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Group Gaslighting? Please Help

D

DesperatelySeekingSupport

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Sep 27, 2020
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3
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I have always struggled to find true, deep relationships with friends and when a bunch of new people were hired at my job, we all kind of clicked. The beginning was great - we all said we wanted real, deep, lasting friendships and were going to be our 100% honest, open selves with each other. I was so happy, I thought I had found my missing puzzle piece of life. But as time went on, I began to feel like the black sheep of the group. While I was always included in plans, whenever we were together in a group setting I felt alone. As opposed to the beginning of our group relationship, I now felt like I had to put work into having a conversation with them. They would break off into smaller groups and have conversations about topics in which I had nothing to do with, and I had a hard time joining. I tried to interject, and was always greeted by a short acknowledgement and then a continuation of the conversation that did not include me.
I tried to give it time, but every time we hung out I felt more and more alone. They all kept expressing what fabulous, fun times they were having together, yet despite being there I was miserable. I decided to open up to them all - I told them I was feeling excluded and insecure. They told me for the most part (and I am generalizing multiple voices here) that they felt so bad I was feeling this way and there was no reason I should be because they all loved me. So I assumed things would change.
They did not. I talked to my therapist, my husband, my mother - they are validated me and made me feel like maybe these were not great friends, but they are good, kind people who tell me they're just like me mentally and emotionally, so I pushed that aside and continued to see them, resulting in the same feeling of exclusion every time. I expressed this once more, specifically stating that "its not required or necessary, but if you want to show me you're the friend you say you are, and if you care about me, I need to be actively included in conversations and interactions to feel secure." I felt this was fair, considering I do what I most people in my life consider going above and beyond for others. They told me they would, and I felt relieved; however, it did not happen.
When asked to open up about it, I was told they were actively trying to include me in conversations but that I was not receptive. I apologized for not recognizing this and asked for examples so I could be better on the receiving end but they couldn't remember. They continued to tell me that I am so loved by all but that I am not seeing the massive amounts of work they are putting into their relationship with me, that I need to reframe my way of thinking and work on being less insecure. I expressed to them what my therapist had told me and I was told she was enabling me. I tried to explain how I had never had this issue with other friends like this before and they told me its not fair to compare.
No matter what I said, I felt shut down. I am so open to other perspectives, I can see the ways in which their comments can be viewed as right, but I still felt so attacked and alone. They even addressed this and said "youre probably feeling like we're attacking you, don't you? Like you are 10% of the problem and we are 90%" but it was so hard for me not to. I am told again and again that they love me so much and that they're doing all they can. They say they feel at a loss. I dont know how I would be able to, because I try to appreciate the littlest things, but they say I'm just not seeing their effort - that they're meeting me half way and I need to put in the work too to recognize that.
No matter what I say, they have a comeback and I feel like I can't be open anymore. I am doubting my gut instincts, I feel at a loss myself, I dont know how to remedy the situation, and I still feel just as alone and now crazy on top of that. Im double guessing my own instinctual thoughts as well as those of my closest relationships because I was told "of course they'll see it that way, they only are being told your perspective" and I dont know what to do. My therapist briefly mentioned the term gaslighting, and when I look it up it seems like this is that in a group setting, but then I think about what they say and wonder if I'm just seeing it that way because I'm so insecure, close-minded etc.? I need some try outsider perspectives - do I need to change what I feel like is a fundamental part of me to feel included, or are these friends taking advantage and gaslighting me?
Thanks in advance!
 
