Gaslighting: How Narcissists Use It During Divorce

gaslighting in divorceDoes your divorce from a narcissist make you feel like you’re going crazy? Do you have a hard time trusting your judgment and perceptions? If so, you may have fallen prey to the narcissist’s favorite weapon: gaslighting.

What Is Gaslighting?

The term is taken from the 1944 film Gaslight, in which the husband played by Charles Boyer dims and brightens the gaslights to make his wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, think she’s going insane so he can have her committed and take her house. 

While your narcissist is probably not turning lights off and on, they most certainly are using other means of distorting events to make you feel destabilized so they can gain and keep the upper hand.

Common Gaslighting Techniques 

Here are some classic ways narcissists manipulate reality so that you question the way you’re interpreting it.

  • Switching between nasty and nice. The narcissist will keep you off kilter by threatening a custody suit one day, then telling you they like your new haircut the next. Why butter you up after tearing you down? To make you wonder if they really aren’t so bad after all, and maybe you’re being the difficult one.
  • Distorting what others have said about you. The narcissist will spin something benign someone has said about you, so that it appears this other person is on the narcissist’s team. If you believe the narcissist’s story, you may get upset with the person they’ve triangulated, unwittingly “proving” that you’re unstable.
  • Pretending to be a good co-parent while throwing you under the bus. While some narcissists are openly hostile towards their ex in front of the kids, others cloak their vengefulness so it appears they’re trying to “help.” For example: your ex encourages the kids to behave at your house because you “get upset so easily.” Or they thank you profusely for supervising the kids’ diorama while telling the children what the narcissist would have done to make it better. And if you dare call them out on their behavior? You’re neurotic, ungrateful, and your attitude makes you impossible co-parent with!
  • Playing the part of Amicable Ex in public. The narcissist is so chummy with you during back-to-school night that all the moms comment on how lucky you are to have such a friendly ex-husband. You begin to wonder if wouldn’t be suing you for custody if you were just easier to get along with.

If you find yourself doubting what you think and feel, it’s time to get your power back. Read this article to learn how to protect yourself from gaslighting.

Learn More: 

5 ways to protect yourself after divorcing a narcissist

How to get a narcissist to reveal themselves

Don’t let gaslighting affect your divorce. We can help you learn your right and protect yourself. Safeguard your future and get in touch to schedule a consultation with a trusted family law attorney. Call us at 888-888-0919 or click the button below. 

Schedule an Initial Consultation