Deceit Can Take Many Forms

Deceit and Character

Deceit is the hallmark trait of manipulative characters.  In fact, all disturbed characters practice deception of some type in their relationships. But as I’ve mentioned in prior posts, there are many ways to lie. And some disturbed characters are particularly skilled in the subtlest forms of lying. So skilled in fact, they have raised lying nearly to an art form. (For more on this see: The Art of the Lie.) No wonder someone coined the term “con artist”!

Now, the “fourth commandment” of sound character is all about revering truth. But in a world full of deceit discerning just what the truth is can be quite a challenge. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible. That’s why it’s incumbent on all of us to revere it. Moreover, honesty necessarily begins with ourselves. We’re more likely to be honest with others when we have faithfully self-reckoned. (For more on this see: The Power of Admitting the Truth.) And we’re more likely to be discern deceit when we’ve reckoned with the myriad of ways we all know there are to deceive.

Does Everybody Lie?

The fictional TV character Dr. Gregory House famously asserted that “everybody lies.” House is also notorious for saying or doing whatever he thinks he must to achieve his mischievous ends. He’s a cantankerous yet somehow lovable character. Most of the time, he’s doing a world of good for folks in desperate situations. But he doesn’t always have the best intentions. Still, whether he’s up to good or no good, he’s always the consummate manipulator. He’s a truly artful liar, well-versed in the varied and subtle forms of deceit.

House was shooting straight when he said we all lie, at least at times. And research tells us we lie for two principal reasons. We do it to avoid the unpleasant. And we do it to get something desirable that we don’t think we can’t get honestly. (For more on this see:  Why We Lie – Even to Ourselves.) Sometimes the lies we tell are pretty innocuous. We tell “little white lies” when the unvarnished truth might needlessly injure. It’s the civil thing to do. But being untruthful can be really problematic at times. And it can invite many unintended consequences. That’s the point Sir Walter Scott’s makes in the famous quote:

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

Malicious Deception

Malignant narcissists practice deceit with the most malicious intentions. These strictly self-serving folks are always looking for a position advantage. As I point out in Character Disturbance, it’s always about position, position, and position! And some lie so habitually, egregiously, and convincingly they begin believing their own falsehoods. But most of the time, they know full well how dishonest they are. It’s not so much that they’re unaware. Rather, it’s that they simply don’t care. They don’t care about the truth. And they don’t care about the impact of their deceit. They only care about getting what they want. (See also: Seeing the World as They Want to See It: The Self-Deceptive Thinking of Disturbed Characters and Manipulators: Do They Really Believe What They’re Saying?).

Deceit and manipulation are, and always have always been, close partners. Covertly aggressive individuals know that to successfully advance their hidden, nefarious agendas, they not only have to conceal their true intentions but also cast themselves in a way that seems benign. (This is called the art of impression management.)  This leads manipulation victims to doubt themselves and their suspicions. And, accordingly, it makes them feel a little crazy. These days, we refer to this crazy-making dynamic as gaslighting. Although we didn’t have a name for it then, I first wrote about this phenomenon in In Sheep’s ClothingI wrote the book primarily so manipulation victims wouldn’t feel so crazy anymore. But I also wanted folks to see manipulators and their tactics for what they really are. Knowing what these types are really up to and how to respond to their tactics is the key to personal empowerment.

Recognizing and Responding to Artful Deceivers

Over then next few weeks I’ll be talking more about the many ways disturbed characters deceive. And I’ll be talking more about how to best spot their deceit before it’s too late. More importantly, I’ll be talking about what each of us can do to engender more reverence for the truth. Our character depends on that. And the integrity of our society depends upon it, too.

49 thoughts on “Deceit Can Take Many Forms

  1. Ten years ago the shift in our relationship with our son coincided with his meeting his future wife. When they became engaged his beloved said to me “It would be nice if you could…” and she went on with her request. I said in return “I’m not comfortable doing this because…”
    She persistently asked three more times and I expanded my reasoning three more times thinking in my head – why is she not getting this??

    It was from this day forward I experienced the dreadful smear campaign. You see, I had said no, and this triggered the grudge she would carry like a gold medal forevermore. I was invisible to her entire family from the very first meeting, I was ignored by my adult step grand-daughters and niece who were in awe of this woman.

    It was 10 months ago via email we decided to step away and not be a part of their lives due to the covert manipulative malignancy of this DIL. I cannot begin to describe the disregard this woman has covertly shown me while attempting to recruit our daughter and my spouse to her side.

    Our son has made the choice to believe her twisted perspectives and our trust in him is gone. We recognize the CDNs, we even understand why they lie, but this isn’t good enough. We need to expose them and deal with them, there are way too many walking free amongst us!

    Dr. Simon said:

    “They don’t care about the truth. And they don’t care about the impact of their deceit. They only care about getting what they want.”

    “But I also wanted folks to see manipulators and their tactics for what they really are. Knowing what these types are really up to and how to respond to their tactics is the key to personal empowerment.”

    I’ve read this so many times in this blog in one form or another. What is the step AFTER recognizing them?!

    1. Anonymous,
      Our stories are probably all so similar that ONLY the NAMES would be changed!!!
      My son had a problem with his fiance the VERY FIRST TIME they “agreed” on something. The paying of the cable bill she so wanted! He was freaking out when he told me about it as he’s always been very conscientious of his credit.

      It finally came down to this she lied to him that she would pay for what she wanted because… he made more money!

      And 6 years later we’re the losers!!!

      After watching my grandkids for the past 4 yrs we are now the losers!
      Running to hospitals when they’re sick and DIL needs to take a shower.
      Driving to Indiana because grandson is hospitalized because parents didn’t care to prevent it. Long story!
      And ON and ON and On!

