The Power of Truth – Commandment of Character Number 4

In all my years as a practicing therapist, one thing stands out as a most important factor in promoting wellness: honesty. Human beings have an incredible capacity to lie, including the ability to deceive themselves.  Recognizing that fact and committing ourselves to be truly honest in our dealings with others as well as ourselves is key not only to our emotional health but also to the integrity of our character.

Now, as I state in Character Disturbance (p. 141), we’re never obliged to say things that might be technically true when to do so has no potential benefit or would cause only needless and destructive hurt or suffering.  For example, we don’t have to tell someone how hideous we think they look in a particular outfit.  Nor is it appropriate to broadcast every unseemly thing we know about someone else.  But if we’re to forge a character of integrity it’s crucial that when it really counts, especially within the context of a relationship, we don’t con or manipulate others and we don’t lie to ourselves.

Whether I’m dealing with character-impaired individuals or neurotics, I’m always on the lookout for the lies at the heart of trouble and for tactful but direct ways to confront those lies.  The “evil” that invades a person’s life is almost always vested in a lie, and it’s no accident that philosophers, religious sages, and other writers who sought to personify pure evil (i.e. “the devil”) rightly cast the creature as the “father of lies.” My experience has taught me not only that evil exists but also that a lie is often its closest companion. Although I take issue with some of the unfortunate and unnecessary fabrications and self-serving manipulations in his book, I appreciate that Scott Peck also sought to emphasize this point in People of the Lie.  And in my work over the years, I’ve found that it’s impossible to truly deal with evil without confronting the lies that so frequently spawn it.

Character-impaired folks have particular problems with honesty.  Most of the time, they’re aware of their dishonesty and consciously and deliberately seek to deceive others for the purposes of exploitation and control.  But to the degree they have any neurosis, they might also deceive themselves about what they’re doing.  Sometimes, they can be so habitual in their self-deceptions and get so comfortable with the lies they tell themselves that they actually begin to believe those lies.  But to the degree they’re simply character-deficient as opposed to neurotic, the less need they have for self-deception and the more concerned they are with conning others.

Some of the most seriously disturbed and disordered characters lie so habitually and so casually (and often, seemingly unnecessarily), that we often speak of such lying as “pathological”  because of how irrational it seems.  But as illogical as their lying might seem, most disturbed characters have a rational purpose in lying, namely to maintain a position of advantage over others (for more on this see the sections in In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance as well as the blog articles:   Lying: Manipulation Tactic 1 (Part 1), Lying: Manipulation Tactic 1 (Part 2), Seeing the World as They Want to See It:  The Self-Deceptive Thinking of the Manipulative Character, and Lying – Another Look at This Character Defect).

Neurotic folks owe many of their unresolved emotional conflicts to the self-deceptions they engage in unconsciously. Sometimes things happen to us that hurt and sometimes we make mistakes that cause us pain.  But when out of fear or pride we deny or repress instead of acknowledge and deal with the various things behind our pain we inevitably create even more trouble for ourselves.  In a very fundamental way, all of our neurotic “defenses” are really deceptions.  And at the heart of traditional therapy for neurotics is setting an atmosphere in which it feels safe to honestly self-reckon.  A good therapist’s first duty is to prove him/herself trustworthy and accepting, which allows the necessary helping relationship to develop.  But the client’s primary burden is to muster the courage and commitment to honestly reflect upon and deal with their issues.  In so doing, they truly promote their own healing.

When dealing with character-impaired folks, lies must always be confronted directly, albeit tactfully.  Then the character-impaired person must be “invited” to try out a more adaptive, alternative behavior.  In other words, they have to be taught to seek what they want in less underhanded, destructive ways.  Of course they have to learn a lot more than that, too, but the main point here is that absolutely nothing can be accomplished without them demonstrating the willingness to stop deceiving, conning, manipulating, and trying to manage impressions.

So here’s the tried and true axiom that years of experience have validated:  Honesty has power.  Truth has the power to set the neurotic soul free.  And it has the power to expose the “evil” in the character-impaired person’s typical modus operandi.  It’s also an inevitable trust and respect-builder.  Still, dealing truthfully with issues in a manner that’s courageous and firm yet devoid of all malice and unnecessary judgment is a most rare and difficult to hone skill.  But that, as the great Fromm might say, is the “art” in loving.




68 thoughts on “The Power of Truth – Commandment of Character Number 4

  1. Do they first create a general environment of lying by insisting a red door is in fact green-colored. Others call this gaslighting but some I’ve known throw everything into question and then this creates room for them to maneuver and create havoc.

    Of course I feel like the goody two shoes nailing down the lies and wish I had a better tactic or strategy for how to compose myself. And it is tiring.

