Cheating in a relationship can affect us in several different ways. 

Was it my fault? Am I not good enough? How can I change myself so my partner likes being with me?

The above are some of the questions we tend to ask ourselves – however, it’s important to remember that your partner cheating says less about you and more about them. 

If you ask yourself, “Is my boyfriend cheating?” or “How do I tell if my boyfriend is cheating on me?” and struggle to find the right answers – this article is for you.

In this article, we share the signs of cheating in a relationship and provide tips and advice that you can use if you suspect that your partner is cheating on you. 

Look out for some commonly asked questions about infidelity. 

Remember, you deserve to be in a healthy and supportive relationship. Regardless of whether it is a monogamous or ethical non-monogamous relationship, you deserve partners who value and love you for who you are! 

What Are the First Signs of Cheating? 

Cheating takes a toll on our mental health and affects the way we interact and seek new relationships in the future. 

Cheating or infidelity is when a partner is unfaithful and causes mistrust, tension, or instability in relationships.

When someone cheats, it’s not only about physical intimacy. For example, cheating can take several forms, such as:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological

If your partner texts someone without your knowledge and engages in elaborate romantic conversation with them – it would be emotional cheating. 

People tend to cheat for several reasons. Some of the common reasons include:

  • Lack of physical intimacy in the current relationship
  • Lack of emotional availability
  • A need to seek thrill or adventure 
  • A lack of connection or bond with the current partner

A person can cheat explicitly or in a more subtle way. For example, manipulating a partner and telling them that they’re not good enough and then spending time with someone else could indicate narcissism. 

On the other hand, texting or engaging in physical contact with someone without the knowledge of a partner is a more subtle way to cheat.

Below are some of the first signs of cheating:

  • Suddenly becoming more distant
  • Showing less interest in physical intimacy with the current partner
  • Refusing to spend time with the partner

The signs may seem like they’re connected to some other person’s problem, which could be the case. However, if the signs persist for a long time (eg more than a week or two), you may want to initiate a conversation about the same.

How to Tell if My Boyfriend Is Cheating On Me?

In this section, we will discuss some red flags or signs that could indicate that your boyfriend might be cheating. We will also explore why placing some confidence in your partner is important and how to approach the situation with care and empathy. Although these points focus on infidelity in a boyfriend, it is still relevant to people of all genders. 

Your Gut Feeling

Red Flag: As much as we do not want to believe it, sometimes our gut tells us that something is not quite right in our relationship. Even though it is not proof of cheating, that feeling of unease can be hard to shake. 

For many people, the initial indication of cheating is a feeling that something is amiss. In this case, you may subconsciously note other subtle signs of infidelity that may have contributed to your gut feeling. 

Benefit of doubt: While your intuition may tell you something is off; it could be wrong. So, how do you tell the difference? Perhaps your partner is dealing with stress at work, causing them to act differently. Have you tried talking to them about it? 

What to do: If your gut feeling persists, it can often be more right than wrong. If you have a hunch that something fishy is going on, pay attention to other signs that could confirm or disprove your suspicion. Try to avoid being confrontational or accusatory. Instead, express your concerns and let your partner know that the relationship is not meeting your needs.  

Mood Swings

Red Flag: If you have been wondering, “Is my boyfriend cheating on me?” Here are some signs to look out for. If you notice that your partner is getting irritated with you, even for the most minor things, it could be a sign that they are cheating. 

They become defensive and nervous when you inquire about their recent activities. They might be taking out their frustration on you, or they might be pushing you away. 

Benefit of doubt: Of course, there could be other reasons why your partner is easily irritated. Maybe they are worried about something going on in their life. They could also be planning a surprise for a special occasion and trying to keep it a secret. Before jumping to conclusions, it can help to have an honest discussion with your partner about what is going on and how you can support each other. 

What to do: If your first thought about their mood swings is, “I think my boyfriend is cheating on me,” then it is better to process that thought. To do this, you can gather more information by paying attention to your boyfriend’s behaviours. Then, approach the topic calmly and non-judgmentally, share your feelings, listen to their perspective, and see if they have a reasonable explanation for their mood swings. 

Your Friends and Family Notice a Change

Red Flag: If your friends notice something wrong with your relationship dynamic, it could be worth paying attention to their concerns. Your partner may be displaying behaviours that are out of character or acting more suspicious than usual around them. 

Cheaters often experience feelings of guilt. As a way to justify their actions to themselves, they may try to make their partner look bad. Some may even try to start fights or create a hostile environment to achieve this.

Benefit of doubt: Perhaps your boyfriend feels uncomfortable around some of your friends for personal reasons, or you might not have the complete picture of what is happening. 

