Step 1: A Mismatch Between Words And Actions
Their actions never match their words. They hurt you, but they continue to say the most romantic things. You begin to make excuses for their behaviour. You convince yourself that they couldn’t possibly betray you.
Step 2: The Blame Game
They blame you for never being able to “take a joke” and for being “too sensitive.” They turn the tables and make it seem like you’re crazy for feeling a certain way. They begin to invalidate your feelings and you start to believe that your emotions are wrong.
Step 3: Playing The Victim
They play the victim in every situation, and they call all the shots. They hurt you, but then they tell you that you can never bring it up again. They say something offensive, but then they blame you for reacting negatively to it.
Here’s the catch, though. You only truly begin to see these red flags months after the relationship has ended. You always thought that you were smart enough to walk away when you weren’t being treated right. How, then, did you convince yourself to stay in a situation you knew you should have left a long time ago? Weren’t you smarter than this? How did someone like you, who once swore you would never accept being treated like shit, end up staying in a shitty relationship?
These questions haunt you. You try to understand how you convinced yourself that you were the problem. You try to understand how you convinced yourself that everything would be perfect, just as long as you didn’t take things so seriously.
And that’s just how destructive gaslighting is. It leads you to believe that you don’t have a right to certain feelings. It leads you to believe that you’re “too emotional,” “a drama queen,” “difficult” and “a mess.” It’s toxic and it needs to stop.