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Telling the difference between gut and fear in relationships

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  • #425748
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    * I just finished the post.. warning: I am shocked myself by my current understanding, so take your time reading, maybe read in parts, taking breaks, maybe read after taking a hot, relaxing bath.

    To N/ I don’t want to leave my bed,/ it’s warm under the covers/ and it’s cold out there“- N= familiar, feels safe; After N= unfamiliar, feels risky/ may be dangerous.

    Plus, there’s a man called/ Nathanael who melts into/ my skin & like the ocean/ it binds like one“- physical and emotional attachment, a force that binds/ connects you to him.

    His hair is smooth and soothing/ to touch, as is his back,/ warm to the bone./ In bed we play games, throw/ pillows and suck face,/ we even get to talking/ and gaze into space./ The way he sees the stars/ is a melody new to my ears,/ I think ‘yea’ I could listen/ to this song for years. * * */ But help me Universe I feel/ conflicted,/ is it possible the love here is/ constricted?/ I can’t tell what I feel but/ I do not like it,/ ‘it will all be ok I am going/ to fight it.’“- so far, in your poem, you didn’t indicate, not even suggest, any reason for you to feel constricted by N, all that you shared about him is gloriously positive, just like it’s been on your thread. This is why, for the longest time, I thought that your conflict, the constriction you mentioned here, in your poem, had nothing to do with N and everything to do with F whom, I thought, you inaccurately projected into N.

    Day after day coming home/ from battle/ Nathanael tells me what/ I worry about/ does not matter./ I ask him please come to/ therapy, or let’s take a small/ break? He says not, suck it up it’s/ only an ache. ‘ache’/ Dear ache, why do you/ bother? is it all because/ of my father?/ Oh yes! perhaps I can/ solve all of it myself!/ take responsibility for my part./ But wait…in the mean time,/ this growth, this battle…/ he doesn’t even start?/ I am fighting alone in/ the world of connection./ Confused and alone while/ he’s right by my side.“- first, I didn’t know that you suggested couple therapy to N and he refused? Second: The Question: is your conflict, constriction, ache in regard to N: is it all about F.. or does N have something to do with it? In other words, using your verb (which I like, in this context): is N constricting Seaturtle?

    We argue about nothing,/ the c-word, the cash./ But not 10 minutes later/ when I ask,/ ‘how do you feel?’ (as we had just fought)/ All he says is ‘are you bothered??? I’m not?’ I don’t understand this/ lack of awareness“- this right here is very important part in shining light into the relationship that I wasn’t adequately aware of: his response indicates that he negates the reality of what just happened: there WAS a FIGHT.  Either he is like Teflon, and fighting slides off him like oil off Teflon (which was not the case in the c-word incident, the bad driver did not slide off N), OR N is CONTROLLING your mind, or trying to control your brain: your brain is telling you correctly that there was a fight and therefore, the fight left some distress behind it. N tells your brain: Brain, you are Wrong, there was no fight.

    “’I have to be the constant/  communication?’/  *enter unfairness*/ ‘I’ll be there all day.’/ ‘no 12’/ ‘actually 2’/ Calls me ‘see you at 3:30’/ Enters the door at 4./ As he sits on the couch like/ nothing is wrong,“- Nothing is wrong.. not because nothing is wrong, but because N SAYS (or suggests by his silence that) nothing is wrong.

    I feel exhausted, for I am sick of/ my own; communication song./ I sit and I wonder, do I bring/ this up?/ Or will he be annoyed.. there’s/ no way to win.“- something IS wrong but N says nothing is wrong, something must be wrong with Seaturtle’s perception then.. her brain must not perceive/ process information correctly.

    dictionary. com: “Gaslighting is the act of distorting the truth in a way that’s intended to make another person accept the deception due to doubting their own memory, reality, or sanity. It’s considered a form of psychological manipulation or emotional abuse… The term gaslighting is often applied in the context of emotionally abusive relationships, such as romantic relationships or among family members… When the deception of the person who is engaging in gaslighting is questioned, they often react by dismissing the accusation as a delusion, an emotional reaction, or an overreaction—thus conditioning the person to internalize those assessments”.

    Wikipedia: “Gaslighting, also called coercive control.. In contemporary language, gaslighting is a colloquialism, describing the subjective experience of having one’s reality repeatedly questioned by another... Gaslighting involves two parties; the ‘gaslighter’, who persistently puts forth a false narrative in order to manipulate, and the ‘gaslighted’, who struggles to maintain their individual autonomy. Gaslighting is typically effective only when there is an unequal power dynamic or when the gaslighted has shown respect to the gaslighter. <sup id=”cite_ref-Vox_18-0″ class=”reference”></sup>Gaslighting is different from genuine relationship disagreement, which is both common and important in relationships. Gaslighting is distinct in that: * one partner is consistently listening and considering the other partner’s perspective; * one partner is consistently negating the other’s perception, insisting that they are wrong, or telling them that their emotional reaction is irrational or dysfunctional.

    “Gaslighting typically occurs over a long duration and not on a one-off basis. <sup id=”cite_ref-Haupt_2022_4-2″ class=”reference”></sup>Over time, the listening partner may exhibit symptoms often associated with anxiety disorders, depression, or low self-esteem. Gaslighting is distinct from genuine relationship conflict in that one party manipulates the perceptions of the other…<sup id=”cite_ref-Vox_18-1″ class=”reference”></sup>Motivations:  Gaslighting is a way to control the moment, stop conflict, ease anxiety, and feel in control. However, it often deflects responsibility and tears down the other person… Learned behavior: <sup id=”cite_ref-JacobsonGottman1998_26-0″ class=”reference”></sup>Gaslighting is a learned trait. A gaslighter is a student of social learning. They witness it, experience it themselves, or stumble upon it, and see that it works… Habilitation: <sup id=”cite_ref-Stout2006_28-0″ class=”reference”></sup>It can be difficult to extricate oneself from a gaslighting power dynamic… Those being gaslighted must learn that they do not need others to validate their reality, and they need to gain self-reliance and confidence in defining their own reality”.<sup id=”cite_ref-Vox_18-5″ class=”reference”></sup>

