Welcome to the Gaslighting Academy. Today, we’ll be discussing an extremely effective way to subvert a perfectly reasonable request to discuss your relationship status. If you want to make emotional immaturity and noncommittal aloofness sound special and romantic, drop this gem as soon as the topic comes up, “Why do you wanna put a label on it?”
It’s practically Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
This timeless classic communicates so many important messages succinctly. It has rhetoric, blame, shame, expectation, threat, and various elements of subjugation to give you the upper hand in a budding, new relation… thing. Several other questions are tucked neatly between the lines.
We have a good thing going here. Why are you trying to ruin it?
I don’t need to define our relationship. Why are you being so needy?
This isn’t gonna be a regular thing where you wanna discuss needs and boundaries and shit, is it?
Don’t you trust me?
This very same “label” conversation has been happening for centuries, and it is a defining moment for the life of the entire relationship. Don’t mess this up.
Tips for Proper Gaslighting
Remember, never reveal your cards by saying, “I don’t wanna put a label on it.” Make this whole awkward conversation their fault. If you play it smart, you can manipulate them into feeling bad for having needs in the first place. And obviously, the fewer needs they have, the easier this will be for you in the long run.
It’s also possible to exaggerate your discomfort into reverse victimhood and walk away with all the sympathy. This is a fine example of Emotional Judo — the ancient art of using your partners’ strengths as a weapon against them while preserving your own mental and physical energy.
Furthermore, when they are vulnerable, and you don’t reciprocate, you create a power differential. Really, it’s a clean sweep, and you walk away from this conversation with all the control.
In Case of Emergency
If by chance, the person you’re talking to is armed with dignity and self-respect, there are ways around that as well.
For those who are good at playing offense, work up a frothy lather of the “Love is all you need” variety. The hopeless romantic shtick works like a charm. In fact, you could bring the whole conversation to a grinding halt (no pun intended) with a well-placed sex bomb. They offer emotional intimacy — you counter with physical intimacy. Boom!
Now that’s how you turn a crisis into an orgasm.
To play the defense, you may have to ham it up a little with a few pseudo-vulnerable ambiguities. “I just wanna be sure that we’re doing this right.” “My last partner really hurt me.” Or, if you wanna ensure total domination, tell them that you’re “working on yourself.” That shit works flawlessly, 100% of the time. And it usually makes them like you even more!
The Power of Gaslighting
I cannot overstate the ability of subtle boundary violations and emotional coercion to shirk responsibility, have things your way, and get someone else to pick up the tab. You can get your needs met, keep people at a safe distance, and always have an escape route.
Gaslighting is an unfair advantage. A cloaking device with a force field. Cheat codes and undetectable lies. A victimless crime between consenting adults. It’s emotional racketeering with a Swiss bank account. Relational impunity with a built-in alibi. It’s colorless, odorless, tasteless, and virtually untraceable. You can easily convince anyone that it doesn’t exist — including yourself. The elusive nature of this misinformation tactic is the very wellspring of its success.
The only downside is that when you gaslight others, you gaslight yourself.
But living a self-centered, fear-based, invulnerable, hollow, and inauthentic life devoid of meaningful human connection isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.
I wouldn’t gaslight you.