16 thoughts on “Gaslighting: How Addicts Drive Loved Ones Over the Edge

  • May 8, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I was a victim of gaslighting throughout my 30 year marriage. Ten years in, I realized I was being cheated on. He repented, went to AA and seemed to change. At twenty years, old behaviors returned but I ignored them for the most part. Thirty years, he calls me at work, tells me he wants a divorce. He’s head over heels in love. He’s a judge, she’s a criminal. He loses his judgeship and our retirement (I worked for a nonprofit. They file protective orders etc and have tons of drama until it ends. I remarried a wonderful man. My question is what the heck was wrong with me? How could I love someone like this? Was it even love? My advice Ito others is get out when your partner cheats. Hire a detective or follow them if you think they are lying to you and face what you learn. Your children and you will be better off, don’t fear. I think all the promotion of forgiveness and working in the marriage are BS. You don’t get over it. Ever.

    Reply
    • May 9, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      I absolutely agree, you don’t ever get over it.

      Great article!

      Reply
  • May 12, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    There’s nothing wrong with you for staying caught up. In some ways, just the opposite. People of depth and integrity simply cannot comprehend the narcissism and nastiness of someone who would gaslight.

    As for article, an excellent piece. Not sure I agree with the notion that gaslighting is always deliberate, though. Some people are so damaged — Borderlines, for example — that they probably believe their own lies, misrepresentations, delusions and dissociations.

    Reply
    • November 20, 2016 at 9:40 am

      I cannot relate to a gaslighting spouse. My experience occurred with my mother when I was a child. She had no idea she was doing it. I have between diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I truly think gaslighting played a role.

      Reply
  • May 14, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I wonder if this isn’t used on children by parents or other authority figures?
    I know a father who tells his three year old daughter that she isn’t hungry when she says she is, she isn’t scared when she says she is, she isn’t…. whatever she says she is. It always happens at a time when attending to the child’s stated needs would inconvenience him. (We live in the same house, so I see a lot of this going on.)
    Granted, a three year old’s verbal skills aren’t up to full running speed yet, but this seems to me to be a bit much like what the article describes.

    When the child approaches me, I may ask how hungry, how scared, but I know at the very least, the child is asking for my attention for some physical or emotional reason and she shouldn’t be ignored or treated as though she is automatically lying about what she says. I’ve known plenty of small children to be hungry within an hour of eating. And to dismiss her hunger after she was diagnosed as failure to thrive is confusing.

    So, can this happen to children as well?

    Reply
    • November 20, 2016 at 9:45 am

      It happened to me as a child. It has had a severe, permanent effect on my psyche. I have also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD. I was in a permanent state of depression, had no idea until I turned 30.

      Reply
  • May 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Was married to a narcissist for almost 11 years. And this article is spot on. It is difficult to trust again. But I tried. Even went to marriage counseling. First appointment with him, I felt hopeful, but he showed up with a 1 1/2 page typed list of what the therapist needed to change about me. There was no list of what he need to change. Once again, I was blind-sided and shocked by just how unkind he was. He was also OCD, so he would spend hour upon hour telling me every mistake he made was my fault because he couldn’t concentrate because of how screwed up I was. He also justified not coming home because “somebody had to earn a living.” Sometimes he would tell me to make sure I had some decent to wear because a big event was coming up. I would buy something new to wear, but soon learned to keep the price tags on because inevitably, he would cancel at the last minute because “somebody had to earn a living.” He and I had started two successful businesses with me doing all of the Administrative, Contractual, and Accounting work. We also had two children whom I was the sole caregiver of. Nothing was ever good enough. In the end, he said he wanted to be with a younger women with a “fresh” body. Come to find out, he was having an affair with one. As soon as the divorce was final she disappeared because she only wanted a Sugar Daddy. Then he tried to get back with me, but there was NO way. The divorce was final – he referred to our children as “bargaining chips” during the divorce settlement phase. At that point, distrust became disgust. Ultimately, he married a foreign woman 12 years younger than him. This was another affair for him because she was married when they first met. I do not believe he will ever change. But I did.

    Reply
  • May 15, 2014 at 1:54 am

    What is worse is when the one doing the gaslighting is your therapist who has been your sole support for most of the 5 plus years you have seen him. He had helped so much, then progress slowed to a trickle. He questioned my intuition about a certain issue. That is when I knew something was wrong, still I wanted to stick it out. His sex addiction put an end to it. I never dreamed he would expose himself to me.

    Good article. My ex- was a good gaslighter to all. He looked like a good husband and father and was not. I conceived after 2 rapes and my and other children suffered from his abuse and the lies he told them.

