So many questions about relationships are out there, but this is one I have personally had over the years, especially after dealing with a Psychopath in my life, and then a Narcissist. Am I being unreasonable? Is my “narc-dar” so fine-tuned that I am actually “labeling” someone, unjustly?
That’s one end of the spectrum…
Lets imagine that my Narcissist radar IS fine tuned, yet (as I have already done) I STILL fall for another one of “them”. Yes, my senses are keen to attributes that people show, which are Narcissistic or Psychopathic… as long as I’m not personally involved with that person in one way or another. That doesn’t mean that I still didn’t see those characteristics. I was battling with the question I posed above. “Maybe I was being unreasonable.” and, “I know the tell-tale red-flags… but I haven’t given things enough time. Maybe I was imagining things…” Maybe I was “un” labeling them, when they SHOULD have been labeled. I was calling them “nice” when I should have called “ass-hole!”.
Do you see the confusion? The unwavering question/answer sessions? I’m going to try to clear this up for all of us. Of course as new survivors, you need to go through purging and processing periods. You NEED to learn to see characteristics in people that DO make your intuition yell. You will become a bit paranoid for a while, just for the sole purpose of never allowing yourself to go through that experience again. After all of the purging and processing, you’ll find yourselves being tested on your “skills” and newly placed (or reaffirmed) boundaries. Ready or not. Much of the time, your first testing will come only when you THINK you are ready and can face any demons that come your way, only to find out that you weren’t as strong as you thought. Trust me, been there, done that, myself.
Lets talk about the “jerks” out there.
When I think of a jerk, I think of a man whose view of women, in general, is skewed by upbringing or personal experiences. To some of them, women are only there to cook, clean, do yard work and bear children. Seen and not heard. Some think they are god’s gift to women, and set out to prove it… in spades. The jerks are out to get as many notches on their belts as humanly possible. To sleep with many women, then brag to their friends, is a glorious, pride-filled accomplishment. The jerks have no self-control, nor do they want any. They cannot control their tempers or their boyish drive. They are out for themselves, without regard for the women (or people in general) who will be hurt by them along the way. Does this make them Narcissistic? Psychopathic? Sometimes, yes, but not always. It ALWAYS, ALWAYS makes them jerks. Will they change in time? Probably, but not always. I personally know of a few “jerks” that became wonderful people as they got a little older. This is NOT the case with Narcissists or Psychopaths.
How can you tell them apart, in the beginning stages of a relationship?
You really can’t tell the nice guys from the jerks or Psychopaths, initially. They always put their best foot forward and their sweetest face on, when pursuing you. They are always nice, considerate, there for you and attentive. Always. The ones with the dark side, don’t want you to see that side of themselves. If they did, then they wouldn’t get the notch on their belt (for the jerks), or solidify their current choice of Narcissistic supply (for the Narc or Psych). The nice guys are in there, too… showing you their nice face, smile, empathy and compassion for others. These good attributes can be mimicked skillfully by the other types. The difference in seeing them for who they are, is in the time you spend getting to KNOW THEM! The ones who are putting on a false front, cannot hold onto that for long. In time, they will become comfortable or haughty. They will become confident that they’ve ensnared their chosen “beloved”, and will let their masks slip. It’s arrogance that will be their down fall, as well as pride and feeling comfortable enough to be themselves.
There are no grand epiphanies or treatments out there that will change the personalities or characteristics of the disordered. Psychopaths will remain psychopaths. Narcissists will always be Narcissists. There’s no “waiting” it out or fixing them. There’s no “loving” them or being “patient” enough, to show them the errors of their ways. What they are, will always be what they are. The only thing you can do to protect yourselves in the long run is by being aware of the base red-flags, which should NEVER be ignored.
The first and biggest red-flag you should be aware of, has nothing really to do with them. It has to do with US! How fast are you falling for the niceties, and allowing your hearts to swoon? Are your boundaries slipping rather quickly, when you KNOW BETTER? Are you falling for someone who hasn’t proven they are who they portray themselves to be? Has it only been a week? A month?
You are in danger, when you let your heart “go” too early. It’s difficult at times, to keep your head on straight and your heart in check. If you do “fall”, all too often you will find yourself in an abusive situation. In the very least, you will be used as another “notch” or momentary gratification for the jerks. There is a lot to be said for allowing things to be “tried by fire”. We want to believe the best in others. Once our hearts have won the argument, if it happens too early, we have to be right about them at any cost. If abuse starts to show, the internal dialogue shows up, “He’s just had a bad day..”, “I KNOW he’s not like that! He did [this and that] for me..”. Too many times there will be damage done, if you haven’t paid attention early on. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but rarely.
Is he telling you, “you are the one!” and “Soul mate“, within just a couple of weeks or a month of dating? How about “I love you!”?
