Gaslighting is a manipulative technique employed by the narcissist to make you lose track of how they are causing you pain. Basically, every time you rebel against their accusations, they will make you feel even more inadequate – for bringing up the subject, being crazy, stressing them out, generally pushing them away, and provoking their anger.
The narcissist will convince you that is not them, it’s you. They will explain to you how emotionally unstable you are, how your issues are being projected onto them. The regular phrases they will use are:
- “I never knew you were that sensitive”
- “I never said that”
- “You make it sound like it’s my fault”
- “You always take things so personally”
- “I can’t take this anymore”
Gaslighting makes you believe you are the one that endangers the relationship with your claims, questions, and neediness. You will somehow always seem to be the one that has to behave better and understand them more. So, even when the relationship becomes really toxic, you will try to stay and fix it – because you will think it’s your responsibility to make amends for your “wrongdoings”.
You know how much it hurts when somebody says somebody else is so much better than you in this and that. Well, that is what triangulation is all about – making a person believe they’re less valuable or accomplished, or attractive than somebody else.
The person who the narcissist will compare you to can be anybody – a friend, a mutual acquaintance, a parent, a mistress, even a complete stranger. Nevertheless, most often they will compare you to someone of your own gender making sure you feel not only humiliation and sadness but also jealousy.
For the narcissist it is very important to keep you second-guessing their affection for you. This is because their manipulation works best when they make you compete with a third party for their attention and approval. You will feel insecure and inadequate, afraid that they’re losing interest in you, and you will desperately try to stick to your best qualities in order to seduce the narcissist back into loving you (and only you!) more.
How to save yourself?
Simple but painful. Leave.
You will never be able to beat the narcissist at their own game as you stay in the relationship waiting for them to change their behavior. Their cruelty will eventually turn into tenderness and care. You cannot and will not love them enough to cure them or fix them. They will not return the love in the end. As painful as that may sound, it is your only ticket to an emotionally healthy life. Leave the relationship and don’t look back even when they try to win you back with tears, promises, regret, re-ignited passion or whatever manipulative trick they might pull out of their hat.