Gaslighting? Investigating how we’re all Greg and Katie.
Disclaimer #1: I only watched the episode once and then rewatched the moment Greg “turned” a second time before writing this. This post only addresses the initial issue, not any problematic words and actions (though there were many) in the moments/day that followed.
Disclaimer #2: Again, this piece is not to say Greg was not gaslighting, I just didn’t view it as gaslighting originally. I viewed it as two hurt people communicating poorly aka- what all of us have the potential to be always and forever. It’s important to listen to people who say they are being gaslit always.
While you read this, and everyone else’s take, let’s remember we are not Greg and Katie. We are seeing a producer’s cut. Only their experiences, opinions, and mental health matters.
This is how I saw it unravel:
Greg had a need (affirmation that Katie had equally big feelings for him).
Katie said “I just love looking at you” in response.
Greg interpreted that as “I don’t love you” and now he has a story in his head that that is true.
Katie tried to give some affirmation (that probably stays within the confines of the show) but that isn’t deep enough for Greg.
Katie noticed Greg shut down and says something like, “I feel like I can’t get you out of this right now.”
Greg got curt and wanted Katie to know why he was upset and what he needed without telling her with words.
From this point on they are on two completely different pages. Operating within story after story in their own head.
It hurt my heart to watch.
Did it hurt my heart because Greg is a narcissistic asshole?
No. Not at all.
It hurt to watch because we could all so easily be Greg in this situation.
It hurt to watch because the past 1.5 years have been so hard on all of us and I think we wanted to see good. We wanted to see love. We are upset and frustrated and triggered and disappointed that we can’t vicariously live through these love birds. That our form of escapism bit us in the ass and reminded us why life and love are so hard.
Last night was such a clear example of the Truth getting away from both people and story and ego leading the charge. This was jealousy fueling stories in Greg’s head fueling mismatched needs fueling poor communication fueling more stories fueling ego and so on.
It is a progression that all of us can fall privy to because we aren’t taught how to communicate. Because we aren’t taught how to drop defenses, especially when we are feeling really scared.
After the show aired, Katie reposted an infographic about gaslighting on her story. If she feels she has been gaslit, and if that’s how you, viewer, interpreted the events, you are right.
But truthfully, I didn’t see it that way initially at all. I saw someone with a need and a partner who didn’t meet the need in the moment* and that unmet need turned into an avalanche of poor communication.
*Partners are not responsible for meeting needs. We are.
The internet is a hard place to be even as a tiny business owner, I can’t even imagine what it might feel like as a celebrity.
So I say we stop the back and forth. We stop the picking sides. Because we are having the wrong conversation.
Instead of weighing in on Greg vs Katie, I encourage you to turn inward.
Ask yourself, if I was feeling big feelings like this and what I needed wasn’t being met, what might I say to my partner instead? How can I pause the conversation to calm myself? If I notice I’m shutting down, how can I explain that? How can I avoid getting curt and cold in the way that Greg did?
Pause for a moment and see how easily any one of us can be, and probably has been, Greg: needing something, not getting it, fueling stories in our head, shutting down, and then ultimately sabotaging ourselves, and the relationships we care about most.
Some other thoughts:
How might this conversation be different if the gender of Katie and Greg were reversed? Would Guy-Katie get a TON of heat for saying “I love looking at you” after a woman bared her soul? Probably. Do I think Greg was putting way too much of his happiness in Katie’s hands? For sure. Would that freak me out? Almost definitely. Should Greg be in therapy? I think there should be a resident therapist on set at The Bachelorette because everyone is probably being manipulated by producers and being gaslit by the show itself. And also grief is hard. It is so hard. We could all use support with grief.
But does my opinion on any of that matter? Not really. All I can do is try to notice how I might handle the situation differently instead of tear down a strangers who have probably experienced some degree of psychological torture by being on this show, especially when we are seeing a producer’s cut literally edited to ignite us.
P.S- If you are someone who watched last night and then formed an opinion and are running with it, your words and actions are being fueled by a narrative the producers helped you create. You are running with a story in your head, not unlike what Greg did. Katie’s experience and interpretation of the real life events matter. Ours, my friends, do not.