We naturally gravitate toward folks with attractive traits in their personalities. Friendliness, likeability, charm, and charisma are just a few of such traits. And while these qualities can certainly accompany good character, they’re not necessarily a sign of it. Sadly, however, too many of us mistake these personality attributes for decency of character.
You can find other articles on this topic. (See, for example: Likeability Does Not Necessarily Reflect Good Character .) And I talk about this on the most recent Character Matters podcast, too. But I know from experience that I can’t stress the point enough.
I’ve counseled hundreds of individuals who found themselves in troubled relationships because they mistook attractive traits for character. And these folks also often didn’t know themselves well enough to realize what was drawing them to someone else. Maybe it was the attention they got. Maybe it was the affirmation they felt. To be sure, these things can feel good. And they’re traits folks with natural charm and charisma often possess. But none of these things are reliable marks of character integrity. In fact, these traits are not infrequently present in the most pathological characters.
Just as folks with attractive traits can have bad character, fairly decent folks can lack attractive traits. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of what you’re really looking for in a relationship. If you involve yourself with someone based solely on their attractive qualities, you run many risks. It’s much safer to bet on character. Still, you have to know what to look for. And that’s just one of the many reasons I wrote Essentials for the Journey.
The Core of Character
The core of good character is the capacity to love. And you can find many articles on the blog to help you discern what genuine love is all about. (See, for example: Things That Seem Like Love But Aren’t.) I write about this so often because in our times, grasping the true nature of love seems harder than ever. Moreover, If we don’t know how to show it to ourselves, we can’t possibly discern when someone else is truly displaying it.
The Bigger Picture
The character crisis affects every aspect of our lives. And sometimes the impact of bad character is monumental. In an upcoming interview and online seminar, I discuss the implications of allowing to folks of highly questionable character to lead or govern us. If this topic interests you, you might want to join the discussion. You can register for the event (airing March 19, 2023) using this link.