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7 Burning Signs of Crazy-Making Behavior in Relationships

7 Burning Signs of Crazy-Making Behavior in Relationships

“Crazy-making” is a form of emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates the victim’s perception of reality, making them doubt their own experiences, memories, and sanity. This tactic is often used to gain control and maintain power over the victim.

After maddening, and incessant crazy-making behavior from my husband, that lasted for years, I lost it one night last winter on him for purposely leaving a bathroom window open when it was freezing outside, making the entire house cold, after I’d spent the day chasing around to keep the damn windows shut. I was incredulous that he’d done it again, after several years of me asking nicely, and then me practically begging him to stop this, because I was cold ALL the time. (He has an obsession with “fresh air” and “cross-breezes” flowing through the house for some reason, and it’s getting worse.)

I remember asking him if he wants me to leave, and flat out telling him this was abuse set to make me lose control. After I called him out on this, it didn’t happen again as far as windows and cold weather went. This was after me losing my sh!t on him many times for this reason.

He went ahead moved on to another crazy-making behavior and the whole process started all over again with something else. I don’t see this ever ending because of this repeated pattern.

I think this stems from his controlling mother, who didn’t allow much free expression of emotion when he was growing up, possibly making him feel powerless.

The Roots of Crazy-Making Behavior

Crazy makers often develop dysfunctional thinking patterns rooted in their childhood experiences. When parents suppress their children’s emotions or prevent them from expressing themselves freely, it sends a message of “powerlessness.”

To regain a sense of control, children may resort to subtle manipulation, such as lying, stealing, or withholding information, as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, these behaviors persist into adulthood, but prove detrimental in relationships.

Manipulation falls short compared to the benefits of open communication—a skill many crazy makers never learned because their childhoods were dominated by parental authority and obedience.

No more excuses when you are in an adult relationship.

We can see how draining it is to have to constantly fight the person who promised to love, honor, and cherish you, just to have comfort in your home. Can you see why so many women just say F-it and leave seemingly out of the blue?

I sure do! Believe me – I get it! It’s not just one thing, it’s the culmination of many things over years and years that wear you down.

Here are some other broad examples which include:

Gaslighting: Telling the victim that events they clearly remember never happened, or that they are “imagining things.”

Blame-shifting: Blaming the victim for the abuser’s own abusive behavior, making the victim feel responsible.

Contradictory Statements: Saying one thing and doing another, or frequently changing their story, leaving the victim confused.

Denial of Abuse: Insisting that the abuse isn’t happening, or that it’s not as bad as the victim perceives it to be.

Blaming: Accusing you of being overly sensitive or irrational when you express valid concerns.

Withholding Information: Omitting key details or keeping secrets, leading to confusion and mistrust.

Triangulation: Involving a third party to validate their perspective, making you feel isolated or ganged up on.

These tactics can make the victim question their sanity and can severely impact their mental health.

The Difference Between Crazy-Making and Gaslighting

Crazy-making and gaslighting are closely related forms of emotional abuse, but they have some distinctions:

Crazy-Making: This broader term encompasses various tactics that make the victim feel confused, frustrated, or doubt their reality. It includes gaslighting but also other behaviors like contradictory statements, blame-shifting, and persistent undermining.

Gaslighting: This is a specific tactic within crazy-making where the abuser deliberately manipulates the victim’s perception of reality. It involves denying facts, discrediting the victim’s memory, and insisting that the victim is imagining things.

In essence, gaslighting is a type of crazy-making focused specifically on altering the victim’s perception of reality.

Whats the Motive for Crazy Making Behavior?

Interesting question. I’ve asked myself this many times.

Men who engage in crazy-making behavior typically do not aim to drive their wives away; rather, they seek to exert control and maintain power within the relationship. However, their actions can have the unintended consequence of pushing their partners away due to the emotional exhaustion and psychological toll.

Their primary motives often include:

Maintaining Control: Keeping their partner dependent and uncertain.

Avoiding Accountability: Shifting blame to avoid facing their own actions.

Emotional Manipulation: Gaining a sense of power and superiority.

While driving their wives away might not be the explicit goal, the behavior’s impact can make the relationship intolerable for the victim.

Another Real-life Example of Crazy-Making in Relationships

Is it considered crazy making when you ask someone to stop doing something innocuous like knowlingly screwing the lids too tight on jars for me to open?

There was recently a post about this on Reddit. This woman was so frustrated with her husband purposely over-tightening the jars, after numerous requests not to, and over the course of 5 years, that she wants a divorce.

Here are some screenshots to give you an idea of how subtle, and insidious crazy making is on a relationship’s health. Honestly, this is is insideous crazy making behavior at it’s finest, in my opinion:

Example of Crazy Making Behavior in Relationships Reddit

Now, check out how even the neighbor can see right through this bullshit, though he later apologized for saying something about it (possibly fearing backlash from hubby?)

This must have been rather validating for this wife to have the neighbor tell her he thought it was done on purpose.

Example of Crazy Making Behavior in Relationships Reddit

…and finally, she breaks down again, trying to make sense of a senseless situation. Probably asking herself WHY? WHY does he DO this?

She may be berating herself for being “petty.”

Going by all the smart-assed, trying-to-be-clever, and frankly useless comments at the link that Reddit is famous for, many others think she’s being petty as well. Which tells me, that there is so much ignorance out there on what abuse can encompass.

We can also see the mental and emotional anguish she is dealing with, as well as having to try to explain this to her friends and family. He won’t admit to over-tightening the jars on purpose. This has been going on for years, and it got to where she screamed at him about it, at certain points, out of frustration, as the neighbor said he heard.

