Gaslighting, whether in a relationship, at work, and in friendship, is a form of emotional abuse. Gaslighting involves constantly invalidating your feelings and as a victim of gaslighting, you may start to doubt yourself and lose your sanity.
Gaslighting friends can be toxic and can make your world unstable. When you have someone constantly dismissing things you say, lying to you, or denying something they said, you start to second guess yourself and lose your perception.
Friends can be gaslighters too. Friendship is one of the important relationships in someone’s life and when your relationship with your friends is not going well, it can affect your mental health.
So, how can you tell if your friend is gaslighting you?
- They are constantly lying
- They deny things they said when it does not favor them
- They accuse you of causing them to behave in a certain way
- They dismiss your feelings or invalidate them
- They distract you when you want to talk about something serious
- You feel insecure about this friend and fear offending them
- You wonder if they are genuine individuals or if they are pretending
- You no longer like who you are with them but can’t seem to getaway
How to deal with a gaslighting friend
Know when to recognize gaslighting
Before you deal with a gaslighting friend, you need to know well that you are being gaslighted. Read more on how to know if someone is gaslighting you and some signs of gaslighting. Once you are sure you are being a gaslighter, you can now work towards handling a gaslighting friend.
Know your truth and stand by it
If a friend said something to you then deny it later claiming ‘you heard wrong’ or ‘I didn’t say that’, learn to stand by your trust and say it. When you are being gaslighted, you can let things slide because you don’t want to offend your friend.
The more you do this, the more they continue taking advantage and gaslight you even more. When you stand by your truth and tell them so, you may start making your friend take responsibility for their words in the future.
When you notice your friend constantly denies things they said, you can keep evidence. For example, if you are having an argument and they say mean things to you which they later denied, you can try recording when an argument is taking place. Your friend will not be pleased about you recording the conversation, but it will make your stand stronger when you tell them they are hurting your feelings by denying that they said something and yet they said it.
Don’t argue with them
Gaslighters, and other emotional abusers, thrive in chaos and derive satisfaction in belittling you and your words and action. If for example they’re lying and you know the truth and have a proof for it, you can choose to walk out of the conversation. Sometimes it’s not worth it to keep arguing with someone that is not ready to see things from your perspective.
Maintain your autonomy
Often, when you have been in a gaslighting friendship or relationship for long, you start to lose yourself and your identity. Gaslighters cause you to start doubting yourself and your abilities. If you don’t stand for yourself, you will live in the gaslighter’s world and forget who you are as an individual. Maintain your independence and don’t allow them to tell you what you need to feel or say.
Your support system can help you deal with a gaslighting friend. If you have mutual friends with the gaslighter, you can confide with this friend about the gaslighter’s behavior. Often, you find that gaslighters do this to everyone around them. A good support system of friends and family can help you identify a gaslighter and separate from them.
Be genuine with your feelings
If you are genuine with your feelings, you will notice when someone is trying to stifle them. Gaslighters don’t want you to express your feelings and will do their best to stop you from expressing them. If you find yourself in a friendship where you can be open with your feeling, maybe it is time you chose your freedom of expression instead of being suppressed.
Leave the friendship
Gaslighters don’t have respect for your emotional wellbeing. They don’t want the best for you and thrive on emotionally manipulating you. Clearly, someone that does this is not a good friend. If your friend has been gaslighting you, and you have tried all the above strategies and none is working, it is alright to walk away from the friendship. You don’t need people that affect your emotional wellbeing in your life.
Bottom line on how to deal with a gaslighting friend
Learning what gaslighting is and how it happens can also help you realize if you are the gaslighting friend. Sometimes gaslighters don’t even know they are doing it, for them, it is mainly a defense mechanism. If you find that you are the gaslighting friend or partner, you can start working on yourself to become a better partner or friend.