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Gaslighting and other stuff(69 Posts)
I honestly don't know if I'm coming or going. First things first, I am no angel and I've done my fair share of bad things, which I generally am apologetic of, shameful and have felt guilty. The problem I am finding is my partner cannot seem to admit any flaws that he has, for years he would never say sorry, for years I was met with 'I don't want to talk about it', it has got better. As terrible as this sounds, and I hate saying it / typing it out loud but I find him fake. To other people he presents this lovely front, he is happy, friendly, laughs at your jokes, is animated and attentive, always talking and listening to your problems. I am not saying he is not any of these things but I find it an act sometimes and he has to be liked and I FEEL that he has to present this perfect representation of himself and can not handle not being liked or ever possible upsetting anyone in any way.
Every time I've tried to discuss something, somehow we always end up talking about me, my faults and the things I've done. I know I can do this too but even though I get defensive I do generally listen but I FEEL that the things I say are just dismissed.
He can say 'I am this and I am that' and I reflect and think about it. I say that 'he is this and that' and I never get any ackknowledgement of what we've talked about, it will just be a denial and then we're talking about my problems again.
I've got to a point whee I am thinking to myself that everything can't be my fault and it takes two to tango. I know I have issues and I'm doing my best to work on them (1 step forward, 2 steps back). Lately instead of questioning myself all the time I have decided to really keep track of things. I actually FEEL that my partner gaslights me, he is passive aggressive and retells what happens with untruths. Sorry if this is long but I'll try to give examples.
1) We were discussing something and I said something, within about 2 mins he repeated what I said and it had completely changed to suit his belief of narrative. he truly believed I said 'this' but I know that I didn't and I had to be firm and say at what point did I ever say that.
2) We argued last night. He was vile with me, not a problem, he was angry and I understood why even if I felt it was a bit unfair, we all get angry and frustrated. Today we ended up talking about it and he said that I shouted at he last night. Again, I know 100% that I didn't, I was proud of myself because I said a few things and walked away. I told him that the way he looked at me was horrible, not what he said or how he said it, but the look on his face. Next thing I know he said maybe you didn't shout at me but it was your face, your face said it all. I felt like once again things had been twisted back to me.
3) I do my fair share around here. I have supported him for the last 2 years whilst he studied. I did everything, food, school runs, dinner, cleaning and worked myself. Lately he is working away and has done for the last 3 weeks. This morning he woke up and said 'Kids, I'll bath you later before I go' I thought great, I'm holding the fort for the next 3 days. I ask him 3 hours before he leaves if he'll be bathing them and he freaks out and says I should do it, he is working for the next 3 days. My response was you said you were going to do it, his response was, you should have said you would do it. This happens all the time, he is a Martyr to his own cause, never asks for things, expects me to do it and then gets angry when I don't. I FEEL that all he had to do was say make sure you bath the kids later. I bath them all the time, sometimes I forget but 95% of the time I do and we take it in turns.
This is just a small list of grievances in the last few weeks, but I am coming (or think I am coming) to a realisation that this has maybe been happening for nearly 15 years and I've just always questioned everything and not been sure of myself. I don't want to blame her for all of my issues but I am starting to think think that it has contributed to a decline in my mental health. On top of having my own kids which I literally am there for ALL the time. I do a huge amount of stuff with them, but on top of that I have had to be there when he needs support (a lot), I have had to be the proxy between him and his ex wife who is extremely difficult, I have had to be there for him when he has had several serious undiagnosed illnesses over the years (a lot). I have helped raise his kids from another marriage who live with us, one of them is severely autistic, which has brought different challenges as the years have passed, the other one has been stealing from everyone in the house and his other house (ex wife) for 10 years. I am there to support all of this and I FEEL I am just expected to do it.
Sorry for the caps FEEL, I just want to iterate that I am not 100% sure, it's just how I feel.
Thanks for reading all of this (if you did)
My ex husband was exactly like this. I could have written your post myself. We were together 15yrs and leaving him and setting clear boundaries were the best things I have done. He did not like it, his vile behaviour escalated very quickly - so please be prepared for that if you decide to leave
Gaslighting leads to immense confusion as you doubt everything and cant tell what is real and what isn't. He sounds horrendous.
Are you getting anything out of the relationship? I would say leave but often with someone as manipulative and coercive as this man sounds,its not that easy.
Could you envision a life away from this? I think you need to start planning.
Thanks for the reply. I honestly don't think he will get vile, we both can be vile to each other at times, or at least I am told how vile I am. He did seem to accept it last night.
