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Assessing Character — 13 Comments

  1. Joyce, this is a remarkable article and I can identify EVERY red flag (including dissolute lifestyle) to be applicable to every spath that I’ve either encountered or been intimately involved with.

    In the case of the second exspath, his dissolute lifestyle was the antithesis of whom he presented himself to be – it was the very, very “dark side” if his double-life. So well was this facet of his personality hidden that nobody believed him capable of even entertaining the things that he did, much less acting-out his interests. Then, when it came down to his forgeries and frauds, it was too much for people to process – it was simply impossible.

    Yes, yes, and YES……….hindsight is always 20/20, but I believe that I might have taken a closer look at all of the spaths that I was involved with if I had known more about what THEY are, and more about my own personal issues.

    And, no……nobody lives a perfectly moral life. Every human being has done something for which they are truly sorry, but it’s the act of contrition and not repeating the offense, over and over, that makes for a “moral” individual. Those who continue doing the same thing using different methods are definitely dissolute!

  2. Joyce and Truthy,
    it’s so true that the dissolute character is often hidden from our view. These people will generally present themselves as “pillars of the community”, as cops, judges and preachers. Or they will pretend to be our very soulmates. Evil very often appears “beautiful” like Lucifer. This is how the psychopaths entice us. Once we are ensnared, it is our perception of OURSELVES which keeps us ensnared because we refuse to believe that WE would be attracted to someone so horrible or that WE would be duped into believing such a stupendous lie.

    The most liberating thing I’ve ever done for myself was to accept the fact that I know many evil people that I actually CARE about. Once I accepted the fact that evil people can be charismatic and gregarious, and that I would find them attractive, it was not so hard to protect myself anymore because I had stopped lying to myself about their dissolute character or about my own vulnerability.

  3. Sky, I was surrounded by these “evil people” with dissolute characteristics…and I didn’t judge them, only myself and I tried to “help” them develop moral characters. LOL Yea, no way to do that successfully.

    So I have eliminated these people from my inner circle of trust, and if I have any interaction with them at all, I do the GRAY ROCK thing with them and just present myself as boring to them. Others I have gone NO contact with them and will avoid them totally.

    By trial and error (lots of error on MY part!) I found out that people with amoral lives, thinking and behavior are NOT someone I want to be around. The Bible tells us to FLEE from such people. “Bad companions corrupt good morals” a lot more than good companions make bad companions good. LOL

  4. you know I have been thinking about the various people I have known who demonstrated their lack of honesty in one form or another and yet, I still didn’t disassociate myself from them for so long. Even when they REPEATEDLY did things to show that they lacked character I kept on hoping against hope that they would change, develop a conscience etc and yet that never happened.

    I read an article today about a 17 year old girl who murdered both her parents, then locked her younger sisters (one of whom had witnessed the murders) in a room and fled with her boyfriend…the comments on the story were of interest to me as many of the people who commented BLAMED THE PARENTS for provoking the girl.

    Having experienced such blaming personally by a therapist that Patrick was mandated to see after his first arrest and probation I can attest that there are those who think “there are no bad kids, only bad parents who cause kids to act out.”

    While most if not all teenagers are pretty narcissistic (which is normal) not all kids are without conscience. Teenagers have not got mature brains and the part that is lacking is in the area where good sense is developed. Their judgment of the potential consequences of their actions is not good.

    Looking at the news stories of young women who got falling down drunk and were gang raped while passed out are good examples of bad judgment gone viral! I am not “blaming” the girls for being raped, the men involved had NO right to take advantage of these young women, but they did…their judgment and morals were lacking. It was “funny” to many of them as evidenced by their behavior, and the bad judgment of them FILMING it was even more a testament to their “stooopidity” as well.

    A study showed that 30% of male college students would take advantage of such a young woman IF THERE WERE NO CONSEQUENCES…WTF? 30%??? That is a staggering percentage.

