Are You Learning the Wrong Lessons?

signs of a narcissist

There’s a saying out there that goes, “sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.”  I love that saying, as I really do believe that everything in life is a lesson.  I think we could also add another saying to it, and that is, “good judgment comes from bad judgment.”

While these two statements are true, if you are just getting out of the “bad judgment/learning lessons” stage of your relationship, I want to point something out that trips a lot of people up: When you “learning the lessons” make sure it’s the right lessons, or you will be doomed to repeat them!

I’ve known a lot of people (myself included) who have learned a lesson, but they’ve learned the wrong one.  The might go through years of Narcissistic abuse, and once they finally get out, say, “Well relationship was just awful. I’m never dating a younger/older/richer/poorer/certain nationality, religion, gender, hair color, body type, etc. again!” Whenever I hear other people talk like this, I cringe, as I know they haven’t learned the right lesson, and run a high risk of repeating their mistakes until they figure out what the right lessons are.

For example, I began dating Jack, my first covert Narcissist, a few weeks after my husband and I separated. Our relationship seemed very healthy and ideal. I considered him to be one of my best friends, and we were working towards opening a business together.  There were never any put downs, and I really thought we had open and honest communication. I had no devalue stage (done to my face), so needless to say I was shocked when I came across his double life which included him cheating on me with dozens upon dozens of people, lies and deceit of all kind, and him potentially drugging or poisoning me!

I couldn’t figure out where I’d gone wrong. The red flags that I’d been taught to look for weren’t there. He was great with kids, other people, and animals. He was funny and likable and good to me. He didn’t seem to have issues with power and control, and I never heard him raise his voice or lash out at anyone.

for these reasons, I had a REALLY hard time making sense of what happened. All I knew was that what I’d experienced wasn’t normal behavior by a normal person. The only term I could think of to describe his behavior was that he was a “con artist”–both emotionally and financially.

When I came across the terms Narcissist and Antisocial (Sociopaths/Psychopaths), I knew instantly that’s what he was. I walked away from that relationship learning the lesson that he was able to manipulate me because I was freshly divorced, vulnerable, and apparently didn’t have the best judgment.  And while these things were all true, I failed to learn the most important lesson: 

 I didn’t see the red flags he was waving, as red flags.

I justified his behaviors as either mistakes that anyone could make (multiple children outside of committed relationships, bankruptcy, etc.), or due to a lack of maturity/not thinking things through (bouncing checks, telling me he loved me in the first two weeks, lack of planning ahead, etc.) I also took his explanations of his past for face value.

The red flags I was used to looking for involved more issues with power and control, having a temper, or just if someone was a jerk to kids, his parents, a waitress, or animals. These were the red flags I’d run from–but not other behaviors that seemed like a normal person who’d made some mistakes in their life.

All manipulative and destructive people come with red flags, and these red flags may or may not be the same ones that dangerous people come with–which is why I think so many of us get tangled up with these people: we expect bad people to come across like bad people–in recognizable and consistent ways.

And they generally don’t. …At least not at first.

Had I known that Jack was waving the red flags of a manipulative, destructive and potentially dangerous person, I would have seen them, and I would have run for the hills. They honestly just didn’t even register on my radar as problematic, as his behavior when I knew him seemed a bit immature, but overall he seemed like a really great guy to not just me, but to everyone.

It took me another relationship with another covert Narcissist to really learn the right lessons: that I wasn’t seeing the red flags that these people were waving; that I needed to slow down and give the red flags time to surface, and that I needed to gather more information (ideally from a variety of sources) once I did see the red flags.

I know I’m not alone in learning the wrong lessons, as I get emails everyday from people who have lost their faith in men, or women. They now won’t date an Italian, or go to church, or meet people off the internet. Or they believe that if that fix their codependency issues that they’ll stop being targeted by these people.

While some of these beliefs have merit (it’s good to work on healthy boundaries and not be co-dependent, and meeting people online can be risky), they won’t in and of themselves guard you against getting involved with another Narcissist/Antisocial person.  See, the issue isn’t that men (or women) are pigs, or that latin men always cheat and lie, or that people use their faith to get away with all kinds of terrible behavior, or that codependency is the only reason a person is targeted.

Then, when these people get tangled up with another highly manipulative person, they think they someone must attract them. Again, while that idea might have some merit, there is no avoiding these people until you learn the fundamental lessons once and for all:

The lessons to learn here is that highly manipulative people come in all shapes, sizes, genders, sexual orientations, religions, ages, and nationalities–and they all target people for different reasons.

