Narcissists are known for their grandiose self-image, which is often leveraged to manipulate people and achieve their goals. But it’s not just the narcissist’s personality that makes narcissists dangerous—it’s also their tactics. Narcissists typically employ the use of narcissist gaslighting to manipulate their victims.

This article will discuss how to detect narcissist gaslighting when you are in an abusive relationship.

download the red flags of gaslighting checklist

online therapy

What Is Narcissist Gaslighting?

Narcissist gaslighting in romantic relationships

Narcissistic gaslighting is a common form of psychological abuse in relationships performed by people suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder.

This emotional abuse involves using psychologically manipulative tactics to undermine the victim’s sense of reality and perception, leaving them confused, fearful, and desperate for the abusive person’s approval.

Narcissist gaslighting usually involves extreme emotional abuse. Due to the abuser’s inflated sense of ego, they will often accuse the victim of being crazy, imagining things, or overreacting to situations.

Narcissists will use all of those tactics to gain power.

What Is The Difference Between a Narcissist And a Gaslighter?

gaslighting as a psychological manipulation in rmantic relationships

One of the key differences between a narcissist and a gaslighter is that while both can be emotionally abusive, a narcissist will typically use gaslighting tactics to control and manipulate their victims.

In contrast, a gaslighter uses emotional abuse to gain power over their targets. This can include undermining their victims’ self-esteem, ruining their confidence, making threats, and playing mind games to gain control over them.

15 signs you are being gaslighted - protect your mental health

Additionally, while a narcissist will often treat the people around them with contempt or indifference, a gaslighter is likely to use emotional manipulation tactics like guilt-tripping or emotional blackmail to get what they want.

Finally, a narcissist exhibits a range of traits and characteristics than simply manipulating or controlling through gaslighting. 

About People With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

romantic relationships and narcissism

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder characterized by the inability to form healthy, realistic, and intimate relationships. People with NPD have a distorted sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others.

People with NPD often have an inflated sense of their own importance and a borderline personality disorder. They may have unrealistic expectations of themselves and others, including unrealistic standards of success, purpose,e or happiness.

In extreme cases, people with NPD can be very demanding and expect constant praise and admiration from others.

People with NPD can also be susceptible to criticism, which they interpret as an attack on their character or status.

If someone criticizes them, they may feel hurt or insulted rather than accepting that they made a mistake or had bad intentions behind the remark.

Narcissistic Abuse And Gaslighting Behavior – When They Coexist

It all starts with a narcissistic parent and narcissist injuries

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation tactic used to make a victim doubt their own perception of reality, their own judgment, and their ability to think logically. However, narcissists do not always or only use gaslighting. Gaslighting alone does not make someone a narcissist or wrath as a sign of narcissistic personality disorder.

The so-called “dark trinity” of psychological traits—psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism—are frequently seen in those who use this efficient manipulation style, but gaslighting alone doesn’t render somebody a psychopath or a narcissist.

However, narcissists practice gaslighting because it helps the cult leader gain more control over the followers by shattering the victim’s perception of reality.

Narcissistic people often exhibit one or more dark triad characteristics with a few exceptions. 

Related: Am I Being Gaslighted Quiz: The Best Free Quiz To Find Out

Do Narcissists Gaslight On Purpose?

Narcissists have a cunning ability to control and manipulate others,  and this ability usually has a purpose: to maintain their power. Although NPD is a personality disorder and the source of a narcissist’s behavior and all of their relationship problems, gaslighting as a form of emotional abuse should never be excused or accepted. Being aptly aware is vital to recognize this destructive behavior before escalating further. But how can you spot narcissist gaslighting?

19 Ways To Spot Narcissist Gaslighting In an Abusive Relationship. 

romantic relationships and narcissism

One of the core narcissistic traits is gaslighting. Gaslighting, the action of making someone question their sanity by playing mind games with them, is commonly used by narcissistic people to control and manipulate.

One of the common examples of gaslighting is repeatedly lying until they become fact in your mind; they will use this technique to make you doubt yourself so that you don’t realize how abusive the relationship truly is.

But how do you detect this narcissistic gaslighting behavior in a person?

Learn all the types of emotional abuse, even the hidden ones.

Gaslighting is a form of domestic violence

Learning to spot emotional abuse is essential to healing from an abusive relationship and avoiding being a victim of future covert narcissists. There are many types of emotional abuse, and learning to recognize them can help you avoid getting hurt again.