    It might be easy to say “society has broken down” but in fact, I think that humanity is about like it always was…and always will be. Rape has always been a problem, but society hid it as the women were loath to come forward because they didn’t want to testify. Look at the Bill Cosby situation, over 35 women now have finally, decades later, come forward.

    One of the latest women, who is black, said she didn’t come forward because she didn’t want to SHAME the black community by exposing a black rapist.

    Psychopathy, and dissolute lifestyles is not a matter of color, there are black, white, yellow and “green” people who are psychopathic. Sometimes these people, like Hitler and his ilk, cause an entire population to become immune to the horror of mass killings. They divide the world into “us versus them” and it is okay to torture and/or kill “them” because they are not “us”–“we” are the chosen ones, and God is on our side.

    No war is “friendly” and I think there are always people involved on both sides who take advantage of the war to vent their rage at others…but some situations like Japan prior to WWII, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Sadaam etc are only the latest in a long line of dictators that goes back to the start of humanity.

    On a personal level we meet people in our every day life that are full-on psychopaths, and we meet people who are just high enough in P traits that they are toxic to anyone they come into contact with. We need to learn to spot them, identify them for what they are and then avoid dealing with them. That may be difficult—I’ve had jobs where my boss was high in P traits, and I left the job rather than continue to deal with them. I was fortunate that I was, as an advanced practice nurse, in demand and always had another job in a few days. Some people are not so easily able to secure another job so it makes it more difficult for them.

    I had allowed not only my son, Patrick, to repeatedly show me that he was dissolute, but other “friends” were included, when it was obvious that they lacked appropriate CHARACTER. When I started eliminating these people from my life, it was very painful, but now that I am further along the road toward healing, I realize that these people were never “friends” at all but parasites in one way or another.

    Character does matter. Without it, a person is toxic to those who deal with them.

    • Joyce, this is an interesting contemplation, and one that I believe needs an ongoing discussion so that we “get it” about toxic people and psychopaths, in general.

      I’ve attempted to teach my son, Bob, about sociopaths and toxic people – that we aren’t obligated to tolerate their nonsense. And, the reference goes to his brother, Mike, who was diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder Cluster B (the MOST dangerous of the borderlines), and that something ALWAYS seems to be dramatizing his life, and Bob somehow feels responsible for this. It’s a frigging GAME these types play – ****woe-is-me, feel sorry for me, give me what I want, then I will disappear for a while to cause you to wonder what YOU did to drive me away….****

      It’s terrible that the parents were blamed for their own murders……..I’ve seen it, myself, and I’ve actually blamed victims on my own. That was LONG before I ever knew about sociopaths and that blame came directly from the belief that “Bad People are always behind bars….” And, we were somehow expected to identify these “Bad People” long before we were victimized by them. Well, oh-boy-howdy. I learned, in very short order, that I actually LOVED “Bad People” with my heart of hearts and that I ENABLED them because I believed that enabling was what was required IF I loved someone who was bad. And…….if I loved someone who was bad, it was MY FAULT that they were bad! Somehow, I dropped the proverbial ball and let THEM down!!! LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I know the truths about “Bad People,’ now. I know that very, very few of them are actually behind bars and that an estimated 20% of the people walking around us in grocery stores, movie theaters, car lots, churches and synagogues, and every other place outside of prison walls are high in P Traits! They’re either full-blown psychopaths, or they’re at some level of sociopath to the point that they honestly and truthfully DO NOT CARE about the damages that they inflict and actually find some sort of satisfaction by inflicting damages.

