Gaslighting is a form of interpersonal abuse that works by manipulating meaning, memory, and perception.
Gaslighter(s) play dirty pool with the ambiguity inherent in all human communication.
Gaslighting could not work if interpersonal reality did not contain a great deal of ambiguity. Gaslighters know this and exploit it for selfish advantage.
In this respect, gaslighting shows how important it is to remove as much ambiguity as possible in relationships with significant others.
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to tell if you are being gaslighted. Gaslighting relies fundamentally on abuse of interpersonal trust.
Victims of gaslighting…
…might harbor feelings of anger toward the person they sense is an aggressor but also find themselves thrown into positions of anxious defensiveness, which makes them feel unjustified and unsure of themselves. If their manipulator also happens to be skilled in the art of “impression management” — displaying superficial charm and enjoying the capacity to make favorable impressions on others — those on the receiving end of their tactics are likely to feel even crazier. (Gaslighting Revisited: A Closer Look at This Manipulation Tactic)
I bring the subject up for itself but also because it sheds light on FIML practice. FIML is the polar opposite of gaslighting. Rather than manipulate each other, FIML partners seek to remove the source material of gaslighting—interpersonal ambiguity.
From a FIML point of view, gaslighting is the worst thing one person can do to another short of criminal acts.
If you suspect you are being gaslighted, I suggest you try to get your partner to do FIML with you. If they are gaslighters, my guess is they will not want to do it. Or if they do, they will try to manipulate you through FIML.
But that won’t work for long. Before long, you will begin to see that they are lying and that their purpose is not to help you but to control you by distorting interpersonal “reality.”
I will venture a guess that most gaslighters will be incapable of the mindfulness or metacognitive self-control FIML requires. I will also guess that they will be deeply frustrated by FIML queries and that this will lead to anger and a spike in gaslighting behaviors.
Gaslighters are “reality bullies” that seek control of others by forcing their interpretations on them. This is the exact opposite of what FIML does.
(Note: Obviously not everyone who cannot or will not do FIML is a gaslighter.)