I've just remembered another recent thing, something else I feel chips away at my self confidence. I was told I am alienating him from his friends. There was one couple, who are nice, but whenever they came around the man was really rude and dismissive of me, I'd put up with this for a few engagements but had enough and didn't want to spend my time with someone who made me uncomfortable. Now I find out that I am alienating him from them, even though the friendship kind of fizzled (which has picked back up again now) over time on its own accord. I never stopped him going out with him by himself, which they do again now.
I'll probably remember 100 different things as I sit here. I'm just venting/talking out loud for the first time.
@Sangham I think lately I've also started to think that, but if I discuss it with him, once again it just ends up turning into what she's not getting or what I'm doing wrong.
I FEEL like I'm just giving every little piece of myself, to him, to his kids, to my kids and there's nothing left for me after I've dealt with it all, including the ex husband.
I've actually got to the point that if he's upset with something that's happened, I cannot support him because I have no more emotional space left so end up feeling callous
Even when it comes to sex, I FEEL like I am initiating it all the time and I can say this with 90% conviction, I have never had an orgasm before him and in the bedroom I would say I do most of the work.
Am in the process of leaving someone similar; it's a horrible realisation that you have been manipulated & controlled for many years.
Passive-aggression & punishment are nasty traits - previous posters are correct to say this will turn nasty when you finish the relationship.
Do not underestimate how difficult he will make things & try to get your ducks in a row first.
@LargeProsecco That's exactly how I feel. I'm always the one that is a little bit explosive and has the temper. I've said for ten years if people were to look at us from a distance, they would see me flailing my arms, getting frustrated and losing my temper and would think I was the problem, but what other people wouldn't see are all the little things that he has done that make me frustrated.
After all these years I know what I need to do, and I FEEL it's basically not react and play straight into his game/arms. I was doing that for a few months and then I go caught out and am back on that same track again. This is why I am here, I need to type out loud how I feel, and I know what I need to do, which is not react.
You will have a lot of confusing feelings and blame yourself for situations you describe. Please don’t - the way you feel is a direct result of the abuse and gaslighting.
My ex was not physically abusive throughout our marriage, but when he realised I was serious about leaving him, he got so much worse - to the extent of me being frightened when he was around - he would throw things at me if he did not like what I said.
@Yellowpetal Literally sitting here thinking about all the things I've done and thinking maybe it's all my problem, but then I flip to thinking -- This is a relationship, and even though I don't want to blame him for all my problems, there has to be a certain amount of blame that is his. I am willing to accept 60% of the blame, even 70%, I've told him this, but I am not willing to accept 100% of the blame. Do I get any acknowledgement of that, no. It's pretty much all my issues.
Why do you feel that you are to blame? What is so bad that you’d think it granted your husband treating you that way?
From my experience, those men rarely say sorry and never accept Responsibility for their behaviour.
I've just remembered another thing, which has really wound me up, but dare I say it to him.
My sons birthday was a few weeks ago, I organised everything. I made sure for weeks before I had a list of presents to get him and I got them. I got the balloons, the cards, the food. I ordered the food he wanted for breakfast, I made a semi complicated lunch for him, baked a cake, played the games he recieved for his birthday and ordered the dinner he wanted, all whilst making sure he was happy all day. He sat there all day on his phone pretty much doing nothing. I thought maybe I've just taken over everything, but he showed no interest in getting involved.
I asked him to sort the food out when it was delivered, the door bell rang and I waited and then I got angry because she didn't get it - her response was 'I thought you were going to get it and I was just going to serve it'
So I get angry and look unreasonable when she literally has done nothing all day, apart from post a picture of my son on Facebook, which really pissed me off, because he looked like to loving person that has spent all day with him, but behind that picture was nothing.
You are wasting your time trying to engage & be reasonable with people like that.
I spent years trying; he was controlling me through inaction - refusing to step up with household responsibilities & creating diversions blaming things on me which were his fault/responsibility (that is abusive in itself).
After I had some counselling for myself, I decided to go "grey rock" & step back, planning my exit.
You could waste a lot of energy & emotion trying to change him.
Or you could accept that he is a crap partner & concentrate on getting out of there.
Exactly what @LargeProsecco says. Sounds like we share a very similar story
@LargeProsecco Thing is I am sure he feels exactly the same too. As I've been saying to him for the last few weeks after I came to certain realisations, which again, have no idea if they are true or not, is....
I cannot control your behaviour but I can control my own.
I have definetely and finally realised that engaging in conversation is now impossible, communication has completely broken down between us and I just have to try and navigate through this as peacefully as I can.
I really do think he gaslights me, he denies it and then I think maybe I'm wrong, but I've seen it more and more lately, now that I am looking for it it is unbelievably clear, he literally makes stuff up and changes how things actually happened.