      I have become very picky about the people that I allow into my life. And, I have begun to balance my views about certain things. Lying is one of them simply because I remember so many, many lies that I told, myself, to cover (literally take the blame) for things that both exspaths had done! So, I sort of understand that premise of lies, but I also give people an opportunity to clarify themselves if I catch them in a lie. If they acknowledge their errors and come out truthfully, it’s a step forward for them. If they pretend that their lies are absolute facts, then I’m simply done with them. But, I take their situations into consideration because I can clearly remember telling outright lies to “protect” both exspaths from ridicule. So, instead of THEM experiencing the consequences for their own actions, I took the blame and it was a terrible error on my own part, but I seriously didn’t know that I could refuse blame for them. L…..M……..A……….O!!!!! Can anyone even believe that?! LOLOLOL

      Character is in what can be clearly observed……….and, only over a period of time does character truly reveal itself. The second exspath was very, very cautious to keep his true character hidden until the nuptials were spoken. After I had entered into the legally binding contract of marriage with that man, THEN he began to let the light shine on some of his character defects, but only briefly – ONLY when he was tired or at a true loss did the light strike those terrible facets, and only briefly enough to cause me to question my own observations.

      Toxicity is what it is. And, it seems that there are more toxic people out there than there ever were……..either that, or I’m so intolerant that just about everyone can be perceived as toxic to me!

      Balance………I’m working towards that balance rather than live in a state of hyper-suspicion of everyone.

  5. Truthy, I think that we have become MUCH less tolerant of people with lack of character. as well as recognizing the RED FLAGS people without character display. At first it may just be a “small white lie” (and yes, we all tell them) but then a bigger one, and so on. Another one I see and am very aware of is the PITY PLOY….oh, woe is me, life is so unfair…coupled with lack of effort on the person’s part to help themselves.

    I know there are circumstances where an abused person has Stockholm syndrome, so I take that into account. One of the biggest problems with Stockholm syndrome is that unless you have a legal right to remove that person from their abuser, you cannot help them, they will jump right back in to defend their abuser. That used to be why cops hated domestic violence calls where a man was beating up on a woman because when they pulled him off her and went to handcuff him, she would attack them. It happened so frequently that it became a stereotype. (not all stereotypes are completely wrong)

    Of course at that time the neither public, psychologists or cops realized what stockholm syndrome really was, or that it even existed.

    Humans are very complex creatures, and our motivations, behaviors and thoughts are difficult to “read” but there ARE signs of character disturbance and I think it behooves us to honor them when we see them in someone, ANY one, even someone we love.

    Telling “white lies” is not necessarily a sign of lack of character, but if you look at that PLUS other things, you will usually be able to pick out someone without character versus someone who is ashamed to admit something and covers it up with a “white lie” But if this is a common thing, I really don’t need that person in my life either.

    Several years ago my “best friend” of 30 years and I are no longer speaking, and I know it is because she is married to a man I didn’t realize was abusive, and she feels TRAPPED financially and otherwise and this had been hidden from me for all those years (I really hadn’t spent much time around him during all that time as he traveled) but when he retired and quit traveling, I got to see plenty of him, MORE THAN PLENTY. I am sad for her, but I cannot help her, and the best way for ME is to back out of her life. I have to put my own needs ahead of trying vainly to save someone who while they are being at least emotionally abused, isn’t going to help herself. It isn’t my monkey and isn’t my circus no matter how sorry for her plight I am.

    I no longer have the “duty” to joust at windmills to save the world.

    • Joyce, absolutely spot-on!!! Yeah……..I’d like to be able to “save” others, but I can’t very well be of ANY help (moral, or otherwise) if I am unable to save myself, FIRST. After I’ve done a fair job of that, then I have to weigh how much I can stand, and that isn’t very much, these days!

      I certainly feel compassion for people who are suffering – my friend that wanted me to come live with her and help her to pay her mortgage, for instance. I could recognize many of my previous behaviors in hers, and I was bound and determined to NEVER go back to that world, again. Well, she isn’t that determined, yet – she is waiting for someone to save her. Someone to rescue her. And, there is NO SUCH THING as a “free rescue.” Oh, no, there isn’t. There is a payment required, and I am NOT getting into that cesspool with someone else right after I’ve pulled myself out of my own!

