5 Gaslighting Techniques Narcissists Use to Keep You In the Trauma Bond

Marlena Bontas
3 min readJul 5, 2022

You won’t believe the subtle, gaslighting techniques a narcissist may use to keep you in the relationship.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels

Being in a relationship with a narcissistic partner, friend, parent or boss is definitely a challenge. Narcissists use certain manipulation tactics to keep you emotionally attached to them. Why? If you’re emotionally attached and still think highly of them you can’t possibly leave them.

One of these manipulation tactics is called gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of re-writing reality so that the victim thinks precisely what the abuser thinks. It’s like the narcissist will put thoughts in your mind and words in your mouth. They like to do that so that you continue to maintain your role in the relationship (or family). If you figure them out, you’ll sooner or later leave them. But narcissists don’t have just any fear of abandonment. Narcissists are so afraid of being left that they’ll even commit crimes to keep the victim in contact with them.

Yeah, it’s that serious.

Below you’ll find a few of these gaslighting phrases that narcissists use to keep you afraid and weak so that they’ll maintain your presence in their life.

  1. Withholding

The abuser refuses to engage in a conversation with you, pretending they don’t understand what you’re saying. He or she may refuse to listen to you or/and share their feelings with you.

2. Countering

The narcissist questions your memory of events even though you remember what happened correctly.

3. Blocking, diverting

The narcissist will change the topic of conversation or direct the topic to a topic of their choice. This results in you questioning reality and thinking that perhaps you’ve misunderstood what he or she has done.

4. Trivializing

The abuser belittles or trivializes your feelings so that you end up believing that your feelings are not important. A narcissist is an expert at invalidating your feelings and they’ll go far to convince you that feelings should not be taken into consideration when it comes to what they’ve done.

5. Forgetting, denial

The narcissist pretends to forget or deny what he or she has done. They may even go as far as to accuse the victim of making things up.

Bonus tip:

Negative annotations are also a form of gaslighting. What are negative annotations?

They are ways of invalidating your success or positive life experiences. For example, you may communicate to the narcissist that you finally got the promotion you always wanted at your job. You might mention that you want to celebrate this promotion with them. However, the narcissist will either ignore the wonderful news by changing the subject or say something mean about it.

For example, they might say ‘Yeah, but I was also promoted last month and we didn’t celebrate it at all.’ or ‘Everyone can get a promotion nowadays. I don’t know why you’re so excited about this.’ Wouldn’t you feel bad about your success if you heard these things? Yeah, you would. And that’s what they want you to feel.

A narcissist is a jealous person deep down. If they see you succeed, they’ll make sure you’ll feel bad about it. Why should you be happy and fulfilled if they’re always grumpy and miserable?

All in all, gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used by narcissists to brainwash their victims and keep them in a weak and dependent state.

That way, they’ll make sure they are not abandoned and the relationship will maintain its status quo.

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Marlena Bontas

Content writer, tea drinker, English-Romanian girl living abroad. Writes about NPD, relationships, health, finances and business.