What to do: Do you still think you are in an unhealthy situation? That your boyfriend is cheating in the relationship? If that is the case, try to ask your partner about the behaviour your friends have noticed and see if they have an explanation. You can also talk to your friends and get more details about their observations. If nothing works, consider seeking advice from a professional counsellor to help you work through these issues. 

Technology Changes

Red Flag: In today’s digital age, cheating has become easier due to the widespread availability of technology. A common sign to look out for is when your boyfriend starts being overly sensitive with their electronic devices. For example, they might have a second phone or email account you know nothing about. It could be a red flag if they start taking calls in private and seem defensive when you get close to their gadgets. 

Benefit of doubt: Your boyfriend might prefer to have privacy over what he does and who he contacts, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

What to do: While it is natural to feel curious, snooping is a breach of trust that could damage your relationship. Instead, consider talking to your partner and expressing your concerns in a non-accusatory way. Ask them to show you the messages or explain why they are being secretive. If they are unwilling to be transparent, it may be time to question their response.

Cheating in a relationship can have devastating consequences, such as eroding trust, causing emotional pain, and potentially leading to the end of the relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is my boyfriend cheating in our long-distance relationship?

Being in a long-distance relationship already has its own challenges. For example, it can be hard to find time to talk to each other, keep up with each other’s lives, or even satisfy emotional and physical needs. 

Most importantly, if the relationship dynamic is not strong, long-distance could also lead to doubts about what the partner is up to, questions, and other trust-related issues. 

If you suspect your partner in a long-distance relationship is cheating on you, we provide some tips and points you can read. 

The below tips can help you notice if there is any strange change in your dynamics. 

However, do remember that the most important thing to do if you suspect cheating is to have an open and honest conversation with your partner. 

Some of the points you could look into are:

  • Look for changes in behaviours such as lack of communication or interest in you (See: How Do I Tell If He Loves Me).
  • Notice if your partner suddenly avoids certain topics or becomes defensive when you discuss how you have been feeling lately. 

As mentioned previously, the changes in behaviour could also be due to personal problems such as mental health issues, family stress, or work burnout. 

Hence, if you notice these signs for long enough – the first thing to do would be to talk to your partner. 

If your partner is not willing to open up or further increase your suspicions, it would be better to consult a mental health professional such as an online therapist. 

What is considered cheating?

The concept of cheating does not have a one-size-fits-all definition. This is because cheating depends on the partners and their relationship. 

For example, if a couple is in an open relationship and has consented and agreed to have multiple partners – their engagement with others would not be considered cheating. 

On the other hand, if one partner either emotionally or physically engages with someone else without the consent or knowledge of their current partner – it is cheating. 

In general, cheating is when a partner breaks any trust or commitment of their loved one. For example, breaking trust could include:

  • Kissing or having sex with someone else
  • Texting romantically 
  • Developing a deep love for someone else and hiding it from the partner

If you suspect that your partner is cheating, try to have an honest conversation about this. You can also bring this topic up in a safe environment, such as during psychotherapy. 

If you find out that your partner hasn’t cheated on you, you can still seek therapy to set realistic couples goals to prevent any future conflicts!

If you have experienced cheating in a relationship, therapy can provide a safe space for you and your partner to address the underlying issues that contribute to cheating.

What causes a man to cheat?

There is not a single reason as to why men cheat. 

For example, in a 2020 study, 87.9% of the research participants confessed to cheating in their relationship. 

The participants shared their reasons for cheating, and some of them were:

  • Anger
  • Self-esteem
  • Lack of love
  • Low or no commitment
  • Need for variety and excitement
  • Neglect in the relationship
  • Sexual desires
  • Dye to situations or circumstances (ie a more vague answer)

If you ask yourself, “Is my boyfriend cheating?” and want to find out why – it may be a good idea to either talk to your partner about it or seek couples therapy together. 

Do remember that none of the reasons are valid to excuse cheating. If your partner has cheated, it is best to confront them about it. 

Cheating is a partner’s choice, and it is their responsibility to become accountable for their actions. Your partner cheating does not say anything about you as a person. 

At Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO), our Therapists are always available to help you manage your emotions, set healthy boundaries, and move on from an unhealthy relationship. Reach out today if you need help. You are not alone!

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Therapy helps 77%-100% of people recover from being gaslighted

In recent years, the terms “narcissistic” and “gaslighting” have become increasingly prevalent in conversations surrounding relationships and mental health. But what exactly is narcissistic gaslighting, and how does it manifest in our everyday lives?

To begin with, a gaslighting narcissist is an individual with narcissistic personality traits who uses manipulation tactics to sow doubt in the minds of others, ultimately causing them to question their sanity and reality. This form of psychological manipulation is called narcissistic gaslighting.

According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, the prevalence of lifetime narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) was around 6.2%, and it is believed that a significant proportion of these individuals engage in gaslighting behaviour. Moreover, with the rise of social media and the spread of misinformation, there is a growing concern that narcissistic and gaslighting behaviours may be on the rise.

