I met Zara at a house party in West London. My friend Kelly is a supermodel and so naturally she hangs out with a lot of celebrities. Kelly gets invited to the sickest parties and sometimes she invites me. Of course I’m always happy to tag along. When I met Zara we hit it off instantly, she was tall with flawless dark skin and she had a massive Afro. Zara was an upcoming musician and she could sing pretty high notes. We bonded instantly over our love of red wine and Love and Hip Hop. We exchanged numbers at the party and it was the beginning of an amazing friendship. I didn’t know then that in addition to Love and Hip Hop we would be discussing gaslighting in subsequent conversations.
I googled her that night when I went home. A lot of articles on her messy breakup with her ex who was also her manager at the time surfaced. I felt bad for her and promised myself I wouldn’t ask her about it unless she brought it up. We started going out a lot together and we got close very quickly. One day, months after we met we were sitting in her garden. It was one of those elusive but treasured hot days in the summer. She turned to me and asked me “Have you ever dated someone that made you feel crazy?”
“That’s so random. What do you mean by crazy?” I asked.
“You know, like something’s wrong with you. They lie to you a lot. They tell you up is down and down is up.” Zara replied.
“Oh yeah, those guys. I call them Fuckboys. It’s called gaslighting.” I replied.
She threw her head back and laughed exposing her brilliant white teeth. Then she said “My ex was like that. I never told you about him did I?”
“Nope! And I didn’t wanna ask because that’s your personal business.”
She took a gulp of her gin and tonic, sighed and then she spoke.
“I pretty much felt like I was going crazy. He kept telling me I was imagining things. I’d catch him in dodgy situations and he’d tell me I was overreacting or I misunderstood the situation.”
“What kind of dodgy situations?” I asked.
“It started with little things and then it escalated. He was managing me at the time. We booked a private gig once and he told me when he takes his cut and other fees I would make about £10000. I did the gig and it was great. But when I got paid it was less than half of £10k. I asked him why I was paid so little considering what we initially discussed. He acted surprised and said that he never told me I would make £10000 – it was actually £4000. We argued about it as I was pretty sure about what I heard. Eventually I gave in as he was really angry with me suggesting that he was robbing me as he loved me. It happened a few more times after that. I started feeling like I needed to record our conversations.”
“That’s wild! He was messing with your coins?” I asked incredulously.
“That’s not the only thing he was messing with. There was this woman that always called him late at night. He never spoke to her in front of me. He always left the room. I told him I thought it was weird and he was acting like there was something going on between them. He told me I was being controlling and possessive. ‘So what I can’t have female friends?’ he said to me once. I have male friends so I thought maybe I was being unreasonable. But no matter what he said I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was up. So one day I checked his phone.”
“You went there?”
“I sure did and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I saw 100’s of messages between them. It was peak babes. There were nudes being sent back and forth, there were meeting plans, I love yous and I miss yous.”
“What did you do?”
“I lost it. First, I made sure to take screenshots of everything and I sent it to myself so he wouldn’t accuse me of making it up. I needed receipts. I waited for him to come home and I confronted him. I must’ve looked crazy because I was screaming at him at the top of my voice. He kept going on about me going through his phone but that just made me madder. For months he made me doubt myself and I found out I was right! I was livid. He had the nerve to say to me ‘Look how you’re acting. You’re acting crazy.’ That was when I knew what he was doing was deliberate, calculated and I had to go.”
Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse that makes you question your feelings and sanity. Gaslighting is only one example of crazy making behavior. Crazy making is used by abusers, fuckboys and the disordered. It is designed to make you doubt yourself so that you remain under the fuckboy’s control. After all, if he can can convince you that you are crazy you will be too busy trying to fix yourself. That will allow him to carry on being a fuckboy. Fun! Gaslighting does not only occur in romantic relationships.
So how do you know when you are being gaslighted?
- He denies saying things he has said or doing things he has done. So much that you feel like you might have to start recording your conversations or taking notes.
- He regularly accuses you of being “crazy” or “irrational” when you voice your concerns with his actions. He is also dismissive of them or he trivializes them.
- His favorite lines are “You’re too sensitive.” “You’re being too emotional.” “That never happened.”
- When you react to his behavior (and rightly so) he uses your reaction as further proof that you are indeed crazy.
So how do you deal with a gaslighting fuckboy? Tell trusted people what is happening to you and what you are feeling. An external party can help you stay grounded and help to remind you that you are not in fact crazy. Seek counseling from a counselor who specializes in abuse if at all possible. Lastly, if you have repeatedly spoken to the gaslighter about their behavior and there is no sign of change, there is no healthy solution other than to cut them off or reduce contact. The former option is best. Continued exposure to a person that makes you doubt your sanity will erode your self esteem and make you behave in ways that are out of character.
Ladies, if you meet a man and he tells you his ex was crazy be very careful. You too may soon become the crazy ex.