    Reply
  • June 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I have been struggling with something similar to this in my life recently.

    The Jist;
    Married 28 years, wife was a little shy in her early years, last 10-15 much more outgoing, and seemingly more self confident and assertive (good thing).
    She is an attractive woman for her age, 48 ish as well as am I, and we have had a strong commitment to a healthy relationship for 95% of the marriage.

    Issue;
    I lost my income, it was substantial and never left us worrying about money. My wife is very thrifty and said we can get through this, we always have managed etc etc.. Last nov she came home after being out until around 9-10 PM, she said she went to a show with her work girlfriends (I do not have any relationship with them), she was very unnerved, stand-offish and acting phony/superficial, which she never does, ever.
    The following days I had asked her if she was ok, just trying to get a handle on what could of happened, she never recognized any of the behaviors or emotions I pointed out to her that were completely obvious that evening.
    Ahead 2-3 weeks. She developed a rash around her mouth that was bright red, chapped is the word, it wasn’t there the day before, she came home from work and it was impossible to not notice. Oddly, when I said OMG what is wrong with your mouth/face, she literally said, oh it’s no big deal, it will go away, I said wow, I would be freaking out a little anyhow. When I probed a bit about soaps or foods she may have been in contact with, she didn’t seem to care to even discuss, complete non-shalant in nature.
    The next day she came up to me and said, oh, I think I know what caused this chapping..

    answer: her face cream that she had been using for awhile, she was going to go ahead and throw it out.

    That same event had her nylons end up in the trash, which I discovered, they had a huge hole ripped near the crotch area, I asked her how the heck can you cause that much damage to nylons? again, totally non-chalantly the answer was I don’t know, maybe I hit them on my desk?? I looked at her with confusion, then said “How is that even possible”? she answered abruptly “I don’t know, who cares anyhow, I always seem to wreck them” and that ended thE subject.

    Finally, 3 months later, I am still getting weird vibes and she seems aloof and distant, so I start to search the internet for any clues..I found a person on a dating site that was an exact duplicate of her, everything down to her age, interests, and her way of expressing herself. I sent her a message that she sounded like the perfect match/person for me..Also, My tagline was very specific in nature. That evening when she came home from work she was a nervous wreck, talking in circles, rambling on about people and stuff she never talks about, she began drinking (Friday), all of a sudden as she was leaving the room, she said out-loud the exact tagline I just sent the person on the dating website just 2 hours prior…The following Monday I checked my mail to see If I got a reply, nothing. I checked the website for the person, it came back that Friday they closed their account/ deleted it. Ok, since then I have asked her if things are ok, are we good? you know, general relationship things, avoiding the facts that had piled up..she even turned on me once after drinking and tried to start a fight with me over asking any of those type questions..Long story short, I am not paranoid, never have been, and can’t believe I could just start now. Her nervousness, her lack of sexuality then six months ago, ironically(not now)her overly niceness since the accidental website comment has left me in emotional Limbo..and, she is not talking about it at all, I think something did happen or was happening, she saw I got too close to the truth, panicked, stopped whatever it is she was doing and now is hoping it will all just go away, I forgot also that she always without fail deleted every call or text that she ever got or made on her cell, I told her that was odd, she said she always had done that, that wasn’t true ever for all 4 years prior to recent events. what should I do now? I really do feel like she wants me to appear to be crazy or stupid, or petty/Jealous? help?

    Reply
    • March 30, 2015 at 1:06 am

      You are not crazy. If your heart is raising the “red flag” then follow that gut feeling. You cannot reason with a liar nor make them admit they are conniving cheaters. Run!!!

      Reply
    • September 25, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Trust me, she’s obviously found a “shiny new friend” at work. Probably several years younger than her, to boot. And on top of that, she obviously brought you home a dose of “the gift that keeps on giving”. I hope you had sense enough to drop her lying, cheating, herpoid self like a hot rock!

      Reply
  • February 19, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    I feel some relief reading this and the other’s comments.Thank you for the article.I will look more into this type of trauma couselling. I’m separated after my husband ran off with his younger running wife. He told me soon after the “I just don’t love you anymore” that if I ever get involved with someone and if I suspect him cheating on me, get out immediately. (He knows that I had good intuition because I repeatedly had concerns about his friendship over the years) even before I had definitive proof ,but oddly he said this to me to make me feel guilty . He would and still has not acknowledged his betrayal–even to his running mates. He continues to blame me for the demise of the marriage as I didn’t trust him. Coward. He also is asking to be friends with me…. What a crock. I can’t even begin to want a friendship with a man who abused me psychologically- who made me feel jealous, paranoid and crazy for over a year. I was suffering from unexplained anxiety and weight loss. My body knew. Yes, my visceral advice to all those who have been gaslit: Run, run , run!!!!! Trusting my instincts from now on.

