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Why You Can Never Trust a Narcissist
Discernment of Character
We can't go around diagnosing other people. But certain personality traits don't require an advanced degree in order to spot them. Discerning someone's character, before you get too involved, can spare you a lot of angst down the road.
So how can you tell when someone you first meet isn't a good match? Or if someone you already know can't be trusted? Should you just play it safe and assume no one can keep a secret? Whom should you trust? And when should you trust them?
There's no foolproof method for finding good friends, romantic partners and acquaintances. Deeply disordered people, from time to time, foo even the seasoned professionals. So there's always the risk of getting burned, unless you swear off people. (This is something I'm not recommending.)
But there are some warning signs you should heed. If you spot them, you may want to exit the relationship before you're in too deep.
No One Likes a Gossip
Always Putting Others Down and They're Never Happy
Some folks are impossible to please. For instance, someone may be unhappy with their sister, and they let you know about it. She doesn't measure up to their impeccable standards.
They're disapprove of their neighbor, and they let you know about it. Her kids are loud and obnoxious. Her husband is a drunk and sometimes a lot of yelling and screaming comes from inside their house. There are even indications he could be running around, because he comes in very late several nights a week.
Another woman they know doesn't do a good job taking care of her kids, and they let you know about it. One of the teenagers was arrested a little while back. It could have something to do with the stress of living with his younger sister, who has emotional problems and needs a lot of medication.
All of these above scenarios are fictitious, of course. But they are examples of malicious gossip. People of weak character, who may have narcissistic personality disorder, engage in a lot of backbiting. This is a hallmark of their condition. Sometimes they denigrate another so subtly you're hardly aware of what they're doing.
A good test you can run is if, after someone's name is brought up, you now view them in a negative light. If that's the case, you've just witnessed a character assassination.
It's very important to note that not everybody who complains has a character disorder. They may be legitimately hurting and seeking solace and sympathy. What you're looking for is a pattern.
If someone repeatedly runs someone down, and another, and then another, it's starting to look like a character flaw. Proceed very carefully.
Also, if you catch this propensity for gossip, coupled with warm overtures when the person is present, watch your back.
Don't Tell Her About the Roses
A Gossip Will Also Gossip About You
If you spot a serial gossiper, it's safe to assume she's talking badly about you too. Backbiting is one behavior high on the list of narcissistic traits.
Once you've come to this realization, it's important not to provide her with personal details of your life or any information that could be used against you. So, you and your husband had a little tiff a couple of nights ago? It's over now, and it's no big deal. You both apologized and he even bought you some beautiful pink roses.
Don't tell the gossip about the roses. Because once you do, she'll try to find out why you received them. People with strong narcissistic traits have an uncanny ability to ferret out personal details. They don't respect normal boundaries, and they aren't afraid to silently stare you down while you spill your guts. Before you know it, she will have gathered up all your dirt, waiting for an opportune time to share it.
So don't mention a word about the roses.
Intense Eye Contact and Fast Speech
Researchers have found that narcissistic people talk faster than others. They're also able to maintain eye contact longer than normally wired individuals. Not everybody who is a chatterbox has a personality disorder. Some very delightful people just happen to talk a lot.
But a narcissist will generally attempt to dominate the conversation in a manner that can hold an audience. This is why people are drawn to them. When you first meet them, they have a magnetism that pulls you in. Only after you get to know them does it become apparent you're in a very one-sided relationship with no real future.
However, I think perceptive people of earlier generations were on to this one long before the social scientists. Have you ever heard the expression, "He's a fast talker." Generally, this means someone who can't be trusted.
Narcissists Often Don't Speak the Truth
A Sense of Entitlement that's Extreme
Narcissists have a sense of entitlement above and beyond normal. Often, it's extreme. One example is someone who constantly asks favors, but who has no desire to reciprocate. Why should people go out of their way for them? Wouldn't you feel badly, if you repeatedly asked others to do things for you?
A narcissist doesn't see it this way. Because she thinks she's special, she considers it a privilege for someone to put themselves out for her. In other words, she's the one doing the favor, by allowing you into her orbit and allowing you to spend time with her.
Someone with a personality disorder may also not feel they have to follow normal rules. Sometimes this even means breaking the law.
That's because they think rules are for other people. This includes societal rules of decency and trustworthiness.
Disregard for Appropriate Boundaries
A few years ago, I spoke with somebody on the telephone about a work-related matter. Then I had to call them back a second time. On the basis on these phone calls, the person (another woman) on the other end of the line wanted to meet me in person. If I had sensed that she was wired correctly, I would have probably agreed to meet her for coffee. I think it's a good idea to always be open to new friendships.
However, I didn't feel comfortable. That's because, in the first conversation, she tore her boss to shreds while I was too stunned to say much of anything. She called her supervisor nasty names and complained about some of her mannerisms. In the second conversation, she tried to do the same. This was highly unprofessional, especially given her position. So I declined her insistent invitation to get together outside of work.
Poor Ability to Manage Anger
Sometimes the only real clue that something is amiss is that a person can't manage their anger well. They may not yell, scream or throw a tantrum. But what you might find is a brief, but intense, show of anger, followed by relatively quick composure. It's as if the mask they're wearing slips and you get to see the real person behind it.
Not everybody who is having a bad day has a personality disorder. None of us are perfect. But it's the pattern you're looking for. If this is part of a package of behaviors, it more worrisome than if it's an isolated incidence.
This article is only a partial list of signs you might not be able to trust a particular person.
Most People are Well Meaning
Most people you meet mean well and strive to do their best. It's the minority, an estimated 1 in 25 that you need to keep at arms length. If someone has a number of narcissistic traits, then you need to guard your secrets more closely than usual.
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