    1. Claire……I think that the first thing Spathtardx did was, in several insidious ways, knock me off balance. A lie here, an over reaction there, a strange reply,,,,,,,a denial of something said, a shaming reply/ tone………all things that had me in confused dog head tilt mode. I will say this, while I do give myself credit to some extent for being fairly intelligent, I am VERY easily confused. I process things slower than most and things get backlogged. I see that SO clearly now, and one day would roll into the next, things still backlogged,,,,,,questions still unanswered, issues still unaddressed…….what a mess……..what a jerk loser. I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how thankful I am that I didn’t have children with him……I can’t imagine having to be exposed to that POS for the rest of my life! THAT is the silver lining here!

  2. Excellent article but unfortunately some of those character-impaired folks are so extremely skilled in lying that they easily deceive and manipulate their therapists too. In case of a Psychopath truth has NO power. They view honesty as weakness, something to exploit. Psychopaths are what they are. No way to heal or rescue them.

    1. Agree with this. The CA that manipulated me lied with a very confident look in her face (as if what she said was true). Besides, she was really skilled in other impression management tactics so that many people believed she was a good person. I should only see her action to know that many things that she said were lies.

        1. Feigning innocence, rationalization, and minimization were her favorite tactics. When her inappropriate or hurtful behavior was confronted, I remember she used to say things like:
          – I didn’t intend to hurt/lie to you (in fact she had hurt and lied to me many times)
          – I only wanted to … (if you saw her action, you would see that she had done much more than she said)
          – Actually my intention was … (she would choose some ‘noble’ reasons for her inappropriate action)

          Sometimes I admired how quick she could find all of those ‘good’ reasons to justify her conduct. However, if I took a closer look at them, none of them is actually relevant. I mean if she really had that intention, there are many ways to achieve it without doing harm to others.

          1. REI,,,,,,sounds so familiar. I only lied to you/ them/ because i didn’t want to hurt you/them. My ex actually, right at the beginning, and yes… all makes sense to me now, asked ME to cover for HIM in a lie to his mother…….yes, a 46 year old “man” lied to his mother so he could come see me instead of having dinner with her and expected that I would be OK with being roped into covering for him? SO many things all make sense in retrospect…… they say, hind sight. So logic now tells me that there were probably many people covering for him in many ways. What a pathetic joke.

          2. Puddle, I think it is the ability to use impression management tactics effectively that enables manipulator to make other people cover them. Many people (including myself) are often deceived by the good impression that manipulator gives. We often forget to focus on his actions rather than his words and intentions.

            My aunt often gives my family various gifts, money, supports, etc. so that many family members believes she is a good person. No matter how dominant she is and how many bad things she has done in the past, my mother always defends her and believes that she has good intentions (especially after hearing her “noble” but irrelevant excuses). It is sad to see that sometimes people tend to add unnecessary positive attributes to someone who does a good thing. For example, my aunt may be a generous person, but that doesn’t mean she always has good intentions.

          3. REI, I know that I personally will help ANYone who asks me for help. I can’t think of one time that I haven’t. My parents were VERY generous with both my brother and me, as were there parents with them. I honestly think they did it with good intentions but were flawed as parents in many many ways (mine). I think they did what they did because they could. I’m just wondering if sometimes someone can recognize that they may be lacking in some areas and want to “make up for it” in some other way. Some parents just don’t have what it takes, the proper character and qualities, to be good parents yet end up having children in spite of that…..I can see how this happens, especially young love couples. They are in the thick of it before they even know what hit them.
            So many ways for so many things to go wrong it would seem.

          4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Puddle. I too wish young couples today have better preparation before entering marriages (not only in financial aspect, but also in mental and character qualities, like you mentioned above). Too often I heard these folks said that money would solve most of their problems in marriages.

          5. Life just happens fast sometime, ready or not here you go. Humans are certainly not perfect, neither is life. I’d say there are many people that need to work on their character, myself included. It is all a learning process and if you haven’t learned the important lessons by adulthood, your going to learn them the hard way in the school of life!

          6. REI, You are most welcome!! 🙂 The reality of one of these encounters is that not only are you left to swallow the bitter pill of having been used and abused by someone you now have no idea who they are……..BUT, you have also been thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool called the school of life. It’s all just so much to absorb and process and digest and personally I feel like I have emotional and mental indigestion from it. LOL!!

    1. Vera…. I remember a LONG time ago being over at a friend of my brother’s father’s house. I was waiting downstairs for some reason…..I looked down at some audio cassettes on a table and they were a series about “How to Lie Successfully”! I remember taking notice of them but that’s as far as that memory goes….

  3. The xnh took a Dale Carnegie course and one the books was called “Winning Through Intimidation”. This makes me wonder why Dale Carnegie is so revered. I threw that one away for sure!

    1. Carnegie seems to have caught the wave in the early 20th century when the narcissists were staging their revolution. No wonder he was adored. (Could be he has some good stuff out there as well, I have never read him. I think he inspired Toastmasters who are nice folks.)

