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…