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GhostOfLenin

GhostOfLenin

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I have always struggled to find true, deep relationships with friends and when a bunch of new people were hired at my job, we all kind of clicked. The beginning was great - we all said we wanted real, deep, lasting friendships and were going to be our 100% honest, open selves with each other. I was so happy, I thought I had found my missing puzzle piece of life. But as time went on, I began to feel like the black sheep of the group. While I was always included in plans, whenever we were together in a group setting I felt alone. As opposed to the beginning of our group relationship, I now felt like I had to put work into having a conversation with them. They would break off into smaller groups and have conversations about topics in which I had nothing to do with, and I had a hard time joining. I tried to interject, and was always greeted by a short acknowledgement and then a continuation of the conversation that did not include me. I tried to give it time, but every time we hung out I felt more and more alone. They all kept expressing what fabulous, fun times they were having together, yet despite being there I was miserable. I decided to open up to them all - I told them I was feeling excluded and insecure. They told me for the most part (and I am generalizing multiple voices here) that they felt so bad I was feeling this way and there was no reason I should be because they all loved me. So I assumed things would change. They did not. I talked to my therapist, my husband, my mother - they are validated me and made me feel like maybe these were not great friends, but they are good, kind people who tell me they're just like me mentally and emotionally, so I pushed that aside and continued to see them, resulting in the same feeling of exclusion every time. I expressed this once more, specifically stating that "its not required or necessary, but if you want to show me you're the friend you say you are, and if you care about me, I need to be actively included in conversations and interactions to feel secure." I felt this was fair, considering I do what I most people in my life consider going above and beyond for others. They told me they would, and I felt relieved; however, it did not happen. When asked to open up about it, I was told they were actively trying to include me in conversations but that I was not receptive. I apologized for not recognizing this and asked for examples so I could be better on the receiving end but they couldn't remember. They continued to tell me that I am so loved by all but that I am not seeing the massive amounts of work they are putting into their relationship with me, that I need to reframe my way of thinking and work on being less insecure. I expressed to them what my therapist had told me and I was told she was enabling me. I tried to explain how I had never had this issue with other friends like this before and they told me its not fair to compare. No matter what I said, I felt shut down. I am so open to other perspectives, I can see the ways in which their comments can be viewed as right, but I still felt so attacked and alone. They even addressed this and said "youre probably feeling like we're attacking you, don't you? Like you are 10% of the problem and we are 90%" but it was so hard for me not to. I am told again and again that they love me so much and that they're doing all they can. They say they feel at a loss. I dont know how I would be able to, because I try to appreciate the littlest things, but they say I'm just not seeing their effort - that they're meeting me half way and I need to put in the work too to recognize that. No matter what I say, they have a comeback and I feel like I can't be open anymore. I am doubting my gut instincts, I feel at a loss myself, I dont know how to remedy the situation, and I still feel just as alone and now crazy on top of that. Im double guessing my own instinctual thoughts as well as those of my closest relationships because I was told "of course they'll see it that way, they only are being told your perspective" and I dont know what to do. My therapist briefly mentioned the term gaslighting, and when I look it up it seems like this is that in a group setting, but then I think about what they say and wonder if I'm just seeing it that way because I'm so insecure, close-minded etc.? I need some try outsider perspectives - do I need to change what I feel like is a fundamental part of me to feel included, or are these friends taking advantage and gaslighting me? Thanks in advance!
Because that group cant appreciate you is their problem not yours. I donmt have a clue what gaslighting means but who cares. Id wager that some of them are meat heads so tou doged a bullet haning out with them
 
Talina

Talina

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I would say your friend is gasligthing or just have a hard time seeing from your perspective.

What myself have noticed is that people I’m comfortable with will always try to help me being included. If they notice I go quiet and struggle get into conversations they will ask me things to help me ease into conversations. But I was once in a friend group where I totally felt excluded, I couldn’t talk with them easily and even though I was with them myself felt isolated and alone.

So how the chemistry is in a group is quite giving. Your friends seem to not appreciate you in the group or maybe you got a role in the friend group which can be hard to see.

I know my own insecurity put up restrictions that make me pull back and not as active. But with the right people I will open up and be an active person among my friends. So maybe your friend group aren’t the perfect ones with you and might better be just acquaintances instead of close friends.
 
B

bpd2020

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Hello and welcome to the forum. It sounds to me like they are a bunch of manipulative bullies. The people in your life who care agree that these people are being unkind. That is enough to tell me that your gut instincts are correct. The way they say 'you think we are the problem' and other similar things tells me they know what they are doing and they are trying to make you feel you have the issue. I am truly sorry you are involved with these toxic people. It is shocking to think adults can act this way.
 
