Gaslighting or Bad Communication? Part 2

Part Two: Continuing the discussion of gaslighting versus bad communication.

Posted Feb 18, 2019

OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay
Source: OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay

In Part 1, you learned four points from my article "11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting," after I received an email asking the difference between gaslighting versus poor communication, complete with examples.  In Part 2, we continue to go through points 5 through 8, along with quotes from the sender of the email. 

Example

"5. Their actions don't meet their words." "I feel this is in response to a girlfriends [sic] demands, often the man will want to change or say he will to keep her quiet, when her demands aren't met she is left with his actions not matching his words." 

Answer

Expectations in a relationship can spell disappointment so many times.  Yes, poor communication or miscommunication can lead to hurt feelings and promises not fulfilled.  However, gaslighting is where a person promises something they know they can't or won't deliver. They are promising someone to string them along or to keep their narcissistic supply.  If you are making a promise to "keep someone quiet", yes, that is a form of gaslighting, as you most likely have no intention on following through.  

Example

"6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you." "Some of the meanest people still have a nice side to them and will throw out compliments.  It's human nature to be more critical because when things are doing right we don't need to speak.  It's not calculated, it's just human nature." 

Answer

Sure, rarely are people 100% mean or 100% not mean.  True, a mean person can still give a compliment.  But is that compliment given freely, or is it given with an expectation of something in return?  With a gaslighter, a compliment is only given in the very beginning of a relationship, when he is "love bombing" you, when he needs something from you, or when he combines it with an insult (a "complisult").  In a healthy relationship, you do speak up when things are going well.  You tell your partner you appreciate them, and you thank them. 

Example

"7. They know confusion weakens people." "Again, lying to get out of trouble like a politician isn't some elaborate scheme to confuse you and shatter your stability." 

Answer

It depends on who is doing the lying.  Lying to get out of trouble, as discussed in Part 1, can be a form of gaslighting - especially when the goal is to get the victim to worry so much that he spends the evening analyzing what he might have done wrong.  Sure, some lies are small lies.  However, how many of these lies are being told? And what is the utility or purpose of the lie? In my book Gaslighting: How to Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People and Break Free you'll learn why and how gaslighters lie.  It has mostly to do with gaining power and control - and gaslighters can be chronic cheaters. 

Example

"8. They project." "Human nature for drug users to think that they don't have a problem, and someone else smoked one joint once so they can smoke 100 and it's fine.  More in denial themselves than trying to distract other people."

Answer

Gaslighting is a common behavior for addicts. Rationalizing, as the emailer describes, can take on a gaslighting bent, especially when it is twisted as, "You drank some beers last week, so what's the problem with me drinking some? You think you're better than me.  Maybe you're the alcoholic."  It's not only rationalizing and minimizing, but it's also intentionally putting the focus on the other person.  It's a distraction technique.  Usually, what follows are more examples of how the gaslighter claims the victim has a drinking issue—and some of those examples never even happened.  But the gaslighter will swear they did. 

Part 3 

Part 1

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