In this article, we will explore the 7 most common signs of narcissistic gaslighting, which include, but are not limited to, the denial of reality, shifting blame, and the use of confusion to maintain control. 

Additionally, we will address some frequently asked questions about narcissistic gaslighting, such as how to cope with the emotional turmoil it causes and seek help if you find yourself trapped in this insidious web.

7 Signs of Narcissistic Gaslighting

1. Lies and Exaggerations

One key sign of narcissistic gaslighting is when a person tells blatant lies or exaggerates their achievements, often to make themselves look better or manipulate others. 

For instance, they may claim to have received a prestigious award they never won or boast about an expensive car they do not own. Another example is when they downplay the achievements of others to shine the spotlight on themselves.

People can be narcissists, gaslighters, or both. Narcissistic people aim to become superior and “special.” Whereas gaslighters use psychological intimidation (which may manifest as a threat) to make others feel inferior. 

A narcissistic gaslighter, then, is someone who constantly augments their domination over other people. It may be emotionally exhausting to face these situations, and oftentimes, we may not know how to handle them.

What to do?

You can best handle this type of behaviour if you can remain calm and collected. When you recognise narcissistic patterns in another individual, you may want to maintain a level of detachment. However, detaching from a loved one may prove to be highly complicated and painful. 

If you are unsure about the veracity of their claims, try to do your research to verify the facts first-hand. If you collect evidence that contradicts their lies or exaggerations, a narcissist may react with anger or defensiveness. 

For example, they may become aggressive and lash out at you or completely shut down. In situations like this, you may want to set strict boundaries to protect yourself from their attempts to control you. 

Knowing how to respond to a narcissist gaslighting might be helpful in the face of exaggerations. Psycho-education, learning about the signs of narcissistic gaslighting, and asserting your boundaries are some ways to regain control of the situation. 

2. Aggressive to Criticism

Displaying aggressive behaviours towards criticism is one of the major signs of narcissistic gaslighting. This means that when a person receives a comment about their action, either in the form of feedback or constructive criticism, they often react very poorly. 

No matter how helpful or valid the statement may be, narcissistic gaslighters cannot handle it, nor can they grasp the commenter’s intention due to their ego.

Aggressive behaviours may manifest in the form of temper tantrums, excuses, denial, blame, hypersensitivity, verbal abuse, avoidance, passive-aggression, or even physical abuse. For example, if you point out a mistake they made, they may become angry and lash out at you. They may blame you for being too critical and try to make you feel guilty for pointing out their mistake. 

Gaslighters almost always resort to extremes by magnifying the situation’s impact as a means to intimidate or oppress the other person. In addition, they often view relationships (of any form) as inherently competitive rather than collaborative. As a result, their perception relies on the idea that a relationship is a zero-sum game. To them, this means that they can either “win” or “lose.”

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict – alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.” – Dorothy Thompson

What to do?

If you are dealing with someone who exhibits aggressive behaviour towards criticism, remember to be careful before taking any action. The best approach to confronting a narcissistic person is to remain calm and collected. 

Try to keep your communication factual and non-emotional. One method is to stick to facts and avoid getting drawn into any emotional argument. 

To do this, you can look out for any emotional words from either yourself or the person you are confronting. For example, evidence often supports a factual discussion – “You sent me a very hurtful text. I have it right here,” and the emotional discussion involves your feelings – “Why did you say that? I feel really upset with you.”

Narcissistic gaslighting includes reacting with hostility or anger when receiving feedback or criticism.

3. Projecting a Fabricated Persona

Have you ever encountered someone who seems too good to be true? They may be projecting a fabricated persona as a part of narcissistic gaslighting. In simpler terms, a fabricated persona refers to an exaggerated or entirely false self-image created to manipulate others. 

For example, a person might claim they are an expert in a particular field when they have little to no experience. They do this to garner admiration and control over their victims. But unfortunately, these people are skilled at hiding their true intentions, making it challenging to recognise the warning signs.

Their “hero complex” (wanting to be in the spotlight constantly) can manifest in a number of ways. This includes physically, romantically, sexually, socially, spiritually, financially, academically, professionally, or culturally. The hidden messages behind this attitude are: “I am the best”, “I am better than you”, “I know everything”, “I will always have the final say because I am always right”, and so on. 

Pathological narcissists and gaslighters take pride in marginalising people or communities whom they view as weak, inferior, or insignificant. As a result, they often attack their victims passively or actively. They do this by being cruel to them, gaining pleasure from their offences, and repeatedly displaying a lack of humanity. 

What to do?

If you suspect someone is projecting a fabricated persona, it might help to trust your instincts and be aware of the red flags. These can include factors such as inconsistencies in their stories or an excessive need for attention. 

