Gaslighting is a sneaky, covert form of manipulation that involves making someone question their reality, memory, or perceptions. The narcissistic gaslighter will use small, calculated tactics to chip away at their victim’s confidence and make them think that they are going crazy.
Knowing the warning signs of a narcissistic gaslighter is crucial if you want to protect yourself from this insidious form of emotional abuse. In this article, we will be discussing 10 red flags to look out for if you suspect that someone in your life may be a narcissistic gaslighter.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter is Always Right
One of the most common and prominent traits of a narcissistic gaslighter is their deep-rooted belief that they are always right. They can be incredibly dismissive of other people’s opinions or perspectives, and will go to great lengths to convince others that their own viewpoint is the only correct one. This mindset can result in the gaslighter refusing to acknowledge or even consider alternative or opposing viewpoints, leading to a one-sided conversation or argument.
Their manipulative techniques include criticizing or belittling others who do not agree with them, interrupting others when they are speaking, and using their authority to establish dominance. If they sense any challenge or resistance to their beliefs or ideas, they can become defensive, confrontational, or hostile, lashing out against anyone who opposes them.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter will Play the Victim
Gaslighters commonly use the victim card to gain sympathy and manipulate those around them. They easily play the role of a victim to avoid accountability for their own actions, blaming others for their own shortcomings, mistakes, and failures. This manipulative tactic is a way to get attention, validation, and control.
Moreover, gaslighters may use this technique to manipulate others into feeling guilty or ashamed of their own opinions or emotions. By portraying themselves as the victim, the gaslighter is able to control the narrative and shift the focus away from their own negative behavior.
It is important to keep in mind that nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. However, a gaslighter’s dismissal of their own negative behaviour can be a clear sign of their inability to accept responsibility for their actions. By blaming others and victimizing themselves, they are able to avoid taking responsibility for their own choices and behaviour, and they can keep on repeating their negative patterns.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter will Twist Your Words
Gaslighters are experts in manipulating words and twisting meanings to achieve their manipulative goals. One classic gaslighting technique is to distort someone’s words to make them appear to say something else entirely than what was actually said. This tactic is particularly effective in making the victim question their own reality and emotions, often leading to increased confusion and self-doubt.
Narcissistic gaslighters will typically use this tactic to sow the seeds of doubt in the victim’s mind. They may falsely accuse the victim of saying or doing something, which can cause them to feel guilty or ashamed without any justified reason. This tactic effectively manipulates the victim’s thoughts and emotions and creates an environment where the victim feels responsible for something they are not responsible for.
Moreover, once the gaslighter has twisted the victim’s words, they may leverage that misinterpretation to further manipulate or control the victim’s behavior. The victim may become increasingly submissive to the gaslighter’s demands and may even start to doubt their own memory and recollection of the events that transpired.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter Will Deny Their Behaviour
Denying their behavior and making excuses is yet another common gaslighting tactic that narcissistic gaslighters employ. When confronted with their harmful or inappropriate behavior, a gaslighter may refuse to acknowledge their actions or may downplay their impact. They may attempt to manipulate the situation by making excuses or offering justifications for their behavior.
This gaslighting technique can make the victim doubt their own perception of reality and question whether they are actually justified in their feelings or beliefs. Gaslighters may use vague or indirect language, blame others or external circumstances, or even play the victim to elicit sympathy and avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
Gaslighters may also create confusion around the facts by redefining key details, altering the timeline or blatantly lying about certain things. They may even go as far as to remove evidence, destroy documents or hide information to avoid consequences.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter Will Make You Feel Bad
Gaslighters have a knack for making people feel guilty or ashamed about things that are not their fault. This is another one of the classic gaslighting techniques employed by narcissists to manipulate those around them and make them question themselves.
When a narcissistic gaslighter makes you feel responsible for their emotions or blames you for something you cannot control, they are actually trying to make you second-guess your own worth and validity. Gaslighters use guilt trips and accusations to make the victim doubt their own version of events and take on any blame for what happened.
The victim of these tactics may find themselves feeling powerless, isolated, and constantly questioning their own decisions and feelings. This type of manipulation can lead to decreased self-esteem, depression, anxiety, or even paranoia.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter Will Constantly Criticize You
Narcissistic gaslighters will constantly criticize the victim. They may criticize anything from your looks, decisions, or even the way you walk or talk. This can be a very damaging tactic for the victim, as it often leads to feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem.
This negative reinforcement will bring out the worst in the victim while simultaneously making them feel inadequate. The gaslighter’s aim is usually to make the victim feel inferior and that they cannot do anything right. This way they can maintain a sense of power over them and gain control of the situation.