    Psychology today: “… ‘Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.’ —Paramahansa Yogananda… Here are seven stages through which a pathological gaslighter dominates a victim, excerpted from my book How to Successfully Handle Gaslightgers & Stop Psyhological Bullying. Depending on the situation, there may be variations in the order and the number of gaslighting stages involved: 1. Lie and Exaggerate. The gaslighter creates a negative narrative about the gaslightee (‘There’s something wrong and inadequate about you‘)… 2. Repetition. Like psychological warfare, the falsehoods are repeated constantly in order to stay on the offensive, control the conversation, and dominate the relationship. 3. Escalate When Challenged. When called on their lies, the gaslighter escalates the dispute by doubling and tripling down on their attacks, refuting substantive evidence with denial, blame, and more false claims (misdirection), sowing doubt and confusion…. 4. Wear Out the Victim. By staying on the offensive, the gaslighter eventually wears down their victim, who becomes discouraged, resigned, pessimistic, fearful, debilitated, and self-doubting. The victim begins to question her or his own perception, identity, and reality. 5. Form Codependent Relationships… the gaslighter elicits constant insecurity and anxiety in the gaslightee, thereby pulling the gaslightee by the strings. The gaslighter has the power to grant acceptance, approval, respect, safety, and security. The gaslighter also has the power (and often threatens to) take them away. A codependent relationship is formed based on fear, vulnerability, and marginalization.

    “6. Give False Hope. As a manipulative tactic, the gaslighter will occasionally treat the victim with mildness, moderation, and even superficial kindness or remorse, to give the gaslightee false hope. In these circumstances, the victim might think: ‘Maybe he’s really not THAT bad,’ ‘Maybe things are going to get better,’ or ‘Let’s give it a chance.‘ But beware! The temporary mildness is often a calculated maneuver intended to instill complacency and have the victim’s guard down before the next act of gaslighting begins. With this tactic, the gaslighter also further reinforces a codependent relationship.

    “7. Dominate and Control. At its extreme, the ultimate objective of a pathological gaslighter is to control, dominate, and take advantage of another individual”.

    Back to your poem (which I didn’t read yet): “I love this bed, don’t get/ me wrong/ It’s comforting and beautiful,/ what could go wrong?/ Do I worry about nothing?“- the gaslightee doubting reality.

    No I do not“- no you do not.. except when you do.

    This next one won’t be so easy/ to proceed,/ I’m also assuming it won’t be easy/ to read./ I know you so hate to be/ controlled“- his fear of being controlled motivates him to control.

    “.. If you can’t rely on one half/ the other must control it./ At some point you started to/ see me as weaker“- gaslighting, a form of coercive control where one is strong and the other is weak

    You think my strengths a/ weakness but you’re wrong“- he needs you to think that you are weak. If you believe that you are strong, in his mind, it means that he is weak. So he needs you to feel weak, mentally weak. It reminds me of the quote above: “Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.

    I see, I feel, I touch, I/ smell./ to certain things I am/ repelled./ You think it’s fear, but it is/ not./ I can sense when an area is/ rot./ As much as I love this bed/ we are in,/ it is starting to smell deep/ within.“- it smells of.. gaslighting to me.

    You claim it is not about/ the money/ But you see, it is, it controls/ you, honey./ I do not mean to sound/ condescending“- he is the one condescending.

    But admit it, you think I owe/ you something“- here is one area where N and F share, both controlling you, or trying to control you by the money spent on you.

    I want to be believed/ in, seen as strong…  It is now at the point/ where I value myself more/ than you do me. which is/ why this must end/ Because I am stronger,/ just me… Who knows what’s to come/ but I’ve cherished you SO./ This end will be painful please/ take care of yourself“- I don’t think that you can be seen as strong, not by him and not by yourself, if you continue a relationship with him. I think that his gaslighting of you is likely to get worse if you marry him.

    You wrote yesterday (I am adding the boldface feature here): “I do want to end things. I just doubt my ability to express why to him… I feel he will have excuses that sound valid in that moment, or he will blame me“- in other words, you are afraid that he will gaslight you.

    “for example if I say he has been controlling I am almost certain he would tell me that I gave him that control. He has spoke about this before about how we have opportunities to take control and give it and he makes sure not to give people control of him. He will tell me I gave him control and as my mental state stands currently, I will believe him.”- reads like a.. textbook example of gaslighting, doesn’t it? Your mental state is that of the gaslightee and therefore you will believe the gaslighter…

    “I do not want to waste time with someone controlling. If there was a button to break up right now and move on I would press it, but it’s more complicated because there needs to be a conversation and he will say all the right things“- he will say all his gaslighting things..

    “Or maybe I did give him the control? by letting him pay for things, I just feel like I am blinded a bit. I feel like I have something blurring my ability to see that he is controlling”- that something blurring your ability to see him as he is .. that something is gaslighting, isn’t it?

    “because I love so many things about him. He says that if one day I was able to financially care for him he would be so happy, not saying that I needed to but he has expressed that would be his dream… So if I was able to be that for him then our relationship would be good? We have had so many good moments, and I am struggling to see the controlling as overpowering those”-

    – # 6 above: “As a manipulative tactic, the gaslighter will occasionally treat the victim with mildness, moderation, and even superficial kindness or remorse, to give the gaslightee false hop.”- hope that IF you financially care for him in the future, then the relationship would be good: false hope.

    Wow, Seaturtle! The gaslighting possibility- which I believe to be true to your situation with N- did not occur to me before today. I figured recently, after reading about the two examples, that he was controlling, using people skills to manipulate you, his apologies and other expressions being appearances/ style, not substance.. so there has been some evolution of my understanding most recently, leading to this.

    anita

    #425749
    anita
    Participant

    Re-submitting in effort to try and get rid of the excess print:

    Dear Seaturtle:

    * I just finished the post.. warning: I am shocked myself by my current understanding, so take your time reading, maybe read in parts, taking breaks, maybe read after taking a hot, relaxing bath.