    2. I have the book How to win friends and influence people. I started reading it again. Apparently, according to Carnegie, people don’t blame themselves for anything, but are still neurotic enough to be affected by admonishment.

    3. The second chapter, which talks about the desire to be important, includes this: “If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I’ll tell you what you are. That determines your character.” (pg. 22)

      1. J, what would you think about substituting the word fulfillment for importance? I feel good about myself (fulfilled) when i accomplish something either by myself or preferably with someone else. I absolutely LOVE to work as a team with someone and it doesn’t matter if we are doing something for me or for them but I can’t relate to the word “important” in what you quoted. Fulfilled, satisfied, a part of.

      2. Carnegie’s book is very old and knowledge is continually updated.

        In any case, I don’t know if Carnegie had similar understanding of the nature of character as we do now. It may as well be one of the part that’s been purposefully ignored.

        1. Your right J! Things are changing …….terminology being one of them. It was weird to read some of The Mask Of Sanity…..the wording is unfamiliar sometimes.
          Im unfamiliar with Carnegie’s writing so I don’t really have a frame of reference!

        2. Dale Carnegie has written How to win friends and influence people as well as How to stop worrying and start living. The latter I haven’t read.

          People skills obviously important, but they are only surface. Ironic, isn’t it?

      3. I don’t think Carnegie means this in a way that we are known or popular or are fulfilling some function in some big organization. I do believe someone can be in an important position and still feel unappreciated(Carnegie’s book’s second chapter is about giving appreciation) or unfulfilled.

        We can be fulfilled without pursuing positions of power, the least pathological of us anyway.

  4. “When dealing with character-impaired folks, lies must always be confronted directly, albeit tactfully…In other words, they have to be taught to seek what they want in less underhanded, destructive ways.”

    I really appreciate these words. My (ex)wife is a master manipulator, and it was difficult for me to learn to keep a clear head when she turned on the FOG. Not surprisingly, our daughter learned some disturbing social habits.

    After two years of effort responding to my 12yo daughter’s lying, tantrums, etc. with firm equanimity has been helping. On occasion now she will admit to being “naughty” or “crabby.” Still, there is not much nuance in her understanding of how her behavior is causing problems for others and herself, but–wow!–she is taking ownership for some of it. And I don’t think this is just another manipulation (appearing to take ownership to garner favor). I think she is gaining some understanding. Two years ago I feared this would not be possible.

    1. I absolutely could not pin him down on his lies and i would say that most were truth backwards lies…….lies of omission. If someone is lying to you directly, actually telling a lie/ falsehood and you catch them, that is one thing but some people don’t consider leaving out certain important details of their make up and life a lie. I’m sure I don’t even need to give an example!

      1. My experience was similar, Puddle. The “lies” were not the sort that could be easily pinned down, as you say. My common experience was that after 10 minutes or so I was so confused and brain-numb I couldn’t remember what the original discussion or disagreement was about.

        1. Chris!!!! That is it! You are in my world and what’s left of my brain!! LOL
          It is SO destructive……SO frustrating. Thank you for what you posted, it is very validating to me. I compare this to bending a piece of metal back and forth, eventually it breaks. I was so mentally exhausted from trying to figure everything out…….I didn’t really see how much damage it was doing until I was away from it. And it’s STILL in my head because it was SO covert that I will never know what if anything was real!

          1. Your enthusiastic reply makes me smile, Puddle. 🙂

            Sorry it is about such hurtful & exhausting memories!

        2. Chris, I did catch him in a couple outright lies but no, there were other things, many things, that just couldn’t be proven. And now, when I reread some of his emails, I’m sure what was written was not what was meant.
          Try this one on for size……..If someone said to you “I never wanted to harm you”……At first it seems like a nice thing to say, right? Well,,,,,,he said it! BUT, what if his real intention was to get ME to harm myself? Drive me over the edge because he doesn’t have the stones to be a full fledged serial killer? See where I’m going?
          Another thing he said, I don’t know HOW many times……..”someday you will KNOW how much I love you”……well, I think I have a pretty clear picture of how much he didn’t love me now!

        3. He actually asked me once a very telling question. He was was telling me that I work things in my mind so long that I turn them into something entirely different than what they are and then believe it as the truth. Then he asked me…….”You know how when you tell a lie enough times you believe it”?
          Um………………Clearly HE knew! Just another “tell” that took me so off guard that I “ignored it”. He couldn’t possibly mean it, right?
          Things just happened so fast and then were covered up by other events, life, activities, etc….so many things like that just got lost in the shuffle. Buried.

        4. The frightening power of disorientation, I figure.

          So are there psychologically embeddable tactics to recover from the feeling of disorientiation? Perhaps the start would be to see it as a message(aren’t all feelings messages in some way?).

