What Is Gaslighting?


What Is Gaslighting?

By Kajay Williams


Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. The term comes from a play titled Gas light, and the 1940 and 1944 film adaptations. In the film, the lead male character, the husband, attempts to make his wife believe that she is going mad by trying to convince her that what she sees and what happens in her environment isn’t real and that she is either imagining things or that she is going paranoid.

In the film, the husband dims the gas lights around the home, and although the wife notices that the lights are dimmed, he tells her that she is imagining things and that the lights are still bright. Although she believes that what she is seeing is real, eventually, she starts to believe her husband’s claims that she is mad.

How Could Gaslighting Happen to Me?

Often, in the situation of an affair, the straying spouse may employ the strategy in an effort to blind their spouse to what they are doing. If a betrayed spouse starts to suspect that their partner is having an affair, the straying spouse may use the tactics to make the betrayed spouse believe that they are actually imagining things – even if they are confronted with absolute evidence. The straying spouse may tell their partner that they are imagining things, or that they are clearly too stressed or too sensitive to see things properly.

It might seem almost crazy that an individual could actually succeed in covering their tracks by convincing their spouse that they are imagining things – but often, this technique actually works, because the betrayed spouse is so desperate to believe that their partner is not cheating on them that they start to believe that they are imagining things.

Stages of Gaslighting

When an incidence first occurs, the betrayed spouse may simply think that it was an odd occurrence. If just one incidence occurs, the betrayed spouse may readily believe the explanation that the straying spouse offers up to them – such as “You’re so stressed at work; you’re imagining things – why not try to relax more?” You might feel disbelief to start with, but then you’ll accept your spouse’s explanation for what happened.

Disbelief and Belief

Next, as it starts to occur more and more frequently and the betrayed spouse is constantly told that they are paranoid, insecure and jealous, they might start to absolutely believe what their spouse is telling them – after all, if you are constantly told that you are not right and that you are imagining things, it can be easy to readily believe your spouse’s explanations for an easy life. However, the betrayed spouse may also have moments of absolute clarity when they know exactly what their spouse is doing to them and that their spouse is lying – and they no longer believe the explanations that their spouse offers.

It can be incredibly devastating because it can make the betrayed spouse question their own thoughts, feelings and emotions in a way that they never have before, and it can also make them question their sanity – which is incredibly cruel. Constant flitting between absolute belief in a straying spouse and disbelief of their explanations can play havoc with any relationship – and with the sanity of a betrayed spouse.


After a while, when the straying spouse has been gaslighted for a long period of time, they can start to sink into the depths of depression. They question their own motives and actions and they believe that they are mad. They might start to cut themselves off from friends and family because they don’t know what is real and what is not – and because they feel so down, people around them will show concern for their well-being, which can further make them believe that they actually are mad, paranoid and jealous.

How Can I Tell if I’m Being Gaslighted?

You might suspect that your partner is employing this tactics in an effort to cover up their cheating tracks – but if they’re very, very clever and very manipulative, it can be very difficult to ever get them to actually admit to an affair, and it can be even more difficult to tell that you are being gaslighted. If you suspect that your partner is gaslighting you, take a look down the list below – if you answer yes to most of the statements, it could mean that you are the victim.

– I always second-guess myself – I’m never sure of my own abilities
– I always ask myself whether I am too sensitive, jealous, insecure or paranoid, although I’ve never thought that about myself before
– I always feel confused about my spouse’s actions and I’m starting to feel confused in other situations in my life
– I often find myself apologizing to my partner for my accusations and I am starting to become more and more apologetic for my actions in every other aspect of my life
– I am not happy, although I should be – I have a good family, life, job and partner – but something is not right
– I often make excuses for my spouse’s behavior and it makes me feel ashamed
– I often lie for my spouse so that I don’t have to explain their behavior to others
– I find it difficult to make decisions because I don’t know whether I’m making the right choice or the wrong one
– I know in my heart that something is wrong
– I question whether or not I am a good enough person for my spouse – and I’m also starting to question whether or not I am a good enough daughter/mother/employee

How Can I Get Out of This Situation?

With gaslighting, the important thing to remember is that knowledge is power. When you know that this is happening to you, despite your spouse’s continued attempts to make you believe that you are being paranoid, you can then use the knowledge that they are lying to your advantage. Catch them out. Find concrete evidence. Present them with this evidence and if they still try to lie their way around it, leave – and don’t try to talk to them about it until they are ready to admit that they were lying. Once they take accountability for their actions, you can start to move forwards.

What To Do If Your Partner Is Having An Affair?

Time To Act: There is hope.

An affair may be the best thing to happen to a marriage or relationship.

Contrary to popular belief, experts say that many couples survive infidelity and are able to rebuild a stronger, better and more fulfilling marriage after the betrayal.

Whether you suspect your partner or spouse is cheating on you or whether you have just discovered your spouse’s affair or whether you are wondering if you want to save your marriage or opt for separation after an affair or whether you want to redefine the boundaries of your relationship or marriage to make sure you and your partner are on the same page, I can help you.

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