As you seek safety and harmony in any relationship, the most necessary ingredient is trust. And for trust to take hold, you need honesty, reliability, and accountability. In other words, healthy relationships are grounded in truthfulness.
Narcissists simply cannot be trusted as purveyors of truth. With the False Self intact, they lie to themselves about their entitled status, then they prioritize manipulations and gaslighting. If they could be honest about their dishonesty, they would admit: “I have greater priorities than being truthful.”
While it would never happen, if narcissists would magically reveal the strategies from their relationship playbook, they could identify at least eight potential reasons they sidestep honesty with you. Let’s look at them:
- Keeping personal facts hidden are essential for gaining influence. Narcissists do not want you to know their flaws, weaknesses, or miscalculations, so instead, they cover up. To them, if non-disclosure or lying works, they are willing to do so. Inwardly they think: “I can’t show that I’m on the same playing field as everyone else.”
- Psychological invalidation is preferred over kindness. Somehow, narcissists have concluded that being superior over you makes sense. They have no need to listen to you, nor do they introspect about love and respect. Instead, they negate you as a means of building up oneself. To them, bullying is more invigorating.
- A narcissist’s definition of success is control and power. As you get to know a narcissist, you will quickly be introduced to a demanding agenda. They want to get inside your mind and determine what you should think, say, or do. Criticism and punishment are persistent. They feel a heightened sense of importance as they fill you with themselves.
- For a narcissist, being understanding offers no immediate payoff. Building trust requires being informed about a person’s needs and perspectives to the extent that bridges of concern are built. When challenged with such a task, narcissists reject empathy because it implies validation. They consider raw service of self as more appealing.
- They gain pleasure by rejecting your advice, demoralizing you instead. Healthy relationships include a flow of give and take related to a wide array of topics. Instead of participating in that flow, though, narcissists find satisfaction in reminding you that your input is unnecessary. They tell, you comply. You are a transaction, not someone for connection. And if you feel dejected…good.
- When they err, narcissists need a person to blame. Building trust involves the discussion of both positive traits, and negative…successes and failures. But narcissists look for excuses when their own negatives appear. They are blame-shifters extraordinaire. In their minds, they think: “Scapegoating keeps the focus off of me, and I prefer that.”
- They are inclined at times to offer relationship candy. Being masters of illusion, narcissists sometimes use the ploy of giving positive reinforcement to others. They can be the proverbial public angel and private demon. Giving the illusion of decency allows them to rationalize inwardly that they are truly good.
- They can use the ploy of false vulnerability. Sometimes, in the effort to appear approachable, narcissists will seemingly discuss personal pain and disappointment. They will explain how they have indeed been hurt…meaning you should feel sympathetic toward them. But their “sharing” is little more than complaining about others’ problems. Having no interest in discussing self-improvement, they gaslight instead.
Narcissists want to appear as if they are the ones who have life figured out despite their pervasive psychological pathology.
This reveals, first, that you exist in their world as a prop, a foil for them to use as they perpetuate their Alternate Reality. Then second, it reveals that they are in the pain relief business. Desperately needing to avert attention away from their hidden psychic tensions, they shed their pain by displacing it onto you.
Your task is to understand the narcissists’ dishonesty so you won’t play along in the role of the flunky. You can determine instead: “I prefer to connect with individuals who truthfully seek balance, and clearly the narcissist is out of balance. That being the case, I’ll narrow my companionship search to those who can be real. The results will be much more rewarding.”
~Les Carter, Ph.D.
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