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Author Topic: Accusations of gaslighting and communication  (Read 328 times)
Beren2016

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« on: May 07, 2021, 04:14:30 AM »

Hi all

Me and my girlfriend have been stuck in conflict cycles where a small situation quickly spirals into break up.

I have re read the ending conflict lesson and I understand the need for me to break the cycle but my question relates to specifically with what triggers the emotion in my GF and the misunderstanding around that ie. between what I say and what she feels/hears.

I'm walking on eggshells, if we are having a conversation about a sensitive subject, I can say something meant helpfuly from a good place and she hears it and repeats it back to me like it was a venomous attack...(I feel she is speaking her emotions rather than the fact of what I said)

When I then say "I wasn't saying that", I get accused of gaslighting, and from there it's only get worse as we both defend ourselves and invalidate each other and end up in conversations about the meaning of words

I understand that I need to walk away but, I feel like need to communicate that I'm not attacking her otherwise that will cause other problems... But when I do I'm suddenly a gaslighter.

It feels like a battle between what I mean to say and the attack she perceives and I don't know to validate her feelings of the perceived attack when that is the furthest from my meaning

It feels like no matter the fact of what I say, the emotion she feels overrides any of my truth and if I don't accept what she feels as the truth, I'm a gaslighter... But surely I can't admit to an attack that I did not do

It feels like she feels/hears a malicious twist to everything I say and I have no choice but to accept I said it as truth, or risk being labeled an abuser..

I end up getting frustrated and when I bri g my emotions into it she reply "well maybe you can't handle being with someone with bpd"... But if I used her bpd as part of why there might be a misunderstanding she would say "your saying thay im crazy and none of it is your fault".

I feel caught in a spiral where everything I say is wrong, and even when I did not mean or say anything to attack her, her feelings of attack are the only ones that are allowed to stand as truth.

I say "I know what I said" , but she says "I know what I heard" and her repeated words arnt accurate but to say that, labels me an abuser, obviously this is a misunderstanding and a battle of feelings but I'm so confused.

I understand SET but I don't get how I can use that to validate her feelings of attack when there wasn't an attack and while holding my truth.

I hope that made sense, thank you all in advance
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Beren2016

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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2021, 04:59:05 AM »

I would like to add and clarify the situation.

The most recent involves.. She is on a diet and wants to lose weight but struggles with depression, bpd and anxiety so struggles with cravings and emotional eating and motivation to cook.... I was trying to ask how to help and said.

"I can help if I'm here because I can make something or go to the shop to help with getting something healthy, but if I'm not like on a night it's harder because sometimes, late on night, you can crave a take away after I leave.." This last bit was the is the trigger

She has In the past asked for a takeaway and I have went and got it after I have been in bed and dropped it off. (she has anxiety and struggles to leave the house)but not In a while and this makes her feel like a burden and problem..(she isn't to me)

She replyed with rage and "you are saying like it happens all of the time it hasn't happened in ages"

Now i understand why she is provoked, she feel like a problem and thay has upset her.... But I wasn't saying it happened all of the time, I just said it is a thing that could happen (I was trying to show empathy with her struggles and work out how to help)...

But when I reply and say that isn't what I said I'm accused of gaslighting...

What I said has upset her and I understand the need to apologise and I feels like she is projecting onto my words  but if I wasn't saying she was a problem, that happens all of the time or even expressing negative emotion how do I validate her upset feelings while saying that I wasn't saying the things she feels I did....

Thank you again
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Guts42
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2021, 06:13:26 AM »

For what it's worth this sounds so much like what my wife is like.  Similar deal, she struggles with body image issues and will put in some effort to make a change (either body acceptance or physical) but quickly losses interest.

Recently she said the problem is me bringing home sugary snacks.  So I stopped.  Then she accused me of not loving her and thinking she's fat because I didn't bring home anything extra from the store.  When I reminded her that I was doing what she asked the reply was "well you know what I mean!  It should be here and you just shouldn't tell me unless I ask!"
Well, I snuck something in unbeknownst to her and eventually she asked.  My wife ended up getting sick (too sugary perhaps) and of course it was my fault.  "I've asked you to please not bring anything home like this!  I really need you're help!  Please stop!"