Another key point is to remember that a narcissistic person wants you to worship them, whereas a gaslighter wants you to submit to them. A person with both traits can display either or both intentions. Being aware of their behaviour patterns can give you space and time to figure out how to handle the situation better. 

When dealing with someone who may be using narcissistic gaslighting, try to set boundaries and maintain your emotional distance. For example, this could be listening to what they say and refraining from engaging further. This will help protect your mental wellbeing while preventing the narcissist from gaining further control over you. 

You might also benefit greatly from support from trusted friends, family, or a professional therapist who can help you navigate this challenging situation.

4. Violating Boundaries

Narcissistic gaslighting is a subtle manipulative tactic that people use to get away with violating rules, boundaries, and social norms. They achieve this through a series of behaviours that can often be difficult to pinpoint. For example, narcissists may consistently dismiss or trivialise their partner’s concerns, making them question their thoughts and feelings.

Narcissistic gaslighting examples relating to the violation of rules include:

  • Intruding personal space. 

  • Borrowing items without returning them.

  • Using others’ belongings without permission.

  • Breaking traffic rules.
  • Missing appointments.
  • Breaking promises.

Additionally, they tend to twist the narrative in their favour, blaming the victim for any issues that arise. This can leave the person on the receiving end feeling confused, invalidated, and unsure of their own actions. 

People who fall back on narcissism and gaslighting to defend themselves often presume entitlement with an egocentric orientation that dehumanises their victim. In some cases, this reaction may be extreme. Examples include financial abuse, sexual harassment, date rape, domestic abuse, human rights violation, and other hate crimes.

Note

Not everyone who engages in narcissistic or gaslighting behaviour patterns engages in disruptive behaviours. If you think you or someone close to you might be in danger, please seek professional help immediately or call the national police hotline.

What to do?

When faced with narcissistic gaslighting, it might help to remain vigilant and grounded in one’s own reality. Try to start by acknowledging and validating your personal experiences, feelings, and concerns, regardless of the narcissist’s attempts to dismiss them.

Establishing a support network made up of friends and family can be incredibly helpful in maintaining a sense of self and combating the effects of gaslighting. In addition, it is also essential to establish boundaries and enforce them consistently.

For instance, you could attempt to communicate with the narcissist calmly and assertively as you express your personal needs and desires. Sometimes, it may be necessary to distance yourself from the individual, either temporarily or permanently, to protect your wellbeing. 

5. Emotional Invalidation and Coercion

Another key sign of narcissistic gaslighting is emotional invalidation. This occurs when a narcissist dismisses, minimises, or rejects another person’s feelings. 

For example, imagine you are upset about something your partner has done, and you express your feelings. The narcissist might say, “You are too sensitive” or “You are overreacting.” In essence, they are telling you that your emotions are not valid, even if they very much are.

Coercion is another aspect of narcissistic gaslighting that accompanies emotional invalidation. For example, a narcissist may use pressure, threats, or manipulation to force someone to do something they do not want. 

They might threaten to end the relationship if you do not comply with their demands or insist that you change your appearance, interests, or behaviour to suit their preferences.

To add on, people with narcissist gaslighting patterns have unpredictable mood swings and may intentionally or unintentionally create an emotional drama. For example, they become upset if you show any indication of independence or self-confidence. As such, it might be difficult for you to identify what displeases or sets them off.

What to do?

Now that we know more about this particular sign of narcissistic gaslighting, how should you approach the situation or the person? Firstly, try to trust your instincts and emotions. Next, remind yourself that your feelings are valid and you have the right to express them. Finally, show yourself compassion and maintain a sense of self-worth and self-confidence despite the narcissist’s attempts to tear you down.

Secondly, it might help to be clear about your limits and what behaviours you will not tolerate. Then, try to communicate these boundaries assertively and stand firm when they are tested.

Finally, consider seeking professional help if you struggle to cope with the effects of narcissistic gaslighting. A mental health professional can provide guidance, support, and coping strategies tailored to your situation.

Therapy helps 77%-100% of people recover from being gaslighted

6. Isolating You From Others

One common tactic in narcissistic gaslighting is isolating the victim from their friends and family. This is achieved by the narcissist manipulating their target to make the latter feel as if their loved ones are against them or do not understand them. 

A relatable example might be when a narcissist convinces their partner that their friends are envious of their relationship, causing the partner to distance themselves from their support network. Another example could involve the narcissist dismissing their partner’s family as controlling or overbearing, leading to a rift between the partner and their relatives.

In a complicated relationship, it is common for narcissistic people to make you dependent on them as a primary support system. Most times, they may use emotional abuse or domestic violence to make this happen. Dr Stanford, who specialises in attachment/relationship issues, comments, “The narcissistic gaslighter vilifies people around you that you are close to and trust.”

What to do?