Mirroring comes into play, here, when you are dealing with narcissists or Psychopaths. Is he everything you have ever wanted or needed? Is he saying “just the right thing” at “just the right time”? Is he saying or doing those things that no one could possibly know about? Do they instantaneously tug at your heart-strings? This is planned. He’s watched and took note of areas that you need. He’s an ACTOR filling a ROLE for one purpose only. He wants YOU as his personal TOY! NO ONE is that perfect!! Listen to him, when he talks about himself. Do you EVER hear about HIS mistakes in relationships? Or is his ex-wife, girlfriend, etc. “crazy”? They are ALWAYS superficial, when showing you they “care”. It’s always to “do” and “be” what you need at any given time. “Johnny-on-the-spot”. Have they showed you anything that says they care about your heart, other than just words? I don’t mean buying you flowers. What has he done to show you he cares for you as a person or cherishes your heart? If all he does is superficial, self-centered, etc. please get away from them. This is the point when they start throwing exclamations of “love” and “soul-mate”, which is after they are certain you have been ‘caught’ and their supply is secured. You are dealing with someone who is needing a source of supply. Get away quick!
At the very least, he’s showing signs of being insecure. If he is insecure, you will see he cares about you…too much. He will show his “love for you” by being self-sacrificial, almost martyr-ish. This still isn’t a good thing. You might be opening yourself up for a whole lot of jealousy and obsessiveness. No fun, and never, ever good.
“But I trusted him!” Yeah, welcome to the club.
The only way you can protect yourself, is, to give things plenty of time. That is, only if they are showing you “good”, and not anything that would alert you to possibly being narcissistic or psychopathic, such as “mirroring” behaviors, superficiality, self-centeredness, and so-on. Not to worry, soon they will show their “true” colors. The disordered can’t hold their facade for much more than a few weeks. You will begin to see behaviors that are intended to bait you into reactions, no matter how small. Once instance should be questioned but allowed only after speaking up about it. Twice, is a character flaw or outright abusive personality, and you need to get away from that relationship.
If they have proven themselves to be decent and normal human beings, still give things more time. That person might not be right for you. Have you seen their temper yet? I suggest waiting until you, at least, see them irritated. You want to know if their temper is one that will still protect YOU!
You are worth the time it takes to get to know someone. You are important, too. We have only one life. One heart. One psyche. Please pay attention…
The saying, “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, has been around longer than I know. When phrases become “cliche’” and “an old saying”, folks tend to put them on the back burner, viewing them as old, worn out ideals, that don’t apply to ‘modern’ times. We ignore them, much of the time. This particular one has become another one of the ‘cliche’s’ but is, non-the-less, very true. In the realm of a new relationship, or potential there-of, it’s imperative to listen.
Unfortunately, there are some of us who put too much stock in “first impressions”. We do it when meeting someone new. We do it when someone is ‘handsome’ or ‘pretty’. “Awww… he seems nice.” or “Man, what an ASS!”. When we get an impression of someone’s character or whether that person is nice or not, we cling to that ideal. We think it, therefore we are right. Right? Many times, we find out we couldn’t have been more WRONG! As it pertains to a new romance or friendship, giving things time to pan out is very important.
When we first meet ANYONE, that person is usually on their best behavior, especially when its a cordial meeting. Not so much with a chance meeting of your husband’s mistress. When it’s a cordial ‘meet and greet’ session, we smile, shake hands, exchange pleasant banter and move on. If there is some sort of ‘connection’, we may even exchange phone numbers. Unfortunately, some place a measure of trust in that person, right then and THERE. I can’t begin to tell you just how DANGEROUS THIS IS!
I used to trust everyone, until they proved they couldn’t or shouldn’t be trusted. Even then, I still explained and ‘poo-poo’d’ away certain unpleasantries, like; if someone was angry or spiteful toward me, with no perceivable reason, I attributed it to, “he/she is just having a bad day.”. Most times I was right, but there were times I was wrong. I always, ALWAYS believed the best about others. The last 2 years, looking back, I can clearly see subtleties that should have alerted me to a looming threat or even danger, when dealing with some of those people I trusted. I was too busy ‘trusting‘ and ‘believing’ to see it.
Time went on, trusting these people with my secrets, dreams and even my family. These people talked with me, asking questions about this or that, or even joining me when I was discontent or angry with someone who had “done me wrong”. They would say, “I would hurt him if he ever came around you again” or “What a bitch”. They ALWAYS agree with you!!!! These same people are ‘johnny on the spot’ if you need or want anything. Even if you don’t want them to drive 2 hours to be by your side during an emotional time, they are there for you. They will sit and have coffee with you, and buy you surprise “thinking of you” gifts. They are ALWAYS, ALWAYS full of complements about how ‘beautiful’ you are, nice you are, and so on. Those of us who enjoy the attention, affection and smiles, are quick to think “best friend” or even, “soul-mate”.