      “I no longer have the “duty” to joust at windmills to save the world.” What a wonderful statement, and I’ll hold that one close, if you don’t mind!

  6. Truthy, the thing about “enabling” someone is that the person who is enabled is NOT going to change…and the person doing the enabling is going to become resentful of “helping” that person who shows no change or even gratitude. It is a “game” that the two players play until someone opts out. It is the old victim-persecutor-rescuer game of dysfunctional “musical chairs” with both the enabler and the rescued victim playing all three roles in the dance.

    Even if it is something as simple as picking up your teenager’s clothes off the floor to wash them, when the kid knows to put them in the laundry. If you do it, you are enabling that teen’s sloppy habits of having someone else do for him/her what they should do for themselves. Instead if you just let them lay and DO NOT either pick them up or wash them, the NATURAL CONSEQUENCES of the bad behavior will hit the kid in the face, NOTHING TO WEAR TO SCHOOL. Of course the kid will be mad at you for not picking up and doing their laundry, but if you hang in there, the kid will eventually get the idea of natural consequences of not putting their clothes in the hamper.

    If “Junior” knows that you will bail him/her out of trouble at school when they misbehave then it won’t be long before you are expected to bail him out of jail. If Junior won’t work and you continue to feed him when he is an adult he won’t ever get a job much less a career.

    A church I went to once (and several of the churches in this little town) used to get people driving through with a car load of kids and no money for gas, and they would ask a church for gas money which usually was forthcoming, until the churches realized that these people were hitting ALL of the churches in town for cash, so they all made an agreement that they would pay for a tank of gas and some food, but they didn’t give the people any money, they arranged with a local place to feed them and a gas station to gas up their car, so they were given a “chit” to take to the gas station and one for the place to eat, and then that business would bill the church who had signed the chit. It quickly put a stop to the cons coming through town and hitting all the churches, yet if the people were in need they were fed and had gas so the churches quit enabling cons and yet helped those in need. I always thought that was a really smart idea.

    It is a fact that some people are doing all they can and are still “down” and need help and that others are “down” because they use their money to buy “toys” or “drugs” instead of feeding themselves or their children. And it is difficult to see which is which for a while.”

    While you can have compassion for everyone, it doesn’t mean that you must enable those people who have no intention of helping themselves. And above all we must help ourselves first, not in a selfish way, but in a way that doesn’t deplete the resources we need for ourselves, both monetarily and emotionally.

    • Joyce, spot-on. I honestly have no problem assisting someone who is actually helping themselves, but they just need extra help. I really don’t!

      But, talk about feeling resentful?! Indeed……..I felt very resentful towards people that would literally beg me for help, and then reject that help for outrageous excuses. It’s like dragging a horse to a watering trough……that, I can do. But, I can’t shove its head down and force it to suck up the water.

      It’s not a “sin” to look out for ourselves, first, and this was one of them many, many untruths that I was expected to embrace: always, everyone else came FIRST.

      So……..character is evidenced by the actions, even without words.

  7. People CAN change, but not everyone wants to change and without that desire, there IS NO CHANGE…

    When we try to force the horse to drink, we are not going to be very successful and like my granny used to say, “trying to teach a pig to sing, only annoys the pig and frustrates you”

    And, I also realize that ACCEPTING that we played a part in our own abuse by our enabling behaviors is difficult too. And without accepting that, we can’t change that in ourselves, it is only the things we acknowledge about ourselves that we can change.

    Accountability, as you pointed out in your recent blog article! Thanks for that BTW!

    • Joyce, again, you’re spot-on. There are people who can change, absolutely. What it boils down to (IMHO) is whether or not they want to acknowledge that they are IMPERFECT and NEED to change, for their sakes, and the sakes of others.

      I know that I engaged in a number of things that I am NOT proud of. But, I felt a sense of GUILT and took steps not to do them, again. What I found interesting with the very disordered people that I’ve met is that they don’t feel ANYTHING when they do something that is either morally, ethically, or legally outrageous. They simply don’t care, and this is something that I could not process for 51 years of my life.