          1. For what it’s worth, one thing I learned from my long experience is to be willing to set aside reason and “trust my gut” a bit more–and be willing to self-protect to a degree just based on a feeling that something is not right. This was hard for me because I usually try super hard to be fair and reasonable. Now, if I experience a certain tightening in my stomach I know enough to pay close attention to what is going on.

            Just yesterday something about an architect I was dealing with put me on my guard (tight stomach). His reply to my inquiry was to claim that he had sent me drawings months ago (“Why didn’t I have them?!”). Well, during my “trial by fire” in my marriage I had conditioned myself to be cautious about immediately going on the defensive. So I patiently acknowledged that possibility and moved on to getting the drawings I needed. Later on, thinking about it, I had to laugh because I realized the architect was putting one over on me.

          2. Yeah J, picture putting a cat in a box and spinning it around and around upside down etc…….how do you think that cat would do defending it’s self when you opened the box?
            I think you are so right……..and it’s something I’ve thought about for the future…….the first time I feel confused around someone, it’s time to take a step back…maybe three or four steps back. When I think of my long term friendships…..people I love and I know they love me, I don’t feel that with them. I don’t feel confused, disoriented, on edge…..Easy to say now!
            One of my favorite sayings…………”live life forwards, understand it backwards”!

          3. Indeed, disorientation is always the sign that something is wrong. Too often, however, we don’t understand to view the message, but get overloaded.

            I’ve read that this is the effect of lower parts of our brain playing merry havoc with the natural fight-or-flight -response.

          4. We also need to get hold of our higher brain and thus put a boundary against frenzy of lower brain.

      2. Although I write about how to empower yourself in dealings with manipulators by asking direct questions and settling for nothing less than direct answers, the art of sifting through the multiple tactics of evasion/deception/manipulation is a lot more complicated than that. Toward that end, when some video vignettes that depict me using techniques to deal with disturbed characters are completed (the videos are being produced now using actors depicting real situations and will be utilized in my upcoming workshops), I’ll post a few of them on YouTube.

        1. Dr. Simon, I think you should hire some of us to play the parts!!! LOL!! Im betting there are many here who would volunteer!

  5. This is my first reply, but I have been reading as much of Dr. Simon’s works as I can for a few months now. Have benefitted enormously from both the good Dr’s posts and the replies.
    I have to agree with you, Puddle, about those of us who have been thru this insanity playing the parts in the Dr’s videos! On the other hand, I am not so sure I could really pull off playing such a demented character!!! LOL!!!
    I especially benefitted from the above exchange between Puddle and Chris. Are we sure these disordered characters are not joined in a collective, like the ‘Borg’ from the ‘Star Trek’ series?! hmmmmm….. I, too, experienced almost verbatum the same exchanges with my disordered husband. I call it ‘demon-alien spew’! It is sooooo true that you can not see it clearly until you are out of it, and even then it takes months of educating yourself and reading information like Dr. Simon provides. Then, I have to go back and re-read and keep checking what is reality, as living with a disordered character skews your reality, regardless of how intelligent you are!!
    Especially since I still have to interact with him almost daily as we prepare to sell our home and deal with all the things involved in parting ways after over 33 years together! (and still have a family-owned business, no less!)
    Hang tough, my friends!! And thanks to you, Dr Simon, for your incredible work, and to all who post their experiences! Stay true…..

    1. “The Borg”–I love that. And you are absolutely right. It is eery how similar are the reports from people who have dealt with this.

      1. I’ve heard it said before, it’s as if they all bought the same book on how to be a Ppath/ Spath/ = Spath for short. They are SO unoriginal but some more successful than others. There are just so many factors involved. I can guarantee that the one thing my Spathtardx had going for him was my ignorance. I knew what a red flag meant from my past relationships and life experiences but in 54 years I had never encountered someone this low and, by the way……my brother IS a sociopath. No exaggeration.
        They are on a different plane of existence and i guess I should count myself lucky I didn’t end up worse off in many other potential relationship domains BUT, this hit me where it would hurt most, my heart and worse, my mind. After almost two years of encouraged optimism, it’s hard to turn that mind set off and stop thinking that there must be some mistake or misunderstanding. How horrid to picture his face in my mind, the face that I couldn’t imaging not looking at for the rest of my life, and told him that as he told me, and see that face now….having absolutely no idea who it belongs to. The feeling it evokes in me I can’t even name! It’s nothing I have ever felt before. Any descriptive word doesn’t seem to do it justice. And how much do you want to bet he hasn’t missed ONE opportunity to just go on laughing it up with his little playmates, drink in hand (and God only knows what else), as if nothing ever happened. Now I’m just somebody that he used to know…………
        During a big breakup he sent me a Youtube link for that song but said……”not that this has anything to do with us or anything, I just thought you would like it”. REALLY?? Another out and out “tell” that I just didn’t get or couldn’t face or…………fill in the blank. I certainly didn’t want it to be true.
        Thanks for posting KBug! Welcome.
        Chris, you are absolutely right about the gut feelings. As much as I wanted to love him forever…………from the very beginning something felt so wrong. Now I know why. So I was approaching the intersection, the light turned yellow and instead of slowing down or stopping I punched it and got broad sided by a Spath! I won’t make that mistake again, in fact I think I’ll get rid of my drivers license and opt for public transportation from now on!

