Recently The Cut published an article with new definitions of relatable feelings that don’t have a word. Most of them were simply amusing, for example, “lennyness”, defined as the overwhelming desire to pick up a small, cute thing and hug it tight.
But some definitions cut a little deeper, like sex poisoned. The feeling of having a romantic interest in someone after having sex, which you objectively don’t have.
One of the comments that caught my eye was the question of a girl who asked, “can we get a word for mansplaining, but it’s also gaslighting?”.
That one definitely hit a note, as I’m sure it does for many of you.
Subtle forms of Manipulation
Subtle and not so subtle forms of manipulation are a big part of dating life. Although it’s especially prominent in men-women relationships, it also happens in relationships with friends and family.
So what is this “mansplaining meets gaslighting” exactly?
When people (not just men), are incapable to communicate in an honest way, they resort to some sort of mind game.
Some are pretty innocent, others not so much. But before we get into all that is toxic, what is a healthy way to communicate? Very simple: it strikes the right balance between emotions and reason.
Distracting from the real issue
When people aren’t balanced communicators (emotions AND reason), they tend to abuse one or the other. One way to do that is by gaslighting, which is making the other person’s mind run around in circles without the intention of coming to a resolution. This dynamic is outright exhausting because you never get to the core of the issue at hand.
If you often leave a conversation feeling like “how did we get here?” then these tips are for you. Keep in mind that when somebody takes you for a crazy ride like that, they have a reason for doing so: avoiding the real issue. The things you can do are: 1) not participate or 2) stay 100% present.
Especially when you have no clue what’s going on and you often end up blaming yourself, try to stay 100% present next time a situation like this occurs.
Presence instead of resistance
Gaslighters do one thing very well: they make your mind spin in circles, very fast. The only way you can grasp what’s going on is by not going along with their train of thought. Take control of the pace of the conversation by connecting their last sentence to the one prior. Then ask a question.
Why is this useful? Because as you slow down, you get to see what’s happening. Often, the topics Mr. or Miss Gaslighter connects with each other don’t match up.
Therefore, the solution to dealing with gaslighting is not resistance, but presence. Don’t let yourself get dragged from one topic to the next.
When you get thrown an emotional curveball, duck. It’s their very intention to make you crumble under the things that trigger you most.
Don’t forget, this is not about you. It’s about them avoiding to get to the core issue, by all means possible.
The purpose of it
The reason that it’s so important to understand the emotional dynamics you’re playing out in life are two-fold.
First of all, if you don’t understand what’s happening, you’ll usually stay and nothing will change.
Second, when you don’t fully understand the emotional dynamic you’re participating in, it will keep on showing up in your life. If not with this person, then with the next person.
There is only one purpose to the gaslighting dynamic: for you to get clear about what’s going on so you can pause enough to see that it has nothing to do with you.
In an ideal world, we’d avoid these people altogether; unfortunately, in reality, that isn’t always so easy.
When we start understanding our emotional dynamics and feelings from a bigger perspective, it becomes much easier to act upon them and let things go.