To address the issue of being isolated by a narcissist, maintain open communication with your friends and family. Share your experiences and seek their advice, as they may provide valuable insights into the situation. 

If you suspect that a narcissist is gaslighting you, consider seeking professional help from a psychologist or counsellor experienced in dealing with narcissistic abuse. They can offer guidance on how to respond to a narcissist gaslighting and support you in rebuilding your relationships. 

Additionally, establishing healthy boundaries with the narcissistic person and asserting your right to maintain relationships with your loved ones can help you regain control over your life. Remember, your support network is essential for your wellbeing, and it is crucial to surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you.

Narcissistic gaslighting involves shifting the responsibility or fault onto someone else, instead of taking accountability for one's actions.

7. Blame-Shifting

In essence, blame-shifting involves the narcissist transferring the responsibility for their own actions or behaviour onto someone else, frequently their victim.

To illustrate this concept, consider a simple example: a narcissist breaks a vase but accuses their partner of being careless and causing the accident. In this scenario, the narcissist refuses to accept any responsibility for the incident and instead attempts to make their partner feel guilty. 

This behaviour is common in narcissistic gaslighting, as it allows the narcissist to maintain a sense of superiority and control over their victim.

Every person has probably shifted blame onto other people at some point in their lives. However, if this continuously recurs in the relationship, it can become increasingly difficult to cope. 

What to do?

When dealing with blame-shifting, it is crucial to understand how to approach the situation and respond appropriately. 

Firstly, as we saw in the previous points, try to establish healthy boundaries to counteract the negative effects of blame-shifting. This might involve calmly stating the facts and resisting the urge to defend oneself against baseless accusations.

Ultimately, the goal is to develop the tools and resilience needed to maintain a sense of self-worth and emotional wellbeing, even when faced with narcissistic gaslighting. When a person uses gaslighting as a method to put you down, here is what you can do:

  1. Try to distance yourself from the situation, both physically and emotionally, whenever possible.

  2. Sit with your emotions and write down what went wrong or anything else that you can think of.

  3. If you find any evidence or facts from your journal, try to use them to dispute any false accusations or claims made against you.

  4. However, if you notice you have made a mistake, try to acknowledge them. At the same time, avoid taking responsibility for things that are not your fault;

  5. Finally, try not to engage in arguments or debates. Instead, you might want to take this to a professional therapist if you notice consistent patterns.

  6. Eventually, you can try to approach the narcissistic person and propose the idea of family or couples therapy based on what relationship you share with them. 

Takeaway

A gaslighting narcissist is an individual with narcissistic personality traits who uses manipulation tactics to sow doubt in the minds of others. People who gaslight use emotional abuse to make the other person question their sanity and reality.

Some signs of narcissistic gaslighting include lies, aggressiveness, violating boundaries, shifting blame, and so on.

Knowing how to respond to a narcissist gaslighting might be helpful in the face of exaggerations. Psycho-education through therapy, learning about the signs of narcissistic gaslighting, and asserting your boundaries are some ways to regain control of the situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

The treatment for narcissistic gaslighting can be a complex process, requiring a multi-faceted approach. It is essential to understand that addressing narcissism and gaslighting involves recognising the impact on the perpetrator and the victim.

One effective treatment for a person exhibiting narcissistic behaviour is psychotherapy. A professional therapist can help narcissists develop self-awareness and empathy, essential skills in overcoming their manipulative tendencies. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) are two approaches that have shown promising results in treating narcissistic personality disorder.

In the case of gaslighting, it is crucial for the victim to seek support from a therapist or support group. This can help them process the emotional turmoil they have experienced and learn to rebuild their self-esteem. Additionally, education about narcissistic gaslighting and its effects can empower the victim to recognise and resist such manipulation in the future.

Understanding narcissist gaslighting examples helps with identifying this form of manipulation. Some common examples include the perpetrator denying past actions, trivialising the victim’s feelings, and shifting blame onto the victim. 

Narcissistic phrases often involve twisting or distorting the truth to create doubt and confusion in the target. These are a few narcissist gaslighting examples:

“You are too sensitive.”

One of the most common narcissist gaslighting examples is accusing the target of being overly sensitive. This phrase is meant to dismiss any legitimate concerns or emotions the target may be experiencing, making them question their perception and reactions.

“You always misunderstand me.”

Narcissists often use this phrase to shift the blame from themselves to the target. The narcissist can avoid taking accountability for their behaviour and maintain control over the situation by insisting that the target is always misinterpreting their words or actions.

“You are overreacting.”

Similar to accusing the target of being too sensitive, narcissists use this phrase to discredit the target’s reaction to a situation. This tactic can cause the target to doubt their own emotions and reactions.

“I never said that.”

By claiming that they never said something, the narcissist can create confusion and doubt in the victim’s memory, making them question their own recollection of events.