      You are not alone, that’s why I’m posting.

      1. Thanks Priscilla,

        There are no children from this marriage thank goodness so no pawns. I cannot imagine there being a reconciliation unless the marriage were to end and he apologized to us. The flying monkeys are in it by choice, and I could care less about them as they have shown us who they are. Son disrespected us via email and my husbands entire demeanor went cold. There is that.

        We knew if we had capitulated to every whim and demand she put forward then yes it would go on and on but we put a stop to it and walked away. I have a very low tolerance level for manipulation and I turn on my heel at the first whiff. ( I am a nice person just tell me what you want ;/ and I will see if I can help you out.) The covertness is shocking to witness and be the target of, and how any CD gets any rest is beyond me when they are plotting and conniving their way through life.

        I know grey rocking, I know going no contact are the go to solutions but I don’t think we are winning. Exposure is the key but how? No one can argue with a CDN, it’s like banging your head against the wall. I would never be in a room alone with this tube of turd (DIL) nor will we sit down with her in the company of our son. She has proven who and what she is capable of and there are so many more out there that need to be stopped.

        1. Anonymous,
          I’m glad for your sensibilities serving you well. It only took me 6 yrs with this dingbat DIL. My son knows exactly what he’s doing so I feel sad about that as well. That’s because he never acted this way with his family until he wanted to be with this narc. Then he literally did a 180 with me and his dad.
          Funny thing though about getting what you want though!!!
          Feel sad for my grandkids too, they are going to be changed from innocent to narc in the making as we already see the signs.
          Still praying for them all.

          1. Rricilla, anonymous,

            I use to wonder what I could do when everywhere I turned there is another CDN person. This topic is about first changing ourselves, looking inward and be the change we want to see in this world.

            I think both of you are doing all you can do with the CDN, grey rock or go NC. What is left is time for me to wait, hope and pray for a change of heart, I give it to the Lord. This world is sick all right, everywhere you turn you run into the CD.N which are the living dead. It it not easy to watch our loved ones entwined with the CDN. Unfortunately we have to sit back and wait.

            John 3:19 says: And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil.

            I believe we need to take these teachings and be the light and truly fight back against these evil CDNSP by saying NO to their deceit, manipulation and evil deeds and if possible call them out on their lies.

            The truth will set one free, us free by standing our ground, shining truth at the darkness is a start. It is painful and not easy, however, it will keep us free and strengthen us. CDNSP hate truth and strength. Never show weakness. Resist evil and the CDN will flee.

            Its difficult to deal with these CDN and it can break our hearts seeing our loved ones ensnared. I understand as I have adult children ensnared too. Then my family of origin is full of them.

            Truly prayer is powerful and the answer for me. I always pray for all on this blog. Especially, I pray for Dr. Simon that God keep shining his light on this blog which is truth, a blessing and refuge for so many.

            Hugs, we need each other for strength, support and wisdom.

        2. Hello Anonymous & Pricilla,
          I may have some hope for you. My sister chose the way of the CD due to a very nasty and manipulative stepmother (our bio mom died when we were under the age of 10). As an adult, my sister became more deceptive & demanding as she aged, reaching a point where she told her spouse that it was either her & their kids, or his parents & siblings (all of whom were lovely people). He chose my sister & their kids…but only until their youngest graduated from high school. He then had an affair & left my sister, returned to his parents and siblings, & maintained a relationship with his grown children.
          It might take fifteen years for your children to break free, but eventually they probably will. And as bad as it is for those of us enduring smear campaigns, etc, those living with a CD person are in confusion as their truth compass is constantly realigned by the CD. Keep faith that your child will return. 🙂

        3. Hi Anonymous,
          Thanks for noting that there are so many character disordered people – the ones who believe in harming others. I feel like such a magnet for them, and am dealing with them the best I can, with NO CONTACT being the best way because otherwise I’m constantly on edge.

        4. I agree the number is staggering. Exposure is the key, but what do you expose that is illegal (in most cases)? That they lied, hurt people’s feelings, tore families apart? It’s frustrating!

          A friend of mine has a relative who was really damaged by two CDs. The relative was a retired RCMP officer & his wife. The CDs were their grown son & his girlfriend. When financial times were tough, the parents allowed the son & his girlfriend to move rent free into their basement.

          Eventually the son tried to have both his parents declared incompetent so he could have their pension cheques & be in control of them. His mother stopped that, and one morning when she went for a walk, she returned to find the locks changed. She could not get into the house she had lived in for most of her adult life. Her husband did have some dementia, and wondered where she was, but the son had cooked up a scheme and had his parents divorced! He was then in charge of his dad’s pension & had himself given power of attorney.
          His mom lived with different relatives for awhile, and everyone tried to help her get her belongings and stop the courts from being party to the craziness. The son did not win all the battles, but he won a few. This story sounds too crazy to be true…but it unfortunately is. And that is part of the problem – no one wants to believe people do these kinds of things. It creates a world view that is too scary.
          I simply bless & release CDs to the Universe, & pray I don’t get sucked in by another one.

          1. Gwendolyn,

            I hear these stories nonstop. In fact I have been told to write a book myself, on just my experiences alone. When people have CDN in their homes and have family and friends of this sort, many tend to not say anything out of embarrassment. It is more common than you realize.

            I could tell story after story myself and may just take the time to tell some of them, the scenarios are mind boggling to say the least. Keep on with the stories as people come to this blog, which is truly a blessing and learn they aren’t the only ones experiencing these ugly, toxic people.