    Reply
  • March 6, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I was a victim of gaslighting. My husband was methodical in convincing the small town I lived in and even my family that I was losing it. Instead of admitting to an affair, he blamed my “crazy” on the inability to deal with a son (from a previous marriage) who was very ill with Muscular Dystrophy. Every time I tried to talk to my family they dismissed what I was trying to tell them. At that time, I was questioning my own sanity. If I put my keys on the table and walked away they would suddenly disappear. When I would ask him where they were, he would actually say, “What is wrong with you? There were no keys on the table”. I can’t even go into all the stunts he pulled. He had started grooming my family to believe that he was so innocent and that he was merely working overtime hours.
    At the height of the problem, I began experiencing feelings of being “drugged” and a feeling of waking up in the middle of the day, disoriented and fuzzy. I would have complete memory lapses…this took place when my son was away with his father. I was so scared about what was happening to me that I actually sent my son and his sisters to go live with there dad. I believe at that time it actually caused me to have a nervous breakdown.
    The cycle was broken when he convinced me to see a doctor and commit myself to a psychiatric hospital. I was placed in an examination room and as I waited for the doctor to come in, he warned me to not mention that I thought he was having an affair. He kept saying your just upset over your son. Well the doctor came in and when she tried to ask me what was wrong… I just sat there staring at him. She then said, “I know you have a son who has muscular dystrophy and your husband thinks you are unable to cope.” I had dealt with my sons disease from the time he was four. Never had his condition cause me to fall apart, if anything it was making me stronger. I looked at the doctor and said, “This has nothing to do with my son”. She pressed for an explanation, it was obvious I was in distress and that I had lost a lot of weight. “Well, I believe my husband is…” I suddenly stopped as my husband who was behind the doctor began to give me looks that truly terrified me of him, of myself and even the doctor. Luckily for me, the doctor who was a woman instantly recognized a problem and told my husband that she perceived him as a threat and that it was obvious to her that he was obstructing my ability to communicate with her. Before it was over the doctor threatened to call the police and have him physically removed from the property. As soon as he left, I let the whole story out about the affair, about the proof that I had etc. She looked me straight in the face and said, “I do not believe that you are crazy. I believe he is having an affair and he is trying to convince you and everyone else that you are crazy to conceal the truth.” That doctor was my road to recovery. She would not admit me, but encouraged me to begin to trust myself, get healthy and get out.
    As soon as I was healthy, I filed for divorce and never looked back. I cared for my son the last 8 years of his life as a single mom. I have not had any issues since leaving this man. After the divorce, I finally broke down and told a close friend about the feelings of being drugged, and memory lapses, (Even feelings of being sexually assaulted) with no real memories of it. She told me about the date rape drug. After researching the effects of these drugs and the bodies response to them. I believe he used the drugs to further my feelings of losing it. The woman he was having an affair was into hanging out at biker bars and I believe that drug was readily available.
    Today I am healthy, far from crazy and have not experienced anything like this again. Yes, I have grieved the loss of my son and have been able to cope. My parents finally found out the truth along with my children. My best advice to woman is not let anyone manipulate you. Trust your gut instinct and get away for your own health.