Her clueless husband was “blindsided” by her declaration of divorce, and now she is just DONE. It’s sad because it doesn’t have to be, and should not be, this difficult to be married.

Some high conflict people thrive on chaos because that is all they know. It sounds like he may have tightened all the jar lids as a little middle finger to her. This is certainly about more than just jar lids, and I’ll bet if she really went back in the archives of her relationship with this guy, she’d see that there so, so much more going on under the surface. Hind sight will be 20/20 for her once she’s out.

Just my opinion, of course.

Example of Crazy Making Behavior in Relationships Reddit

Yes, it can be considered crazy-making if your partner consistently screws the lids too tight on jars despite your repeated requests to stop it. Sound petty? It’s not when you suffer from tendonitis and arthritis, which I do, making it easy for me to relate to her post.

This behavior may seem minor, but if it’s part of a pattern of disregarding your needs and making you feel incapable or frustrated, it’s a form of emotional abuse. The intent behind the action matters – if it’s done to undermine, frustrate, or belittle you, it falls under crazy-making!

Other Examples of Crazy Making in Relationships

Now, these are more on the severe side of the spectrum to give an idea of the wide range of the lengths someone will go to so they can keep that hold of that almighty control.

Hiding Keys or Important Items: Making you think you are forgetful or careless when you can’t find them.

Changing Clock Times: Setting clocks ahead or behind without telling you, causing you to be late or early.

Messing with Thermostat Settings: Constantly adjusting the temperature to make you uncomfortable and then denying it.

Rearranging Items: Moving things around the house and denying it, making you question your memory.

Subtle Sabotage: Intentionally doing things like unplugging appliances or loosening screws on furniture to cause minor inconveniences and frustration.

These behaviors are designed to undermine your confidence and sense of reality.

What Does Crazy-Making do to a Woman?

Crazy-making, as seen in the screenshots above, can have profound emotional and psychological effects on a woman, including:

Confusion: She may constantly question her own perceptions and memories.

Self-Doubt: She might feel unsure of her abilities, decisions, and judgments.

Anxiety: The unpredictability and manipulation can lead to heightened stress and worry.

Isolation: Feeling misunderstood and doubting her reality may cause her to withdraw from others.

Depression: Persistent undermining can lead to feelings of hopelessness and sadness.

Low Self-Esteem: Continuous belittling can erode her sense of self-worth.

These feelings can significantly impact her overall well-being and ability to function. Have you experienced any of these emotions in your current situation?

Screaming senior woman, mental health and depression from bipolar anxiety, stress and scary fear on black background. Schizophrenia, psychology and crazy person shout, drugs problem and epilepsy risk.

What Does a Crazy-Making Husband Have to Gain From This?

A husband may use crazy-making behavior on his wife to exert power and control over her. Here are some reasons why an abuser might use these tactics:

Control: By making his wife doubt her reality, he can control her thoughts, emotions, and actions more easily.

Power: Undermining her confidence and self-worth boosts his sense of dominance and superiority.

Isolation: Confusion and self-doubt can make her withdraw from friends and family, isolating her and making her more dependent on him.

Avoidance of Accountability: By shifting blame and distorting reality, he avoids taking responsibility for his actions.

Emotional Manipulation: Keeping her emotionally destabilized ensures she remains focused on him, making it harder for her to leave or challenge his behavior.

Ultimately, these tactics are about maintaining an imbalance of power in the relationship. Does this resonate with what you’ve experienced?

Woman screaming and shouting at her man in kitchen

How Should a Woman Deal With Crazy-Making?

Dealing with crazy-making requires a combination of self-care, support, and strategic responses. Here are some steps:

Recognize the Behavior: Understand that the behavior is abusive and not your fault.

Document Incidents: Keep a journal of specific instances, including dates and details. This can help you see patterns and validate your experiences.

Set Boundaries: Clearly communicate your limits and stand firm on them.

Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or a therapist who can provide validation and perspective.

Educate Yourself: Learn about emotional abuse and crazy-making tactics to better understand what you’re experiencing.

Practice Self-Care: Engage in activities that boost your self-esteem and mental well-being.

Develop an Exit Strategy: If the behavior continues, and you feel unsafe, consider planning a safe exit from the relationship.

Rage as a Response to Crazy-Making

Rage is a natural response to the frustration and confusion caused by crazy-making, but it often does not stop the behavior and can sometimes escalate the situation. Abusers may even use your reaction to further manipulate or blame you.

Crazy-making behaviors are rooted in a desire for control and power, so without significant intervention or change on the part of the abuser, these behaviors typically do not stop on their own.

Strategic Responses to Crazy-Making Behavior

Stay Calm: Try to respond calmly and assertively, which can minimize the satisfaction the abuser gets from seeing you upset.

Avoid Engaging: Sometimes, not engaging with the behavior can reduce its impact.

Seek Professional Help: Therapy can offer strategies to handle the situation and support your emotional well-being.

Consider Your Safety: If the behavior continues, consider whether staying in the relationship is safe for you.

Wrapping Up

Understanding the difference between crazy-making and gaslighting is essential. Crazy-making is a broader term that includes various manipulative behaviors designed to confuse and frustrate the victim. Gaslighting, a specific type of crazy-making, focuses on altering the victim’s perception of reality through denial and manipulation of facts.

The motives behind crazy-making behavior often stem from a desire to maintain control and power within the relationship. While these men may not consciously aim to drive their partners away, their actions lead to emotional exhaustion and psychological strain, making the relationship intolerable for the victim.

By keeping their partner dependent and uncertain, avoiding accountability, and exerting emotional manipulation, abusers sustain their control, even if it means losing their partner in the process.

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