            The scenario you describe is rather commonplace. Just make sure you can find trustworthy people you can appoint for POA over you and your assets. Not an easy feat to find these individuals, if you do have honest trustworthy individuals you can trust, you are blessed. I hate to say this family members can be so sweet and conniving to win your trust. Once this so called trusted person has your trust the then trusted relative plots to take Power of Attorney and your rights away. It happens every day and in so many cases it is our beloved children and family.

            Beware as Timothy warns…… Yes, this world is truly an insane asylum compared to 60 years ago…..

            Trust should never be given freely to another unless earned over a period of time. Above all, when someone wants and covets what we have, deceit runs deep, deep to a level that many times is indiscernible until it is to late. That is why it is important to know the enemy and study as much as one can and also to share stories.

            It is ultimate crazy making and deception that is very real…..

    2. Anonymous,

      Sounds so painful and familiar. I too would be interested in hearing more concrete steps to take to effectively respond/protect yourself, especially when it’s not practical to go no contact.

  2. My husband is so convincing when he lies that, many years ago, when I started realising that his recollection of facts was incorrect, I came to the conclusion that the only possible explanation was that he possibly had early onset dementia (moody, enraged easily, forgetful, remembering fake facts of reality and swearing they were true…). I remember being so worried about him. Now, I can see him for who he is and, when I look back, I can only think “how could I be so stupid?”. Nevertheless, I am now going through the divorce proceedings and he plays the victim to perfection… He can even cry on cue. Ironically, in all my 20+ years with him, I never saw him cry on truly sad moments… I can now see he only uses it as a weapon to achieve his goals.
    Sometimes I think “if it took me 2 decades to realise what was really going on – the manipulation, the mind games, the emotional and psychological abuse – how can I hope that others such as the judge and social services will get it in a few hours?” What can I do to increase my chances of succeeding? Thanks for any input.

    1. Phoenix,
      I understand why you question yourself on why did it take so long to recognize what he is, because we all have done that. He’s your spouse, supposed to love you, not supposed to manipulate you to get what he wants. You believed in the marriage and did what any person of good character would do. But now you’ve educated yourself and have come to realize what really was going on. Keep reading Dr. Simon’s articles and posts from commenters, because so many of us has experienced what you have.
      Now that you know he’s a liar and you can now watch how he will go from one tactic to the next to try to achieve his goal. There is an article on manipulative tactics somewhere on this blog that would be beneficial to you.
      He’s going to do whatever he can to meet his end.
      I’ll write more on this in another post. Divorcing someone such as this can be complicated.

    2. Phoenix,
      Going thru something very similar but he’s changing some now. Not divorcing, YET anyway. Crying part is the same. Finding out about all the lying and rewriting of history. The worst for me? When you recount a similar situation and you ask…IF you were me would you come to the same conclusion? Or …IF this other person did this said this would you think they were lying and manipulating or gas lighting? But when he does it…. he swears… NOT DOING IT, that’s not what I MEANT AT ALL!!!
      I don’t want to hurt you ANYMORE????
      HMMMM???? Anyone else here feel like you’re teaching Kindergarten when dealing with these manipulators?!?!
      I’m getting calmer at it, blowing up about these people are NOT the answer. Rid yourself of DOING FOR the MANIPULATORS/LIARS/NARCS/CDP/CON ARTISTS in your life, but DON’T GO CRAZY trying to change them!!!
      You WILL get sick from this approach. YOU ARE NOT WRONG ABOUT ANY OF THEIR TACTICS.
      My prayer for everyone who posts is that you will have the Peace of God, the peace that surpasses ALL understanding!!!

      1. One last thing, ASK yourself these questions when even thinking of doing for someone in your life…
        Can they do this for themselves?
        In the past, how did this person treat me AFTER I did something for them?
        Did our relationship become closer or are they still distant?
        How does this person treat me when I say NO?

        If your significant others are NOT MOVING TOWARDS you in a healthy way protect yourself and DO NOT BE A DOER!!!!

        I’ve learned that THE HARD WAY folks as I was CONDITIONED to be a DOER!

        1. Hey Priscilla,

          How people respond to the word ‘no’ is a big one for me. If they get angry, my narcopath detector goes up immediately. 🙂

          1. Gwendolyn,
            I hear ya on that too!
            I just met with my son and grandkids to give a gift. My grnadson is learning the way of narcissism in dealing with others, how sad.
            Aggravating his little sister repeatedly and laughing at her tender age naivete’? Very sad to watch as my son looks on laughing while his son does this.
            Worst of all, seeing the card displayed in the kitchen window….
            picture of Elsa from Frozen reads… A daughter has a “special power”!!!
            DIL trying to raise her little girl to be a compulsive liar and manipulator like herself! Pathetic!

        2. I love this list, Priscilla! I was conditioned to be a cheerful caretaker (doer).

          I now pay way more attention to how people behave/treat me. I’m also less likely to give them the benefit of the doubt.

          How they treat you when you say no is a big one! I will often do it early on something small and see how it goes. I’ve learned some folks go from pleasant to full on hateful with that simple word. Even subtle changes are a tip off.

          I’ve also learned to do this with Doctors, I’m now finding many doctors are Narcs/CD. It’s scary when they have that much power.

  3. Hey everyone!

    I’m doing better than when I last posted, I’m at least able to laugh at the frivolous nature of the letter of demand from my hubs ex (they divorced in 1995-we didn’t marry until 2005).

    Their son is nearly 40 and mommy is still going to bat for him. The problem is this woman! During the marriage to hubs, she’d use the kids as pawns many times over. (She did get rebuked by the judge in court during the divorce hearing for forcing the kids to call their father by his first name!) And she has the gall to say to the daughter when she brings the 4 grand-kids to our house, ‘it is OK for the kids to be around him? he probably isn’t saved.”(meaning a christian). Go on, laugh out loud because it is ridiculous.

