Table of contents:
Video: When A Gaslighter Is A Good Guy And It's Not Clear What Is Wrong. About Forms Of Gaslighting - Relationships, Society
Gaslighting is an insidious form of emotional abuse and manipulation that is difficult to recognize and even more difficult to combat.
Gaslighting comes in different forms. Sometimes it looks like outright violence, but other times you feel like your partner is a good guy or even a romantic lover. Let's find out what forms gaslighting can take.
Gaslighter is a good guy: you can't figure out what's wrong
One day Sondra came to my coaching session. She was about 35, a woman with red hair and bright green eyes. At first glance, it seemed that Sondra is in a happy marriage and leads an ideal life. She and her "perfect husband" Peter raised three wonderful children, she loved her social work, and had many pleasant and loving friends and colleagues. Although she and Peter (also a social worker) were as busy as all working parents, Sondra prided herself on the fact that they did everything together, including housework and parenting.
But the woman felt less and less happy - for no particular reason, she assured me. Sondra described her emotional state as numb. For the past three years, she felt colder and colder, as if everything was meaningless. When I asked her to tell about the last thing that genuinely pleased her, a nervous expression appeared on her face, which quickly disappeared under the usual mask of calmness. “To be honest, I can't remember,” she admitted. - This is bad?"
In the course of our work, Sondra began to talk about her husband differently. I learned that he did a lot for her and the children, but Sondra herself did a lot. I also realized that Peter had a hot temper, and the family did their best not to piss him off. Sondra did not know what would lead to a fight and what would not. The constant state of "alert" wore her down, even when Peter did not lose his temper. Although Sondra continued to describe herself and her husband as the perfect match, I felt that she was exhausted and depressed from the constant clashes with him.
“Let's say I need to be at a meeting in the evening,” Sondra said. “Peter has to go to a meeting that very evening, and he can't find a nanny for the kids. We will argue for several hours over whose meeting is more important. In the end, I just get tired of arguing. Peter will say, “Are you sure you need to go to the meeting? You’re so worried about the little things,”or:“Remember the last meeting. You decided that you had to go, but in reality there was nothing important. Are you sure it's different this time? " In the end, I might even “win” and be able to go to the meeting. But Peter will look at me as if asking, “Aren't you happy? You won!” But I do not feel joy. I feel exhausted."
I realized that Sondra was dating a gaslighter - a good guy, a person who wanted to be considered reasonable and good, but always strove to do his own thing.
My longtime friend and colleague therapist Lester Lenoff calls this behavior "disrespectful compliance." This is when a person seems to be inferior, but does not take into account other people's opinion. Peter seemed to respect Sondra, but continued to insist that she didn't know what she was talking about or was too worried. In the end, it was this kind of disrespect and disdain that distracted Sondra from further conversation. That was what upset her whether she "won" or "lost."
These relationships are often confusing. Deep down, you probably understand that you are not respected, and your desires and interests are not taken into account. But you cannot understand what is really going on
We have all come across people with whom something is wrong, even if we did not understand what it was. The boss called you into his office to praise you for your work, and you left in confusion and anxiety. A friend has often tried hard for you, but you cannot find time to meet her. The young man seems wonderful, one cannot help but adore him, but one cannot believe in the possibility of such a relationship. A relative is practically a holy person, and yet after communicating with him we return home in a bad mood and depression.
Oftentimes, these confusing sensations speak of gaslighting - a violation or denial of your perception of reality by a gaslighter who wants to prove his case. From an honest conversation you are distracted not by an unpleasant incident, but by a hidden message: "I am right, but you are not!" So you give up without realizing why, and you get what you want, but you don't feel satisfied. You don't know what to complain about, but you know for sure: something is wrong. Like Sondra, you feel numb, exhausted, joyless - and also upset because the reason for the sadness is not clear.
In simple terms, the problem is that the gaslighter must maintain his sense of rightness and do something nice for you. But not because he cares about you - he just desperately wants to prove what a good guy he is. This is why you feel lonely, not knowing what the matter is. But you want to think he's good. You are trying to make him think you are good, so you ignore the frustration. Like Sondra, you fall into a daze.
Have you contacted the good guy gaslighter? Check if the following situations are familiar to you
- Is he constantly trying to please you and other people?
- Does he offer help, support, or compromise that makes you feel frustrated or dissatisfied?
- Does he want to talk to you about home, social or work issues, but it seems that you were not heard, even if you got what you wanted?
- Do you feel that he always gets his way, but do not understand how it happens?
- It seems to you that you are not getting what you want, but you do not understand what the problem is?
- Do you feel your relationship is happy, but you feel numb, indifferent, or frustrated with life in general?
- He asks you to tell you about your day, listens carefully and shows sympathy, but after such conversations do you feel worse?
More on this: Stern Robin. Covert manipulations to control your life. STOP gaslighting. - SPb.: Peter, 2020