Okay, personal rant over.

It sounds like more than anything her trigger is feeling abandoned.  I might be the one projecting here but it's like your statement reminds her of how dependent she is on you to both control and enable her behavior.  She needs you to prevent her from acting on her take out impulse but at the same time she needs you to act on it since you're the one who brings it to her.  With you removed she's essentially stuck in a no win situation, something BPs like to put us non-BPs in.

I'm very new to this BPD world so my advice and observations might be a bit sophomoric!  The only thing I've noticed that helps is not apologizing.  I acknowledge her emotions but I don't accept responsibility for them.  I'll use phrases like "I completely see how this is frustrating/infuriating/annoying, it sucks.  Is there something we can do to make you feel better right now?". And if she's in a fit I don't bother reminding her I'm doing what she said because there's always a way I'm doing it wrong.   This usually shorts her out because it directs the blame away from anyone and creates a pseudo demand for her to think about resolving it.

Again sophomoric probably.

As for the gaslighting- I really doubt you are.  'Gaslighting' is my BPs favorite new phrase.  She loves accusing me of it as well as saying "I'm not gaslighting you- but you're objectively over reacting."

Just the nature of BP I suppose.  Double standards aren't double standards they're operational allowances that keep them functioning without self analysis.
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2021, 08:54:48 AM »

Excerpt
I don't get how I can use that to validate her feelings of attack when there wasn't an attack

you dont.

think of validation more broadly. it isnt a set of nice words to make someone calm down. it also doesnt mean agreeing with someone. you dont want to validate the invalid.

Excerpt
I can say something meant helpfuly from a good place and she hears it and repeats it back to me like it was a venomous attack...(

the first thing is that you love a highly sensitive person, who is prone to feeling easy rejected and/or slighted. more than likely, thats who she is, and that will always exist in your relationship.

Excerpt
When I then say "I wasn't saying that", I get accused of gaslighting, and from there it's only get worse as we both defend ourselves and invalidate each other and end up in conversations about the meaning of words

the long and short of it is "dont do this"  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

all couples have a sort of method of conflict...some more constructive than others, some more destructive, but a sort of habitual way, regardless. the solution is to begin to break that habit; to change the cycle. its not to find the right words to say to calm her down.

its difficult to say what exactly that means in your case; youd actually be in the best position to know, even though it may not feel that way now, because you know her best, and you know how the two of you go at it. but it can take a lot of trial and error, and youre unlikely to ever find some fool proof method that ensures she will never take something you said the wrong way, or that the two of you may fight about it. whats actually far more important is the level of trust and relationship security in your relationship. her feelings about what you said are temporary and will blow over, no matter how upset she gets in the moment.

it would help if youd give us a recent example with a lot of the back and forth. we can walk you through it, help you to think through some different responses and how they might be more constructive.
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EZEarache
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2021, 09:13:27 AM »


the misunderstanding around that ie. between what I say and what she feels/hears.

having a conversation about a sensitive subject, I can say something meant helpfuly from a good place and she hears it and repeats it back to me like it was a venomous attack.

When I then say "I wasn't saying that", I get accused of gaslighting, and from there it's only get worse as we both defend ourselves and invalidate each other and end up in conversations about the meaning of words

It feels like no matter the fact of what I say, the emotion she feels overrides any of my truth and if I don't accept what she feels as the truth, I'm a gaslighter...

It feels like she feels/hears a malicious twist to everything I say and I have no choice but to accept I said it as truth, or risk being labeled an abuser..


I feel caught in a spiral where everything I say is wrong, and even when I did not mean or say anything to attack her, her feelings of attack are the only ones that are allowed to stand as truth.