    To N/ I don’t want to leave my bed,/ it’s warm under the covers/ and it’s cold out there“- N= familiar, feels safe; After N= unfamiliar, feels risky/ may be dangerous.

    Plus, there’s a man called/ Nathanael who melts into/ my skin & like the ocean/ it binds like one“- physical and emotional attachment, a force that binds/ connects you to him.

    His hair is smooth and soothing/ to touch, as is his back,/ warm to the bone./ In bed we play games, throw/ pillows and suck face,/ we even get to talking/ and gaze into space./ The way he sees the stars/ is a melody new to my ears,/ I think ‘yea’ I could listen/ to this song for years. * * */ But help me Universe I feel/ conflicted,/ is it possible the love here is/ constricted?/ I can’t tell what I feel but/ I do not like it,/ ‘it will all be ok I am going/ to fight it.’“- so far, in your poem, you didn’t indicate, not even suggest, any reason for you to feel constricted by N, all that you shared about him is gloriously positive, just like it’s been on your thread. This is why, for the longest time, I thought that your conflict, the constriction you mentioned here, in your poem, had nothing to do with N and everything to do with F whom, I thought, you inaccurately projected into N.

    Day after day coming home/ from battle/ Nathanael tells me what/ I worry about/ does not matter./ I ask him please come to/ therapy, or let’s take a small/ break? He says not, suck it up it’s/ only an ache. ‘ache’/ Dear ache, why do you/ bother? is it all because/ of my father?/ Oh yes! perhaps I can/ solve all of it myself!/ take responsibility for my part./ But wait…in the mean time,/ this growth, this battle…/ he doesn’t even start?/ I am fighting alone in/ the world of connection./ Confused and alone while/ he’s right by my side.“- first, I didn’t know that you suggested couple therapy to N and he refused? Second: The Question: is your conflict, constriction, ache in regard to N: is it all about F.. or does N have something to do with it? In other words, using your verb (which I like, in this context): is N constricting Seaturtle?

    We argue about nothing,/ the c-word, the cash./ But not 10 minutes later/ when I ask,/ ‘how do you feel?’ (as we had just fought)/ All he says is ‘are you bothered??? I’m not?’ I don’t understand this/ lack of awareness“- this right here is very important part in shining light into the relationship that I wasn’t adequately aware of: his response indicates that he negates the reality of what just happened: there WAS a FIGHT.  Either he is like Teflon, and fighting slides off him like oil off Teflon (which was not the case in the c-word incident, the bad driver did not slide off N), OR N is CONTROLLING your mind, or trying to control your brain: your brain is telling you correctly that there was a fight and therefore, the fight left some distress behind it. N tells your brain: Brain, you are Wrong, there was no fight.

    “’I have to be the constant/  communication?’/  *enter unfairness*/ ‘I’ll be there all day.’/ ‘no 12’/ ‘actually 2’/ Calls me ‘see you at 3:30’/ Enters the door at 4./ As he sits on the couch like/ nothing is wrong,“- Nothing is wrong.. not because nothing is wrong, but because N SAYS (or suggests by his silence that) nothing is wrong.

    I feel exhausted, for I am sick of/ my own; communication song./ I sit and I wonder, do I bring/ this up?/ Or will he be annoyed.. there’s/ no way to win.“- something IS wrong but N says nothing is wrong, something must be wrong with Seaturtle’s perception then.. her brain must not perceive/ process information correctly.

    dictionary. com: “Gaslighting is the act of distorting the truth in a way that’s intended to make another person accept the deception due to doubting their own memory, reality, or sanity. It’s considered a form of psychological manipulation or emotional abuse… The term gaslighting is often applied in the context of emotionally abusive relationships, such as romantic relationships or among family members… When the deception of the person who is engaging in gaslighting is questioned, they often react by dismissing the accusation as a delusion, an emotional reaction, or an overreaction—thus conditioning the person to internalize those assessments”.

    Wikipedia: “Gaslighting, also called coercive control.. In contemporary language, gaslighting is a colloquialism, describing the subjective experience of having one’s reality repeatedly questioned by another… Gaslighting involves two parties; the ‘gaslighter’, who persistently puts forth a false narrative in order to manipulate, and the ‘gaslighted’, who struggles to maintain their individual autonomy. Gaslighting is typically effective only when there is an unequal power dynamic or when the gaslighted has shown respect to the gaslighter. Gaslighting is different from genuine relationship disagreement, which is both common and important in relationships. Gaslighting is distinct in that: * one partner is consistently listening and considering the other partner’s perspective; * one partner is consistently negating the other’s perception, insisting that they are wrong, or telling them that their emotional reaction is irrational or dysfunctional.

    “Gaslighting typically occurs over a long duration and not on a one-off basis. Over time, the listening partner may exhibit symptoms often associated with anxiety disorders, depression, or low self-esteem. Gaslighting is distinct from genuine relationship conflict in that one party manipulates the perceptions of the other…Motivations:  Gaslighting is a way to control the moment, stop conflict, ease anxiety, and feel in control. However, it often deflects responsibility and tears down the other person… Learned behavior: Gaslighting is a learned trait. A gaslighter is a student of social learning. They witness it, experience it themselves, or stumble upon it, and see that it works… Habilitation: It can be difficult to extricate oneself from a gaslighting power dynamic… Those being gaslighted must learn that they do not need others to validate their reality, and they need to gain self-reliance and confidence in defining their own reality”.

    Psychology today: “… ‘Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.’ —Paramahansa Yogananda… Here are seven stages through which a pathological gaslighter dominates a victim, excerpted from my book How to Successfully Handle Gaslightgers & Stop Psyhological Bullying. Depending on the situation, there may be variations in the order and the number of gaslighting stages involved: 1. Lie and Exaggerate. The gaslighter creates a negative narrative about the gaslightee (‘There’s something wrong and inadequate about you‘)… 2. Repetition. Like psychological warfare, the falsehoods are repeated constantly in order to stay on the offensive, control the conversation, and dominate the relationship. 3. Escalate When Challenged. When called on their lies, the gaslighter escalates the dispute by doubling and tripling down on their attacks, refuting substantive evidence with denial, blame, and more false claims (misdirection), sowing doubt and confusion…. 4. Wear Out the Victim. By staying on the offensive, the gaslighter eventually wears down their victim, who becomes discouraged, resigned, pessimistic, fearful, debilitated, and self-doubting. The victim begins to question her or his own perception, identity, and reality. 5. Form Codependent Relationships… the gaslighter elicits constant insecurity and anxiety in the gaslightee, thereby pulling the gaslightee by the strings. The gaslighter has the power to grant acceptance, approval, respect, safety, and security. The gaslighter also has the power (and often threatens to) take them away. A codependent relationship is formed based on fear, vulnerability, and marginalization.