“Nobody else thinks that.” 

Narcissists often use this phrase to isolate the target and make them feel their concerns or opinions are invalid. The narcissist can maintain control and manipulate their sense of reality by suggesting that no one else shares the person’s perspective.

“You are just jealous.”

When a narcissist accuses the target of being jealous, it attempts to discredit any concerns or criticisms the target may have. This tactic can effectively deflect attention from the narcissist’s behaviour and refocus it on the victim’s supposed jealousy.

“You must be crazy.”

Discrediting the victim’s mental state is another way narcissists engage in gaslighting. For example, the narcissist can undermine the person’s credibility by suggesting that the victim is irrational or mentally unstable.

“It was just a joke.”

Narcissists may use this phrase to excuse hurtful or inappropriate behaviour. By insisting that their actions were meant as a joke, the narcissist can make the victim feel overly sensitive and dismiss any concerns or objections they may have.

It is essential to seek professional help when the following situations arise:

Emotional distress becomes overwhelming.

If the emotional distress caused by narcissistic gaslighting has reached a point where it affects your daily life and mental health, it is time to consult a mental health professional. This distress might manifest as anxiety, depression, or a constant state of confusion.

Self-doubt becomes a constant companion.

Narcissistic gaslighting often leads to self-doubt and a decrease in self-esteem. If you start doubting your memory, judgement, or perception of reality, it may be wise to seek professional help.

Relationships with friends and family are affected.

When narcissistic gaslighting starts impacting relationships with friends, family, or colleagues, it is crucial to seek help. A mental health professional can provide support and advice on how to approach conversations with loved ones about the situation.

Feeling isolated and unable to share your experience.

Narcissistic gaslighting can lead to feelings of isolation as the person being gaslighted may be unable to discuss their experiences with others. If this sense of isolation becomes overwhelming, try to seek help from a mental health practitioner. They can help validate your experiences and provide strategies for coping.

The thought of leaving the relationship becomes daunting. 

If the thought of leaving the relationship with the narcissistic gaslighter feels impossible or brings up intense fear, then you might want to seek help. 

In conclusion, although all the above points are important, remember that there are no rules about asking for help. If you relate to these examples, then that is a strong indicator that these experiences are taxing you. Hence, it is okay to seek help whenever you feel like it.

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Therapy can help fix nearly 90% of parent-child relationships

As children, we rely heavily on our mothers for guidance, support, and love. So, it is natural for us to feel deeply connected to them and to crave their affection. However, despite their importance, mothers have a complex and stressful role. They are responsible for providing for their children’s needs, protecting them from harm, and showing them love. Unfortunately, not all mothers know how to fulfil these roles. You are not alone if you are an adult who has ever asked yourself, “Why does my mom hate me?”

In this article, we will explore some of the toxic behaviour patterns your mother exhibits that may make you feel that she hates you and things you can do to cope with feeling unloved. It is a painful topic to discuss, but an important one for anyone struggling to bond with their mother.

Why You May Feel That Your Mother Hates You

Statements such as “My mother hates me” or “Why does my mom hate me?” may occasionally cross the minds of some people. There could be many reasons why a child (of any age) may think their mom hates them.

Generally, these thoughts stem from negative behaviour patterns that one might have noticed in their mother. Perhaps they feel neglected or invalidated and have perceived the emotion as hatred.

A child may mistakenly assume that their mother’s aggressiveness is directed at them if they frequently witness such behaviour. It could also be that the child is a teenager going through a complicated growth spurt and has naturally assumed that their mom is always against them.

Although all these reasons may be valid, it is nearly impossible to pinpoint one specific cause without knowing the context of the situation or the relationship dynamics.

Moreover, it is important to remember that experiencing a smooth-sailing relationship all the time with anyone is nearly impossible. Disagreements or feelings of annoyance every now and then are bound to surface in every household. This also applies to monogamous, non-monogamous, platonic and romantic bonds that one may have with friends, partners, or acquaintances.

Common toxic behaviour patterns that may make you think, “Why does my mom hate me?” include:

  • constant criticism;

  • belittling or insulting your emotions;

  • controlling and displaying manipulative behaviour;

  • denying needs;

  • being emotionally or physically abusive;

  • playing the victim; and

  • sabotaging relationships, or personal growth.

With that in mind, we will go in-depth into some of these patterns in the next section. 

Content Warning: The following content discusses physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other traumatic experiences that may trigger some readers. If you feel uncomfortable or distressed by these topics, please proceed cautiously. You may also wish to consider seeking support from a mental health professional.

Your Mother Constantly Criticises You

Being on the receiving end of constant criticism from your mother can feel incredibly demotivating and hurtful. Especially if this pattern triggers thoughts like “Why does my mom hate me?” or “What should I do if my mom hates me?”.

