The Problem with Being an Honest Person

26 Jun 2018

Have you ever suffered with an intimate partner who lies to you? Have you struggled to understand why they lie, when they lie, and what they actually mean by the lie?

In this article, we’re going to be looking at why emotional abusers and narcissists lie to you. And in order to clear up the confusion that their partners often experience, we’re going to start from the place that people don’t most commonly start, and that is with you.

The need for clarity

Having spent years helping women see beyond the lies and crazy-making of narcissists and abusers so that they can reclaim their lives and their happiness, I  know that clarity starts with you.  In order to get some clarity about this situation, we need to look at you and how important honesty is to you.

Now first off in case you’re wondering, let me say that honesty is a good thing, no doubt about it. Having spent a lot of time in my life around people who have, well, let’s call it a toxic relationship with the truth, and worked with an awful lot of partners of emotionally abusive and narcissistic, men mainly, I know just how skilfully they use their truth to confuse, disorient, and ultimately control you.

People may deserve your honesty, but they don’t necessarily deserve generous helpings of it. Especially not at the start of a relationship.

The limits to trust

Look at it this way: suppose you have a new acquaintance or friend, my guess is you would be quite happy to go out and pay for a drink or a dinner for them. But I don’t suppose you would  say, “Look,  here’s my credit card; please take it. There may be something you want; I don’t know, so let me put everything I have at your disposal.  I’m sure you will do the right thing with it – now and in the future.  Just feel free to do what you want with it.”

I’m guessing you wouldn’t do that, because we all know that it’s not bright to trust others with our financial assets. You can’t always even trust your intimate partner or your family with your financial assets, sadly.

So what’s different when it comes to your emotional and psychological assets?

Why should different rules apply?

Or more correctly, why should NO rules, when it comes to your delicate psyche, your feelings, and your heart?

I was brought up by parents who prided themselves on telling the truth, and taught me to tell the truth at all times. They told me that if I told lies they would know, because they knew me better than I knew myself.

Now, that was a pretty scary, certainly. It was also a brilliant strategy on their part. I believed them totally. I was a very naive little girl, and I was very anxious to please.

Some people have an “open relationship” with the truth

It took me a very, very long time to realize that my parents had an “open relationship” with the truth. Whatever they told me at any given time was the absolute truth that was most suitable to them in that moment. However, that moment could quite easily change and if it did change, and I was naive enough to remind them of the previous absolute truth, I felt the full weight of their righteous indignation.

Of course, I couldn’t know it at the time, but they were delivering a masterclass in crazy-making, control, bullying, and emotional abuse. Worse still, that all fault “normal” to me.

That crash course (it was very high impact) in Shape-Shifting Absolute tTuth  prepared me beautifully for the relationship with my emotionally abusive partner.

He came along and presented himself pretty much as the Caped Crusader of Inconvenient Truths. He was the guy who told people the truths that nobody else dared to speak. Now I’d grown into a bit of a neurotic mouse by then, and I thought that this bravery in speaking inconvenient truths made him an absolutely wonderful guy.

Besides, he reminded me of my parents in what I understood as a good way.

The power of lies

Like my parents he fought tirelessly for his absolute truth, and always claimed the moral high ground. In other words, they all lied shamelessly because it served them. Lying gave them power without responsibility and this is hugely important.

From the point of view of an abuser or narcissist, having power is about as good as it gets.

However responsibility detracts from that power, because responsibility means you actually have to do something to implement what you’ve said that you will do. You’ve got to actually keep your promises.

What diminishes the narcissist or abuser

Any sense of obligation to keep promises diminishes the sense of self that  abusers and narcissists enjoy.  Because, as they see it, powerful people should not have to answer to anyone

Abusive and narcissistic partners, after all, believe that love is a one-way street: everything is meant to flow their way. And only their way.

And that brings me to the other piece of the puzzle. From the point of view of the narcissist and abuser, they are constantly under attack – from you.

Crazy as it may sound, from where they stand, every time you challenge them, you – this much, much lesser mortal – are undermining the power of their truly extraordinary, wonderful, truthful self. That cannot be allowed.  As they see it,

  • You attack them whenever you question their words or their deeds . So a simple “But you said” is interpreted as a full frontal assault.
  • You attack them whenever you stand up for what you believe in. Because what you believe in isn’t important. The only thing you should believe is what you have been told to believe.
  • You attack them whenever you ask for your own feelings to be taken into consideration. Because what you’re saying is that their feelings are not the only important feelings in the equation. That’s outrageous from their point of view.
  • You attack them whenever you come over as anything but a shadowy presence in a corner of their lives. Because that’s as much room as you’re ever meant to take up.

All the lies of emotional abusers and narcissists are meant to keep you in a small box in a dark corner of their life. The promises they give you at the beginning of the relationship about the “Happy Ever After”  exist to entice you into that small box where you should be content to spend the rest of your days.

Does their motive really matter?

Was it a conscious ploy on their part?

That question is a little bit like chasing after the magic bubbles that children adore. Those bubbles have a very short shelf-life; they’re lovely for a moment, and then they’re gone.

That is about all the value that the promises of narcissists and abusers have.

Do not imagine that the promises of narcissists and abusers are cast in stone and one day they will magically move from  a long-forgotten corner of your life to center stage.

What matters is not whether abusers and narcissists were 100% conscious of what they were saying when they told you the lies that attracted you to them.

The unspoken contract

What matters  is what those lies tell you about the emotional abuser and narcissist. And what they really tell you is about the contract that the abuser or narcissist entered into with you with their lies, so as to conceal the real contract.

The real contract goes like this:

“I will make you a few fine promises, and I will even act fairly nicely for as long as it takes to make you fall in love with me, and then you have to understand that this relationship is all about me, andmaking me feel better, at whatever cost to you. And by the way, if children come along, they too are there to serve my good feelings. Children are only there to make me feel better about myself. Please don’t expect that I have any responsibility to do my best for them. As far as I’m concerned, the best for all of you is that you’re just incredibly lucky to have me in your life.”

Now, if a narcissist or emotional abuser had said that to you at the start of the relationship, chances are you would have either laughed out loud or else said to yourself, “This cannot be happening.” They did not warn you upfront.  But that’s exactly the way it went.

Don’t assume that everyone is as honest as you are

It’s not easy being an honest person around emotional abusers and narcissists. It’s not easy discovering emotional abusers and narcissists when you’re inclined to believe that other people are as honest as you are. But one of your best defenses is to learn your own value.

You know the value of your bank account; even though you may not have a lot in it, you know that what you have is precious and you cannot just throw it away on the first person that comes along. You can afford to do that still less with your emotional, mental, and spiritual resources.

So, I would urge you in the future to watch out for what people tell you and see whether what they say matches up with their deeds, or whether they talk the good talk, but when it actually comes to showing caring through the way they act towards you.

Fine words do not a happy relationship make. You put your heart and soul into relationships, and you deserve to be around people who put their heart and soul into their relationship with you. Don’t settle for anything less.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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