Gaslighting and 7 Other Toxic, Borderline-Abusive Relationship Habits

By now, we all have heard the term “gaslighting” thrown around all of the time, but what does it mean, really?  As a verb, “to gaslight” means to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity” — but the reality of gaslighting is far more complicated. In fact, you could actually be the toxic gaslighter in your relationship without even knowing it.As far as I know, every relationship has moments that make you wish you could take back words. But outside of these glaring moments of regret, it’s possible you cause your partner emotional harm with things you say by getting close to gaslighting.

You end conversations with insults

You turn your partner’s problems into criticisms of them

You make them doubt their reality

You stay in relationships until something better comes along

You refuse to accept responsibility

Your partner goes to great lengths to explain

Your partner puts up a wall

You constantly tell white lies

The good news is that any of these behaviors are possible to correct with awareness and help. Durvasula recommends individual therapy to teach you how to take responsibility and couples therapy to help you improve communication techniques. With this kind of guidance and personal mindfulness, it is possible to turn out the lights on gaslighting.

A version of this story was originally published August 2016. 

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