    One time, early in their marriage, she got upset at hubs and threw a HOT pan of frying chicken at him-in front of his mom and dad, who were over for dinner. Oopsie…bad move. Other instances such as punishing hubs for being a little late for dinner. He worked as an executive and standard home arrival at the end of the day would vary. She’d make the kids eat and then put all the food away. He’d have to heat up dinner on his own. She took a sledge hammer to the hood of his truck one time and threw a butcher knife at him, which nearly missed his jaw, as it stuck in the wall behind him. She would be OK with an event, outing, and then renege on what she said and do the opposite.

    Her family is like this too-so this is a generational thing as well. While they were married, her brothers would pick up hubs and hold him over a bonfire, tease him relentlessly and put him down in front of his kids and other family members and the wife would laugh and not stick up for him. Her family lineage practices isolationism-if you cross them in anyway, you are the devil and cut off from the family; to include other siblings (2 of the brothers were cut off by the other 4 siblings and I believe left out of their mother’s will).

    The kids witnessed these behaviors through the years. The daughter has somewhat risen above things, she still gets in the ditches with her dad over stupid things, but overall it is good. The son has been a momma’s boy. He has tons of schooling (4 masters degrees!!) and is a hospice chaplain and chaplain in the guard. He is with families day in and day out, and yet has cut his dad off.

    Not only the beating up of his father in our front yard in 2010, (which I wrote about in an earlier post) which they patched things up (but I’m wondering how good it really was to begin with), but when the son finally was married in Dec 2014, he was a 35yo ‘virgin’ and so was his 29yo ‘bride.’ An incident arose where hubs ex didn’t want him to wear his military medals on his suit (the kind that are small and on a rack-hubs served 38 years in the military.) Hubs said he wouldn’t not to upstage his son, who was going to wear his dress military uniform. Hubs wore a US flag pin and Air Force lapel pin on his navy blue suit and asked his son if it was OK and son was cool with it. The ex asked her SIL to speak to hubs about the pins he was wearing and she asked the daughter to speak to him separately. Hubs had already cleared it with his son, but it wasn’t good enough for the ex. She later wrote him a letter about that incident too. Plus she didn’t want me and my then 18yo daughter at the rehearsal dinner, but the son and his bride to be said otherwise.

    Just a few weeks later, we had been visiting my family out of state for Christmas and the son and his bride wanted to come to our house the day we came home-after we’d traveled 8 hours on the road. Son wouldn’t take no for an answer, (don’t want to offend him or he’ll tell mom…lol!!) so we threw together some stuff for a make shift dinner. I was in the kitchen putting things together, new bride was leaning against the island, and hubs was nervous, but trying to keep things together internally, and he scooted by her to close the blinds. Oh yeah, son went to the restroom during this time. Oh, yeah, my daughter was home with us, but in her room at the time. So we eat, exchange gifts, all seems OK.

    Three days later, son called his dad land bashing him that he purposefully and maliciously wanted to rub his ‘junk’ against his wife’s buttocks. (Picture Forrest Gump talking and you’ll get it.) Again, a laughable situation. The son wanted his dad to admit to doing this and it was not at all the truth! A few days after that, a sexual crime detective called hubs for an interview. I went too and was fuming the entire time.

    We were interviewed separately of course. I told the detective that you have a math problem and a physics problem. She is maybe 4’8″ and hubs is 5’10”, plus his gut sticks out a bit over his ‘junk,’ not to mention that she didn’t say anything and I was in the room. Also, if they were ‘virgins’ then they were ‘heightened’ to any and everything in the realm of touch. Plus, hubs is not like that, he has said over and over-also to the detective-that he would not dishonor me.

    The detective also showed a picture that hubs had taken the day son graduated from seminary. Picture her shortness and the son being 6′ or a little taller, lovingly gazing at one another, him in his cap and gown and her in a halter type dress showing cleavage. Apparently she tried to say something about that picture being perverted, when it was her choice of clothing, their mis-matched height, to capture a loving look at each other. That’s it, pure and simple.

    Last week, I was a little shaken up. I’ve learned to deal with status quo with dysfunction alive and well and then the ex’s letter threw me off. It is so hard for family and friends to comprehend this type of scenario/behavior, so I feel like I bottle it in, which is why I’m so happy to find this group! There is no such thing as ‘fun’ in a dysFUNctional family.

    1. Ginger,

      You are certainly doing better. It shows in your comment. Relaxed and free after that ‘junk’ episode. 🙂
      It appears that your step-DIL went nuclear quickly. That should ensure that dys part is dropped quickly from dysFUNctional family.

    2. I’m always shocked and dismayed at CD behaviour. But it’s nice to hear that not everyone is like them.

  4. To all,
    They Lie,Manipulate and Deceive to avoid Work






  5. I am in the process of attempting to reestablish contact with my adult daughter and it’s already getting frustrating. She’s so good at appearing caring and saying just the right things when she want/needs something. She’s so convincing, but I’m not convinced!

    She is very controlling and dominating. She has tried to threaten me into going to therapy with her, call my work, all sorts of things if I don’t comply with her wishes. She has asked before for a regular check-in, and I said I’d prefer we did it when we felt like it. It seemed like a control things rather than a caring gesture based on her truly hateful behavior in the past.

    We haven’t spoken in almost 2 years. She has been verbally, emotionally abusive, psychologically abusive and when called on it denies, minimizes, screams, threatens, withdraws. She’s done them all, she switches them up when one stops working. The last one was not contacting me after I called her on her behavior (I chose not to contact her either). Before when I needed a break from her, I let her know I needed space. I see nothing wrong with either one of us taking time apart, needing space. It’s hen the withdrawal is a power play/punishment that I have a hard time with.

