. And so I am beginning to wonder whether there really is something wrong with me if my memory is failing.

Am I Crazy?

——

Hi Am I Crazy?!

No, it does not sound like you are crazy at all, but you probably are being ‘gaslighted.’ That word comes from an Ingrid Bergman movie called Gaslight, where the husband tried to drive his wife insane. It is a form of emotional abuse where your partner manipulates your sense of reality, and so you begin to doubt your own sanity. 

Gaslighters often have an antisocial personality disorder, they are convincing liars, charming exploiters, and never ever admit they are wrong. Gaslighting occurs in friendships, between parents and children, or at work; but it is most common in romantic relationships.

And it definitely starts to make you feel crazy. And hopeless, anxious and depressed. You are always apologising to your partner and making excuses for their behaviour to yourself. You know something is terribly wrong, but you cannot quite say what. You start lying to avoid the putdowns and arguments. You have trouble making even simple decisions and feel as if you cannot do anything right.

Gaslighters are often serial cheats, drunks or drug addicts. Exposed to them, even emotionally strong people are vulnerable. Because gaslighting builds gradually. At first, the lies are reasonable: “I am sorry I am late, I lost track of time.”

Easily accepted by someone you love and trust. But the deception steadily grows: “I told you I was going away, you must have forgotten.” And so, instead of challenging your partner, you start questioning yourself. You feel isolated because gaslighters often present a good image to the rest of the world. So you are sure no one will believe you.

Gaslighting is often more upsetting than whatever it is that the gaslighter is trying to conceal. Even infidelity. Betrayed spouses who were gaslighted almost always say that the endless emotional abuse and lying hurt far more than the affair.

Being gaslighted does not mean there is something wrong with you. But you might easily feel confused and somehow ashamed. Therefore, find a skilled counsellor and talk through gaslighting and everything that has happened, then it won’t ever happen again. Because in future if you start to feel that a partner is trying to make you think something is wrong with you, you will quickly start to take a deeper look at your relationship.

All the best,

Chris

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