Red Flag #46: Actions don’t match up with words
…Or at least not for long.
When people attempt to manipulate or lie to others it’s because they are uncomfortable with the truth for some reason–generally it’s because the truth shines a light on something that they are insecure about. In short, their words and actions don’t line up—at least not for long. If you are in a dynamic with a deceptive person you will eventually start to see cracks in their story (also called their “mask slipping.”)
So what exactly does it mean to be manipulated? For someone to manipulate others it means to skillfully control a situation through deceitful ways.
Meaning, a manipulative person will do, say, or be anything they need to do, say, or be in order to get what they want.
They do this in a wide variety of ways, and their lies can be really hard to pinpoint (at least at first). They deceptively control the truth by stretching the truth, omitting certain facts, or flat out lying.
Remember, if things don’t add up it’s because the truth isn’t in the equation.
The craziest thing of all when dealing with an emotional manipulator –especially when trying to confront one–is that they generally always have an excuse. It can feel like trying to nail jello to the wall, because once another fact is presented, their story and excuse shifts. The most crazy making thing of all is when they spin things around to blame others or to blame us to the point where we find ourselves apologizing for their deceitful behavior. …And then we are left scratching our head wondering how the conversation got to this place.
Here are three examples of actions not lining up with words:
1.Stretching the truth. This is where very general facts are constructed in a way that is designed to paint an inaccurate picture.
Their words: “I’ve been working in corporate America for five years, I’m really sick of the rat race. I’m thinking about taking some time off to work on a side business that I’ve been working on.”
(They picture they are trying to paint is one of success and financial stability.)
Their actions: They work at McDonalds and their side business is growing marijuana.
A potential justification if they were to be confronted: “McDonalds is one of the largest corporations in America. You are judgmental and have a holier than thou attitude. I can’t believe I’m even dating a person like you.”
2.Omitting the facts. This can feel like pulling teeth to get the full story, because manipulative people tend to only admit to the bare minimum that the other person has found out about.
The situation: You caught them cheating a year ago and have had a hard time trusting them since. The main reason being you never really got answers or closure about them cheating. They blamed you, work, the kids, the other woman (or man) and life in general for why they cheated, and then stated that they won’t do it again. You now have your suspicions that they are up to something again because they are taking their phone with them everywhere they go and are “working late” more than usual. If confronted, you might get something like:
Their words: “I told you, I’m not cheating. You need to quit living in the past. I’m tired of fighting with you about this.”
Their actions: You find out later that they were still on online dating sites and “friends” with a bunch of new people on Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat.
Their justification: They might spin it around to where you are controlling, possessive, jealous, have issues with trust because you found their dating profiles—and this is why they don’t tell you anything, because you get upset over nothing. That they don’t know how they got a profile on Tinder or Plenty of Fish, that it’s all a conspiracy from a jealous coworker. (Notice you and everyone else has the problem–not them…in their eyes, it’s never them that has the problem.)
Their words: “I’m gonna take $200 out of the account to pay the utility bills.”
Their actions: You later find out that they didn’t spend the money on utility bills when one day you come home and your power is shut off.
Their justification: If you confront them odds are they will blame the utility company for messing up the account, when you find out that the utility company didn’t mess up the account, they will spin things around blame you for being too controlling with money, or that they work hard for their money and didn’t feel they should have to pay $200 for air conditioning when you were home more than them, and then they get upset with you for being upset that they didn’t pay the bills when this was all your fault to begin with.
Some Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Do they say that they are sorry but then you keep catching them doing the same kinds of things over and over again?
- Do they say that they are trustworthy, but yet they lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, and do all kinds of very untrustworthy behavior?
- Do they tell you that you can trust them, but then they act in suspicious ways (guarding their cell phone, talking to opposite sex friends)?
- Do they tell you how humble or kind they are but then act arrogant and rude (sometimes right after telling you how humble and kind they are)?
- Do they lack sincere accountability for their actions? (You can tell a person lacks sincere accountability for their action because you keep catching them doing the same things.)
- Do they twist their confusing, questionable, or abusive actions back around and blame you for their behavior or blame you for the relationship ending?
- Do they continually tell you that you are the problem? Do they tell you that you are crazy/delusional, difficult, paranoid, overly sensitive, or can’t take a joke?
- Do you wonder if maybe you are crazy, delusional, paranoid, overly sensitive, or can’t take a joke—and that perhaps you are the problem?
- Do you find yourself continually confused by their behavior?
- Do you feel confused or crazy around other people in your life, or is it just them?
- Do you find that after you confront them about something that the conversation gets WAY off track and next thing you know you are having to either defend yourself and some behavior of yours in the past or you find yourself somehow apologizing for bringing up their bad or questionable behavior?
Now you may be asking yourself one of two questions right now:
“How is this different from a normal or healthy person who deceives, manipulates, or lies?” Or, “My partner does all these things, but how can I tell if they are really a Narcissist or if they are just a selfish, lying, manipulative jerk?”
To address the first question of, “How is this different from a normal or healthy person who deceives, manipulates, or lies?” Normal or healthy people don’t deceive, manipulate, and lie to their partner and they for sure don’t spin things around to blame others for their actions.
If a person is manipulative at all this is deal breaker behavior for healthy people, because trust is the foundation of any relationship. If trust isn’t there, then there really isn’t a relationship—there’s just the illusion of a relationship.
In regards to the second question of, “My partner does all these things, but how can I tell if they are a Narcissist or if they are just a selfish, lying, manipulative jerk?” A person doesn’t need to be a full out Narcissist in order to cause major destruction in a person’s life–being a selfish, lying, jerk is a big problem (and deal breaker behavior) too. If a person is an emotional manipulator to any degree itis a problem. So focus on the behavior and not on the label of “Narcissist,” as the label is not what’s important here, it’s the behavior that the label points to is what’s important.
So how is this different from a healthy person or a healthy relationship?
A healthy person is accountable for their behavior and doesn’t blame others. They own their stuff. They are open, honest, and sincere. Their actions are solutions oriented, and they work towards the benefit of the relationship as a whole—and they expect the same from their partner. If their expectations are not met, they leave. They have a solid sense of who they are and they don’t justify, minimize, or deny problematic behavior.
Whereas manipulative people used closed, dishonest, insincere (manipulative/deceptive) communication; they do not work towards the benefit of the relationship, but instead only work towards the benefit of themselves.
It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with a deceptive person, because you will never know for certain where you stand.
If you find yourself playing detective or pulling teeth in order to get the truth, it’s time to move on.
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.