    I sense that she is not genuine and has an agenda (I think to assess where I am), to control. I sense this and want to protect myself. This is what happens when I try to communicate, I end up feeling very frustrated and confused as to what a healthy response would be. Based on her past behavior, I trust it’s not genuine. I trust that it’s a mind game. I just don’t know the “best” way to respond. Help would be appreciated. I’m attempting to restart our relationship (if it’s even possible, I am sincerely doubting it) on a healthy assertive level.

    I need a reality check.

    Hi Mom,

    The longer we spend apart the more I understand where you’re coming from in wanting to take time apart. I wondered if you would be open with a regular check-in where we just email each other that we’re okay? Like a chain of us saying “I’m okay” “I’m okay”. We could do this at whatever interval you’re comfortable with.

    If you are not comfortable with that, is there perhaps another way of updating that we’re okay that you would be more comfortable with? Maybe through an intermediary? I want to give you the space that you need . At the same time, I worry about you and it would give me peace of mind to know you’re okay. I hope you understand.

    Thank you and I love you
    Hi Name,

    I’m okay. If I am hearing you correctly, it sounds like the time apart has been helpful for you, I’m glad. I’m open (and have been) to checking in on each other by email. I prefer that we do it when we want to, rather than on a schedule or timetable. How does that sound to you?

    Good morning Mom,

    I’m so glad to hear from you and know that you’re okay. The time apart has been helpful for me. I’m still thinking about exactly how I want to phrase my response to your question so it accurately reflects my thoughts and feelings because they are complicated and our relationships deserves a lot of care and consideration.

    I’m hoping you will answer a clarifying question: am I hearing you correctly that you would like to do more than “I’m okay, I’m okay”-type emails? I ask because when I hear “I prefer that we [check in] when we want to, rather than on a schedule or timetable]” it sounds to me like this might be longer emails, but I’m not sure.


    1. Liz,

      Your email is clear. It appears she is trying to drag you into conversation. You can try trimming your sentences and get rid of all extra words that she can latch on to.

      Also, you posted full email on this open online forum. If someone searches by exact phrases, then your comment may show up on results. So, you may want to request webmaster to delete your post.

      1. Andy,

        Do you know how to reach the webmaster? Not sure if my posting in the contact section as well as in this section is an effective way to do it.
        Thanks, Liz

    2. Hi Liz,
      Wow. I see why it’s tough. I think your initial thoughts that this is about control are correct. It appears to me that she is trying to draw you into a longer conversation by asking for a clarification that is unnecessary. Longer emails can happen naturally & no one has to read them, but we usually do.

      Of course, You know all the nuances & history. I would do one of two things:
      1. Resend my email once . or 2. Not respond.

      Just a share: I found with my sisters that when they call, I simply ask, “what do you want.” in answer to their smarmy “how are you.” Immediately their nasty comes out, & I hang up. My cold ‘what do you want,” tells them I won’t be played with, & as they know I will hang up, they say something nasty as quick as possible. I love them dearly, but their game is always the same.

      Blessed be.

      1. Hi Gwendolyn,

        Thank you! That’s it, asking for a clarification that wasn’t needed. It made no sense to me. I used her term check-in and simply offered flexibility (freedom) on timing and she stated based on that, she thought it meant longer emails. She’s very bright, so I do not believe that.

        I’m going to sit on it for a couple of days, but I think I’ll respond matter of factly.

        I understand what you mean with your sisters, when you make it clear that you’re on to them, the mask comes off! Sounds like you have this well in hand!

        I’ve found I’m much better with dealing with everyone else than my daughter. Practice, practice, practice.

        Thanks for the reality check!

        Blessing to you too.

  6. Liz,

    I can see how you’re stressed and concerned, as me just reading your post makes me feel anxious (empathy).
    So you know her history, his character, her plots and manipulation.
    You know how you feel emotionally when you do communicate and how you feel when you go no contact, or close to it.
    Do you think starting out slowly and minimally and ease your way into more communication would be beneficial?
    Or spread small communications out, and if it goes well, more frequent or more in depth?
    Your alarms are screaming and at the same time you yearn for some sort of relationship with your daughter. I totally understand that.
    If it were me, I’d ease in gradually and carefully, maybe at the beginning of each month, and go from there. See what happens.
    Has she sought therapy, and what type?
    Several months ago I dropped my friendship with a long time friend (20+ years) because of her bad behaviors, not the same as your daughter, but still bad. I just don’t want to be around that anymore. I was told by a common friend of ours that she has now sought and found a counselor that she was happy with. So she finally took the step to seek help for herself. I’m going to give it more time before I try to rekindle the friendship. As you are, I’m reluctant, and for good reasons. But the fact that she’s trying to overcome problems gives me hope she can deal with her stuff and we can again be friends.
    I think the “I’m okay” isn’t much, it means you’re not sick I guess?
    Bottom line is that your daughter is not trustworthy yet. She can only gain back trust after proving it over an extended period of time. She can’t gain it back till you give her the chance. I think you’re well enough informed on her CD traits that you will quickly know if she’s had a real change.
    Dr. Simon has articles on CD and behavior changes through counseling and actions – not words.
    My heart goes out to you.

    1. Lucy,

      Thanks for your compassionate response.
      Honestly, based on my physical reaction to her note, I’m not ready to have any regular dialogue with her. I clearly haven’t recovered from the blatant cruelty and the depth of my despair over her lack of empathy.

      I feel relieved when I don’t have to deal with her. I’m still afraid of what she’s capable of and don’t know if I can handle it. It requires complete emotionally/psychological detachment, which isn’t a relationship. She will twist everything and use it against me or entrap me further.