You may want to consider the idea that criticism is not always a bad thing. On the one hand, receiving honest feedback, thoughts, and opinions about how we handle things can be incredibly helpful in our personal growth. But on the other hand, listening to harsh or insensitive comments can be very upsetting, especially when those comments come from our mother.

There could be many underlying reasons for the strained relationship between mother and child. For example, it is possible that your mother is dealing with personal issues or working long hours, leaving her emotionally unavailable to engage with you. Alternatively, you may be going through an emotionally tough phase, and your mother may struggle to cope with your changes.

While constructive criticism can be helpful, harsh reviews about every aspect of your life can damage your self-esteem and self-worth. If your mother consistently finds fault with everything you do, including minor matters such as your choice of clothing or perfume, it may be a sign that she does not have your best interests at heart.

It is important to communicate with your mother about how her response makes you feel. Expressing your feelings to her can open up a conversation about how she can show her concern and love for you in a way that you want.

Your Mother Does Not Spend Quality Time With You

Do you often wonder, “Why does my mom hate me?”. As we grow older, it is common for our relationships with our parents to evolve and change. And while life changes and busy schedules can create distance, it is always tough when your mother seems to avoid spending time with you.

It is essential to recognise that there could be valid reasons for this behaviour, and it may not directly reflect her feelings towards you. For example, it could be that she is swamped with work, struggling with her health, or dealing with personal issues that take up most of her time.

After all, it appears that as soon as we grow up, there hardly ever seems to be enough time to balance work, life,  and personal and social needs.

However, if she frequently cancels plans or rushes through your time together, it may cause you to feel hurt. It may also lead you to question whether she genuinely wants to spend time with you.

While it is not easy to come to terms with the fact that your mother may not want to spend time with you, it is crucial to have an open and honest conversation. Discuss your feelings with her and try to find out if you can do anything to improve your relationship.

However, remember that you do not have to take on the entire responsibility of rebuilding the bond. The effort has to be mutual.

The thought, "Why does my mom hate me?" can alienate you and leave you feeling lonely.

You Feel Unsafe in the Relationship

If you feel unsafe or are experiencing any abuse in your relationship with your mother, it might be challenging to come to terms with what you are going through. You are not at fault for any abusive behaviour directed at you.

Abuse can take many forms, and it may not always be obvious. However, red flags can include yelling, arguing, name-calling, humiliation, degradation, isolation, and other manipulative behaviours. If you suspect you are experiencing abuse, seeking help as soon as possible is important.

Talking to a teacher or a school counsellor can be helpful if you are still in school. It may be harder to navigate where to turn if you are an adult, but reaching out to family and friends can be a great source of support.

Support groups are available for survivors of abuse that can provide a sense of community and help in healing. Booking an online or offline session with a professional therapist is one of the many ways to cope with abuse.

Setting boundaries and limiting exposure to toxic behaviour can be emotionally draining, but it is necessary for your wellbeing. If you are a victim of abuse, remember that your mother’s behaviour does not reflect your worth. You are responsible for her actions.

If you are in immediate danger, reach out to your emergency services as soon as you can.

Your Mother Projects Her Emotions Onto You

Sometimes, several factors, such as family stress, parenting concerns, and ageing, might trigger parents’ reactions. If you think your mother hates you, it may also be because of a psychological mechanism called projection. Projection is a process in which an individual (eg a parent) disowns their unpleasant emotions, desires, or traits and projects them onto another person, often without realising it.

For instance, a parent who has experienced abuse as a child may project their unresolved anger and pain onto their own child. The parent may perceive the child’s behaviour as disrespectful or disobedient and react angrily and with hostility. However, in reality, the child’s behaviour is not the root cause of the parent’s emotional reaction.

Projection is often an unconscious process, and individuals may not be aware that they are projecting their emotions onto others. However, the effects of projection can damage relationships and lead to adverse outcomes for both the projector and the recipient of the projection.

Therapy can help fix nearly 90% of parent-child relationships

Unresolved trauma in your mother’s life

Parents often carry unresolved trauma from their own lives that can impact their relationship with their children. This trauma can lead to misattunement, where parents may be unable to respond appropriately to their children’s needs, especially during periods that may trigger their own traumatic experiences.

It is crucial to remember that a parent’s unresolved trauma is not the child’s fault. However, as self-protection mechanisms increase, parents may act out their defence mechanisms on their children, leading to incorrect perceptions and unhealthy development. This can often cause a child to feel unloved and unwanted. It can even result in the development of resentment and anger towards their mother.

Understanding your mother’s unresolved trauma and how it has impacted your relationship can help you come to terms with the situation. There might be a lot of emotions to unpack during this journey. Hence, a psychologist can simplify the process through therapeutic techniques.

