- Gender and Relationships
Gaslighting Is Emotional Abuse- Infidelity!
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
The term gaslighting comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations. In those works a character uses a variety of tricks, including turning the gas lamps lower than normal, to convince his spouse that she is crazy. Since then it became a colloquial expression which has now also been used in clinical and research literature. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting
Rod Stewart said it perfectly in his song "Reason To Believe" :
If I listened long enough to you...
I'd find a way to believe that it's all true...
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried...
Still I look to find a reason to believe...
"Knowing that you lied, straight-faced while I cried"; the weeks, months sometimes even years that lead up to the discovery of a partners affair are the most grueling, mind boggling and emotionally tormenting times a victim is forced to mentally endure. You know something is wrong, things don't add up time and time again. You confront your partner with pretty substantial proof, ask lots of questions and have all your ducks in a row, but even with all the facts in hand your partner manages to make you think you're crazy.
They will tell you that your snooping and suspicions are the cause of your relationship problems, not the behaviour you are accusing them of. This is the phenomenon known as gas lighting, and it's one of the most hateful things a person can do to someone they profess to love. The betrayer chips away at your reality and makes you feel unsure of everything you feel and everything that you believe to be real. You begin to question what you know are the facts, you shake your head and walk away from a conversation thinking "Am I losing it?". You wonder if you even know what's real anymore, you wonder if you ever did! This is emotional abuse and it's a cruel but clever tactic cheaters will use to try to cover their tracks. A highly manipulative person can even manage to make you think that the distance between the two of you is all your fault: If only you were a better wife, better mother, didn't nag, expect things to be perfect or appreciated what you have and how hard your partner works to support his family! He will act insulted by your accusations and say you should be thankful for what you have instead of looking for reasons to rock the boat! There is no limit he won't reach to convince you that everything you believe is crazy and "all in your head". He wants to emotionally destroy you, so he can control you!
Gaslighting is a form of control which cheaters attempt to disguise as love and it often works because it's our unconditional love and trust we have put in them that causes us to listen to and believe their bullshit messages. Fear of losing our husbands, partners and family unit is what makes us buy into the garbage they are selling. We look for ways to explain their behaviour because we are compassionate, and they have convinced us that we are the problem, not them! Some of the most common messages they try to plant in our heads are:
You've been acting crazy lately, people are starting to talk
No one will ever love you as much as I do
You're nothing without me
I only want the best for you
You're so convinced I'm cheating, you must be having an affair
This behaviour is all about control, the last thing they want is for you to be asking questions, or checking in on them. They think if they can put all the problems in the marriage on you that you might back off. After all, you don't want to make a bad situation even worse by constantly arguing. This is what they're hoping for, it's a game for them! Someone having an affair actually tries to create arguments: what better reason to leave the house to go call or meet their affair partner. Oh, and guess what; it's all your fault because you started the argument. Clever right? Gaslighting is very real in these types of abusive relationships, it has happened to many of us, we just didn't know it had a name.
I know from personal experience that when my ex husband was finally caught and there was no more denying the affair that one of my first thoughts was "I knew it, thank God I am not crazy" My biggest regret was not trusting myself and ignoring my intuition. In hindsight, I knew what was happening all along but didn't have faith in myself. If you are in the pre-discovery stage of a partners affair, I encourage you to read everything you can get your hands on about Gaslighting, I wish I had known it existed while I was "suspecting" my partner was cheating. I would be interested to hear about your experience with this type of behaviour and hear examples of some of the insane things your partner has said to you. Please share so other women can recognize the signs of gaslighting.