The fundamental lessons to learn here are that we need to: learn the red flags, have a healthy degree of skepticism when getting to know people, and take things slow enough when the red flags time to surface (which most of us have behaviors and/or situations that could be seen as red flags). When we spot the red flags, we need to take the necessary time to gather more information about what it is you are seeing–and then trust, but verify that information with other people–and then to have healthy enough standards and boundaries to cut (or limit) contact with them.

(((hugs)))

 

 

 

Follow Me

Dana

I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.

Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.

It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
Follow Me
About Dana 252 Articles
I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse. My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life. Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics. It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.

6 Comments

  1. Hi a good read is ” the shark cage metaphor” google it, basically we did not have enough bars around us to protect us. we were sitting ducks.

  2. Awesome article–thanks for posting! This article perfectly articulates exactly how I feel about how targets keep finding themselves with these people.

  3. I am child of abuse. My mother only loved me when I did things her way. I have been damaged as a result…Eventually, she left us @ 17 yrs. old..When I try to make my sis & bros. understand that I ‘didn’t feel loved as a child’ they either spread lies about me or insinuate there is something mentally wrong with me~I am very depressed over my past & am making every effort to help myself move past the abuse…However, my sis & bros. don’t believe me – makes me feel like I was ‘alone’ in being raised this way…My mom NEVER mis-treated my sis or bros…ONLY ME! When she found out I said I didn’t feel loved as a child, she ‘cut me off’ and won’t speak to me anymore! I don’t know what to do..You’re supposed to love your mother but I am very confused & have tried to ‘forgive her’…I told her I had forgiven her~ She asked, ‘Forgive me for WHAT”??? Apparently, she didn’t get it. So, I am at the end of my rope as to whether to try & mend this situation or walk away from it. Confounded & sad…these are my only immediate family I have. When I have tried to ‘set borders’ they have complained I am being problematic & they don’t want to deal with me this way! Unbelievable….I am the one who is hurt; and now, THEY are not speaking to me!

  4. There is nothing to mend here. You have an abusive mother who is not accountable for her behavior and some siblings who are either in denial or who truly didn’t witness her abuse. It sounds like no one wants to hear that you might have been abused. I know that you are hurt, but it sounds like they might have done you a huge favor by closing the door to communication. It’s healthy and reasonable to have boundaries and standards for how you expect to be treated. If others don’t respect those boundaries (and many times dysfunctional people don’t or won’t), then you may need to distance yourself to get away from the abuse.

    As for forgiveness, I only believe in forgiveness when the other person is truly repentant for what they’ve done and have made a sincere (and lasting) effort to change. If a person continues to have the same behavior, or never is accountable for what they’ve done, then forgiving them is only setting yourself up to fail. Instead of giving forgiveness to a person who isn’t sorry, I’d encourage you to focus on acceptance. Accept that your mother has really abusive behavior for you, and that she’s not the mother that you want to have. You will probably grieve this loss, but I think at the end of it you will find a lot of peace in accepting her for who she is, instead of clinging to the hope that she will change. You can also make the decision that you will not let these events destroy your life–that you can and will go on and find other people who love and appreciate you for who and what you are, and then spend your time with them.

    You have no obligation to love a person who has been abusive. None. Doesn’t matter that she is your mother. Abusive people come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ages, and roles (parents, children, neighbors, friends, etc.). You will most likely never get your siblings to see things your way, so I’d encourage you to stop trying. To continue to do so will be an exercise in making yourself crazy. If you want to keep a relationship with them, then don’t bring this up–talk about other things, and realize that they don’t “get it”.

  5. Hi Angie, I agree with what Dana has written. If possible have a relationship with your siblings without talking about the abuse. It would help you to have a counsellor or therapist to talk too so that you can work through the emotional and thoughts associated with all this hurt.

    Very good post Dana. I recently had a friend who wanted more than I was prepared to give even though I was completely honest about the way I live and build relationships. I saw several Red Flags and rather than look further and investigate I just moved on. I don’t have the time to deal with red flag behaviour or investigate. I am really really glad though that I have learned the red flags. The things I saw were only small things but they definitely rang alarm bells for me. I’ve spent this year feeling glad that I benefited from all the reading I’ve been doing end mountain loads of things I have learned.

  6. I love that you have gotten to the point where if something feels off, you don’t wonder about it you just get out of there. This world is full of a lot of people, and there’s no reason for us to keep people in our lives who set off alarm bells. …These days, I seek out people that register as a 9 or 10 on a scale of fulfillment for me. I need to really enjoy being around them–if I feel “off” in any way around them: angry, offended, confused, or wondering if I’m the problem, then that’s a sign it’s not a healthy dynamic for me, and I distance myself from them. …A person doesn’t have to be a full out Narcissist in order to be a problem. They can simply be just not your (or my) kinda people. No sense in trying to make that shoe fit–it just frustrates us, and it annoys them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.




Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.