      She said she went to therapy and was working on it. I have no idea if she did or is. She seemed to acknowledge some things (that she was aggressive) and then turn around when I call her on the behavior pretend like she didn’t know. We have the same conversations over and over again. For years I thought she just didn’t get it. She did, she does didn’t care. She’s not the one in pain.

      I do see what you mean that she can’t earn back trust unless I give her a chance. I’ve been trying for years to let her do that. Based on this email (this is the kind of mind/word twisting stuff she does until my head is ready to explode)and her past behavior, I don’t trust that she’s trying to earn back trust. I think she wants back in for her own reasons and she’s trying to gauge where I am emotionally. When she contacts me she usually wants something.

      Thanks again, Lucy!

      1. Liz,
        The more I thought about this the more I thought she’s up to her old tricks.
        Saying she’s worried and just wants to know that you’re okay seems disingenuous after all her mistreatment of her.
        To pointedly answer her request to just wanting to know that you’re okay, you may be able to end this conversation with the statement ” __________ will contact you if any serious health issues arise.”
        In further reflection after realizing how seriously damaging she is to your well-being, I’d stay no contact at least till you feel healed and strong and feel there is no emotional pulling at your heartstrings, and then most probably maintain no contact to stay healthy. These people slowly kill you, emotionally and spiritually.
        I don’t have faith that these people change. They just get better at their craft.
        I’ve got a long history with the X – all those ugly CD traits you speak of, and I stay no contact, although there is the family type contact since we have adult daughter and son together.
        He has come out of this divorce with a searing hatred for me. I’ll never let this degenerate into my life. He’s a rotten soul.

        1. Liz, Lucy,

          I have to agree with the sound advice Lucy gave you

          “In further reflection after realizing how seriously damaging she is to your well-being, I’d stay no contact at least till you feel healed and strong and feel there is no emotional pulling at your heartstrings, and then most probably maintain no contact to stay healthy. These people slowly kill you, emotionally and spiritually.”

          I am going to add that persons most able to pull our strings are our own children. Sometimes you have to cut ties with even your own children when they are toxic. In a sense we need to understand they lack the ability to care for us and reality care for no one except those who serve a purpose. This is painful to do.

          Rather, our own offspring see us as something they own and are entitled to whatever we have and even decide how we should be treated. It can get very involved with a parent and child to the point their manipulative maneuvers are ones where they know exactly which cause us the most guilt and pain.

          I know because one of my sons is this way. Besides that I have a whole family full of them. I learned the hard way. Take your time, she can learn to wait and believe me if your in and up position she won’t like it.
          The longer you can put her off the better.

        2. Liz, Lucy,

          I have to agree with the sound advice Lucy gave you

          “In further reflection after realizing how seriously damaging she is to your well-being, I’d stay no contact at least till you feel healed and strong and feel there is no emotional pulling at your heartstrings, and then most probably maintain no contact to stay healthy. These people slowly kill you, emotionally and spiritually.”

          I am going to add that persons most able to pull our strings are our own children. Sometimes you have to cut ties with even your own children when they are toxic. In a sense we need to understand they lack the ability to care for us and reality care for no one except those who serve a purpose. This is painful to do.

          Rather, our own offspring see us as something they own and are entitled to whatever we have and even decide how we should be treated. It can get very involved with a parent and child to the point their manipulative maneuvers are ones where they know exactly which cause us the most guilt and pain.

          I know because one of my sons is this way. Besides that I have a whole family full of them. I learned the hard way. Take your time, she can learn to wait and believe me if your in and up position she won’t like it.

          Truly, the longer you can put her off the better.

          1. BTOV,

            I see what you mean on all counts.

            “Rather, our own offspring see us as something they own and are entitled to whatever we have and even decide how we should be treated. It can get very involved with a parent and child to the point their manipulative maneuvers are ones where they know exactly which cause us the most guilt and pain.”

            I realize that I’m feeling overwhelmed and need to take some time alone to work through my thoughts and feelings before I can respond.

            I will definitely take as much time as I need before I respond to her.

            Thanks so much for your kind words, insight, advice and experience.

          2. BTOV,

            I’ve thought a lot about what you wrote. It all rings true. Would you mind sharing what age your son was when he started displaying these types of behavior and what age you finally decided to end contact? Did he acknowledge any of his behaviors?

        3. Lucy,

          You are so kind.

          I agree, I believe she is up to her old tricks. I also believe it’s disingenuous. It’s a test.

          I recognize now that my confusion and full out bodily reaction to her note was my response to gaslighting. That is her main weapon of choice. Since she knows me very well, she knows exactly what strings to pull.

          The not understanding is the key, the hook. I spent many years trying to get her to understand.

          This time I was angry too (yeah! :))

          I’m going to give myself lots of time and space to get myself balanced, read up more on gaslighting, and then decide how to respond to her.
          I know for a fact I do not want regular contact with her. It is not healthy for me.

          Anyone else and this would be a no-brainer (I think she’s well aware of this). I need to work through my feelings. I know that even when someone wants to change, it can be hard.

          I agree that abusive people will slowly kill you if you do not recognize the behaviors for what they are and protect yourself.

          I agree, I do not have faith that most will change, especially if they do not believe they have a problem and the behaviors are getting a pay off.

          So glad you got away from your ex. I get what you are saying about him being a rotten soul. I’m also glad he was not able to poison your children against you. I believe that is what my ex did to my daughter. I think that’s why I want to give her a fighting chance. She is a victim. That does not excuse her behavior. It is the behavior she learned from him to get her way. I was not effective in recognizing and correcting/challenging her behavior each time she did it.