      How could someone important to me NOT CARE? I cared about them, so they “should” have cared about me in the same manner, right? I mean……..that’s what I was TAUGHT, for crying out loud! The “real” people that didn’t care were behind bars!! Everyday people……..well………they were just “misunderstood,” or some other excuse.

      Today, I pay attention to whether or not the words fit the actions. I’ve also noticed something about this effort with regard to myself: this decision requires time and attention! Before, I simply IGNORED whatever red flags were waving, and THEN had the nerve to feel betrayed when the individual actually showed the WHOLE broadcloth that I’d only seen little glimpses of. I had to “own” the fact that I had been lazy – for lack of a better word – in taking control of MY own choices, decisions, and actions.

      I’m not suggesting that I somehow deserved to be betrayed, by a long shot. Nobody really deserves that. But, what I am trying to say is that it “felt” easier for me to pretend UNTIL whatever truth was completely exposed and no further denial would result in anything positive or helpful for anyone. It SEEMED easier to just pretend until the shiat hit the proverbial fan. But, in retrospect, that only caused the consequences to “feel” that much more painful – I had been betrayed, but I had had a hand in facilitating that betrayal, making the bite far more painful than it needed to be.

      So, now…………back to the subject matter of assessing character………..I don’t give in to the desire to pretend, anymore. If one day passes with someone and I find that I’m pretending that their behaviors aren’t hurtful or manipulative, then it’s time for me to say, “I don’t NEED this type of person in my life.” And, I realize that people simply aren’t perfect, but there is a PATTERN to people’s behaviors that I’ve finally come to recognize as either toxic to me, or full-blown psychopathic.

      Remember the gal that wanted me to move into her home with Bob? Well, she had a distinct pattern of behaviors, and it took me about 2 years to actually recognize it AS a rote pattern. She would be so high up in the stratosphere that she was hyper-exuberant, hyper-caring, hyper-EVERTHING-positive, and then she’d begin that free-fall through suspicion, anxiety, attempts to “fix” things, then ON to the stage of anger and accusations, and then finally land in the land of utter despair. At the bottom of the pits of despair, she would reach out in the most pitiful manner (literally, it was PITIFUL to experience this), and beg (again, literally) whomever was nearby to pull her up and out of those pits. And, if they cared about her, they would do it because they had experienced the hyper-loving person and couldn’t bear to see her talking about “not waking up.” THEN…………..the whole thing would start all over again. Oh, the person that had helped her out of that cesspool was WONDERFUL – THE BEST at helping her, etc………..

      So, it takes a little time to observe behaviors and determine whether they’re toxic, or not. But……….what takes far, far longer is shedding the notion that I am obligated to put up with bad behaviors. THAT is what has taken me longer to feel comfortable with than anything else. 😉

  8. Truthy, it is impossible to diagnose a person’s mental illnesses or personality disorders via the net, but it sounds to me like that woman might be bi-polar. The highs and lows and the hints about suicide sound very much like bi polar and/or borderline personality disorder, or BOTH. When there are a multitude of mental problems it is difficult to sort out which is which.

    One of my son’s school friends is diagnosed as both BPD and Bi-polar and her life is chaotic. In fact, her whole family with the exception of her brother who was adopted are all pretty much like her. Yet, they are all highly educated and very smart and successful in the business world and professions. She was on a manic high a few months back and decided she wanted to marry my adopted son and really made a push to do so. Fortunately, my son, though he likes this gal, realized that he would be involved in a classic DRAMA-RAMA and informed her there would be no relationship, just a friendship. (and that at arm’s length) She isn’t mean, but her life is filled with drama and highs and lows and there is always some emotional crisis. My son doesn’t want any of that. (Thank you, Jesus!)

    Learning to recognize people whose lives are continual crisis or drama is important in keeping us safe from a life filled with that!

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