There are things that people do that have a pretty clear motive. You witness what happened, you know why it happened. The end. For example, if your husband drinks directly out of the milk carton you can say, “Hey, I saw you drink out of the milk carton.” Then, he should respond, “Yes. I was thirsty.” You can be pretty sure there are no other motives behind his actions… unless you have told him a million times to not drink out of the milk carton, then there’s a chance he might be passive aggressive… So maybe that’s not a good example. Maybe a better example would be if someone has a headache, they might take some Tylenol to get rid of it. They aren’t taking Tylenol to piss you off or make you feel stupid. They are doing it for the sole purpose of getting rid of their headache. The end.
There are other times when a motive might not be so clear. Say your husband starts demanding you show him all the receipts from any shopping you might do. He says he needs to have all of the receipts hanging on the fridge by the end of the day that you go shopping. If you don’t have the receipts up there, he accuses you of not being committed to the marriage and you are sabotaging your relationship. So, this is kind of a domineering request in itself, what is the motive on his part? Are you in money troubles that you aren’t aware of? Is he doing a spending experiment with you that he can’t tell you about because it’s a blind study? You know it feels wrong, it feels controlling but the motives aren’t clear enough for you to make a solid decision on it.
So maybe that example became a little muddled. I’d like to be explicitly clear on this because I feel like it’s important.
My ex-husband is the master of unclear motives. Since I have known him, he has honed his skills at making me doubt myself and whether or not what happened was something he intended. It’s this thing called Gaslighting. I’m pretty sure he isn’t aware there is a term for the sociopathic behavior he exhibits but the fact that I know brings me comfort.
I hope educating about this term might bring someone else comfort too.