LizBo

LizBo

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Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
868
Location
Down-under
I have always struggled to find true, deep relationships with friends and when a bunch of new people were hired at my job, we all kind of clicked. The beginning was great - we all said we wanted real, deep, lasting friendships and were going to be our 100% honest, open selves with each other. I was so happy, I thought I had found my missing puzzle piece of life. But as time went on, I began to feel like the black sheep of the group. While I was always included in plans, whenever we were together in a group setting I felt alone. As opposed to the beginning of our group relationship, I now felt like I had to put work into having a conversation with them. They would break off into smaller groups and have conversations about topics in which I had nothing to do with, and I had a hard time joining. I tried to interject, and was always greeted by a short acknowledgement and then a continuation of the conversation that did not include me.
I tried to give it time, but every time we hung out I felt more and more alone. They all kept expressing what fabulous, fun times they were having together, yet despite being there I was miserable. I decided to open up to them all - I told them I was feeling excluded and insecure. They told me for the most part (and I am generalizing multiple voices here) that they felt so bad I was feeling this way and there was no reason I should be because they all loved me. So I assumed things would change.
They did not. I talked to my therapist, my husband, my mother - they are validated me and made me feel like maybe these were not great friends, but they are good, kind people who tell me they're just like me mentally and emotionally, so I pushed that aside and continued to see them, resulting in the same feeling of exclusion every time. I expressed this once more, specifically stating that "its not required or necessary, but if you want to show me you're the friend you say you are, and if you care about me, I need to be actively included in conversations and interactions to feel secure." I felt this was fair, considering I do what I most people in my life consider going above and beyond for others. They told me they would, and I felt relieved; however, it did not happen.
When asked to open up about it, I was told they were actively trying to include me in conversations but that I was not receptive. I apologized for not recognizing this and asked for examples so I could be better on the receiving end but they couldn't remember. They continued to tell me that I am so loved by all but that I am not seeing the massive amounts of work they are putting into their relationship with me, that I need to reframe my way of thinking and work on being less insecure. I expressed to them what my therapist had told me and I was told she was enabling me. I tried to explain how I had never had this issue with other friends like this before and they told me its not fair to compare.
No matter what I said, I felt shut down. I am so open to other perspectives, I can see the ways in which their comments can be viewed as right, but I still felt so attacked and alone. They even addressed this and said "youre probably feeling like we're attacking you, don't you? Like you are 10% of the problem and we are 90%" but it was so hard for me not to. I am told again and again that they love me so much and that they're doing all they can. They say they feel at a loss. I dont know how I would be able to, because I try to appreciate the littlest things, but they say I'm just not seeing their effort - that they're meeting me half way and I need to put in the work too to recognize that.
No matter what I say, they have a comeback and I feel like I can't be open anymore. I am doubting my gut instincts, I feel at a loss myself, I dont know how to remedy the situation, and I still feel just as alone and now crazy on top of that. Im double guessing my own instinctual thoughts as well as those of my closest relationships because I was told "of course they'll see it that way, they only are being told your perspective" and I dont know what to do. My therapist briefly mentioned the term gaslighting, and when I look it up it seems like this is that in a group setting, but then I think about what they say and wonder if I'm just seeing it that way because I'm so insecure, close-minded etc.? I need some try outsider perspectives - do I need to change what I feel like is a fundamental part of me to feel included, or are these friends taking advantage and gaslighting me?
Thanks in advance!
Hey and welcome DSS!

I get what you're saying and really empathise with you. It's not easy feeling on the outer and wondering about the 'whys'. You sound a self aware, kind and generous person who's willing to express yourself for the benefit of all concerned. However, you're only one person and looking after and protecting yourself should ideally be your biggest priority.

Gaslighting is usually by people who bring others down with belittling comments to make themselves feel bigger or get 'off the hook'; avoiding accountability/responsibility for their behaviour. Although [they] haven't said anything awful, the air of avoidance seems to be present through trying to protect you from the truth.

As they joined your team together, they may be feeling more connected with each other than with existing staff. This is a common effect for newcomers who're looking for support and confidence. This doesn't mean they don't like you, it's just that you might not 'fit' within their particular dynamic.

You've disclosed your feelings, asked for what you want and still things aren't adding up. It might be time to give up wanting their love/approval and get on with 'work'. Afterall, they were your colleagues first.

Group settings can be complex. At work though there are set rules and guidelines making the 'Team' the highest priority. Mixing personal feelings and professional requirements can be dicey, so finding a workable balance is important.

I think you could find peace after accepting the current reality and not hoping/wishing things were different.

I hope this helps and doesn't bring too much worry to your situation.

Kind thoughts;
Liz :peace:
 
JessisMe

JessisMe

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Without being there to personally see the group dynamic and the way that they are/are not trying to include you in their activities it is impossible to tell. Because the situation is having such a negative effect on your self
esteem and mental health, however, I’d just drop it entirely. You thought it was going to be a good situation for you, it turned out not to be, time to move on.
 
Undecided

Undecided

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Wow that’s exactly what I’m dealing with. I just feel that I’m not good enough for my mates, which is no fault of there’s I just think I’m not one of them in a way.
 