Your mother’s emotion might come from a place of love

Nonetheless, as mothers have a demanding role, their love can sometimes manifest in ways that we may not understand. If you are questioning whether your mother hates you, it is important to consider the reasons behind her behaviour.

One possible explanation is that your mother may be pushing you to achieve more than she did. While this may feel like criticism or even hatred, it could be her way of showing love for you.

Consulting a psychologist specialising in family therapy or trauma therapy can be a great resource to help you navigate and nurture your relationship with your mother.

What Should I Do if My Mom Hates Me? 

Feeling like your mother holds animosity towards you can negatively impact the quality of your life. In addition, if left unacknowledged, experiencing this pain can lead to more distress, sometimes contributing to conditions like depression and anxiety.

Below are a few ways to cope if the thought, “Why does my mom hate me?” consistently surfaces.

Consider Individual or Family Therapy

If you are struggling with the emotional turmoil that comes with feeling hated by your mother, individual therapy can be a beneficial resource. Therapy is a safe and confidential space where you can unpack your feelings and experiences and work towards developing coping strategies that can help you feel more empowered and in control.

In individual therapy, you will be able to explore the root causes of your distress and manage difficult thoughts such as, “Why does my mom hate me?”. You will work towards healing from the emotional wounds that your mother’s behaviour may have caused. You will also learn techniques to help manage the anxiety and stress of having a strained relationship with a parent.

A therapist can provide you with a non-judgmental ear as you speak about your challenges. They can also offer insights and practical strategies to help you navigate them. The therapy process is tailored to meet your individual needs and can help you find peace, resolution, and inner strength.

On the other hand, family therapy is a valuable option for individuals dealing with strained relationships with their mothers. The therapeutic process is designed to bring family members together in a safe and supportive environment where they can explore and work through their differences.

In family therapy, you can share your thoughts and feelings with your mother in a mediated setting. A trained therapist will be there to constructively guide the conversation.

This helps you both better understand each other’s perspectives and find ways to move forward more positively and productively. While family therapy can be challenging at times, it can also be a transformative and healing experience.

Family therapy can provide a safe space for both mother and child to work through their issues and improve their relationship.

Distance Yourself

When you feel like your mom hates you, it may be tempting to avoid any communication with her altogether. If you constantly think, “Why does my mom hate me?” This tip might be helpful for you.

Understandably, the thought of confronting your mother about her behaviour might be daunting. But clear and honest communication can help you express how her actions hurt you and help her understand your perspective. By using “I” statements to convey your emotions, you can avoid blaming or accusing her. This can give rise to more productive conversations.

Example: “I feel sad that I do not get to spend much time with you.”

While expressing your feelings is important, it is also essential to listen to your mother’s perspective. She may have a different view of the situation. It might perhaps work better to acknowledge her feelings and try to understand her narrative.

Sometimes, open communication may not always lead to an immediate solution. It may take time for both you and your mother to process your emotions and work towards a healthier relationship.

In some situations, however, directly communicating with your mother might produce opposite results or further weaken the relationship. For instance, during emotional abuse, it may benefit you to maintain a safe and emotional distance from each other.

Adjusting Your Communication

This leads us to our next coping tip. If you think, “My mom doesn’t like me” or “Why does my mom hate me for no reason?”, it may be helpful to establish boundaries during your conversation with your mother. Boundaries can help both parties understand what behaviour is and is not acceptable and can help prevent future conflicts.

For example, you may want to establish a boundary that you will not tolerate verbal abuse from your mother or that you need space and time to process your emotions before engaging in a conversation with her. It is important to be firm in your boundaries and to communicate them clearly while also respecting your mother’s boundaries.

Communication is a process. You can start to work on your relationship by reflecting on what makes you feel comfortable. This may mean limiting in-person contact, moving out of your mother’s house, or seeking the help of a therapist or mediator to facilitate communication.

Remember that improving your relationship with your mother is not solely your responsibility. If communicating with your mother is too tricky or harmful, it is okay to distance yourself from the relationship for your peace and wellbeing.

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Takeaway

While it is common to assume that parents, especially mothers, naturally love their children, this is not always the case. Sometimes, good intentions alone are not enough to give children the nurturing love they need to thrive.

It is crucial to challenge negative behaviours within family life and not let the myth of unconditional parental love prevent us from breaking these painful patterns. By doing so, we can work towards developing genuine feelings and regard for one another.

Research shows that children whose parents have resolved their past traumas and issues have a better chance of enjoying closer, more positive interactions with them. Regaining feelings for themselves seems to be a key element in altering child-rearing practices in a more loving direction.

You may ask yourself, “Why does my mom hate me?”. But having these concerns is not your fault; instead, it may be a sign to address the underlying issues. It is important to seek support and resources to help you cope with the emotional pain you may be experiencing.

Remember, you deserve love and care. And if your situation allows – it is never too late to work towards a healthier relationship with your mother.