    “6. Give False Hope. As a manipulative tactic, the gaslighter will occasionally treat the victim with mildness, moderation, and even superficial kindness or remorse, to give the gaslightee false hope. In these circumstances, the victim might think: ‘Maybe he’s really not THAT bad,’ ‘Maybe things are going to get better,’ or ‘Let’s give it a chance.‘ But beware! The temporary mildness is often a calculated maneuver intended to instill complacency and have the victim’s guard down before the next act of gaslighting begins. With this tactic, the gaslighter also further reinforces a codependent relationship.

    “7. Dominate and Control. At its extreme, the ultimate objective of a pathological gaslighter is to control, dominate, and take advantage of another individual”.

    Back to your poem (which I didn’t read yet): “I love this bed, don’t get/ me wrong/ It’s comforting and beautiful,/ what could go wrong?/ Do I worry about nothing?“- the gaslightee doubting reality.

    No I do not“- no you do not.. except when you do.

    This next one won’t be so easy/ to proceed,/ I’m also assuming it won’t be easy/ to read./ I know you so hate to be/ controlled“- his fear of being controlled motivates him to control.

    “.. If you can’t rely on one half/ the other must control it./ At some point you started to/ see me as weaker“- gaslighting, a form of coercive control where one is strong and the other is weak

    You think my strengths a/ weakness but you’re wrong“- he needs you to think that you are weak. If you believe that you are strong, in his mind, it means that he is weak. So he needs you to feel weak, mentally weak. It reminds me of the quote above: “Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.

    I see, I feel, I touch, I/ smell./ to certain things I am/ repelled./ You think it’s fear, but it is/ not./ I can sense when an area is/ rot./ As much as I love this bed/ we are in,/ it is starting to smell deep/ within.“- it smells of.. gaslighting to me.

    You claim it is not about/ the money/ But you see, it is, it controls/ you, honey./ I do not mean to sound/ condescending“- he is the one condescending.

    But admit it, you think I owe/ you something“- here is one area where N and F share, both controlling you, or trying to control you by the money spent on you.

    I want to be believed/ in, seen as strong…  It is now at the point/ where I value myself more/ than you do me. which is/ why this must end/ Because I am stronger,/ just me… Who knows what’s to come/ but I’ve cherished you SO./ This end will be painful please/ take care of yourself“- I don’t think that you can be seen as strong, not by him and not by yourself, if you continue a relationship with him. I think that his gaslighting of you is likely to get worse if you marry him.

    You wrote yesterday (I am adding the boldface feature here): “I do want to end things. I just doubt my ability to express why to him… I feel he will have excuses that sound valid in that momentor he will blame me“- in other words, you are afraid that he will gaslight you.

    “for example if I say he has been controlling I am almost certain he would tell me that I gave him that control. He has spoke about this before about how we have opportunities to take control and give it and he makes sure not to give people control of him. He will tell me I gave him control and as my mental state stands currently, I will believe him.”- reads like a.. textbook example of gaslighting, doesn’t it? Your mental state is that of the gaslightee and therefore you will believe the gaslighter…

    “I do not want to waste time with someone controlling. If there was a button to break up right now and move on I would press it, but it’s more complicated because there needs to be a conversation and he will say all the right things“- he will say all his gaslighting things..

    “Or maybe I did give him the control? by letting him pay for things, I just feel like I am blinded a bit. I feel like I have something blurring my ability to see that he is controlling”- that something blurring your ability to see him as he is .. that something is gaslighting, isn’t it?

    “because I love so many things about him. He says that if one day I was able to financially care for him he would be so happy, not saying that I needed to but he has expressed that would be his dream… So if I was able to be that for him then our relationship would be good? We have had so many good moments, and I am struggling to see the controlling as overpowering those”-

    – # 6 above: “As a manipulative tactic, the gaslighter will occasionally treat the victim with mildness, moderation, and even superficial kindness or remorse, to give the gaslightee false hop.”- hope that IF you financially care for him in the future, then the relationship would be good: false hope.

    Wow, Seaturtle! The gaslighting possibility- which I believe to be true to your situation with N- did not occur to me before today. I figured recently, after reading about the two examples, that he was controlling, using people skills to manipulate you, his apologies and other expressions being appearances/ style, not substance.. so there has been some evolution of my understanding most recently, leading to this.

    anita

    #425788
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Dear Anita, I am responding to you now, may take me a couple hours.

    Hope you had a nice weekend?

    Seaturtle 🙂

    #425790
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    Take your time.. I was afraid that the last post was too much for you and that I will never read from you again! I am fine but tired, so I’ll probably reply to your yet to be submitted post thoroughly tomorrow, followed by a short reply today.

    anita

    #425792
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I am recently, ever since you have started to see a more rounded image of N, confused about whether or not he is intentionally being controlling or gaslighting and if we just have different views that lead to this dynamic. I am not sure but I elaborate in this reply best I can.

    “- so far, in your poem, you didn’t indicate, not even suggest, any reason for you to feel constricted by N, all that you shared about him is gloriously positive, just like it’s been on your thread. This is why, for the longest time, I thought that your conflict, the constriction you mentioned here, in your poem, had nothing to do with N and everything to do with F whom, I thought, you inaccurately projected into N. “

    -In all honesty I am still not totally sure if this constriction has everything to do with N, I am suspicious of it still mainly having to do with F. I think it’s possible N is similar to F in ways, which makes it even harder to distinguish.

    “I didn’t know that you suggested couple therapy to N and he refused?”