          I do know how this might seem/sound. I do hear myself! 🙂 It’s a not a decision I can make lightly and it’s one only I can make when I’m ready.
          That’s a big reason I sent in and asked for a reality check. It’s a painfully challenging reality to accept and effectively respond to as a parent.

          Thank you so much for your support! So glad you are free and thriving!

  7. I had a CD friend, Crafty, age 44, that I had to let go of. We were going to start a business together. She needed to have a hip replacement, and surgery was scheduled, but first she had to gain some weight. Most of her days were spent on her couch with an iPad or laptop. This did not interfere with us meeting weekly or bi-monthly, phone chats or emails. I understood her health issues needed to be accommodated for & never pushed her to do anything.
    I found lots of relevant info and sent her links to numerous websites and invitations to free webinars – none of which she accessed. After five months, I asked what she thought of what I sent. Her reply : I like to see where your mind goes. I stopped sending info, and she didn’t notice. I asked if she was still interested in a business together – she was.

    We would set a date & time for me to go to her house for a meeting. Every time, she contacted me in the morning to tell me to come at least one hour later because a therapist of some sort was coming over. I would do as requested. When I got to her place, I would drive us to wherever she wanted to go – lunch, stores, bank. After 2 hours of her errands, either she was too tired to talk or it was time for her daughter & house mate to come home. Talking business – 15 min. max. – she was always gazing blankly around. It took 30 min to drive to her place…but I understood…

    When we went out for lunch, she ate ravenously, practically inhaling her food. At home, she rarely ate anything other than yogurt & ensure, & smoked cigarettes non-stop. As her surgery date approached, she complained about not being able to gain weight. I responded: With all the appetite suppressants you consume, it’s no surprise. She stuck her tongue out at me. Her hip surgery was postponed for 8 months.

    I spoke with her long time housemate. He was confused about so many things with her, could not get a straight answer about anything, including how her husband had died 2 years earlier & why therapists were still coming to the house – she did not need them.

    I decided to set boundaries. So I agreed to meet to discuss business, but only on a day when no one else was coming to her house. But at 10:00 the morning we were to meet, she emailed that a therapist was coming over…please come 90 minutes later. I replied that didn’t work for me – pick a new day. She responded with angry emails that she was at the mercy of therapists – they just dropped in.
    I replied: I understand it’s hard when they don’t make appointments. Let me know when you have a free day.

    We met 3 days later. I arrived at our scheduled time…she was hustling to take toast to her couch. Another friend was also there, to ‘take care’ of her. Crafty immediately launched into aspects of our business, pen & paper in hand, very authoritative. Except she was reciting stuff from 8 months prior, & my probes for additional info showed that was all she had. Then I noticed her caretaking friend, who was supposed to be on a tea break, sitting silently behind me, listening & watching Crafty perform.
    Then a troupe of nine teenage boys came from upstairs, supposedly from her daughter’s tiny bedroom, to put one boy’s shirt in the washing machine. They forgot to turn the machine on – but scrambled back upstairs when Crafty waved them off. She was smiling & said her daughter’s friends came over often to do laundry.
    I suggested we leave, but first Crafty stopped and slowly counted all the shoes by the door & coyly noted that she never knows who is coming over. Oh my!
    I ended that friendship- told her that I underestimated her health issues & she is right to focus on them. She has attempted contact, but I rarely respond.
    This CD went to great lengths to show me I do not deserve respect. Whenever I start to soften & think of contacting her…I just remember the show she staged.

    1. Gwendolyn,

      Now that is one exhausting friend. As soon as you set the boundaries the friendship ended. Thanks for your story. That was very interesting and I always listen from other’s story.

    2. Gwendolyn,

      Wow! Crafty is a great name for it. It is selfish, uncaring and disrespectful behavior. They can spot kind, compassionate people and exploit that kindness and compassion(as well as their competence).

      I don’t know about you, but it seems to me they see just how far they can push to get you to react. Trying to provoke a reaction. Maybe they don’t put that much thought into it! 🙂

      Confusion seems to be very important to CD individuals. Not giving a straight answer, answering a question with a question, etc.. Confusion weakens. I’ve learned that if I’m confused, I need to stop. It usually means someone’s lying to me (or I’m in denial).

      Those aren’t true relationships. Once you understand what it really is and that there’s no give and take, it’s easier to get free.

      Love the way you ended it.

      Those reminders of what they are really like are so helpful in maintaining the decision/resolve to stay away from them. I have a letter a man I was dating wrote to me after I broke up with him. He went back and forth between tearing me apart and trying to get me back! It was 11 pages! He tried all sorts of things to seduce me back after that. Nope, like you, just needed to read the letter. That was the truth and it wasn’t going to change. They seem to have a spidey sense when you are down/vulnerable and come back then to try and hook you back in. Crafty/cunning.

      I do hope you fulfilled your goal of starting a business, if that’s still important to you. Your writing skills are excellent!

      1. Hi Liz,
        Thank you for your kind words & sharing.
        Thanks to Dr Simon’s book ‘In Sheep’s Clothing,’ his interviews & articles, and many others’ sites & info, including videos by CD Individuals talking about themselves, I’ve finally begun to see the CD behaviour instead of thinking I was responsible for another’s disrespect. I figured out going no contact with my sisters on my own, & luckily, it was the best way.

        I also accept that on a spiritual level, CDs are reflecting something about myself – so lots of growth opportunities – just wish they would stop! 🙂

        Thanks for sharing about what confusion signals for you – I think it’s the same for me – lies are abounding. I’ve learnt that when I feel like I’m walking on icy eggshells & my back is crawling, a smear campaign is occurring. And when my whole torso fills with unexplainable fear – it means run because a brutal emotional attack is imminent, & I run. A CD’s smirk is a sign they are pleased to have provoked an emotion. I said goodbye to Crafty in Dec last year because of the confusion.

