If navigating the dating scene wasn’t so confusing, there wouldn’t be so many articles trying to give you tips and help you sort it all out. But there’s a difference between deciphering normal social situations and decoding shady behavior. If you’ve been lied to or manipulated by a partner, chances are you’ve come in contact with a gaslighter. Here are 11 signs the confusion you’re experiencing is beyond acceptable limits and entering toxic territory.
Their words don’t add up.
You shouldn’t have to sit there and try to add two plus two on a daily basis. It’s not that hard to be transparent and offer reasonable explanations. If you feel like you’re constantly trying to interpret the meaning behind his words, read between the lines, or wonder if he really meant what he said, these are red flags.
You catch them in lies.
We all tell small white lies now and again or leave something out to avoid conflict, but a continual habit of deception or not admitting to something after you find out the truth is not okay. It’s especially worse if they told you the exact opposite and assume that you wouldn’t remember something they said previously. Another major red flag is if they defend themselves by saying they already told you something you know they never told you. Either they’re talking to someone else and mixing you two up or they’re trying to alter your perception of memory-reality.
They give you the silent treatment.
This is basically adult pouting for not getting their way. They want the power scales to be tipped in their favor. If they sense you trying to even the power-playing field or get one over on them by exposing something about them, they don’t have any better tactic than to try to make you feel bad by completely shutting down on you as a form of punishment. It’s passive-aggressive manipulation.
Their vibe drastically shifts.
Gaslighters are always playing games and can’t keep their energy up because they weren’t sincere in the first place. They may be all over you one day and pull away completely the next. You can never get comfortable.
They backpedal after expressing a strong opinion or emotion.
A serious sign of gaslighting is being critical or judgmental either through their words, tone, or a facial expression. They will express clear disapproval for something about you, but when you try to question further, they will downplay it and pretend they were joking or didn’t say or do that at all. They’ll refuse to address it and you’ll never really know if they actually cared for a minute about what they reacted to. You won’t be sure what to think.
You experience love-bombing.
It can feel really exciting to get someone’s attention and to be the recipient of over-the-top expressions of interest. But if it’s too much too soon or they do all these things before really trying to get to know you, this usually is not a good sign. It’s okay to be excited when you meet someone new but there are still reasonable steps and timing for how things should happen for it to make sense. If someone is too generous, impulsive, or seems to be in a rush of some sort, they likely have an agenda and are trying to make you part of it.
This happens when they try to label you or accuse you of what they’re doing. For example, they might be distant or acting weird and when you try to have a reasonable adult conversation about what’s up their response is to question why you are acting strange or not communicating very well. A classic gaslighter response to being confronted is to tell you you’re crazy when you’re just trying to establish appropriate boundaries.
You are confused or question yourself.
If things are really on the up-and-up you shouldn’t have endless questions about what you’re doing with someone, what their intentions are, or where you’re going with your relationship. If you have to keep asking the other person so many basic questions, that’s a concern. You also shouldn’t have to keep wondering what you’re doing wrong, if you’re good enough, and feel like you’re tiptoeing around the other person all the time. There should be some kind of natural flow to your relationship, not a constant discord. You also shouldn’t have to feel like trying to fix something even from the very beginning.
Everyone gets busy but there shouldn’t be major shifts in the pattern of communication. They shouldn’t FaceTime you every day for one week and then drop off the face of the Earth for the next 96 hours with no explanation then call you again two days in a row then go MIA for the next three. They also shouldn’t be telling you they want to see you all the time one day and then you go days without knowing when you’ll see or hear from them again.
Their actions don’t match their words.
If they blatantly tell you they’re going to do something for you and never do it or bring it up again this is suspect or if they say things like they are a good guy yet constantly leave you feeling bad or ignored and put you down this is also suspicious.
They have a victim story.
We all have a past and have been through something but gaslighters use it as a crutch and a reason to feel sorry for them or an excuse for why they act a certain way. They will make sure to tell you before you even ask them. Most people don’t offer their trauma upfront or make it the focus of conversation right away.
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