    Yes I suggested it back when we were living together, on multiple occasions and every time his response is “I am not going to talk to someone who doesn’t know me at all for advice.” He is very skeptical. I think if I paid for it and completely set it up and asked him to go, for me, I think he would but I don’t have the funds alone.

    You wrote: “we had just fought)/ All he says is ‘are you bothered??? I’m not?’ I don’t understand this/ lack of awareness“- this right here is very important part in shining light into the relationship that I wasn’t adequately aware of: his response indicates that he negates the reality of what just happened: there WAS a FIGHT.  Either he is like Teflon, and fighting slides off him like oil off Teflon (which was not the case in the c-word incident, the bad driver did not slide off N), OR N is CONTROLLING your mind, or trying to control your brain: your brain is telling you correctly that there was a fight and therefore, the fight left some distress behind it. N tells your brain: Brain, you are Wrong, there was no fight.”

    -See I am conflicted here as well. Mostly I have gotten the teflon impression. I don’t think he is trying to control my mind. It is outside of his character to advertently try to control me. For one, one of his biggest “red flags” when working with people or with his friend selections, is if the person is trying to behave how they think he wants them to. N does not like when people are not telling him their real feelings. Although F is like this as well, he often feels people tell him what they want to hear… I am confused again, I really am not sure if it is manipulation or teflon, he genuinely does not let it bother him.

    “- something IS wrong but N says nothing is wrong, something must be wrong with Seaturtle’s perception then.. her brain must not perceive/ process information correctly.”

    Yes, this is exactly what happens in my head and it is very confusing. Cause it makes me wonder if I am infact creating the issue myself.

    ” When the deception of the person who is engaging in gaslighting is questioned, they often react by dismissing the accusation as a delusion, an emotional reaction, or an overreaction—thus conditioning the person to internalize those assessments””

    F did this for sure. As far as N, I am not 100% He has definitely dismissed accusations as delusional, but are they? Are they projections of F onto him? It is very hard for me to label N as gaslighting, and I am not sure why, I feel defensive of him. I feel guilt for doubting him behind his back. This is a new feeling. What I am wrong and judging him when I am the one who is projecting and accusing him of everything my father was, when he infact is doing his best for this to be an equal partnership…

    “- Nothing is wrong.. not because nothing is wrong, but because N SAYS (or suggests by his silence that) nothing is wrong.”

    He is silent alot.

    ” Those being gaslighted must learn that they do not need others to validate their reality, and they need to gain self-reliance and confidence in defining their own reality”.”

    I feel this now! I feel like my dad gaslit me so badly that now I am confused about my own reality. I need validation about what I see and feel, when my partner doesn’t validate these things I feel lost like I am just delusional or have some sort of personality disorder for feeling sometimes I see him as perfect (like you have met him through me so far) and other times feeling like he could be completely manipulating me.

    Wear Out the Victim. By staying on the offensive, the gaslighter eventually wears down their victim, who becomes discouraged, resigned, pessimistic, fearful, debilitated, and self-doubting. The victim begins to question her or his own perception, identity, and reality.

    -I constantly felt this way with my dad.

    -Is is possible N is doing this by accident? Like he is Teflon, literally does not think anything is wrong, so when I say there is he literally does not understand.

    I think he is out of touch with what bothers him, and subconsciously acts passive aggressively. When I confront him about being passive aggression he does not like it, he refuses but I know he is sometimes.

    “- his fear of being controlled motivates him to control.”

    Right, but does he know this?

    you wrote: he needs you to think that you are weak. If you believe that you are strong, in his mind, it means that he is weak. So he needs you to feel weak, mentally weak. It reminds me of the quote above: “Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.

    -So my dad 100% is this way, trying to be tall by cutting of the heads of others, no doubt he is this way.

    – N doesn’t do this, I don’t think.. He encouraged me to do the play! He encourages me to paint. He wants me to grow? We talk alot about philosophy and he often shares about things he learned from football. He talks alot about being mentally resilient in order to achieve peace. He values peace, more than anything. We disagree on how to get it though. He thinks you simply don’t let outside factors bother you => Peace. I believe you learn how to navigate your body through or around the outside factors, through introspection and awareness. N brings the people around him up, I think? He encourages his friends and works with others very well. He tends to give more than he receives in his friendships, from my perspective, but he sees their value in a way I don’t.

    Tonight we have a date to talk about some things, I brought up the two scenarios (c word and cash at grocery store) and how they were controlling, although he asked how and I couldn’t quite explain, I explained more so about how him being late often is controlling as I am just waiting for him. But he claims this is not planned, and I believe him. I think it is more of a priority issue? He prioritizes finishing a project at work than being on time for our dates.

    We argued this weekend over a few things I don’t really have the energy to hash back out on here but it ended with him actually suggesting at our next date we say something we would like the other to change for us, something we will change for the other and I suggested also something we like about the other. This settled out argument and that date is tonight and I am anxious for it.

    I will write about our date tomorrow.

    Seaturtle

    #425796
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Did I push him to feel he needed to take control and not love him enough so he now is passive aggressive and gaslights?

    He has done sweet things for me and maybe I haven’t done enough to show him I love and appreciate him so he is now resentful and putting less effort into us, which is him not putting energy into validating and hearing out my feelings, and him not believing in me?

    I am just confused, I feel like he was not always this way and I fear I turned him into my father by not being good enough for him, being selfish and just not contributing enough to us.

    #425798
    seaturtle
    Participant

    I feel more than anxious about our date tonight I am feeling sick to my stomach

    #425799
    seaturtle
    Participant

    I am sorry you were worried, I don’t think I am capable of leaving you without any sort of explanation! Don’t worry I will not disappear on you 🙂

    #425801
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    No reason to apologize to me.. you have done me no wrong!

    I feel like he was not always this way and I fear I turned him into..“- his father and mother turned him into what he is during his Formative Years aka his childhood, when he was formed. He met you after his formative years. You do not have this kind of power over him.

    confused about whether or not he is intentionally being controlling or gaslighting and if we just have different views that lead to this dynamic“- (1)  if he is controlling and gaslighting unintentionally but consistently, he is still controlling and gaslighting. (2) when my mother hit me (I was a child, later a teenager), her view was that I made her hit me. (“Look what you did to me“, she’d exclaim). I was confused and believed her. Did the two of us have .. two different but legitimate views about that dynamic…?