Some people are sincere in SOME of the gestures. Others are trying to woo you into believing they are “wonderful”, “friend” and even, “soul-mate” on the outside, while inside they are plotting…something. Thieves will do this, to gain access into your home, or to gain information about whatever they want to defile. Narcissists and Psychopaths do this, to insure their newly found meal will stick around a while… It’s easier to conquer a kingdom from the inside. After all, the guards are watching outside the perimeter. Most wouldn’t think to watch those “friends” on the inside, with our families.
This is a rule I used to follow, and for whatever reason, it got put on the back-burner. If someone is OVERLY COMPLEMENTARY, IT IS BEST TO AVOID THAT PERSON… Nine times out of 10, that person is someone you shouldn’t trust. They are trying to woo you into trusting them, for another reason. The same applies, if someone agrees with you about EVERYTHING, be cautious or even just walk away entirely. NO 2 PEOPLE HAVE THE EXACT SAME VIEWS ON EVERYTHING!
I knew a man, once, who was exactly like this. He was constantly telling me just how wonderful I was to help by watching his daughter, and so on. He would complement my looks, my home, everything. It wasn’t the nice, heartfelt, occasional complement. It was to the point that I thought within myself, “God, would you STOP already?!”. It made me uncomfortable, and not because I was embarrassed. My skin literally crawled. One day, after 2 weeks of watching his daughter and not hearing from him at all, he finally showed up at my apartment to pick her up. I was cleaning my bathroom when he showed up and, as usual, I had taken my wedding ring off and placed it on the cabinet. He rang the doorbell, and I answered. He asked to use my bathroom and, without waiting for the ‘ok’, he dove in. After a considerable amount of time, he finally came out and left in a hurry… never to be seen again. It didn’t take me long to realize, “I didn’t hear anything… NOTHING”. I didn’t hear the usual sounds that came from a bathroom, when you are only 10-15 feet away. No ‘tinkle’, no flush, no running water. I felt very uneasy about my ring, but he didn’t give me any time to retrieve it before he dove in. Sure enough, my ring was gone…
You can meet people dressed in designer clothes, complete with perfectly pasted smiles. He could be a banker or a sales professional, full of smiles, and charismatic charm. He could also be the poor single dad who is fighting to stay afloat, for his childrens’ sake, doing what it takes to get by. He’s dirty and doesn’t smell very good, due to working in the heat. Lets pretend that you don’t know any details about either…
Enter the charismatic well dressed person. He might be a business professional. You have never met this person, but you like their suit very much. This person greets you with sincerity, shaking your hand and smiling a smile that would melt polar ice-caps. Directly behind the first, comes a very dirty man whose eyes never leave the floor’s sight. He is missing an incisor or two, never speaking a word. As he comes into the room, he quietly finds a seat, still never speaking to anyone, and comes to rest sitting away from others…
Here’s your chance to choose who you can trust… You only have a minute or two, to decide. Business-man? Or unkempt man? If you are like most people, you would choose to trust the one who is more visually appealing, or who appeals to your base human need to be addressed and noticed. The business person. Here’s the name of the Business man:
After graduating from UW in 1972 Bundy joined Governor Daniel J. Evans‘s reelection campaign. Posing as a college student, he shadowed Evans’s opponent, former governor Albert Rosellini, recording his stump speeches for analysis by Evans’s team. After Evans’s reelection he was hired as an assistant to Ross Davis, Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party. Davis thought well of Bundy, describing him as “smart, aggressive … and a believer in the system.” In early 1973, despite mediocre Law School Admission Test scores, Bundy was accepted into the law schools of UPS and the University of Utah on the strength of letters of recommendation from Evans, Davis, and several UW psychology professors.
… Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy (born Theodore Robert Cowell; November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989) was an American serial killer, rapist, kidnapper, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. After more than a decade of denials, he confessed shortly before his execution to 30 homicides committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978; the true total remains unknown, and could be much higher. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy)
You could meet 2 people from 2 very different walks of life. One, dressed in all black, sporting a full head of dread-locks…the other in a suit and tie, who drives a very nice car. One is kept to himself, and won’t look you in the eye… while the other pranced around as though everyone already knows and loves him. Due to appearances, we might gravitate toward the one who is friendly and charismatic, over the one who has dingy black clothes, and dread-locks. Why? One is more socially appealing. The other causes you to question his motives, by his dropped gaze. One of the two is a threat to your well-being. The other is not. Who would you choose to be the one you should trust?
It’s important to give ourselves time to get to know ANYONE we meet, no matter who that person is. A first impression has no business being the final impression. You never know who wrongfully deserves and gains your trust, while the person you were meant to meet is walking out the back door… We are too busy being “coddled” and pleased by what our eyes perceive, to give any thought to what really matters during the coming days and months. Give it time. If the person is sporting a fake facade, they won’t be able to hold the false face for long. Most begin to show true nature within the first 6 months. Some within a matter of a week, others might take longer. Patience…
You deserve to be patient. You’re worth it…