6 Signs Of Gaslighting That Can Seem Like Innocent Behaviors, According To Experts

Gaslighting is an insidious, but unfortunately, not particularly uncommon, form of emotional abuse. And since subtle forms of gaslighting can often masquerade as being totally innocent, there are times you might not suspect it’s happening at all. Gaslighting is by its nature both incredibly confusing and difficult to spot. But if you are feeling increasingly unsure of yourself, or unsure of a relationship, it might be time to seek some guidance on what might be going on.

“Gaslighting is a manipulative way to create subtle chaos and make you feel like you are losing your mind,” Stephanie Campbell, MS, LMHC, of Blooming Lotus Counseling, who helps clients cope with toxic relationships and traumatic events, tells Bustle. “It undermines your self-confidence and makes you feel off-balance, which may result in your belief that you need your partner for survival.”

Simply put, Campbell says, a partner may habitually make you feel unsure of yourself or your sense of reality. It might seem like simple differences in communication or perception, at first, but overtime, it can really erode your core.

“Of course, miscommunication is not necessarily gaslighting. But if there are other red flags and you feel this is happening in your relationship, make note of instances that make you feel uneasy,” Campbell says.

If you are having major discomforts or self-doubts, reaching out to get some support and perspective can be a really productive option.

Below, some professionals help to discern more subtle, seemingly innocent forms of gaslighting.

1. They Tell You Negative Things Other People Say About You

Young Asian lesbian couple argue and turn their back to each other in the period of sad in the bedroom. LGBT couple sulky to another in the bedroom with a sad mood. LGBT lover emotion concept.


It might be framed as being honest. But sometimes that honesty can be really manipulative, and is a tactic to make you feel badly or get you to do what someone else wants.

Michigan-based psychologist Dr. Michele Leno, founder of DML Psychological Services, tells Bustle that your partner might be gaslighting you if they often tell you bad things people say about you, and then accuse you of being insecure when you question what they are saying.

“Does your partner regularly tell you the negative things that others are saying about you? Partners may use this tactic to ‘encourage’ you to doubt yourself and change for them,” Leno says. You then might go through the process of trying to prove how secure you are, or even go so far as to change yourself in regards to what they are saying.

Finding outside help and perspective from people and professionals you trust can help you find your footing and see what’s going on.

2. They Suggest You Seek Help For The Problems In The Relationship

This might seem like a helpful or loving suggestion, but do pay attention to why they are suggesting you seek help.

“Your partner says, ‘I’m concerned and maybe you should talk to someone,'” Leno says. “At a glance, this seems like a well-intended gesture. However, not all partners mean well and some may suggest you seek therapy as a way to say, ‘Our problems are your fault.'”

If they are suggesting that you seek counseling, help, or outside perspective for problems that are happening between the two of you, or for problems that you are bringing up about them, this can be an indication of subtle gaslighting.

Ask yourself, how do you feel about the problems? How do you feel when you are around your partner, and what is usually the outcome of your attempt to discuss issues?

3. They Block Your Growth

Sad woman sitting in cafe, painfully experiencing break-up, loneliness, crisis


Blocking or being unsupportive of your growth is another sign of gaslighting.

“If your partner is dismayed by your plans to change careers or return to school, or they are presenting ‘reasonable’ obstacles to discourage you, then remember that gaslighting happens in plain sight,” Leno says. “It’s easy to pull off because the gaslighter uses what they know about you, against you.”

While having someone who talks with you in a truthful and reasonable way as you try to work toward your goals is a good thing, someone who consistently creates more mental roadblocks on purpose is not a positive force.

4. They Say You’re Wrong When You Know You’re Right

Again, gaslighting is when someone makes you doubt your own sense of reality, psychologist Stephanie M. Kriesberg, who specializes in helping clients with narcissistic parents, tells Bustle. And this usually happens within the context of simple conversations.

Kriesberg says that a gaslighter might, when confronted with a plan you made together, pretend that conversation never happened.

“The gaslighter might say, ‘You thought I said I would go to your sister’s wedding with you? I never agreed to that. I’m going fishing. You must have misunderstood me,'” Kriesberg says.

Another tactic is changing the subject when you bring up something you want to discuss in regards to their behavior or your relationship. Notice if this is a pattern.

5. They Do Not Take Responsibility For Their Behavior

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Gaslighters make you doubt the reality of your feelings by making it seem like their behavior doesn’t count or they aren’t responsible for it, Kriesberg says.

Anytime you bring up something that is not working for you, they seem to sidestep having anything to do with it, and find a way to lay the blame or reasoning on someone else.

An example might be feeling upset that your partner repeatedly cancels dates. Their response? Talking about what a difficult time they are having at work.

If that is a common pattern of communication, Kriesberg says, it’s worth looking at. It can’t always be someone else’s fault.

6. They Use Virtue-Signaling

The fact that gaslighting is an “ambient” form of abuse suggests something is there, but you are not quite aware of its presence, reverend and psychotherapist Sheri Heller, LCSW, who specializes in complex trauma, narcissistic abuse, and addiction, tells Bustle. “Nevertheless, it’s infiltrating your subconscious like elevator music or subliminal advertising.”

One way the “ambient abuser” tries to get the upper hand, Heller says, is by pretending to have your back and being committed to your growth and well-being.

“They present themselves as benevolent and insightful, even altruistic,” Heller says. “Virtue-signaling is a tactic used by ambient abusers. Virtue signaling is when one conspicuously touts their moral values and philanthropic activities so as to garner admiration and cultivate a false sense of security and establish trust.”

Virtue-signaling conceals the hidden motive to get the upper hand. If the way your partner presents themselves seems out of step with how they act or communicate, or how it feels to be around them, this may be a gaslighting tactic.

Understandably, coming to terms, or even being uncertain, about gaslighting, can feel very disorienting. It is important to get help from an outside source if you think this might be going on. You aren’t alone here.

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.



15 Red Flags Someone Is An Emotional Wreck (Found On Their Dating Profile Or On The First Date)

Steer clear of these losers!

Is he emotionally intelligent?

If you’re looking for love, you’re probably swiping through a ton of online dating profiles. If so, you’ll want to know the red flags that someone has low emotional intelligence and wellness. Pay attention to these red flags both online and on the first date to weed out those who are not emotionally well.

The more emotional intelligence you have, the more emotionally well you are, which means the more likely you’ll attract and hold onto an emotionally well long-term partner.

Now, there are a few steps you might take in order to find an emotionally well long-term partner. You might begin by going online and looking at their dating profile; then you might write them by text or email.

Next, you may speak to them on the phone, and, if all of that goes beautifully, you will likely be meeting them for a first date.

Here are 15 red flags you should look for before you meet, during your date, and after you’ve started dating to make sure that your date is “emotionally well” before you get too involved:

1. They don’t have a profile picture, or it’s too obscure to make out the image

If an individual has no picture of themselves on their profile, this is usually an indication they are hiding something.

They might be newly separated, or feel they are unattractive, neither of which bodes well for emotional wellness!

Trust me, it is only a select few who are executives needing to hide their identity.

2. They emphasize how “honest” they are in their profile

Anyone who needs to say they are honest when describing themselves, particularly if they have made the word part of their user name, is a person whose had challenges with honesty in the past.

No one needs to state they are loyal, kind, or in possession of any trait that everyone has when they are emotionally well if they’re not struggling with it.

3. They mostly share photos of fancy/expensive belongings

Individuals showing pictures of their homes, cars, motorcycles or other external means of gratification in their profile may not be fully aware of their own greatness.

They believe they need to entice a partner in this way, which means they could be struggling to find positive traits in themselves to emphasize.

This could be a sign of not having emotional intelligence and not knowing how to truly connect with a person.

4. Their profile is either trying too hard or too revealing

Someone who is flexing their muscles or is scantily clad in their pictures is focusing on their external appearance or sexuality, which means they put less effort into making an emotional connection.

This is not a strong indication of being emotionally well!

5. They repeat key sentences of their profile over and over

Anyone repeating thoughts in their profile is clearly demonstrating their priority or showing you an area of their life where they are struggling in. Or perhaps they’re just really forgetful!

For example, if someone states over and over how important their children are, they might be having a challenge finding enough time to have a romantic relationship. They’re letting you know that their kids take up a large portion of their time.

The same can be said of someone who talks a lot about traveling, their work, or other events. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you share those interests, but it does mean they may prioritize that topic over you or an emotionally well, connected relationship.

6. They send you naked or revealing picture of themselves

They are likely more interested in having sex with you than being with you mentally and emotionally.

The same goes for if they ask you for similar pictures. Sending pictures like this is so commonplace today that you might be confused as to whether this is acceptable.

If you’re looking to have an emotional connection with someone and not just a fling, this is a red flag for having no emotional intelligence or wellness.

7. They text you so often that it’s interfering with your life

This is clearly not a sign they are emotionally well. Talking to each other when you first meet is normal and fun! But if they’re texting so much that you’re glued to your phone, this could be a problem.

And conversely, if there’s always a large delay in them responding to your texts, without an explanation, they may be playing games, which again, is not a sign of being emotionally available.

8. They delay speaking to you over the phone

Texting anyone more than a few times before setting up a phone call can raise both parties’ hopes unnecessarily.

Speaking on the phone is the very best way to read another’s energy and determine if there is chemistry before arranging the first date.

If they’re putting off a phone call but always available to text, there could be a problem.

9. They’re incredibly self-absorbed

Your potential date is more interested in talking about themselves, bragging or lamenting over past hurts than in talking to you or determining how you both might connect.

People with emotional intelligence understand that connection will come from both of you sharing — not just one!

10. They won’t meet you in person or constantly cancel or reschedule last minute

There is always an excuse as to why they can’t meet you in person – if it takes a long time to arrange a first date, how will the rest of your relationship fare?

Keep in mind that if you are not excited to meet the person you are talking to by the end of a phone call, there is no need to go on a date with him or her, even if there are no other red flags!

11. Their profile picture is much different than their current appearance

Your date’s profile didn’t contain pictures that are current or representative of their true essence. They’re older, heavier, or less attractive than their pictures, or perhaps look nothing like their pictures at all.

Tricking people with pictures or words is a recipe for disaster for any emotionally healthy relationship.

No one is perfect, but if anyone pretends to be perfect, this is a big red flag.

12. They’re focused on telling you what they’re not looking for in a relationship

Your date tells you what they don’t want instead of what they are looking for … if they say they don’t want drama, they’re actually attracting drama with that statement!

You might actually find there is a lot of drama in their life, and that’s not a good place for any emotionally well relationship.

13. They move way too fast in the first couple of dates

They tell you they love you, discuss wanting to marry/live with you, or heavily compliment you on the first few dates. Real feelings take some time to develop; neediness is not a sign of emotional wellness.

14. They press you for sex very early on

If they tell you they want to sleep with you on this first date, it sounds fun and exciting, but it is not a sign that your date is emotionally well.

Sorry to be a downer! An emotional connection needs time to build without the confusion of great sex. If they’re only interested in a physical connection, then you’re not likely going to have a deep emotional one.

15. They’re overly critical of their ex or past relationships

If they criticize their ex or take no responsibility for the end of their prior relationship, they’re probably not emotionally intelligent enough to have true insight into the relationship.

Anyone that is criticizing others is choosing the wrong way to make themselves look good. Remember, you want your partner to take responsibility for their part in things that go wrong with you.

Please don’t fret if it is taking you a while to meet the love of your life. The longer you take to meet your life partner, the longer you can work on coming to love yourself. This means the more likely you’ll attract someone who’s been doing the same!

Aim for having a long-term relationship with people who love themselves to the same degree you do.


Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Amelia – Chapter 5 – Perfect Storm

Amelia and Eileen have both killed it at the salon this season. I’ve said this before, but I’ve been blessed with seasonal employees that are absolutely outstanding.

I use the word blessed because we’ve had so many failures through here in the last two years.

I can now see why Achilles has agonized over his business and closed two salons because of shitty employees.

But suddenly, this season we’ve been blessed with fabulous employees. I’ve said this many times before, but it really is extraordinary that we have acquired these two girls just when we needed them.  They’re both terrific.

