Gaslighting is a tool that people use to manipulate you into doubting your perceptions, your feelings or your self-worth so that the gaslighter does not have to look at him or herself, change anything or be uncomfortable in any way.

This article answers the two biggest questions I get regarding gaslighting:

How to spot a gaslighter so that you can avoid getting involved in the first place
How to get out of the relationship in the best way possible, if you do get sucked in as gaslighters are very capable of doing.
These answers I give you come directly from the many clients I have successfully worked with who have learned how to avoid or stop being victims of gaslighting.

The best way to stop being a victim of gaslighting is to very early on be able to spot the signs of a gaslighter.

The # 1 way to spot the signs of a gaslighter is to listen to how you FEEL!

Let’s assume you have generally felt a healthy dose of self-esteem and then you start dating someone for example. As the two of you start to get more serious, you notice a dip in your sense of adequacy.

You seem to lose your footing with this person; maybe more insecure; maybe more tentative in expressing yourself. You become far more careful than usual and start to feel like you are walking on eggshells.

Stop right there and pay attention!

Since you generally do not feel this way but feel this way around this person, that could be a very clear sign that you are a victim of gaslighting

Then pay closer attention to this person you are dating or in a relationship with by asking yourself:

Does this person admit he or she is wrong sometimes?
Does this person apologize?
Does this person show a capacity to validate your feelings?
If you have the feelings just mentioned and on closer look this date of yours is a big NO to the questions I just posed, you may want to exit this relationship and stop being a victim of gaslighting before it goes any further.

In the beginning of dating relationships, a person can be on his or hers best behavior so it may be impossible to spot in the first few dates, but as you get more serious, you need to pay attention to your feelings and this other person’s behavior more closely.

Now, you may want to confront this person before totally giving up because maybe this person has the capacity to grow up and stop that gaslighting behavior.

Some people just need some boundaries set and they can become a better partner.

I am all for exploring possibilities! However, if that person shows no or little capacity or willingness to look at his or her own behavior and manipulative ways, get out before you are more in!

The second way to spot signs of a gaslighter is observing this person’s behavior with other significant others.

Are his other relationships with significant others meaningful or shallow?
Does this person show a capacity to give to others?
Does he or she show a capacity for genuine warmth?
The importance of doing this is to know that how this person treats others that he has has known longer is how he will eventually treat you no matter how good he made you feel in the very beginning of your dating relationship.

Here are three ways to spot a gaslighter and to stop being a victim of gaslighting:
Pay attention to your feelings.
Ask the questions about this other person I posed above and answer them honestly.
Observe his behavior of significant others he has known for a longer time.
Now onto the business of how to exit a relationship when you have been sucked into a gaslighting dynamic.

Here are 5 things you can do to successfully stop being a victim of gaslighting:
#1: Firmly decided to believe that you are deserving of feeling healthy, worthy and whole.

If you are stuck at this step because of the brainwashing and manipulating that has gone on in your life with this person (or anyone in your past that precedes this current person), find a good effective therapist that could help you discover the positive truth about yourself. I am one of those therapists that help many people stuck in these toxic situations and negative beliefs.

#2: Talk to supportive friends and family.

Ask them for support and to give you the strength and determination to do whatever you need to do to exit this stuck relationship. Many of the people I have helped have made sure friends were with them as they actually moved their belongings out of the residence. Don’t do this alone.

There are also 12 step groups such as CoDA or Al Anon that some clients have found helpful to give them the strength and courage to do what is best for them.

#3: Accept the fact that this soon to be ex-partner of yours will not applaud your moves toward health.

Don’t look for this person to be understanding or supportive in any way. You taking care of your heath feels like poison to the gaslighter and he will fight in any way he can to pull you back into the relationship.

He or she may increase the judgment, use scare tactics such as saying- “You never will make it without me’” or “You really think another person will actually stick around you like I have?” designed to knock you off balance.

#4: Some people need to make an exit plan that requires strategy.

This exit strategy can be taking steps to get back into the workforce, go back to school, etc. Just do one step at a time and even if it requires patience, know that you are making forward progress.

#5: Ask to move in with a friend

Even though #4 sometimes necessitates you staying in the same residence longer than is ideal, If there is anybody that will be willing to have you move in while you are developing that more self-sufficient lifestyle, do not hesitate to ask.

It is far better to not be living in that “war zone” environment and be surrounded by people who care about your wellbeing.

You deserve happiness and you deserve to love and be loved.

Gaslighters are not capable of loving you because they cannot see you as your own separate person with your own feelings, needs and preferences.

I am hoping that this series of articles about gaslighting and the video I have shared in this last month have helped some of you become more aware as well as inspired about taking action to stop being a victim of gaslighting and be in healthier, more reciprocal and more deeply loving relationships.

Author's Bio:
Mr. Creager is educated and trained as a Marriage and Sex Therapist and spends much of his time helping partners in long-term relationships learn how to create passionate, alive and nourishing interactions. He provides unique and powerful insights that lead to powerful breakthroughs which result in his clients getting closer to realizing their full potential.

He founded his practice in 1982 in Tustin CA, and has since helped thousands of individuals and couples learn how to bring the best out of others to achieve their goals. The biggest joy in his career is witnessing clients increase their capacity to receive more from life as well as others.

He has developed the gift of helping couples and individuals move past their resistance to have the relationships and love they crave. His specialties include helping couples heal from infidelity, helping couples rekindle passion and helping individuals break free from their earlier toxic relationships and dysfunctional families. He does this in a variety ways including specialized programs that are powerful and effective as well as seminars, workshops, speaking and informational products.

Todd’s practice in Huntington Beach, CA has been helping couples and individuals all around Orange County including Long Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Corona del Mar and Seal Beach – for over 30 years!