What Happens When You Ignore A Gaslighter
(8 Things You Should Know)
Gaslighters are addicted to attention.
They will do almost anything to get attention- positive or negative!
What happens when you ignore a gaslighter?
When you ignore them, their attention-seeking behaviors will only escalate.
If they are more passive, they will try to change the subject. On the aggressive end, they will become verbally or physically abusive.
One way or another- when you ignore a gaslighter- you can guarantee that they will gaslight you even more.
So, what do you do if you’re getting gaslighted?
As I stated, what happens when you ignore a gaslighter is more of the same thing: abusive behavior!
The bad news: you are not going to change them.
The good news: you can change yourself.
But it’s not easy.
Gaining greater emotional awareness and self-regulation is both a practice and a skill… and if you are like most other humans, these skills are not easy skills to develop.
Why is it especially important to learn these skills when you are dealing with a gaslighter?
because you teach the gaslighter how to treat you.
In other words, in the past, they have learned how to bother you because you reacted.
When you don’t react, they no longer have the power to bother you.
I know, I know, this sounds easy… but it isn’t it. Especially because gaslighters can do so much destruction in a small amount of time.
It is hard not to react to someone who is actively smearing your name or spreading vicious lies.
What can you do when you are working on building your emotional awareness and self-regulation skills?
Here are a few tips to make it a (teeny tiny) bit easier:
1. Name the problem
This may seem like an obvious step.
However, when your emotions and feelings have been denied for a prolonged period, you may be confused about which way is up and which way is down.
Having the awareness to name what is going on between you and the gaslighter is a huge step!
2. Figure out what is truth and what is fiction.
It sounds easy… unless you are in a relationship with a gaslighter!
Take notes about your conversation. Ask yourself:
- Were my thoughts minimized?
- Were my feelings minimized?
Examine the notes that you took and get curious. Keep doing this to see if you can find a pattern of behavior.
3. Don't engage!
Are you trying to convince the gaslighter of something?
If you keep on arguing about the same topic and your feelings are minimized, it’s time to stop talking… seeking approval… or explaining.
4. Honor how you feel.
Your feelings aren’t right or wrong.
If something feels off, get curious!
Too often, we try to convince the other person of how we feel.
Rather than spend time doing that, stay curious and figure out what exactly is going on inside your body.
5. Accept that not all relationships last forever.
Our society doesn’t do a good job of embracing this fact: Most relationships have seasons.
You aren’t meant to be friends or in a relationship with most people for your whole life.
The gaslighter probably won’t ever be who you want them to be.
For some of us (especially if you are a rescuer), accepting this can be excruciating and challenging.
Sadly, if the gaslighter is your dad or your uncle, walking away may be more than you are comfortable doing- or maybe it goes against your values.
If it is a close family member- ask yourself: “Can I trust myself to be in a relationship with this person? Will I be able to seek my own approval and not chase after theirs?”
If not, you may want to give yourself as much space as you can for a while while you work on building your emotional awareness and self-regulation skills.
6. Talk to your close friends.
Let me state this again: TALK TO YOUR CLOSE FRIENDS… more than one ideally.
If your close confidants have concerns about a person gaslighting you, hear them out!
Ask questions such as:
And let them know you want to continue to dialogue about it.
Ask them if you seem like yourself and do a reality check on your spouse’s behavior.
Ask them to be brutally honest.
7. Validate yourself.
It can be tempting to try and get people on your side… tempting may not be a strong enough word: It can be gloriously affirming. It can be addictive… it can feel SOOOO good to bathe in self-righteousness.
The problem: It is self-destructive.
Recruiting people to prove how “right” you are is wasted energy.
It creates an endless cycle of seeking validation from others.
It’s the opposite side of the same coin as arguing with a gaslighter. Seeking the approval of someone else- the gaslighter or a close friend- won’t help you gain self-confidence.
Rather than spending your energy doing that… spend it on learning to validate yourself.
8. Have compassion… for yourself (and the gaslighter).
Everyone wants to be accepted. It is normal and natural to want others’ approval.
Allow space for the fact that you are human… and the draw towards a gaslighter is something every human has experienced.
In other words: You are not alone!
Remember: Hurt people, hurt people. Serial gaslighters are so hurt, that they can’t admit to themselves that they have insecurities and issues.
It’s not an excuse. Nor is it a reason to stay in a relationship with a gaslighter.
But, it is easier to accept reality when you realize that it isn’t personal… however much it may seem like it is.
What happens when you ignore a gaslighter?
It will be difficult.
AND- It will be a growing experience.
You can gain skills and abilities that will benefit you and your future relationships.
But, I won’t sugarcoat it!
It ain’t easy.
I wish you strength, resilience, and only the best!
In the meantime, are you ready to give therapy a go?