My ex has a clone. Very sorry you are going through this OP.
It's taken me years to recover from this, I thought I was losing my mind when it's his mind that's a mess.
Stop feeling guilty and wasting energy on trying to understand him. He is not going to change, but he is going to drive you slowly insane if you let him. You cannot reason with narcissistic gaslighters.
Start writing it all down with dates and everything. Keep any evidence and keep it locked away.
Oh, and prepare yourself for him to ramp it up massively when you do leave. Get a solicitor and safe space like a therapist, to keep you calm.
@Alys20 I don't think he is narcissistic, personally, but I do think there has been low level gaslighting going on for a long time now.
I went to therapy years ago and remember saying to the therapist I need to write it things down so that I can whip out a book and go here you go, I've written what happened down, but it feels pedantic and I know that it would immediately get turned back on me, how sad I was for writing things down, how petty, how 'this', how 'that' but I literally feel like I have to at the moment.
A gaslighter would never ever admit to gaslighting so dont even try to get him to see the error of his ways.
Its a deliberate act to keep you on your toes.
@SortingItOut This is exactly what I said to him the other day. I said for arguments sake lets say you are a narcissist, do you think a narcissist would say 'You're right, I am a narcissist' He can tell me until I am blue in the face what I am and I have to accept it, but the moment I try and say maybe you have issues, it will inevitably end up being about all the things I've done.
I dont think its constructive to get him to admit to being a gaslighter as it doesnt change anything.
Especially as he is not willing to hear any kind of criticism of himself.
What you need to decide is whether you want to live like this forever?
What are the positives about him?
My response to gaslighting or twisting is simply to say Stop Lying. Hard stare. Leave the room. The conversation has ended. No explanations are necessary. You're dealing with a child really.
OP sorry I didn't mean to wheel out that old chestnut "narcissist" every time, perhaps I've been conditioned by my experience, as my ex is a textbook narc and one of his trademarks is gaslighting.
But it's clear from your post that your person has little regard for what you (other people as well?) are saying and needs to be right all the time... It's selfish and draining, however you look at it.
@Ophelia2020 Funny you should say that. After he said I had shouted at him the other night I, as per usual, got annoyed and frustrated and said you are just lying. I couldn't actually believe what came out of his mouth. I still can't. Was it a genuine mistake, did he think I had shouted and for a brief moment I had to think did I shout, but I know I didn't.
He literally just lies and he tells things back completely different, maybe not all of the time but in the last 4 weeks I have seen it. Maybe it's just a recent thing, I have no idea, I know we can all remember things differently, but this really does seem like something else and I can't quite believe it.
Like you say, he will never ever admit it and this is what I am finding the most frustrating , literally makes me think I am crazy sometimes.
@SortingItOut There are lots of positives. I think the main issue I am struggling with is that I feel like I take all the blame and now when we argue I can see that or feel I am being gaslit, again my frustrations are that he doesn't see it, won't admit it, which like another poster said is pointless trying to get him to admit. When I confront him on it, it is just spun into something else.
I have to be open to the criticism he gives me but cannot accept as someone else said that he is less than perfect and might be contributing to some of the issues we have. I am more than happy to accept some/most of the blame but he plays his part too.
He has never been good with any kind of criticism, it's like a personal attack on him.
Well I guess the question is, do you want to stay with him? I think you realise he's not going to change. You could change, into a doormat, but that doesn't sound likely. So, what do you want to happen? You seem to accept that you behave awful yourself, maybe you do but maybe a lot of it is reactionary, but is this anyway to live? What is it doing to the kids?
@NiceandCalm Everything has been fine(ish) up until 4 weeks ago. We rarely argue in front of the kids. 4 weeks ago we got into an argument but this time I was just fed up of this victim perpetrator dance we seem to be doing all the time and I was unwilling to accept all the blame this time or even apologise. I'm just fed up. And lo and behold when we talked about the argument, he told it back differently. He said he came to me with something and I just started shouting bcak at him immediately. Which again, wasn't true. I sat and listened to him, and then I calmly responded but then I got frustrated as I felt the whole argument could have been avoided, so I ended up raising my voice before storming off. I just feel like he wants my reaction sometimes and I am trying to change that and not react, trying being the objective word.
So now we've been arguing more and I think it is having an effect on my youngest a little and we've now agreed to make sure they are okay and be as civil as we can. We've got to the point where we actually can't talk to each other anymore, so we're going to give each other space, live in seperate rooms for the time being but make sure the kids aren't effected. I've suggested during this period we talk to each other via email, not about what each other is doing but what we need to do to make sure everything is taken care of and nobody is feeling resentful or doing more, so we can navigate this.
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