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Is Your Friend Gaslighting You

Dr. Leslie Davis is a survivor of toxic relationships and a healing agent of broken hearts. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Relationship Expert near St. Louis, MO, Dr. D is on a mission to empower others to improve their relationships.

Executive Contributor Dr. Leslie Davis

Have you noticed how conversations with your friend make you question your judgment? Have you noticed how uncomfortable you feel when you’re around them or when you’re talking to them about your life? It’s possible you are in a friendship with a gaslighter.


Young woman stressed while looking at smartphone

Gaslighting is a popular term and you might be wondering, what is a gaslighter? People often use this word when they feel manipulated by a lover, but gaslighters are everywhere. Gaslighters sneak up on us, creating feelings of confusion and maybe embarrassment when you finally realize that their tactics are working on you.


A gaslighter is a master manipulator who wants to control the relationship.


Gaslighters have a goal to manipulate you into thinking that what they say is right and what you believe is always wrong. Gaslighters will frequently create doubt in conversations, forcing you to rely on their words as truth. Eventually you might feel like you’re going crazy.


Four signs your friend could be a gaslighter

Gaslighters view their friends as competition.


Your gaslighting friend is going to do anything they can to transfer positive attention away from you. They may use information and details about your painful life experiences and decisions to make themselves look more favorable or superior to others. This behavior comes with intentions to destroy your reputation in the background.


Gaslighters will question you about your loyalty to them.


They will emotionally manipulate you to make you feel like you're a horrible person because they need to have their needs met. They may ask why you haven't shown up to their birthday party or why you didn't call them. Their questioning might make you

feel like you're a bad friend, forcing you to go above and beyond to meet their needs.


Gaslighters who are posing as your friends will encourage you to be vulnerable with them with hidden intentions to use information against you.

Gaslighters in friendships might pretend to create a safe space for conversation and encourage you to share all your secrets. At times it might feel like they just want to gossip about others, but they honestly just want to talk about you. Gaslighters want to know details about your misery, your pain, and your discomfort because they have intentions to use the information someday to attack you. Your gaslighting friend may use information about your pain to emotionally abuse you in the future.


Gaslighters who are posing as your friends have no desire for a healthy attachment.


If a gaslighter is in a friendship with someone who has a healthy and secure attachment style, it becomes more challenging to manipulate their friend. Gaslighters tend to attach to people who feel anxious in relationships because the individual with an anxious attachment style will focus their attention on doing whatever it takes to satisfy the gaslighter in an attempt to save the friendship. Gaslighters typically won't attach to someone who's avoidant because an individual with an avoidant attachment style will likely see the gaslighters tactics as needy behavior, which becomes an irritant.


Beware of gaslighters in your life who are posing as a friend. Gaslighters are not authentic with themselves or others because they lack the ability to show empathy. They often struggle with showing affection and care towards others.


Don’t ignore your intuition, and pay attention to the signs. If you have a friend who's a gaslighter and you sense that your friendship is not genuine, it might be true that they are gaslighting you. One day you will need to decide to terminate the friendship with no regrets. Ending a friendship with a gaslighter might hurt, but know that there is emotional freedom and sanity on the other side.


Dr. Leslie Davis, Clinical Counselor and Relationship Expert

Dr. Leslie Davis is a survivor of toxic relationships and a healing agent of broken hearts. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Relationship Expert near St. Louis, MO, Dr. D is on a mission to empower others to improve their relationships. Her experience as a Black single mom in America inspires her podcast, SHE Matters with Dr. Leslie Davis, available on Apple Podcast and Spotify. Her hope is to empower single moms around the world to develop healthy attachments, with a goal of reducing depression and suicidal thoughts. When she's not in counselor mode, Dr. D enjoys training the gentle art of jiu jitsu at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.



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