The psychological concept of gaslighting—presenting false information and insisting that it’s true, thereby causing the victim to question his or her perception of reality—is well accepted, particularly in connection with sexual infidelity. Gaslighting is especially likely in relationships impacted by infidelity, sexual addiction, and porn addiction.
Was there gaslighting related to infidelity and/or addiction in your relationship? If you think not, you might want to think again. Consider the following:
- “I never said I’d be home by eight. I don’t know why you would think that.”
- “She’s just a coworker. When she calls here, it’s because we have a project to finish. Why are you always so jealous?”
- “Why do you keep asking me if something is going on? You’re completely paranoid. It’s really annoying.”
- “I told you I had to work late tonight. Obviously, you weren’t listening.”
- “I wasn’t looking at her, I was looking over her shoulder to signal the waiter.”
- “I told you at least three times that I might have to go out of town. When you don’t listen like this, it feels like I don’t matter to you. Why do you do this to me?”
- “I was working late at the office, closed my eyes for a minute, and fell asleep. I can’t believe you’re angry with me just because I forgot to call. How could I call when I was asleep?”
- “Who are you going to believe? Your nasty jealous sister or your loving husband?”
- “Honestly, I only work these late hours for us. For you. So we can have a better life. It’s ridiculous that you think I’m cheating.”
- “I would never do that. I don’t even look at other women. You’re just being crazy, and it really upsets me that you don’t trust me.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar? I’m guessing that at least a few of them do. And when your betrayed partner worked up the courage to question these or similar lies, it’s possible that you flipped the script, insisting your lies were true and that your partner was forgetful, delusional, or just making things up. If so, you engaged in gaslighting with your partner, and you will have to work doubly hard to restore trust and heal your damaged relationship.
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If you or someone you care about is struggling with sex, porn, or substance/sex addiction, help is available. Seeking Integrity offers inpatient treatment for sex, porn, and substance/sex addicts, as well as low-cost online workgroups. At the same time, SexandRelationshipHealing.com offers a variety of free webinars and drop-in discussion groups, podcasts, and more.