      2. So true, Chris!!

        One of my older brothers endured this ‘craziness’ some years before I did. Then, when I was dealing with my ‘demented’ spouse, my brother & I shared our experiences and it really was eerie how our disordered spouses seemed to be reading from the same script!

        Seriously, Creation is so organized and ordered that even when a person is disordered, it follows a pattern. Sort of like birth defects—defects follow a pattern.

        Therefore, being able to identify the pattern helps us to transcend the disorder, break free from it and find a way thru life that is shaped by courage, character and conscience!

        Stay true…..

    2. KBug, my deepest sympathy to you and I wish you strength in dealing with the task ahead. I don’t envy you one bit but it sounds like your head is on straight now and that you are determined to keep it that way. We are all very fortunate to have Dr. Simon and the other people who have made this information known to the weary victims of these monsters. NOW! imagine this scenario, because I have many times…….imagine being in one of these “relationships” 20 or 30 or 100 years ago when information like this was not readily available. Minds and hearts wadded up into crumpled, twisted balls. As bad as this was it could have been worse. His first and second wife(same person) went toppling over the edge. She may have been teetering there in her own right but I’m SURE he was more than enough (at 19 years of age) to basically drop kick her off the cliff.

  6. To All!!!

    Read your responses!!!! Hugs!!

    Dr. Simon, I only learned about you and your work thru an NLP therapist who gave me the assignment of reading your book “In Sheep’s Clothing”. That was probably the single best advice I have received as to how to rise above the ‘crazy’ I was enduring.

    Some other on-line resources that have assisted me thru this insanity:

    Michele Weiner-Davis
    Dr. Jeff Murrah
    Ann Bercht
    Linda Lewi-Martinez
    Bill Eddy
    Richard Skerritt (sp?)

    There are many others, too numerous to mention…..

    Dr. Simon, if you approve of my mentioning these resources, please post my reply.

    Thanks to all of you who care enough for your fellow humans to share your knowledge, love and experiences…..

    Stay true……

  7. I need a technique: I confront a few people about their behavior, and they apologize for a much less egregious offense. The offense they apologize for is so tiny it makes ME look like the petty one for taking offense in the first place.

    So how to follow up after that is the tricky part. Do you respond with silence? It seems raising your voice backfires even more.

    1. Claire, I don’t know, maybe an example? Its so hard for me to put myself in the position you are in if I’m not in it.

  8. Back to Dr. Simon’s topic related to honesty… At some point in my relationship with my CA wife, I realized that *I* wasn’t being honest by routinely letting her off the hook for her deception (thinking I was being nice, but really I was scared). So, for awhile I hoped: “OK. I’m part of the problem here for tolerating this. Maybe if I respectfully but firmly take a stand for my view of things, she’ll listen and soften a bit.”

    OK. Don’t all laugh at once. It was worth a try, right? if even for my own integrity’s sake?

    Well, that became my approach. And I felt better about myself, in spite of the fact that that dramatically amped-up my wife’s intensity level (and increased my fears about what she’d do next). And I think that experience vindicated something Dr. Simon wrote in another article: to the effect that one common feature of such disordered personalities is that they will not tolerate losing; that they are possessed by a very strong impulse to dominate. (Dr. Simon, please correct me, if I paraphrase poorly.) Even in board games or other parlor games my wife could get very angry if she was losing (and, in fact, ruined many a pleasant evening because of it).

    1. Chris,,,,,,,can you give an example of things she was being dishonest about and how you knew she was being dishonest?

      Different topic but still in the dishonest realm because it’s just an example of how he dodged confronting and dealing with things directly……….. I’m wondering if anyone can relate?
      Example: I would say something about what I was upset about, “my feelings are hurt”, his response: “I’m hurting to”, or….”look, I’m not happy either”. I used to think of this in a way that painted him as just not knowing that it’s not helpful to someone who has an issue they would like to discuss by responding that you have your own issues that your not happy with either. Now I see that it was an evasion technique and a way of showing me that I was not important to him. Pretty dishonest if you are talking out of one side of your mouth and telling someone how much you love them and making them feel bad because they have doubts.

      1. I found most of this in a letter that, in frustration, I was writing to our marriage counselor a few years ago (who did not get it at all, BTW):

        1. She was always on the offensive with complaints and criticism of various sorts, often blowing things way out of proportion. This would eat up lots of time and make it virtually impossible to have serious, adult conversations about things. Virtually all our marriage counseling time was spent addressing her non-stop complaints. The counselor was totally manipulated, as far as I could tell.
        2. turning the tables: She would blame me for the very stuff she’s doing. I think you mentioned something like this in one of your posts. I think it is referred to as “projection,” and I experienced it often. It is really weird to observe someone else behaving a certain way and the next minute they are accusing you of doing that!
        3. She remembered the past incorrectly. I could never believe how convincing she would be when she would claim something happened completely differently than I recalled. Then it would come down to the fact that her memory was much better than mine.
        4. Diversion: The argument started over some simple little thing but quickly turned into something else. That gets back to my earlier comment about quickly getting confused in these discussions.
        5. Focusing on my delivery: It doesn’t matter what the original argument was about. I didn’t say it right.
        6. Kitchen Sinking: The core of the original argument gets buried in everything *I’ve done wrong* in the past few years.
        7. Never really warmly re-uniting: Arguments tend to always end in cold war. She would never be satisfied enough to really make up. (Of course, whe would never admit any responsibility or apologize.)
        8. Being nice to me for awhile when she thinks I’m finally at the end of my rope
        9. Her comment: “My girlfriends all say that you…[are the one with the problem].” or “*their* husbands do _____”
        10. “You are depressed. All my friends think so.” (BTW, I have generally had a fairy cheerful, optimistic personality.)

        I’m sure that this is only a partial list.

        1. Oh my Gosh Chris, this is all so complicated because, well,,,,,,it just is…….in SO many ways. Now, I will say this………I did tend to do some of these things myself. MY reason being, my issues, needs, concerns never got addressed/ resolved. Blow over, swept under the rug, yes…….resolved, no. SO, because I had a long list of unresolved and repeat, repeat, repeat things that I had been promised that he “understood this time”, but they would come up over and over and over (yes… I feel like an idiot circus dog for believing him and falling back into his arms and he into my bed). So when another issue would come up (or reattempt on my part to address an undressed issue) he would divert responsibility and inevitably pull something out that was off topic, then I was off topic then things would escalate, then he would leave…………OMG!!! I was SO bewildered by it all. HE accused ME of this…….”I think you only feel in control when things are out of control”. And that is what I had been thinking about HIM for a long time. Like the only thing he could do right is throw things into a ditch. I could go on and on and on!
          I swear it was a set up! If things were going smoothly all he had to do was ONCE AGAIN…..ignore my sexual needs, which are minimal but I did want some “special attention”, like I spelled out what would feel good to me aside from sexual things but he ignored almost every opportunity to fulfill my wishes. Or, he might ignore my request that at least on the weekends he would either shave or have a soft beard growth…….nope couldn’t get that right either (48 years old). Would come home from work in work clothes covered in work dust and dirt from working on some old mouse nest filled house and lay down on my bed and was offended that I wanted him to remove his work clothes?? All a set up to provoke predictable me into being upset so he could walk out and then go drinking. Absolutely pathetically cruel.
          I couldn’t imagine that an adult man would play such childish games with someone. I’d never even run into something this ridiculous when I was in High school!

          My girlfriends saw very clearly that he was the problem as did my therapist but no one saw that he was as disordered as he apparently is. And HE is the one who said HE was depressed but never did one thing about it, blaming lack of financial resources which is nonsense. There are options for people who don’t have money to get help and sometimes they end up getting better help than people who are paying their own way.
          But if you never take the initiative to find out……
          There is a saying, People DO what they WANT to do. Desire for change will always precede true change.
          Here’s another good one for you………I can’t tell you how many times he “complimented” me or commented about what an amazing memory I had but oddly enough,,,,when it came to me remembering things about what he had said or done or promised…….oddly I always got it wrong! LOL! SO transparent!

          Thanks Chris, thanks for sharing. More later. Puddle

          1. About 9 months, total.

            And I can somewhat forgive our marriage counselor for not helping. My wife was very good at these games, and I never really felt like I was up to her level. Also, I have come to the conclusion that people and their relationships can be extremely complex and hard for a third party to read. I suppose, that if a therapist has a good awareness of CA behavior, then they might have a chance recognizing it. But not all counselors are necessarily well-trained/experienced. I think the minimum requirement in my state, for example, is a two-year associates degree.

        2. Chris, I just want to say, >>SOME<< of the things you mention in your list don't really sound like true dishonesty to me which is why I say it's so confusing. There can be SO many variables……..on both sides.
          Let me give you an example of my experience in relationship counseling with "him".
          I felt like a) there was no way I could put into words accurately anything that was going on in out private life. I was SO confused and mentally overloaded. The first person we went to see said that we were going to start from where we were now and not bring up the past unless it pertained to now. She then went on to tell me about how important trust is between two people (duh). So I spoke up and said…..ok, well how am I supposed to step off into trusting him when there have been so many violations of trust prior to now? She jumped my case (slight exaggeration) and her wording was this……"Puddle,,,,,,I said to both of you during our initial session that we were not going to bring up the past." That is not entirely what she said which I then tried to reiterate what she actually HAD said, in it's entirety, she cut me off. said something else that made me feel totally attacked and unheard. It was awful. We left the office, me in tears and confused beyond words and HE actually agreed that HE was confused by the whole exchange as well. Of course that got twisted around on me latter as my wanting to sabotage the therapy and that I wanted to, I quote….."throttle her". Where did Mr. Understanding go?? Talk about remembering things incorrectly! Or did he remember it correctly but twist it to use against me and try to sabotage my sanity?
          Anyhow Chris, I'm not being critical of your list. Some does sound like "dishonesty" and some sounds like a relationship off track where possibly neither of you felt understood by the other or really heard by the other and possibly a lot of miscommunications and the like. It's VERY hard for me to say though, not being you or her in the moment. So much of a bad relationship gets lost in translation and the passing of time blurs it even further. It's very frustrating to try to retell some of these events, and mentally tiring.

  9. Another one…….I don’t know how many times I got accused and admonished like a child for bringing something up at the “wrong time”. Oddly, there never seemed to be the right time to address all of these unaddressed issues. Morning, bad time….off to work. Evening, bad time, just home from work or during dinner. Not good before bed either. Saturday, Sunday? Weekend. And….. Ooops! I asked a question Christmas eve…..that was a major faux pas and I was lectured about my egregiously poor timing on that one. Never mind the fact that he could have just grabbed me and pulled me onto his lap, kissed me like someone he was actually romantically and physically attracted to and said……of course I don’t think of you like just a buddy Puddle! You drive me crazy like that and I LOVE you. But I got lectured for being so inconsiderate and ruining the evening and ruining HIS Christmas Eve. Prelude to my question, after so much time gone by FEELING like I was just his companion and buddy……I decided not to wear a sexy/ fun Christmas outfit that I had purchased for that evening and told him I felt silly putting it on (circus dog). I felt awkward because it seemed that the only one who was interested in that aspect of the relationship was me unless it involved ME pleasuring him. I hope this isn’t too open but it was a major, on going point of contention in the “”relationship”” which I now believe was intentionally being withheld from me as punishment or part of his game. Horrible for me because I loved to please him and found myself having to hold myself back from that because it was such a one way street.
    So I’ve spent countless hours trying to figure this all out and at this point I’m pretty much faced with the conclusion that it really was all just a game, or something else I’ll never be able to wrap my head around. It’s something I can’t even absorb. I was SO genuinely, and loyally committed to him and my desire for things to work out was so sincere.
    At one time I honestly could not imagine not looking at his face and into his eyes for the rest of my life……something just felt so “meant to be” to me. Now I wish I could just forget him and wipe his face and the last two years from my memory entirely.

    Please forgive me for going on and on here. I hope something I’ve said is something someone can relate to. I am completely at a loss as to how to get past this and move on.

    1. It is, indeed, all very confusing and disorienting, Puddle. And, I think, confusion is precisely what manipulators are trying to cultivate. It reinforces their need for control and dominance. I’m very sorry for all the yucky feelings you are experiencing right now.

      I am feeling better after moving out two years ago and after beginning to “crawl out of Wonderland” 4-5 years ago. But I had a lot of help from sites like this one and other victims, like you, who helped validate my experience. So I replied above with my list of things that felt manipulative to me, whether they were “dishonest” or not. My guess is that each manipulator has their own bag of tricks. BTW, withholding sex (and often promising then failing to follow through) was certainly something I experience routinely.

      Peace and good luck to you, Puddle. My understanding and healing occurred over 4-5 years. I wish that peace and healing comes to you steadily as it did for me.

      1. Chris, you are a dear. Thank you for your input and honest contribution. I was only with this guy for technically, less than two years!! It seemed like five. Weird, time warp feeling. Anyhow I was in deep. he did not trap me with amazing sex as I’ve heard some do, thats for sure. Not with gifts, dates, etc……..What he did do, amazingly………he, on night number one, honed in on my weakest, most vulnerable unmet need and desire………to be held. I have never had a man hold me the way he held me. He might as well have hit me over the head with a sledge hammer…… set match, i was hooked at a level that I know I wasn’t even aware of. At 52(at the beginning) I have never had a man hold me like that. I could have spent the rest of my life lying on his shoulder, which oddly enough HE requested me to do on a regular basis.
        I’ll never figure it all out other than I know it was something entirely different for me than it was for him. I hope he gets what’s coming to him in the way of karma.

        I’m encouraged to know that you have been trying to get through this for a while. It helps me put things into perspective and lets me see that the tunnel is a little longer than I thought it was which explains why I’m not seeing the light at the end of it yet.

