In many ways, relationship deception defines our character-disturbed age. So, just what is phenomenon? In short, it’s deliberately casting the nature of your relationship with someone in a way you know to be false. These days, folks form relationships of all kinds and for all kinds of reasons and purposes. Sometimes, it’s a matter of convenience, such as access to sexual gratification. Other times, it’s a matter of other self-serving purpose, such as easing one’s financial burden.
When it comes to relationships, a person can be open and above board about intentions and other matters. That allows a potential relationship partner to make an informed, free choice. But some folks are deceivers from the start. They’re not who they make themselves out to be. And their intentions with regard to you are not what they claim. Unfortunately, all too often relationship partners don’t learn the truth until they’ve already been exploited.
It’s been years since I wrote In Sheep’s Clothing. I wrote it in part to describe a particular kind of relationship. I knew there were folks skilled in the art of what we now call “impression management.” Such folks know how to present a convincing, benign, even amiable facade. They know how to look good without actually being good. Self-serving and entitled, some individuals only want to possess, control, and dominate in a relationship. And they can be quite crafty in the ways they go about things. So it’s easy to misjudge them on the front end of a relationship. I call some of the more pathological of these types covert-aggressives (See pp. 96-134 in Character Disturbance).
Relationship deception is one of the major reasons marriages and other intimate arrangements fall apart or end in heartbreak. I’ve heard story after story over the years from persons who came to loathe someone they once thought hung the moon. But by the time they figured things out, they’d invested much and lost much. This made them quite angry. But it also led them to question themselves. How could they have been so wrong about someone, they wonder? In fact, their experience led to a host of troubling feelings that took much time to sort through. And only a handful were able to get the right kind of post-trauma counseling.
Some Related Reading
Some other articles on the blog examine aspects of relationship deception.
Here are just a few:
- Deception and Manipulation
- Deceit Can Take Many Forms
- Seeing the World as They Want to See It: The Self-Deceptive Thinking of the Disturbed Character
Next week I’ll be beginning a series on how to best vet character in a character-impaired age.