Love Island: Is Gaslighting Just How Men Communicate Now?

Jake’s reaction to Liberty needing space was just one uncomfortable example…

Jake and Liberty Love Island

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

On last night’s episode of Love Island, there were two common themes: girl code and gaslighting. The girls handled their dispute with some good old-fashioned confrontation. The boys? They opted for the whole ‘make her think she’s crazy until you get away with it’ choice.

Except, it wasn’t as explicit as saying ‘You’re acting crazy’ or ‘You’re misreading things’, which we can all agree is gaslighting 101. No, it more insidious than that.

Take Jake Cornish and Liberty Poole, for example. After telling near every male Islander that his ‘head would be turned’ by any blonde with blue eyes that saunters into the villa, Jake finally came clean with Liberty and admitted the same to her – much to her shock. Like many of us would, she took some time to process it - meanwhile two blonde blue-eyed bombshells entered the villa. Jake chose to chat to Millie, telling her ‘You come in and I was like “Oh f*ck”’, and Liberty finally sat down with Jake to lay down the law.

It should’ve been a very simple conversation. She explained she was upset, that she wouldn’t stand for him 'testing' their relationship by getting to know every blonde that walked in and that she won’t give him the same effort levels if he’s not prepared to reciprocate.

What did she get in return? Jake, acting flabbergasted that she even thought he would get to know another woman. After, you know, telling her he would. ‘How do you not understand Lib?’ he asked.

‘Today’s shook me a bit, so it’s just going to be a process of opening up again slowly. So I’ll cuddle you possibly but there’s not going to be any hanky panky snogging,’ she said.

Jake, continuing to act shocked, seemed to become slightly annoyed before agreeing: ‘You do what you’ve got to do.’

Watching the scene, you practically read his mind. ‘Me?! A MAN having to suffer the consequences of my own actions?! What is this ALIEN behaviour?!’

But what’s more jarring to watch is Liberty’s face, who despite absolutely holding her own, was clearly confused by his confusion. She laughed uncomfortably when he tried to joke, stumbling over her words as she reiterated that they couldn’t be physically intimate until she felt comfortable again.

Any woman whose been gaslit before knows the feeling well, the instant questioning of whether you’re over-reacting, whether you’ve misread the very clear conversation you had hours prior.

It was the same look on Rachel Finni’s face when Brad McClelland – in his typically FAR TOO BRUTALLY HONEST fashion – told her he hadn’t felt for anyone what he felt for Lucinda when she walked in. You know, that same line he chalked out for her when she walked in?

Viewers certainly noticed the hypocrisy, pointing out that Brad seems to recycle his lines to women and then act as though he never said it as soon as a new woman comes along. That alone is gaslighting behaviour, but it would only take an Islander actually calling him on it to see how far he really takes the whole ‘You’re remembering wrong’ narrative.

One Islander that does seem to be calling it is Sharon Gaffka, who was dumped by Aaron Francis for a whole load of reasons he seems to have made up in his head. His gaslighting appears to be the reason Sharon was so upset, telling the islanders ‘I just didn’t expect that at all’.

And why would she? Aaron said his type was ‘confident and independent women’, yet as soon as Sharon demonstrated said confidence and independence – confronting Hugo Holland when he upset her and explaining she only wants children if she’s in a partnership with equal share of responsibilities – he told her she’s not the type of woman he wants.

It left viewers just as confused, as did all of the other conversation. It seems then, the entire nation is being gaslit by the Love Island men – we’re just not used to it being this insidious to watch. Because the thing is, the men are SO blatant with it. They act this way as if they haven’t literally been filmed 10 minutes prior saying or behaving the opposite, like gaslighting comes so naturally to them it’s just the way they communicate now.

Perhaps it’s never being called on it, perhaps it’s just this cast of men that producers picked out knowing they’ll cause the most drama – but either way, it’s making viewers want to do away with the whole villa and start again.

Can we have at least ONE non-emotionally manipulative man this year? Please? Just so we don’t lose all faith in mankind right before we all start shagging each other again? We’re begging.

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