    Reply
  • April 23, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Me and my partner have been together 10 years. He has always drunk cans of lager since we’ve got together, but it seemed to be nothing to worry about at first. I’ve had to have a couple of words with him over the years about the fact he drinks at least 4 cans a night, every night and he now drinks in the days he’s home too (it’s not all day (as far as I’ve seen), he’s not like a slobby gross unconscious drinking mess kind of alcoholic) – and now we’re on lockdown it’s pretty obvious to me he has a real problem. The week before his boss closed the garage up about 3-4 weeks ago, I noticed him shaking. He told me he’s always been shaky… pretty sure that’s crap! The last few months he’s been buying small bottles of rum as well. He says he never mixes the 2, never has (I accused him of it because although those bottles are small, I think if he didn’t have a problem they’d last him longer than one maybe two nights and there’s the 4 cans he gets at the same time as well…and he buys these bottles quite frequently. He bought a litre bottle a couple of weeks ago. The first I knew of it, it was late in the evening and was almost empty so god knows when he started drinking it. By the next morning the last of it was gone and apparently he poured it away but kept the bottle as we collect bottles (!!! “we” don’t – he has 2 empty Kraken rum bottles he had over Christmas and a couple of funky empty wine bottles we had as a gift a couple of years ago from Germany and I really don’t care if we keep them or not)… since speaking to him about these small rum bottles and cans, I’ve only seen one small bottle of rum (Easter Monday, and drinking cans and in the day). The small bottle of rum was full or at least almost full and an empty carling can near it. When I was back in the kitchen later, the bottle had completely disappeared but there was a can a bit further down the worktop which was full. No trace of that bottle anywhere. I searched the whole kitchen which is tiny and even our bedroom! My gut tells me that he poured the bottle into the can, and hid the bottle in the recycling out the back, knowing I wouldnt look in there because it was dark and the crawlies come out…
    So last night I found the bottle of Parma violets gin we’ve had for weeks is now empty (remember I’ve not seen any rum in the house for about a week)… I’ve only had one glass of that gin a few weeks ago now and after that glass it was still a hell of a lot in there – it’s now empty! He’s put it on top of the cupboard with the empty litre bottle of rum… I haven’t seen him drink one glass of of that gin and I haven’t had chance yet to speak to him about it as the garage has now reopened for whatever reason and he’s there “to earn money” although we’re doing fine with the wages his boss is still paying him…
    He is not violent to me in any way, just immature, and unwilling to admit there’s an issue I think, he’s argumentative – again not violently – just childishly so, what he says doesn’t make sense/isn’t relevant but he always tries to give an answer for everything but the point I’m trying to make/my question is he refuses to admit he has a problem, gives crappy excuse after crappy excuse, are his lies/cover ups/denials unintentional gaslighting as it does make me doubt myself, makes me feel guilty, that maybe I’m being irrational and maybe making a mountain out of a mole hill… I sometimes do wish he was a horrible man as that would make it a so much easier to kick him out…
    I’m very aware of the fact that me having any alcohol/any being allowed in the house is enabling him but as he just keeps coming up with excuses instead of admitting he had a problem/doesn’t want to stop, what difference would it make if I didn’t have the odd bit? (can I actually stop a 33 year old man from bringing it in the house?)
    Any advice whatsoever would be absolutely appreciated, thank you!

    Reply
  • July 6, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    My husband is an alcoholic. He has binges, then he can go on for weeks or months with out drinking. When he’s not drinking, we get along. We belong together, sober. He has been to 2 rehabs and a doctor’s addiction group. He thinks he can handle it until he can’t. I am sober with him, until he’s not. When he’s drinking, I’ll have a glass of wine or a drink. I enjoy having a cocktail, however can stop. I figure if he’s drinking anyway, so that is probably not good. My husband has been drinking around the clock these past 4 days. In turn, he becomes emotionally and verbally abusive. He never is when he is sober. He lies constantly about his state of mind or about how much he will drink (getting my hopes up) for the day and what he drinks during. I have been sober with him to support him, was attending counseling and was attending Alonon. These past four days have been toxic and emotionally exhausting. I found this site and I can relate to most of it. Gaslighting!!!! Ding, ding, ding. In his mind, It’s always me who berates him, makes him feel like shit (when he is the one who calls me a “fat POS”). He says I am angry and have emotional outbursts (cry) and make him drink more. I am the horrible person who makes him hate his life, although I walk on eggshells and wait for him to wake up and hopefully be sober so we can have just a moment of sanity. We cry and hug and he says he understands and apologizes, but that he is going to the store for just “1” beer (big beer) because his head hurts. It’s 10 AM. He comes back and wants to talk and although he has had only a few sips, his attitude is defensive. I feel like I’m in a loony bin.

    Reply
  • August 25, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    My ex husband who I live with does this constantly. He greets me “hey dumb” tells me I’m dumb more times than I can count throughout the day. Well he recently went on a bender for 4 days hasnt slept or ate hardly at all. Didnt talk to me for those 4 days, watched porn for hours non stop at night. Didnt interact with anyone, and stared off and didnt respond when talked to. Well today he became really angry threatened to knock my head off and said a whole bunch of other bad stuff. We have children, thankfully all abuse is when they arent in the room. This is why I stay, for them. At least I know his anger will be towards me and not one of them. And if I leave he wont let me see them, he’s done that before. Well I called a family member bc I was scared. He then belittled me for it and said what I was saying was all a lie. I have never felt so stuck in my life, he told me to sleep with one eye open…its just all so horrible, I hate every second of it.

    Reply
 

Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *