Contact Jeannette York, LMFT for premarital counseling. (818.200.9513) Topics included are money, parenting, traditions, religion, sex, families, finances, Facebook, and other topics that the couple determines are important.
The word Co-Dependent gets thrown around quite a bit these days. Often we hear about parents and Adult children in co-dependent relationships. The definition of co-dependence is excessive emotional dependence on another person. The part of the word that is “Co” is that the excessive dependence goes both ways but shows itself in different forms but really two sides of the same coin.
For example, a husband is dictated to by his wife. She demands to know where he is going at all times and where he is at all times. The wife controls the husbands where bouts and controls the money in the relationship. Sounds sad for the husband, right? The Co dependency comes in when the husband begins to ask the wife when and if he can go certain places or he “sneaks out” like a little boy. This couple has entered into a relationship in which the husband on some level is dependent on the wife to manage his life and the wife is emotionally dependent on the husband to behave like a son (child) and not a grown man. In healthy adult relationships, adults do not tell adults what to do.
The term “gaslight effect” comes from the a 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman. In the film, Bergman’s character is made to feel that she is going crazy by her husband. He does this by creating situations in which Bergman begins to doubt her own ability to recognize what is real and what is not.
Today the term refers to psychological and emotional abuse inflicted on one partner by another partner. If you are in a relationship in which you feel that you constantly need to prove yourself or your feelings are invalidated then it may be that you are being gaslighted. Gaslighted can be hard to pinpoint because the attacker is hiding behind a mask of good will or “being right”. Some traits to look for in this type of unhealthy relationship are a partner who often says to you that you are “too sensitive”, right after he insults you or calls you a name or puts you down in front of others. Other traits are when you know something is right and the person you are with insist that you are wrong, causing you to doubt yourself and your own truth.
Eventually this type of relationship will cause the victim to experience a loss of joy in life. They become so focused on making their partner see that they really are smart, caring, good people or whatever traits are being attacked that their ability to enjoy life vanishes.
There are some tools to help the partner who makes the decision that they want to stay in the relationship. It is not easy and requires the ability to learn to speak up for oneself in healthy ways and to not engage in trying to win an argument. Gaslighters have more experience and skill at “winning” than their victims.
*Learn to “agree to disagree” even if you gaslighter partner wants to continue the argument.
* Learn to practice not responding to every insult or veiled criticism that your gaslighter partner says to you.
*Let your partner know what your boundaries are, and when they cross the line. A good time to have a discussion about boundaries is before an argument.
* Guard against constantly seeking your partner’s approval or begging them for reassurance. Sometimes they will not approve. Practice the emotional muscle it takes to not constantly seek approval.
Recently, Jennifer Rasmussen of the online magazine, “My Chic Life” asked me to be interviewed for an article that she was calling “Secret Crushes”. A secret crush can also be termed an emotional affair. This is a relationship that comes dangerously close to cheating but has not quite crossed the line. Often the partner that is having the emotional affair justifies it by telling themselves that since they have not had sex with their crush, then it is not actually cheating.
There are several ways to know if an emotional affair is harmless or if it is damaging your partnership or marriage. Some of the questions to ask yourself are,” Am I sharing intimate, private details of my marriage or relationship with this crush?” “Are there things that I am sharing with them, that I would not share with my partner?” “Do I think about the other person when I am with my partner?” “Am I omitting or hiding from my partner, the times that I have lunch, coffee or other encounters with this other person “Do I fantasize about having sex with this person?” If you answer yes to any of these questions, then it is time to re-evaluate the relationship.
Often people turn to emotional affairs to avoid working on the issues in their relationships. Its easier to share with someone with whom there is only a false intimacy.
Below is a link to the article which I consulted on. It goes into more depth about the red flags of which to be aware.
Tend to the garden of your relationship, people are the real treasure in life.
Jeannette York, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Los Angeles, California