D

DesperatelySeekingSupport

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Messages
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Location
new york
Wow, thank you all for taking the time to respond to me! I had come to the conclusion that I needed to take a step back from these friends: they meant well, but I need more than they can offer in a relationship and in return I cant supply them with what they need. I think I knew this for a while deep down but I sadly wanted them to prove it to be untrue. Its such a relief to hear that my gut instinct (and my husband, mom and therapist) were right and that I'm not crazy. I may be "needy", but my emotions are my emotions and those who truly love me won't make me feel like they are a burden. Thank you all - I hope those of you who are experiencing similar things are able to find relief and comfort as well!
 
N

Nukelavee

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"its not required or necessary, but if you want to show me you're the friend you say you are, and if you care about me, I need to be actively included in conversations and interactions to feel secure."
I'm trying to think of a gentle way to say this. I feel like you are the kind of personality that can never be reassured enough. No gesture or words ever seem to actually prove that people value you, at least in this situation.

From the outside, people may see you as overly clingy or needy.
No matter what I say, they have a comeback
You would hate being around me. One of my defining traits is always having a counterpoint. Having said that - there are virtually always two sides to every interaction. There will always be a "comeback" or counterpoint. Or another way to see things.
I am so open to other perspectives, I can see the ways in which their comments can be viewed as right, but I still felt so attacked and alone.
IF you still feel attacked and alone, you aren't truly grasping/accepting their perspective.
but my emotions are my emotions and those who truly love me won't make me feel like they are a burden.
this is a questionable conclusion. I mean, you aren't wrong, but, at teh same time, you realize that the level of "care" it takes for you to feel secure is way beyond what others have to give.

Believe me, I can understand how you feel. I'm ok with making new friends, ie, it's easy for me, but, on the other hand, when it comes to a potential girlfriend, no gesture is meaningful enough to me to let me feel confident of another's interest. To quote an ex "not even a pretty girl in your lap makes you realize how I feel about you". 30 years later, I am no better at feeling secure enough with somebody to accept that they really are attracted.

Also - it may be possible that they are right, and your other friends and family, and therapist, are enabling you to a point. I mean, you absolutely deserve friends who care about you, and you are free to have your own standards, but you friends are telling you, it seems, that there is no room in the middle, between how you want/need to be treated, and how you are.

Finally - sadly, sometimes, no matter how badly we want to be part of a group, no matter how well it starts out, it just doesn't work.
 
D

DesperatelySeekingSupport

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I get where you're coming from, and I'm sure people may view me as needy; however, there are many people in my life that don't and I had specifically told these friends what I needed to feel secure. I very specifically told them that I need actions, not words, and gave them specific examples of what actions would make me feel loved. Of course they don't need to do these things, but I do feel they were very reasonable, easy actions, and I would have recognized and appreciated them. I understand why you might have thought otherwise though.

I don't hate seeing other sides of things or perspectives, in fact, I love it, but I do believe in there being a way to say everything. It's not what someone says, it's how they say it - that is why I still feel attacked. Others in my life easily are able to give me what I need, and don't view it as work/too much, so I do think I am being too unreasonable.

In regards to everyone enabling me, trust me, I did consider it, and it still could be the case - but considering that the people who are supporting me have known me for years, and know the real me, I do place their opinions and thoughts over those who have only known me for a couple of months. These "friends" claim to know what is best for me when they don't really know who I am. I think it is time I move on, for my sake and for theirs. I think we will all be happier for it.

Thanks for taking the time to respond!
 
N

Nukelavee

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but considering that the people who are supporting me have known me for years, and know the real me, I do place their opinions and thoughts over those who have only known me for a couple of months. These "friends" claim to know what is best for me when they don't really know who I am.
As you should. I mean, you do have good friends and support, so, you can't be "that" needy or clingy. As you said, they've known you a long time, they know your worth, and what you value.

Sometimes, we meet a person, or group, and it seems great at first, but turns out later there is no depth to the relationship. I mean, surface traits can gel very well, but, deep down, there isn't a strong enough connection to be true or close friends.

I guess what I'm saying is it's possible to sincerely like you, but for that not to result in a strong friendship. Also, it's not your fault by any means, I'm sorry if I implied that.

I think it counts for something, though, that they try to be pleasant, at least.

I think it helps to always be aware that, as individuals, we never truly know how others feel, or think. What seems callous to one, can seem normal to others. Unless somebody is outright hostile, if I can, I try to take the more charitable view of the behaviour/actions, simply because it helps make things less painfull.
 
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