    I am sorry that I cannot help further at this point. Maybe you should not meet him for a while, maybe you should have quality psychotherapy before meeting him again..? (I will soon be away from the computer).

    anita

     

    #425803
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I feel like he was not always this way and I fear I turned him into..“- his father and mother turned him into what he is during his Formative Years aka his childhood, when he was formed. He met you after his formative years. You do not have this kind of power over him.

    -This is helpful. But then I fell in love with someone who cannot help but to gaslight me? What a tragic love story, to be or not to be.

    confused about whether or not he is intentionally being controlling or gaslighting and if we just have different views that lead to this dynamic“- (1)  if he is controlling and gaslighting unintentionally but consistently, he is still controlling and gaslighting. (2) when my mother hit me (I was a child, later a teenager), her view was that I made her hit me. (“Look what you did to me“, she’d exclaim). I was confused and believed her. Did the two of us have .. two different but legitimate views about that dynamic…?

    -I am so sorry this happened to you, although I know you do not need my sympathy I must give it!

    -I wonder why I was drawn to someone like this, I chose to be with N for so long.

    “Maybe you should not meet him for a while, maybe you should have quality psychotherapy before meeting him again..? “

    I am unsure if this is necessary or not. However I don’t think it will happen. I am still under a belief that it is fixable and he will stop. I am not sure if this is an illusion or there is potential. If i confront him about feeling gaslit when he does not take my worries seriously, he may change that behavior if I tell him I will leave the relationship if it does not stop, which is what I want to do tonight.

    Seaturtle

     

    #425804
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    I will reply further in the morning, but for now: no need for you to break up with him or confront him tonight. You can just have a nice evening if it suits you. I want you to be okay, whatever it takes.

    I wouldn’t say anything to him about gaslighting. How about asking him to elaborate on what he meant when he told you “are you bothered??? I’m not” 10 minutes after arguing, as in an open ended question, not accusing him of anything (you are more likely to get some of the truth this way, if not all).Try to remember his answer and let me know what it is..?

    I know that you are emotionally and physically very attached to him, so this is not the time to initiate a detachment/ break from him. I hope to read from you in the morning, about how it went, or before. I will be back to the computer in a couple of hours.

    anita

    #425844
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Dear Anita, I am writing to you now about my night last night! Should have a response in the next hour!

    Seaturtle

    #425846
    anita
    Participant

    I am here, Seaturtle, looking forward to your update!

    anita

    #425848
    seaturtle
    Participant

    My, the night went differently than I could have expected!

    So after our last argument, me feeling he was being passive aggressive and heavily concerned he was gaslighting me he suggested a prompt for our date last night. 1-How will you change to better the relationship, 2-what do you appreciate about the other person, 3-how could the other person change to help you/the relationship.

    I was so anxious, knowing it could be the last night of our relationship, and he definitely felt that from me.

    So he picked me up on time, and we went to an Italian restaurant. We sat down and had a glass of wine and some appetizers and after some small talk decided to start our answers to the date questions. 1-How will you change to better the relationship: He started, he said he was going to start taking better care of himself, his home cleanliness and eating habits, things that he said went astray when I left! I had no idea he realized this but he had been slacking in the hygiene area of his life after I left. Definitely bleeding into our relationship and I appreciated this answer, he had clearly thought about it and answered with something that was not easy to admit. It was my turn and I forgot my answer… I was so focused on question 3 that I put less focus into 1, which is sad but I understand why, because I am doing so much for the relationship here so it was hard for me to even come up with something MORE I could be doing, as I am already exhausted trying to see the situation for what it is.

    2- I said “You encourage me to do what I love to do” and I had a second one “You are willing to try to communicate and don’t like going to sleep upset with eachother” a few nights ago we had a phone argument about money, it was a miscommunication on both sides and when we figured it out he said he wanted to come over to cuddle up and I just appreciate that he likes to hug or be loving after an argument, it makes me feel safe.

    He said “I really like that you keep us present, even when we are doing nothing it is at least present with you.” I appreciated that he noticed this, I did not know that he did.

    And the dreaded 3. He didn’t even get to his answer here because I started and it took up the rest of our night. I was proud of myself though, because I was able to speak clearly and I did not allow him to gaslight me again, which he was trying to do. However I have a new perspective now, here is how it went. I know you warned against telling him he was gaslighting me, but I was confident enough to be firm in this and confront him, agreeing with myself that if he denied it it would be over. I started by talking about my dad, I said:

    “When I was young, my dad gaslit be constantly. With my car, with everything he ever gave me or provided for me. He genuinely gaslit me very intensely. This is not something I can put up with in a relationship, and when you tell me the things I ‘worry’ about don’t matter, it is gaslighting. I reminded him of the cash in the grocery story again, and told him that when I approached him about this after and he was “unbothered” and acted like nothing was wrong, that this was gaslighting.” He asked questions about what gaslighting even was and I was very precise about it. He went on to gaslight me again about this situation, he said “it was a joke” and I said “no it was not. It was not. I remember it correctly and see this twisting of my reality is not okay. My life partner should not be making me doubt myself.” He nodded at this seeming to begin to understand or at least try. I went on about how damaging the victim of being gaslit can be. He did say, and is concerning but I am still evaluating the night, we are still together and I am still deciding how I should deal with this, but end of our night he said something that made me really have a new perspective about everything, I will tell you in order of how everything happened though. He said “Do you think the victim is always right?” I was soooo skeptical of him in this moment, what on earth does that mean I said. He replied “So every time you feel a certain way it is my fault?” And this is where I am glad I was speaking through my higher self because I did not foresee this kind of questioning. I said “Not necessarily but that is not what I am talking about. I am telling you that the cash situation was not a joke at all, it was serious, I did not feel anxious for no reason, you were investigating me” He shook his head no, he did not understand what I was saying and he defended himself left and right. I said “you are deflecting responsibility.” I went on to tell him the gravity of gaslighting, after understanding that he genuinely did not socially understand how what he did was impactful to me, he literally did not understand how I could take his reaction as if he was investigating or judging me at all. I said “There’s multiple issues here, but it sounds like it is starting with you literally having a lack of awareness about how you come across. For example, the other day when you called me at work and I asked how your day was you went on to say ‘oh it was such an easy day, just 9-5 today and I have so much time, damn that is such an easy schedule,’ I was on the other line like, does he not realize I work from 10-5? is he being extremely passive aggressive, what is his deal? I literally sat on the other line thinking you were completely oblivious and decided to ignore it as you do that sometimes, and more often recently.” When I went on about this example he looked completely defeated, he said something along the lines of “I had no idea I came across that way.” I genuinely believed him, he looked completely stunned at all that I was saying, he stopped trying to defend it, aka further gaslight me. But I continued “Gaslighting is not something i can deal with, it is so scary and confusing for me when I feel like you are telling me something I intuitively felt, did not happen. That is so damaging to who I am you cannot do that to me because the scary thing is sometimes I will believe you! and I will take responsibility for things that are not mine to take, and you will put me down” He said “I don’t mean to be manipulative I-” I interrupted and said “it doesn’t matter if it is on accident because at the end of the day it puts me down. This is a huge area of incompatibility. You are over here socially unaware of how you are coming across to me, then me, as a sensitive being, gets my feelings hurt by you. Then I approach you and you think you did nothing wrong because you weren’t even aware of it. Do you see how we would just wear eachother down here? You feel accused all the time and don’t understand, and I have my feelings hurt and denied.” At this point we both had tears in our eyes. I think we both knew it could be ending right there. I said “There can be a solution, but it has to be you increasing your awareness of how you are treating me so that you either stop, or when I approach you about it you can at least see it, and not deny my feelings, which ultimately is you gaslighting me.” The conversation in the restaurant ended here. He got quiet and looked in shock and defeated and hopeless. I said “babe you can’t shut down on me now” and he said he wanted to leave the restaurant. I looked around and they were closing up, so we got the check and then separately went to the bathroom, when I came back I hugged him, unplanned I think I knew he needed it and he hugged me more delicately than he ever has, he didn’t even fully grab me, he just had one hand through my hair and the other lightly on my back, accepting my hug. I imagined that he was about to cry in that moment, but as soon as I looked at him there was no trace of the tears.

    We got in the car to go home and the conversation continued. And this is the part of the night that changed my perspective on what kind of man I have in front of my and how I now just have a decision if this is what I am willing to accept in a partner. It was as vulnerable as I have seen him, only a handful of times. His bestfriend, we will call D, has been very close with N. The funny thing is actually D and I get along very well, our fathers are almost identical, so we understand eachother well. I like hanging out with D and N, it is a fun trio the three of us, D is able to explain N to me. They were college roommates and played football together, and now play video games online and on the phone with eachother multiple times a week since I moved out. When I lived there he did not play much at all, once a month maybe. On the phone, N has told me that D helps him understand me and they are eachothers support in a lot of ways. Anyways so, we are in the care, me and N, driving home and continue our conversation and he says (perhaps looking away from me helps him to open up…this may be becoming a pattern)

    “I feel so hopeless because everything you just told me about my lack of awareness, D just told me the same time and has been telling me for a while now.” This was so validating to me I was glad that I was not the only one! He went on to say “this is what I have meant when I told you I don’t like first impressions. being homeschooled messed me up. I don’t understand how to read people and I definitely did not understand body language for a long time and had to learn. In football coaches often told me I was apathetic and I had no idea what they meant because I was in love with the sport, how could they say that. But it was becoming a pattern of people telling me this, so I knew I needed to change something. I had to learn how to show coaches that I wanted to be there. D tells me all the time that I have no awareness, it has been a joke amongst my friends for years. I don’t like first impression because I don’t know how to behave, and I don’t know how to read other people’s behavior. I am retarded or something I don’t know.”

    I was absolutely wowed, just had the biggest “ah ha” moment. He LITERALLY did not know how was coming across, all those times I thought he was being passive aggressive and said I was too sensitive… he seriously thought I was, he was not trying to deny my feelings. This alleviated a weight off my shoulders that he was being purposely rude to me. I received a heavy dose of grace for him in this moment. The fact all his close football friends said the same thing about him… Something about learning all this made me realize that his validation of me feelings literally does not matter, he doesn’t understand them at all he is the last person I should be seeking validation from. I was right, I can trust my own intuition that he was saying rude things. But it is also validating to my confusion, because I have been so confused, he has been “rude” in the strangest times when I am like why are you ruining this moment? and then he will say why are you ruining this moment by brining this stupid thing up. It just all makes sense now, because at his core he is so sweet and gentle so this gaslighting about his rudeness did not make sense in my head to his character and now I realize the issue is so much deeper in him and engrained in him long before me and nothing to do with me. I know you have assured me of this but I was able to see it first hand. Feeling relieved the night actually completely turned around and was much lighter. My grace for his literal much deeper problem lightened the way I was questioning him, I went from skepticism and sternness to genuine curiosity. Remembering you mentioning this before I did ask him “have you ever looked up online how to behave?” He said “No” he was kind of grossed out by the question, he said “I don’t want people to respond superficially to me” which this answer does fall into what I know of his character, and the answer I sort of assumed.

    This new realization that he just has some social awareness issues, perhaps some sort of mental illness here I felt compassion and maybe I could learn to love this about him, and be able to take his comments less personally. I wondered why the universe brought us together, I am no doubt exactly the type of partner he needs, but is this something I can love about him and help him? I think further learning is needed for me to decide now that my perspective of the situation is different due to his actual intentions being pure.