        Peace and good luck to you too Chris! Thank you again for sharing your story with me and others.
        {{{Hugs to you}}}

      2. Chris, Did you think/ feel/ know that she loved you? Did it feel to you that she truly wanted things to work out? or did you feel like she really didn’t care either way? I’m just so curious about what others felt in their guts DURING the time they were with these people.
        Also, Do you think that she was intentionally manipulative? I know for me, that when I did some of the things you mentioned in your list, I had not one malicious intent. Some of your list and comments I can relate to on the receiving end and some are things that I did or said myself. That is why it’s so confusing to me.

  10. Dr. Simon……………..If someone has been arrested and convicted for domestic violence in the past, sworn off of it but never sought real treatment of any kind for it and is in a romantic involvement with someone……..should they divulge this to their new romantic partner? Personally I think that Spathtard just moved his DV under ground and I know the damage he caused me has been much harder to deal with, process and recover from that if he had done something to me that was punishable by law.

    1. oddly enough, I watched a show last night (Wives with Knives) and this exact subject came up…….SHE had gone to prison for stabbing her ex and then met another man who she fell in love with and he with her. She came clean about her prior behavior and then did it to the new BF! Anyhow,,,,,,,he loved her and did not call the cops and it all worked out between them because he gave her a chance and she HAD been HONEST with him about this issue of hers……..a VERY deep seated damaged wound of abandonment in her childhood.
      MY ex actually misrepresented his DV charge and was not very forthcoming about it at all. He told me about it but was not exactly forthcoming and definitely not honest about it AT ALL!!

    2. I’m not sure how someone whose behavior led to formal arrest and conviction simply “swears off” the behavior, anyhow. And while no one is obliged to volunteer every sordid bit of information about themselves to a potential partner or spouse, not mentioning something as significant as a criminal conviction seems a huge red flag to me.

      1. He did not mention this on his own ,,,,,kind of a long story leading up to the point that he finally DID tell me about it but it was only when questioned after another comment he had made. Then, the information he did give me about this was not all inclusive and was inaccurate… other words he lied. He minimized it saying….she just had a scratch on her arm and that the whole thing was reduced to disturbing the peace. Well It WAS reduced but only because as a first offense the JUDGE ALLOWS you to plead guilty to the charge, go through the diversion program, and there by have the felony charge of Domestic Battery reduced to the misdemeanor of Disturbing the Peace. NONE of that was disclosed to me. He so totally minimized this that I ignored it completely.

        By “swear off”, I mean that he never raised a hand to me AND its my belief that for what ever reason……he learned his lesson in regards to PHYSICAL violence against a woman. He’s extremely intelligent. I personally don’t even begin to think that he has any kind of anger management issue……I think his “”anger”” ,or displays there of, are very well placed shots. So by “swearing off” I just mean that he deleted THAT tactic, the one of physical violence, from his repitois of manipulation and control.
        Thank you Dr. Simon!

  11. Good to see the exact phrasing that states my belief about truth and honesty. Worth repeating again, “Recognizing that fact and committing ourselves to be truly honest in our dealings with others as well as ourselves is key not only to our emotional health but also to the integrity of our character… …we’re never obliged to say things that might be technically true when to do so has no potential benefit or would cause only needless and destructive hurt or suffering. For example, we don’t have to tell someone how hideous we think they look in a particular outfit.”
    Honesty is one of the key character trait. So, powerful that with honesty one can improve other impairments. And, without honesty one is always on downward spiral.

    Lying is probably mother of all the manipulation tactics. When some wrong behaviour is glimpsed in early stages, character disturbed person will take easiest route to “immediate goal” by lying. If one does not lie when something is observed out of place first time around, then things will probably never go worse.

    Catching someone in lie is very difficult. Even if someone is caught, it is equally difficult to pin it on character disturbed person (mention somewhere in website that it is like catching a fish in oil).
    Few months back, in my last “sane” discussion with my wife before I relocated to a different place, she suddenly started using derogatory way of addressing me. When I pointed it out, she immediately retorted that she never used those words and she will not use such words unless I use such words first. I did not believe her, but did not press upon this, as it was too minor a thing. I am very sure if I had pressed her on this, at best she would have sworn by her assertion, and at worst she would have flown into one of her rage (rage is another worst tactic, sinks my heart to remember those episodes). That time I had been recording that conversation. Later I replayed it, and found it was exactly what I thought that time, i.e., she used offensive words, I objected, she denied and turned them around at me. Without recording, I would have doubted “maybe I am hearing non-existent things”
    That was before I read “In Sheep’s Clothing”. Since, then I have been reading books and blogs here, building knowledge and hope to translate them into life skills for journey through shark infested waters. I had been hard target in my life, hope to become even harder target, just in case she also relocates.
    As far as I know her parents had dysfunctional and bitter marriage, and it affected on my wife and her brother.
    I know she wants us to be together. But, she just cannot shake off her self-destructive behavior. So true, so sad. Anyways, her behavior is her responsibility, not mine and I cannot do anything about it if she does not relocate.

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