The deal with gaslighting isn’t just about someone lying to you. Really, it is someone consistently screwing with your sense of reality, such that black becomes white, and white becomes pink— if they say so. You become disconnected from your own gut, moral compass, and values. Part of this is orchestrated systematically to beat you down; another part is also an autopilot mechanism in which you survive, because questioning too much can drive you mad.
And not only are you isolated from yourself; you are also isolated from the people you love.
He may not have told her overtly, “I don’t like your friends and family, don’t hang out with them,” and he could even say out loud “I really like them,” entertaining them like the biggest charmer in the world. But when asleep, he could whisper in her ears about them, denigrate them, anything to subliminally influence her. Or he could indirectly “train” her to avoid them, for instance by having a paranoid fit everytime she sees them, so she implicitly learns to associate “going out with others” as “dangerous for my relationship.”
And the longer she is disconnected from her loved ones, the harder it feels to reach out again. How does she even find the words to explain her absence, without sounding stupid? Or how does she delicately dance around the fact that he has been displaying some disturbing behaviors, even if “he doesn’t mean it, he’s had a traumatic past, I’m the one triggering it”?
Some toxic types even play that “us against the world” card, planting these seeds especially during that dizzying whirlwind of the love-bombing phase. Because you both are twin flame soulmates in a mad world, you’re the only person who truly gets him, so why not run away to some alternative lifestyle or new place where you can start a whole new life together?
And at the heart of it all, it all feels romantic, doesn’t it?