I had a client in my office not too long ago who was desperately confused and in need of some objective relationship advice. She wanted to know how she could talk with her spouse without him calling her crazy.
Instantly this sparked concern within me because I quickly saw that her spouse was influencing her into believing her statements were not valid and her reactions were off base.
No One Wants to be Called Crazy
No woman likes to think she’s out of her mind (no man does for that matter), but for some reason this adjective is often used to describe a woman who is trying to express her innermost feelings. While the term “crazy” might account for some women’s behavior, quite often it is used as a means for pushing buttons, avoiding accountability, and to quite frankly disregard someone’s feelings.
To be honest, if you’ve been in a relationship with someone who calls you crazy most times you try to talk about something serious, you really need to think and ask yourself if you’re in a healthy relationship.
Gaslighting – Emotional Manipulation
“You’re too sensitive”
“You’re so defensive”
“You’re a drama queen” …
You may have heard these comments hurled at you a few times in a relationship. While you may have come to think of it as a common response a man can give their woman, it is actually a form of emotional manipulation. Many mental health professionals refer to it as gaslighting. Gaslightng is best defined as manipulative behavior in which one person uses phrases or trigger words to confuse the other person into believing their reaction is insane.
When a man is gaslighting you, he will ultimately evoke a reaction from you which can make you feel uncomfortable and undervalued (it’s important to state that women also gaslight men oven other people, though it’s more prevalent and common for women to be on the receiving end of this).
Why do this?
Why would someone you care about and who you believe cares about you want to make you feel undervalued or uncomfortable in a conversation? While this kind of gaslighting response is not always a premeditated action, if you’re dealing with emotional manipulation on a regular basis, you have relationship communication problems that need to be resolved.
Let’s first look at some of the reasons this happens to begin with:
- They Don’t Want to Deal – One of the most common reasons that a man might call a woman crazy is because they don’t feel like dealing with the issue. They don’t want to discuss it or fix the matter, so they would rather push your buttons and avoid it altogether. When they call you defensive, sensitive, or crazy, your reaction is often going to be, “forget about it” or you start believing that you’re the issue. Which of course is what they’re after.
- They Don’t Want to Hold Any Responsibility– Accountability is another huge reason that men call women crazy amongst other things. When discussing something that he may have been at fault for (or partly), it is easier to put emotional stress on the other person than it is to take accountability for their actions and make the effort to change.
- They Don’t Agree with How You Feel – In a healthy relationship, there is nothing wrong with having a difference of opinion. Be that as it may, it is not alright to make your significant other feel bad because their opinion varies from yours. Rather than discuss your differences, it is often easier for the gaslighter to dismiss your opinion on the matter by calling you names.
- They Act Based on What They’ve Seen – A lot of times for men, they act on things they’ve seen or experienced in the past, we all do. If he grew up seeing relationships where the men would call the women crazy or emotional, they will likely repeat this behavior in their own relationships – without realizing it is an issue.
How Does This Affect Women?
You may have heard the old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words won’t ever hurt me.” The truth is – words hurt. When the one you love is calling you crazy and dismissing your feelings, it can prove detrimental to how you feel about yourself and how you communicate going forward.
- Silences Your Voice – A common reaction that I’ve seen from women is that they bottle their feelings up. Rather than addressing something when the problem arises, they hold it in for fear that they will be called crazy or told they’re overreacting. This in turns silences their voice in the relationship.
- Passive Aggressiveness – Rather than asserting themselves in a conversation where they need to express strong opinions, many women become passive aggressive. They might start apologizing prior to giving an opinion, talk in a low tone or chuckle after discussing, or even turn something serious into a joke.
- Self-Doubt – If a woman is repeatedly called emotional when trying to express herself, chances are she’s going to begin doubting herself every time she has an opinion. “Is this really an issue?” “Am I overreacting?” “Does this really matter?”
When one partner in the relationship is impacted emotionally, it changes the entire dynamics of the relationship. It then becomes one-sided which can lead to feelings of resentment and other relationship communication issues down the line. That is why it is imperative to learn how to effectively communicate with one another – and walk away from relationships where the partner continues to turn you against yourself.
What Can You Do?
So what do you do if you’ve been a victim of emotional manipulation by your partner? Here is my relationship advice:
- Tell Him How It Makes You Feel – As stated above, sometimes men call women crazy or tell them that they’re overreacting simply because it’s something they’ve seen done in the past. Letting them know that those phrases have an impact on you emotionally is the first step. If he cares for you, he will try harder in the future to correct the matter.
- Check Your Delivery – While no woman should be called emotional, crazy, insane, or an overreactor, there are instances in when the way you’re delivering the conversation is the issue. If you’re passionate about something wait until you’ve calmed down a bit before approaching your partner. Talking in an aggressive tone, in between tears, or in the heat of the moment can send the wrong message to your partner causing them to feel like one of the above labels is appropriate.
- Seek Counseling – If the name calling persists, it is probably best that you both seek counseling. There could be a significant underlying cause for the break in communication that requires a third-party opinion. A counselor can work with you individually and collectively to help you learn more efficient ways to communicate with each other while also getting to the root of the problem.
Crazy… that’s a term that shouldn’t be used lightly. All too often women are called names for being expressive and this can prove detrimental to everyone in the relationship.
If your partner insists on calling you names or belittling the conversation, you really need to reevaluate the health of your relationship. If it’s worth fixing, use the relationship advice above, if not, walking away is the best thing you can do for yourself and your voice because you deserve to be heard, and your feelings should matter to the one you love.
Have you ever experienced gaslighting in a relationship? Or maybe you’ve been the gaslighter. Tell me about it below.
~ Nadine Piat