Why is gaslighting so harmful in relationships? (DW# 784)
Yesterday, we distinguished between two types of "gaslighting", one where there is intent to control, manipulate, and subjugate the other person compared to where the person doing the gaslighting is simply trying to save themselves from facing accountability.
Experts agree that even when gaslighting is done on a one-time basis and is not part of characterological abuse, it is still very harmful to relationships as it destroys trust between people.
Since trust is the very foundation of an intimate relationship, when this is destroyed, it makes it very challenging to repair. When someone discovers that they were gaslit, they are shocked and traumatized that someone they trusted has the ability to harm them in this way. The breaking of trust leads to not feeling safe in the relationship and often results in shrinking away and protecting oneself from being intimate or vulnerable in the relationship.
Can a relationship continue with this emotional distance and self-protection? Yes of course it can, but it is hard to be comfortable, fulfilled or satisfied when one is focused on self-protection rather than on connection.
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