It’s a big deal, because in the retail and hospitality industry, it is so hard to find good employees.

But we’ve done it.

Somehow we have acquired quality help. It’s a welcome asset to the company.

Both girls know I write about everything in my life on this blog, and wait in anticipation for the outcome that won’t come for a year. But it’s here now.

But I have to address something here.

We all adore sweet Eileen as a baby sister or a cute niece. She’s so good with the customers. At 18 she’s a wonderful asset to the company that we couldn’t have expected, but we have somehow acquired. So much better that the detritus we once employed.

Not you Trish, but yea, you. (See: Trish – The She Wolf)

But I want to talk about my girl, Amelia. She works Monday through Wednesday. She’s here one day longer that Eileen except for every other Saturday that she’ll take.

Eileen is 18 years old. She’s a baby and we all love her and she’s great at the job. I adore her and love her performance on the job on a daily basis, but I feel closer to Amelia.

I worked in banking for 20 years. I worked in advertising for 10. I killed it but it’s a horrible existence.

Amelia’s from a large Irish Catholic family that’s incredibly conservative. She went to the college of arts and her degree is in that. So basically she can’t get a job in the arts because that shit never pays unless you make it.

I admire her for what she’s done because I pursued art early in life just like her but if you don’t become a rockstar, you’re fucked.

I ended up in retail and eventually banking like my dad.

That works for the american dream and the whole… I’ll meet a girl and get married, have a kid and live the American dream, but for many of us it becomes an enormous nightmare.

Amelia’s found that she has a degree in something she can’t use currently, and is working her ass off to survive. She’s in debt from school like every other person her age.

But she’s minutes away from getting certified as a personal trainer. She works at a gym on the wrong side of Broad street. She drives for Uber when she can to make money, and has recently taken up with a catering company where she can make some serious loot as a bartender.

I’m rooting for her to succeed and will do whatever I can with my connections to help her.

The last few Mondays we’ve gone to Square 1682 and chilled for drinks. I pound Chardonnay and she goes with her usual Bulliet Rye and ginger ale.

I work so much and so does she that I think Amelia and I enjoy the gentle repose of getting run over at the salon, and then kicking back at my favorite bar for a few drinks and laughs to unwind.

The bill comes and thanks to my man, Roman, it’s $5.50. $60 in cocktails for nothing. We tip him hard.

I was once giggling with a former employee at the salon and an older guy that loved the girl I was working with asked what was going on. He was obviously a little jealous because he loved her in a phicklephily sort of way. I told him that he could adore a waitress but he’ll never have the relationship that she has with her co-worker, because they share a daily experience. I don’t know if he got it but that was a true statement.

Co-workers are so close in a company. When it’s good, it’s magic. Some of the best relationships I’ve ever had were with people I worked with. Duncan. Michelle. All LOVE.

It’s no different here.

I’m just going to say this.

I have feelings for Amelia.

Let’s not jump to conclusions. And please don’t assume.

We work together everyday. We’re in the shit in the busiest season of this salon. We have to run, communicate and keep this baby clean.

It’s not easy. We’ve figured out a way to make the place sing. Achilles has no idea what that looks like. He just knows when the place isn’t 1000% clean.

Amelia and I can arrive at the salon in different moods, and within an hour we’re happy and laughing our butts off.

One of our clients called us the Gruesome Twosome. I don’t get it but we’re a deadly team that are completely in touch every minute we’re working together.

We play a certain music station, Amelia, is on top of the laundry, she get the rolled towels at the back sink, she’s calm and great with all of the clients, (and the new ones) She says when ever she’s here she’s happy.

I love that.

I’ve worked everywhere.

I’ve been a million dollar producer at all of those places. Guess what?  Shitty people drove me out of all of those places.

I’ll never be that to anyone.

I’ve left all of that far behind and wherever I work now I will bring good energy to the people around me. I almost feel like I should have worked in the hospitality industry my whole life because I get my energy from people.

And the girl I get the most energy from right now is my Amelia.

I’m so proud of her everyday.


Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

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