Know by heart all the narcissistic gaslighting examples.

Knowing all the classic gaslighting phrases can help to spot a narcissist. Gaslighting phrases like:

Example 1:

Gaslighters love to shift blame. An example is, “You are selfish if you don’t do this for me.” ” That did not happen; you only imagine things.

Example 2:

Gaslighters will use the word “love” to justify their gaslighting behavior, saying, ” The reason I did that was that I love you.”

Example 3:

Simply rejecting another person’s emotions is gaslighting on the most fundamental level. Some examples of gaslighting phrases in this regard are: “I don’t know why you’re making such a huge deal of this.” “You’re being overly sensitive.” “You are being dramatic,” or “That never happened.”

Related: How to Expose a Gaslighter: The 9 Smartest Ways

The abuser manipulates situations repeatedly – and makes you feel confused.

One of the most common ways an abuser gaslight is by manipulating situations repeatedly, such as making you feel baffled about what’s happening. A classic example would be the abuser saying something like, “I can’t believe you’re so angry at me! I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” The narcissistic behavior will leave you conducted, making you feel like you are overreacting.

The abusive partner invalidates all your feelings.

Invalidation of feelings is a typical narcissistic gaslighting technique used by narcissists. The person constantly makes you question your own reality.

The person also makes you feel like you are making a big deal over a situation even when you are not.

You may find yourself making excuses for the narcissist’s behavior, listening to them making statements such as: “I’m so sorry,” “I didn’t mean to,” “It won’t happen again,” or “It’s just how I am.”

These types of phrases might indicate manipulation because they allow the abuser to get away with their bad behavior without having to take responsibility for it.

Your self-doubt keeps growing.

A victim of gaslighting usually has trust issues. During a relationship with a narcissist, the abuser will make you question everything and anything. You used to have a magnetic personality before, but now you feel like you have a lousy memory and are not right about things that happened.

You try to talk to the person and convince them to start therapy, but they don’t listen. They don’t care. And they never stop doing things that hurt you.

You try to leave, but they keep coming back, telling you everything will be okay and starting a vicious cycle of abuse.

Your mental health is deteriorating.

Gaslighters typically lack empathy and waste no time toying with a person’s mental health. When in an abusive relationship, you will feel every destructive emotion that will affect the state of your mental and spiritual health.

Your self-esteem will not only be in a poor state, but you will also have no feeling of self-importance.

You’re constantly depressed and anxious, making it harder to focus on your job or relationship. You’re sleeping less, no longer practicing self-care, and have trouble concentrating at work.

You feel like you’re always overreacting or being paranoid, which makes you even more anxious about everything else.

You keep questioning your own sanity.

A narcissistic person makes you question your sanity. This is one of the significant examples of gaslighting behavior. The person questions your behaviors, and before you realize it, you start to question if you are a sane person.

When you start trying to make sense of all your actions, you are in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, often quite attached.

You often go through psychological manipulation, like passive aggressiveness and silent treatment.

Two primary narcissist gaslighting techniques are silent treatment and passive aggressiveness. Narcissists will use this narcissistic gaslighting behavior to make you feel like you are in the wrong, even for their mistakes.

You make excuses for their behavior.

Making excuses for your partner’s abusive behavior is also a sign that you are with a narcissist. Even when you catch them telling a blatant lie, you tell yourself that it was not intentional or was just a joke, saying things like, “I know she’s not really like that,” or “He really loves me.”

You don’t see your partner’s lousy behavior; instead, you focus on what they do right.

Bu not questioning their ability to love you, you trust them entirely and assume they know what’s best for you. You think your partner has good intentions and wants to help you be happy, even if it means sacrificing his own needs.

You feel isolated from friends and family.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who gaslights you, you’ve likely started to feel isolated from the people who could help you.

Narcissists will restrict you from seeing your family and friends so as not to bail you from a narcissistic gaslighting situation. They will not only isolate you from seeing any family member but even discourage you from seeking any professional help.

All romantic relationships feel unworthy.

If every romantic relationship you’re entering seems unworthy, there’s an excellent chance narcissists are attracting you. Victims of gaslighting behavior and emotional abuse cannot realize they are trapped in a pattern, but they acknowledge that most of their romantic relationships feel off.