Thank you for posting. This is exactly the dynamic I've experienced for the past two months, since I needed to move out of the house. She is completely convinced I am gaslighting and abusive. We broke up with a sense of finality in therapy last night, I think. She was insisting that, "I said she was the root cause of our problems." But she was leaving out an important part of the sentence, that the therapist agrees that I said. She just keeps dwelling on me thinking she's the root cause of the problem. In reality, we're equally at fault.

My therapist agrees with me that she has BPD. I wish I knew what I could do to get her to therapy.

It sounds like your partner has been diagnosed and accepts she has a problem... well, sort of. What was the catalyst for her getting help?

Do you think there would be any good in me, talking to her about it directly after I get my furniture out of the house?
« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 09:19:11 AM by EZEarache » Logged
Seeleygirl

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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2021, 10:37:40 AM »

Just wanted to let you know that I experience this exact same thing except instead of “gaslighting” my BPDbf accuses me of “not listening” to him or I’m trying to push my way of doing things onto him. I understand where this is coming from now because his father had BPD as well and only died 5yrs ago and because they all lived and worked on the family farm he had been dealing with a controlling father his entire life (he’s late 30s now). So in looking at it this way I realize that every time he is having anxiety about any situation in our dynamic, his whole body and mind respond as if it was his father telling him his opinion was wrong and he has no voice in the family business and he’s nothing but “muscle and no brains”. Knowing all this now has allowed me to just step back when he’s in this “red zone” and not try to defend myself or try to clarify anything at all because he simply doesn’t hear what I’m saying at all. He literally takes any talking at this point as “arguing” and telling him he’s wrong, which as you say, is absolutely not at all what I’m trying to do. I’m usually trying to clarify to him that that’s NOT what I was trying to say at all. But like I said, he’s actually told me recently that when this is happening he is not physically capable of hearing the words I’m saying and he gets confused easily and thinks I’m trying to talk him in circles in order to win an argument. I’ve learned that just not arguing at all - either being quiet or saying “OK” is enough to diffuse the situation for a bit and get some space. Believe me I know it’s hard because you really want to defend yourself and/or reassure them that you aren’t attacking them but it seems to be the only way. After a bit I find my bf comes down out of the “red zone” and then he usually is a little remorseful on his own and can “hear” a little bit of what you were actually trying to say but KEEP IT VERY SHORT! Lol seriously. Don’t go into any long-winded explanations of what or why you were actually saying what you were saying - I find now just a short and genuine “no that’s absolutely not what I was saying” is good enough. You can throw in a “why” later if she asks but again - as short as possible explanations I find work best. Just make sure you look at her when she’s talking because if they think they are being ignored this is just as bad. You have to look at them in the eyes and give them the impression you are listening to their concerns otherwise you are invalidating their issues which is the whole problem in the first place really. As someone else said, the important thing at this point is to make sure you aren’t eroding trust in the relationship and just saying as little as possible at this point I find works the best. Hope it works for you too
« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 10:47:56 AM by Seeleygirl » Logged
DadofThreeGirls

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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2021, 12:47:35 PM »

Hi all

Me and my girlfriend have been stuck in conflict cycles where a small situation quickly spirals into break up.

I'm walking on eggshells, if we are having a conversation about a sensitive subject, I can say something meant helpfuly from a good place and she hears it and repeats it back to me like it was a venomous attack...(I feel she is speaking her emotions rather than the fact of what I said)

When I then say "I wasn't saying that", I get accused of gaslighting, and from there it's only get worse as we both defend ourselves and invalidate each other and end up in conversations about the meaning of words

It feels like she feels/hears a malicious twist to everything I say and I have no choice but to accept I said it as truth, or risk being labeled an abuser..

Beren, this is a tough place to be. I am still young in my journey of learning the helpful skills and ideas that are all over these boards, but I definitely relate to the situation you are in. I too have been labeled uncaring, an abuser, told that I don't listen to my wife, that I don't respect her.....the list goes on. I can't say that I have the answers, but I can say this is a good place to bounce ideas around. Best of luck as you continue on this journey.