    Laying on my bed I continued to ask him questions. I asked “when you are inadvertently rude how should I approach it? because I don’t want you to say rude things to me and want to know why, but I hesitate cause I don’t want to annoy you” and he said “just ask me with no emotion in your questioning. when I come across rude to others I am usually actually just upset with myself about something” I was like “oh so when you make rude comments to me you are really making them to yourself?” This was a new concept to him he said “huh..” and I said “hurt people hurt people, it makes sense.”

    curious to hear your reply to this,

    Seaturtle

    #425849
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    I didn’t get your update yet.  I will reply to your yesterday’s posts first:

    “I am recently, ever since you have started to see a more rounded image of N, confused about whether or not he is intentionally being controlling or gaslighting and if we just have different views that lead to this dynamic”-

    – (1) Here is from How to Successfully Handle Gaslightgers & Stop Psychological Bullying. (nipreston. com): “In its milder forms, gaslighting creates a subtle but inequitable power dynamic in a relationship, where the gaslightee is subjected to the gaslighter’s unreasonable, rather than fact-based scrutiny, judgment, and/or micro-aggression”.

    The gaslighting my mother employed was severe and overt and it included macro-aggression. On the other hand, N’s gaslighting is covert, milder, involving micro-aggression, such as when he accused you in the grocery store of having cash you were.. not supposed to have.

    (2) About you being “confused about whether or not (N) is intentionally being controlling or gaslighting“, from the book: “It should be noted that not all gaslighters are intentionally malicious, or conscious of their harmful conduct… They may not be fully cognizant of the harmfulness (and hurtfulness) of their word and actions, and their painful impact on others. Other gaslighters, however, are perfectly aware of their coercive tactics, as they deliberately seek to establish power and imbalance over other people’s lives”.

    Yes I suggested (couples therapy) back when we were living together, on multiple occasions and every time his response is ‘I am not going to talk to someone who doesn’t know me at all for advice.’“- yes, I remember now, you shared this before. His response suggests to me that he doesn’t WANT to be known (by someone who might get it right about who he is) because then he’d lose his power advantage.

    “Mostly I have gotten the Teflon impression. I don’t think he is trying to control my mind… I am confused again, I really am not sure if it is manipulation or Teflon, he genuinely does not let it bother him”- could be both: Teflon and SUBTLE manipulation/ gaslighting… He is perhaps gaslighting himself and gaslighting you at the same time.

    I wrote to you: “something IS wrong but N says nothing is wrong, something must be wrong with Seaturtle’s perception then.. her brain must not perceive/ process information correctly.”, and your response:  “Yes, this is exactly what happens in my head and it is very confusing“.

    I quoted from the article on gaslighting:  “When the deception of the person who is engaging in gaslighting is questioned, they often react by dismissing the accusation as a delusion, an emotional reaction, or an overreaction—thus conditioning the person to internalize those assessments”. Your response: “F did this for sure. As far as N, I am not 100% He has definitely dismissed accusations as delusional, but are they? Are they projections of F onto him? It is very hard for me to label N as gaslighting, and I am not sure why, I feel defensive of him. I feel guilt for doubting him behind his back“.

    I wrote to you about N: “his fear of being controlled motivates him to control“, an your response: “Right, but does he know this?”. Let’s say he doesn’t know it: if you tell him (and make it therefore known to him), will he change?

    If he resists your input, calling it wrong.. then he is closed to self reflection and positive change.

    So my dad 100% is this way, trying to be tall by cutting of the heads of others, no doubt he is this way“- F might be an overt, severe type of gaslighter while N may be a covert, milder type of gaslighter.

    “N doesn’t do this, I don’t think.. He encouraged me to do the play! He encourages me to paint. He wants me to grow?“- you are not sure about the last one, hence the question mark. What if he encourages you to do what doesn’t bother him but discourages you to think about/ talk about/ do .. what bothers him. No gaslighter criticizes EVERYTHING about their gaslightee.

    Back to the book (pdf): “Some gaslighters manipulate the gaslightee with frequent negative hostility, combined with occasional positive bribery…  In a gaslighting relationship, the gaslighter has the power to grant acceptance, approval, respect, safety, and security. He or she also has the power (and often threatens to) take them away. With this tactic, the gaslighter retains power, privilege, and entitlement”.

    What if N’s encouragements are .. positive bribery?

    He talks a lot about being mentally resilient in order to achieve peace. He values peace, more than anything. We disagree on how to get it though. He thinks you simply don’t let outside factors bother you => Peace“-

    – You, Seaturtle, are an outside force to him and when in conflict.. he teflons you: he doesn’t let you- an outside factor- bother him.

    “N brings the people around him up, I think? He encourages his friends and works with others very well. He tends to give more than he receives in his friendships, from my perspective, but he sees their value in a way I don’t”-

    – There’s the question mark again. What if N working well with others involves manipulating the people around him successfully. Some manipulation is positive, you know.

    “I explained more so about how him being late often is controlling as I am just waiting for him. But he claims this is not planned, and I believe him”- if him being routinely late is unplanned.. why doesn’t he plan to be on time?

    “I fell in love with someone who cannot help but to gaslight me? What a tragic love story, to be or not to be”- you need not settle for a life of being gaslit because someone can’t help but to gaslight you. It reminds me of the story of the frog and the scorpion crossing a lake. The frog carried the scorpion on its back crossing the lake, figuring that the scorpion will not bite it, because if it will, the scorpion will drown. But the scorpion bit the frog because.. it couldn’t help but to bite and kill the frog.

    “I am so sorry this happened to you, although I know you do not need my sympathy I must give it!”- thank you, Seaturtle.

    I wonder why I was drawn to someone like this, I chose to be with N for so long“- because.. N is such an improvement over F, being the covert, milder form of gaslighter…?

    I am still under a belief that it is fixable and he will stop. I am not sure if this is an illusion“- makes me think of the scorpion and frog story: the frog was under the (deadly) belief and illusion that the scorpion will put a stop or a pause on its inclination to bite for the duration of the swim to safety.

    “If I confront him about feeling gaslit when he does not take my worries seriously, he may change that behavior if I tell him I will leave the relationship if it does not stop, which is what I want to do tonight.”- so you want to threaten him (the one who will NOT be controlled by outside factors) to leave him so that he changes his behavior.

    I noticed some time ago that you submitted your post but I didn’t read any of it. I will submit this and then read and reply to your post of 53 minutes ago.

    anita

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