By constantly critiquing, belittling, insulting, or talking down to you, a narcissistic partner can make you question your own worth and value. It’s important to remember though that none of this criticism is warranted or true. It’s only meant to manipulate or control you.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter Will Use Positive Reinforcement
Gaslighters may also use positive reinforcement to keep their victims in check. This can come in the form of compliments or excessive affection. While this may seem like a kind gesture, gaslighters often employ this tactic to manipulate their victims into thinking that they are better off staying within the confines of the abuser’s control.
This is an insidious way of gaining power over someone by making them feel special and appreciated whenever they do something that benefits the gaslighter. The praise and attention will be quickly revoked if the victim expresses any dissent, reinforcing the message that it is best to comply with whatever the gaslighter wants.
In truth, this kind of manipulative behaviour is a form of coercion – forcing someone to do something they would not usually do without pressure or threats. It creates a feeling of dependency on the abuser and reinforces their power over you.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter Will Shift Blame Onto Others
Narcissistic gaslighters often shift the blame onto other people. They may make excuses or justify their own decisions, citing external factors such as work or family pressures. This is a tactic to evade responsibility for their actions and try to pin the blame on someone else.
This can be a sign of an unwillingness to change their behaviour and accept accountability for the consequences of their words or actions. It may also be used to deflect criticism away from themselves and onto another person, in order to preserve their sense of superiority over others.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter Will Use Intimidation Tactics
Some gaslighters use intimidation tactics to assert their power over others. This can take the form of veiled threats, verbal abuse, or outright bullying. It is a way for them to try and control the behaviour of those around them in order to get their way.
In addition, gaslighters may also resort to physical violence if they feel that their position of authority is being threatened. Physical aggression is an extreme tactic which should not be tolerated under any circumstances and should be reported to law enforcement if necessary.
The Narcissistic Gaslighter Will Have a Pattern of Gaslighting
Finally, if you notice that someone in your life has a pattern of gaslighting, it is important to take action. It’s important to recognize and address this form of behaviour as soon as possible before it escalates into something more serious.
Although it may be difficult to confront someone about their behaviour or distance yourself from them, it is necessary for your own mental health and safety. If someone continues to gaslight you despite being confronted about it, then it may be time to seriously reconsider the relationship.
How to Protect Yourself from Gaslighting
Recognize the signs
Gaslighting can take many forms, such as reframing conversations, playing mind games, manipulating facts, lying, and denying things that have been said or done.
Recognizing the signs of gaslighting is the first step in protecting yourself from it. If you notice someone in your life exhibiting any of these behaviors, it is important to take note and take steps to protect yourself.
Pay attention to how the person responds when you confront them about their behaviour or disagree with them. Oftentimes a narcissist will immediately become defensive or shift blame onto someone else in order to avoid accountability for their actions.
Trust your instincts
It’s important to remember that you are the only one who knows what is best for you. If something doesn’t feel right or if your instincts tell you that something isn’t quite right in any interaction with someone, then it’s important to trust yourself and take action.
Don’t allow the narcissistic gaslighter convince you otherwise – trust your gut and make sure that you are taking steps to protect yourself.
Seek Professional Support
If a situation is becoming too difficult or draining, it may be beneficial to seek professional help in order to manage the situation more effectively. Talking about your experience with a therapist or counselor can help give you perspective and insight into how best to protect yourself from narcissistic gaslighting.
This is perhaps the most important step in protecting yourself from narcissistic gaslighting. You must be willing and able to set appropriate boundaries for yourself and not allow anyone to cross them without consequence. Setting boundaries will help ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of or manipulated in any way.
Surround yourself with positive people
When dealing with a narcissist, it helps if you can lean on friends and family for emotional support and a reality check when needed. Spending time with emotionally healthy people will create an environment where you can feel safe and empowered to stand up for yourself when necessary without feeling overwhelmed by their influence.
Dealing with a narcissistic gaslighter can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you are not powerless in this situation. By recognizing the signs of gaslighting and taking steps to protect yourself, such as setting effective boundaries, trusting your instincts, and seeking professional help if needed, you can empower yourself to stand up for yourself and make sure that your needs are being respected.
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Carla Corelli is an author, advocate, and survivor of narcissistic abuse. Having grown up with a narcissistic father, Carla experienced firsthand the profound impact of psychological and emotional abuse. Fueled by her personal journey, she pursued a degree in psychology and has dedicated herself to shedding light on the complexities of narcissistic abuse.
With over fifteen years of experience in writing and advocating for survivors, Carla is deeply committed to providing support, education, and empowerment to those who have endured similar trauma. Through her articles, Carla aims to offer a compassionate space for healing and growth, while advocating for greater awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse.
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