10 Signs Your Man Is 'Gaslighting' You to Make You Seem Crazy

man arguing with woman, gaslighting Have you ever felt like you were going crazy? And not because anyone has 5150'd you. But because someone -- maybe it's your husband -- keeps telling you you're crazy. "Are you crazy?" you hear over and over. "You are really paranoid. You need to get your head checked!" Hear that enough times and you probably believe it. But are you really crazy or are you being gaslighted?

"Gaslighted" is an psychiatric term that came from a classic movie starring Ingrid Bergman called Gaslight (which was a British play before that). In it, her husband tries to drive her mad. (Netflix it.) But it turns out she's not crazy after all -- her husband is just trying to make her think she is. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse wherein your partner manipulates your perception of reality. Here's 10 signs you're being gaslighted.

More from The Stir: 15 Things Women Do That Make Men Call Them 'Crazy'

1. You're told something is normal that you can feel deep in your bones is not. Say your husband (or partner or boyfriend or even friend) does something you find strange. Like ask you to lie for him. You don't think this is right. You say so. He comes back with something like, "Every wife would do this. We're a team. I'm in trouble and I need you. I can't believe you don't think that this is normal. There is something wrong with you!"

2. You're told you are paranoid, too sensitive, or stressed out. Again, something strange happens. Your husband is seen out with a woman you don't know. You ask him about it. He has some vague explanation but then tops it off with, "Really, honey, you are totally paranoid to think I'd be cheating on you. Are you hormonal? Maybe you need to see a therapist."

3. You start to exhibit "crazy" behavior. You find yourself doing things that you couldn't imagine doing before you were with your man. Like questioning every time he goes out; accusing him of things that may or may not be true; going through the garbage to find "evidence" that he's lying to you again. You may find yourself desperately scouring the aisles of a grocery store, determined to get the right kind of pasta sauce so you don't "disappoint" him again, and end up having a meltdown when you find they're out of Classico.

4. You mistrust your perceptions. You're constantly being told that what you're seeing, hearing, feeling isn't what you're seeing, hearing, feeling. You tell a joke at a party and everyone laughs, but your husband later tells you you weren't funny. You look in the mirror and see someone who is thin, but he tells you you've gained weight. You've always thought you were smart, but somehow with your husband, you always feel dumb.

5. You begin to accept his perceptions, even though they don't seem true. You were at a restaurant with your husband and struck up a quick conversation with the waiter. Your husband tells you were being flirtacious. "Was I being flirtacious?" you ask yourself, even though that wasn't your intention at all. "I must have been and don't realize it." You ask what you think is a reasonable question only to be told you are harping. "Am I harping?" you think. "Maybe I am a nag."

6. You start to feel like your memory is terrible. Your husband is always saying something to the effect of, "I never said that, did that, promised that," to things you're pretty certain he said, did, or promised. He might tell you that he "never" gets on Facebook, but when you see him on Facebook and mention it, he says, "I didn't say I never went on Facebook. I just hardly go on it." Then you see him on it the next day. And the next.

7. You start to feel like your spouse has a terrible memory. You can have a deep conversation one night about something important to you, only to have your spouse say later, "We never talked about that," "I definitely never said that," or "Did you dream this?" You might get tempted to record conversations just so you can keep them straight.

8. You start lying. In order to avoid all of the mental abuse you'll know you'll get if you say a, b, or c, you start to lie. You were never a liar in the past. You don't lie to other people.

9. You begin to think you're crazy. You have thoughts like, "Maybe he's right and I'm just totally overreacting. I am always overreacting," or "There must be something wrong with me that I'm always on him about stupid things."

10. Depression. The end stage of being gaslighted is that you feel depressed, anxious, unsure, and hopeless. Does he care or not care? Are you oversensitive or do you have a right to complain? You end up getting so confused and disoriented that you check out into depression.

Every couple has miscommunications, and everyone hears or sees things sometimes that they misconstrue, but if you are frequently experiencing the above symptoms, you are likely being gaslighted.

Do you ever feel like this?

If you think you are being gaslighted, you can get help at the National Domestic Violence Help Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Image via iStock

lying, marriage


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nonmember avatar My turn

What an insidious form of manipulation! I can't imagine the monster who would have the audacity to try this. I hope if anyone reads this and sees themselves in this, can get out and get help. You are strong!!

Coles... Coles_mom

Welcome to my life. I left just over three months ago and he took it up a notch. Because he's discredited me so badly, the courts believe him. I came back because it was either that or lose my kids to him. He's scary. My life is horrible.

mande... manderspanders

My ex husband did this. My life was hell. Toward the end of our marriage, I found out he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. For as hard as it was to walk away from an 8yr relationship..to basically give up, it was such a relief. I no longer live with those mind games.

nonmember avatar Cathy

@Coles_mom. I know exactly how you are feeling. I'm going through the same thing and you're right, it's horrible. Reading your comment brought tears to my eyes. I don't even know who I am anymore, it's like I'm walking around but I'm already dead.

nonmember avatar jacqueline

Wow. This is my life. I didn't know there was a term for it. My husband recently took a job out of town and I have felt so wonderful. I am so dreading him coming back.

pixie... pixiemama01

@jacqueline my husband took a long hours job & I feel the same way, I get really depressed when he's home..

howcrazy howcrazy

I am with you, ladies. I don't know what I could do if I left, and he has the ability to manipulate people so I think if he chose to, the courts would side with him. It is so difficult to be treated this way. I think that I am nothing.

Survi... Survivingthe2nd

To all of these ladies who are stuck in this awful situation, DO NOT STAY!!! Why do I feel empowered to say this so boldly? Because I walked away from my marriage. It has been 3 months and although I have faces difficulties, I have NEVER EVER been happier. My advise to you is make a plan, write everything down in a spot that has date and time stamps (free online journal like Penzu.com) take pictures if needed with time and date stamps/ smart phone. Get yourself 1-3 credible witnesses of their abuse. I followed all of these steps and I was able to walk away with the courts on my side. You can do it! I believe in all of you!!!!!! No woman should live in this level of misery.

nonmember avatar KnewIwasntCrazy

Wow, this is exactly what my husband has done for the past 7 years. I knew he had some kind of mental issues, I stay because he is a great dad to my kids and he does *try* to be normal and when he tries, he is a wonderful man, but it's like he can't help but lie about stupid things that make no sense to lie about and then he absolutely cannot admit he's wrong so he spins the story to make me feel bad. Talking out our issues (no matter how tiny) is impossible because of this.

nonmember avatar Jay

I agree....do not stay! It gets worse, especially when they get the sense that you are detaching or they start to feel they're losing you. They don't want to be exposed and will go to any length to "take you down." But I am living proof that it is possible to be free. Took a couple years and some failed attempts, but I'm here and I am healing.

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