Your lover may insist that you aren’t indeed in love with them. They may accuse you of being uncaring or using them, making you feel anxious about your ability to manifest a great partner.

If they say, “I don’t think you really love me,” and you reply, “Of course I do; I wouldn’t be in this relationship if I didn’t,” they may gaslight you by replying, “Well, then why don’t you do things the way I ask?” 

Your partner is throwing a tantrum or a narcissistic rage for no apparent reason.

When a narcissist throws a tantrum, they try to control you by making you feel sorry, or even scared, of them. They may try to manipulate your emotions and reality by saying things like “I’m mad at you,” contradicting it with “I just want you to know how much I love you.” They may also shame you into believing you have been wronged.

Narcissists have an inflated sense of ego and often use their emotions to excuse their behavior. If they are angry, they will claim that they are feeling anger—even though they may only be acting angry because they want sympathy from you.

You often find yourself in abusive relationships, thinking it’s your fate.

“You’re just not good enough, or no one else would want to be with you.” You might be listening to that phrase because you are a victim of narcissistic gaslighting. If you find yourself in abusive relationships often, there might be a trauma bond you need to resolve before you can move on. 

Related: Why Do I Attract Narcissists & 7 Main Reasons On How to Stop it

You go through many negative emotions that you cannot put into words.

Going through many destructive emotions, you cannot put into words is one of the signs that you are with a narcissist.

They feel like a weight on your chest, and they make it hard to breathe. But when you try to talk about it, your partner makes it seem as though nothing is going on and everything you might be feeling is wrong. 

Your partner makes you feel like you carry a lot of emotional baggage.

Your partner also makes you feel like you carry a lot of emotional weight—that somehow being in this relationship has caused all this pain for you, and it will follow you everywhere you go.

You may feel like no matter what happens or how hard things get, they won’t see what went wrong or their mistakes – you carry the weight.

You feel like you imagine things.

Making people feel like they imagine things is a strong manipulation tactic of a narcissistic personality disorder. You get emotionally abused anytime you try to question your partner’s behavior.

They make you question your experience and tell you that you are only picturing things. This is one of the common traits of a person with a narcissistic personality disorder.

You know you have a toxic relationship, but you run in circles.

The narcissistic abuse cycle

Narcissists have substantial control over their victims. You may be well aware that the person you are in a relationship with is exhibiting gaslighting and other forms of narcissistic behavior.

Still, the stronghold they have on you makes you run in circles. You decide you’re exiting the relationship and letting them go, only to see yourself returning each and every time. The gaslighting behavior they employ will make you question your traumatic experience. You will see them as your support system and think you are self-centered whenever you think of leaving the person.

But you are not self-centered. You are just a victim of narcissistic abuse.

You are questioning your own emotions.

Lastly, one of the common signs you are in a relationship with a narcissist who gaslights you is when you start to question your own actions and emotions. You begin to feel that your emotions are no longer valid and that you cannot have a different opinion from them without feeling like you’re mistaken. Let me say that you’re entitled to your opinions, and feelings are not right or wrong. They are just feelings. 

There is no more evident sign that you are a victim of gaslighting behavior.

Related: 35 Best Karma Narcissist Quotes that Will Shake Your World

Takeaway – Narcissist Gaslighting In an Abusive Relationship.

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic that makes victims doubt their perception of reality. Making excuses for your partner’s abusive behavior is also a sign that you are with a narcissist.

Gaslighters typically lack empathy and waste no time toying with a person’s mental health.

If you are a real-life victim of narcissists, it is better to seek professional help or online therapy.

Do you have difficulty choosing a mental health professional? Can’t afford in-person couples or individual therapy?

This online therapy toolbox is more efficient and affordable than any other virtual therapy I’ve tried, including BetterHelp and Talkspace. It instantly matches you with a therapist. By leveraging the power of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) -the most common psychotherapeutic approach for treating mental health problems- your therapist will guide you to a happier you through the sections, worksheets, messages, and live sessions. You can do your sessions wherever you are in the world and have daily contact with your therapist.

Use my link to start only at 40$ per week for your first month.

More on narcissism:

1) How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you? + 10 top tips to cope

2) Trapped in a narcissistic relationship pattern? The 7 awful signs

3) The 12 traits of a narcissist to spot immediately and avoid attachment

4) The Narcissist Prayer: How To Dive Into the Narcissistic Soul