        Thank you for your compliment on my writing. I’m in the process of finishing up a book on bullies in the workplace – my research led me to unexpected areas that have been useful for both my own healing and my education. Need to figure out publishing. And I have faith that the Universe will provide somehow. It always does. Care take, my blogging buddy. 🙂

      2. Liz,

        The CD feed off of kind and caring people the ultimate fare is an empath and an injured empath is sheer ecstasy. The empath gives and gives and the more the CD controls, blames, projects and gaslights further injures the empath.

        The CD do put a lot of thought in how they intend to manipulate you and at first it is extremely covert. It can get very blatant once the CD gets you hooked and then many CD like to play the game of Mind F—, though you will have no idea your are the enemy in this game.

        Confusion is the main game of Satan and we know he is ultimate evil. Whenever, anyone causes you to doubt yourself and cause you to be confused this is a blasting warning from your internal survival sense of existence. The most devious CD are the ones that will tell you 99.9 % of the truth and leave out the .1% that would change the outcome, the way the CD can claim they never lied.

        I can guarantee if you let them back into your life it will be Payback Pal. The CD will never forget you thought for yourself and did get sick of their antics. Once back in the door the CD can be very good for a long time or they will make sure you are punished in the manner they see fit. Truly, these are sick corrupt people and as Lucy pointed out, it is rare for the CD to change. Also, as the CD ages they get worse.

        Once you begin to see through these individuals, keep learning and never let one of them into your life again.

  8. Webmaster,
    Please remove the email conversation portion of my post (I’d like to keep the rest, including the comments if possible).
    Thank you.

  9. Gwendolyn,

    Your very last sentence: “Whenever I start to soften & think of contacting her…I just remember the show she staged.”

    The empathy we naturally feel is part of us, who we are. This can be a problem when we don’t understand the CD. What you wrote in regards to your relationship with this woman is riddled with red flags. I would never have contact with this person again. It is clear she is self centered and having her as a business partner would be A Nightmare on Elm Street.

    In all this I think you learned a life lesson the hard way and I think the Dear Lord was looking out for you. I think this woman was lying about the therapist not showing up and calling you to change your meeting time.

    At the same time I think this experience is also a blessing, it has wizened you up and now you are able to discern the character deficiencies in others. I hope you find a caring, trustworthy person to be your business partner.

    1. Thank you BTOV, for your response. The Nightmare on Elm Street reference is very accurate because of how her spouse died. Crafty led me to believe that one morning, she woke up & he was dead beside her. She was emotion-free whenever she said this.
      Her housemate said they were separated & the spouse was either living a few blocks away in an apartment or living in his car – he didn’t know which despite living with Crafty at the time. Crafty & her spouse were in phone contact several times a week, and when there was no contact for about 2 weeks, feeble Crafty got up early one morning & using her walker, inched along the streets in search of him. Her housemate told her to wait & he would drive her when he returned from work, but she refused.
      Crafty found her deceased spouse parked in his car on a neighbouring suburb street, the backseat made up like a bed. Apparently he ODed on expired prescription drugs that he should not have had. Self decided suicide?

      You’re right – I learned lots of lessons. I had been researching CD behaviours at the time Crafty reignited our friendship (after 5 years of no contact), but her behaviours didn’t fit the research or my experiences until I focussed on covert narcs – then the bells went off. Crafty was a great example of a covert narcopath. I am grateful to her for that. I’m so glad I was attempting a business with her because her non-productivity & disinterest are what set off the initial flags. I said goodbye to her Dec. 2018. And when my empathy excuses behaviour…I think it’s actually a red flag in disguise.
      Thanks again for your support – I really appreciate it.

      1. Gwendolyn and All,

        Just something to think about. Do you realize how many people may have committed suicide to get away the CDN? I think if one could prove the reason behind so many of these suicides you would be flabbergasted.

        Reading what you wrote, I thought the man found himself sleeping in his vehicle with the future of providing for her and having nothing. I don’t doubt this man was beaten up and down and depressed he just gave up.

        Think about it, when someone in our life is so toxic and we are so weak, the CDNSP can push one beyond our limits. This poor man no doubt felt what he had to deal with and lost for the rest of his life, he felt life wasn’t worth living.

        You probably only saw the tip of the iceberg of this Jekyl and Hyde so called friend. I am sure glad you didn’t start a business with her because I think she would had taken you on an Oblivion Ride to Hell like she did her deceased spouse. Truthfully, you don’t know how many victims she has under her belt.

        Must be an angel was watching out for you:-)

        1. Hi BTOV,
          Sounds like you’ve had a lot of experiences with CDs, & been hurt a lot by them, and you’ve educated yourself about them.This forum is the first place I’ve found where people actually understand the levels of deceit and devastation caused by CDs.
          For myself, I try to think of them as aliens, as well as to bless & release them.
          I think you’re correct that there could be a lot of suicides induced by CDs. Just look at targets of school bullies. How many children have been reported in the news because they took their lives because of being bullied? I wish there was more that could be done about CDs, but the world has not yet reached the point where they are willing to see the devastation until it lands on their doorstep.
          Thank you for your conversation & comments. They are very much appreciated. 🙂

  10. Hi All,
    When a CD returns to my life, I get really scared that they will wreak more havoc on my life & heart. But I can close the door on that person. I know the path the relationship will follow, & if I choose to get on that road again, the chance of a repeat is almost certain…it will only be different if I choose a different response to the nonsense. Hoping a CD has changed is unrealistic – they like their games & who they are. So for me the challenge is, ” will I like myself if I call them on their nonsense or if I am unreceptive?” The answer is yes…but I have to stop being afraid of their ability to hurt me first.

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