Recently she said the problem is me bringing home sugary snacks.  So I stopped.  Then she accused me of not loving her and thinking she's fat because I didn't bring home anything extra from the store.  When I reminded her that I was doing what she asked the reply was "well you know what I mean!  It should be here and you just shouldn't tell me unless I ask!"
Well, I snuck something in unbeknownst to her and eventually she asked.  My wife ended up getting sick (too sugary perhaps) and of course it was my fault.  "I've asked you to please not bring anything home like this!  I really need you're help!  Please stop!"

Guts, this has been a continuous conversation in our house. I'm told that I am the reason that she has unhealthy habits because of the food I bring into the house, so I say that I won't anymore, and her reaction is to rebound and say that she should be able to have treats when she is on her period, etc. - note that I never said she couldn't have treats, I just said I wouldn't be the one bringing them into the house. It appears that this "darned if we do, darned if we don't mentality" is a commonality across many posts.

Just wanted to let you know that I experience this exact same thing except instead of “gaslighting” my BPDbf accuses me of “not listening” to him or I’m trying to push my way of doing things onto him.

It is amazing to me how many posts on this board feel like they were written from my perspective. I'm in the same place @Seeleygirl, and while I'm doing better at not trying to explain myself, I'm still not where I want to be in regards to this behavior. I can't tell you how many times my uBPDw has told me how I'm feeling even if it is nothing close to what I am actually feeling. I agree less is more, and I continue to work on validating what she is feeling and not JADEing.
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alterK

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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2021, 03:15:06 PM »

I am new to these boards and the struggle to understand BPD. I agree with what others have said, that validating is not the same as agreeing. People with BPD see the world, especially close relationships, from their own special point of view, which is often different, and much more unhappy, than their partner’s. It’s useless to try to argue them out of it.

Validating is basically a statement that you acknowledge that a person’s feelings are true for them. Then you get to state your own feelings about the situation, but don’t count on being validated by your partner. You probably have to provide your own validation within your mind. Fun, eh?

It’s really a struggle to try to clarify this stuff in your head, but I think even if things don’t work out just as you would wish, you will feel better for having made the effort. And if you are lucky, your partner may just come back in a few hours willing to talk more calmly.
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Guts42
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2021, 04:37:06 PM »

Guts, this has been a continuous conversation in our house. I'm told that I am the reason that she has unhealthy habits because of the food I bring into the house, so I say that I won't anymore, and her reaction is to rebound and say that she should be able to have treats when she is on her period, etc. - note that I never said she couldn't have treats, I just said I wouldn't be the one bringing them into the house. It appears that this "darned if we do, darned if we don't mentality" is a commonality across many posts.

That's exactly when things get really bad, a few days before her period starts.  Seems to cause a major uptick in the BPD behavior.  She says it's PMDD and that may be a component.  Once she was crying, so hurt and disappointed that I didn't bring her cake from the store.  I'd asked her if she wanted me to pick anything up via text while I was there, cake in hand!, knowing where she was in her cycle.  She said no... but then later said "you know what that means!"
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EZEarache
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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2021, 11:24:32 AM »

That's exactly when things get really bad, a few days before her period starts.  Seems to cause a major uptick in the BPD behavior.  She says it's PMDD and that may be a component. 

From my experience, do not, for any reason point this out. The comments that come back will just be along the lines of, "You don't care about my feelings," "Stop invalidating my feelings," "I have a right to feel this way"

It can be really difficult not to point out that the perception is misplaced or inaccurate and this is a potential cause. However, she will not be able to recognize or acknowledge it at the time. Maybe a week later, in retrospect if she's at all self-aware she'll recognize that the perception was not based in fact. Most of the time though, I'm noticing that the feeling is actually being accepted as fact.

In our last therapy session, she kept talking about feelings as if they were facts.  Sadly, they were just perceptions. My therapist tried to explain the difference between fact and perception. Unfortunately, she was already so pissed about my perceived transgressions that she couldn't recognized the difference.
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