Is a Narcissist Gaslighting You? Unpacking Narcissism Gaslighting

by | Sep 18, 2023 | Advices, Couple

Unpacking Narcissism Gaslighting

Narcissism gaslighting is a form of abuse that can be challenging to recognize and deal with. Generally, being in a relationship with a narcissistic individual can be painful. Being a narcissist isn’t a trait but a personality disorder that impacts those around them deeply. It’s called narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

To better understand narcissist gaslighting, you must understand both gaslighting and NPD. People who don’t show the classic symptoms of NPD can also gaslight you. However, an individual with NPD may knowingly gaslight their partner. 

If you find yourself questioning yourself and your partner consistently denies the truth and tries to have their way, you’re facing narcissistic gaslighting. But don’t worry– there are signs you can look out for and take steps to address the problem.

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What Is Narcissism Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is emotional and psychological abuse that makes one question reality and facts. It’s a tactic to manipulate individuals and make them feel guilty, responsible, and unstable. It typically includes flat-out denial of reality or questioning it. The gaslighting person may leave out information or deny that something happened when it clearly did. 

Narcissistic gaslighting, in particular, stems from the narcissistic personality of the individual. It’s no different from gaslighting in general, but the person’s intention may differ. They may gaslight you to protect their interest or feel superior. 

In most cases, the person gaslighting knows what they’re doing. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

NPD is a personality disorder that impacts how a person sees themselves and is marked by a sense of superiority and importance. Their high sense of self results in manipulative behavior that impacts people around them. They often put their needs first and can go to any length to prove themselves right. 

A person with NPD may display too much confidence and react poorly to criticism. Their confidence and sense of self borders on arrogance, making it difficult to form healthy relationships and friendships. 

More importantly, gaslighting is linked with narcissistic behavior. It may come more naturally to a person with NPD as they disregard the well-being of others. 

While the etiology of NPD suggests a genetic predisposition, this personality disorder can also result from developmental experiences and upbringing. 

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Signs a Narcissist Is Gaslighting You

There are many tactics a narcissist may use to gaslight their partner. Knowing the classic signs of gaslighting can help you recognize their behavior. 

Here are some of the most common signs of narcissism gaslighting:

Questioning Your Memory and How Things Occurred

Gaslighters frequently question the memory of the person they’re gaslighting. They may use words like ‘mixed up’ or ‘confused’ to justify that you don’t remember how and when things happened. They can also deny the veracity of your memories by simply saying that they don’t remember things as you describe. 

Denying Facts

One of the tactics gaslighters use to make people question reality is outright denial of facts. And they do it so confidently that you start thinking that they may be right and you’re wrong. Even though what you’re saying is true, they’ll act as if you’ve made up the entire story in your head. 

Blaming You or Others for Their Mistakes

A narcissistic gaslighter will not accept blame for their mistake. They’ll blame everyone but themselves and fail to take any responsibility. Through manipulative speech, they’ll make you think that even the wrong thing they’ve done is your fault. They may say, “If you hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have done that.”

Calling You Crazy 

A gaslighter tries to get away by calling you ‘crazy.’ It’s their tactic to make you question your own sanity. They try to reduce the credibility of anything you say by suggesting that you’re mentally and emotionally unstable. They’ll exaggerate perfectly normal responses to suggest that you need help. 

Acting Like a Saint

People with NPD think of themselves highly and fail to see any fault in their personality and actions. So they’ll always try to be the good person in every situation. They might lie about their intentions and portray themselves as heroes in every situation. 

Playing the Victim

Like playing the ‘good guy’ card, they may also play the victim card. They may try to gain sympathy from you or others by portraying themselves as victims. For instance, if they hurt you, they’ll say that hurting you hurts them even more. 

Failing to Listen When Things Aren’t Going Their Way

A narcissistic gaslighter may rage and refuse to listen or reason when blamed. For instance, they may scream or walk away if the conversation turns into a discussion of their mistakes or flaws. They disengage from the conversation as soon as they know they can’t provide a reason. 

Pretending to Care About You and Your Needs

As a narcissist, they put themselves first. However, they may pretend that they care about you a lot. This assertion often occurs when they fear that they might lose you. Instead of rectifying their behavior, they use emotions to make you stay. 

They may even use their fake concerns to imply something is wrong with you. 

Reminding You of Your Past Mistakes

They’ll use past events to suggest that you’re in the wrong. By bringing up something you did in the past, they assert that you’re doing the same thing again, even if you’re not. This helps them kill your confidence and reduce your credibility. For instance, if you’ve lied in the past, they may bring that up repeatedly, even when you’re telling the truth. 

Undermining What’s Important to You

They’ll try to belittle you by trivializing the people or things most important to you. Doing so, they try to assert dominance and make themselves feel superior. They may not see your achievements as significant enough to be celebrated. Similarly, they may compare you to others to make you feel small. 

What to Do About It?

NPD and gaslighting is a terrible combo that can make you question everything you know and lower your self-esteem. Being in a relationship with a narcissistic individual is already tough on mental health. Their gaslighting behavior can make things worse. 

You must recognize their behavior and personality. Next, you can decide what you want to do. Here are some suggestions to help you:

Speak to Friends and Family

Creating a support system for yourself with people you know and trust is crucial. Gaslighters also try to disparage people you love and may try to sabotage your relationship with them because it threatens their manipulative nature. However, you must speak with your family and friends and discuss the situation with them. 

Speaking with a loved one who cares about you and speaks the truth can bring you back to reality and instill the confidence to recognize the gaslighter’s ill ways. 

When push comes to shove, your loved ones can help you take a stand and move on with your life. 

Stand Up for Yourself and Confront

You must stand your ground and speak your truth no matter what your gaslighting partner suggests. You should also confront them about their behavior and let them know you see what they’re doing. 

They’ll most likely fail to listen to or understand you and say things that only make you angry or sad. However, it’s important to maintain composure and speak from a place of reason. Don’t let them play with your emotions and make you lose your temper. 

Decide Whether You Want Out

Being in a relationship with a person with NPD who gaslights can be a traumatizing experience. Unfortunately, NPD isn’t curable. It’s treatable, and people can alter their behavior only if they seek treatment and get therapy. 

You can talk to your partner about getting help and convince them to work on their behavior. Similarly, you can try couples counseling and work on the issues with a qualified therapist. 

Convincing such a person to try therapy and other solutions can be difficult. If they refuse to accept that they have a problem, that it impacts you negatively, and that they need help, you may be better off walking away. 

Keep in mind you always have the option to get out of the relationship and end the emotional abuse.

Recovering From Narcissism Gaslighting

If you’ve suffered at the hands of a narcissist constantly gaslighting you, therapy is the answer. Gaslighting can damage your self-esteem, which can be challenging to build up once again. However, psychotherapy can help you fix what’s been damaged and become stronger. 

The therapist will work with you to diagnose any mental health issues your relationship may have caused. They’ll use different techniques to help you cope with stressful reminders of the past. You’ll be given the mental tools to move forward and process your emotions at your own pace. 

Again, being surrounded by people you love and trust is vital for recovery. Spend time with your family and friends, as that will help you distract yourself from the traumatic experiences you’ve had. It will also restore your ability to trust people. 

Don’t Wait Too Long!

You can try working on your relationship with a narcissistic gaslighter, but if your efforts fail, you can let go. The more you give in to their narratives and stand their abuse, the more you’ll damage your sense of self. 

If they can’t fix their behavior and stop the gaslighting, you have your sign to move on with your life and bid them farewell. 

To support the work of the people working on, we may receive compensation if you sign up for online counseling through the links provided.

Looking for a therapist? Get matched with a therapist today.


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