Throughout my journey of recovery from Narcissistic Abuse, I have seen many articles outlining the traits most common in NPD. These traits are then reworked to be a red flag for avoiding someone with a personality disorder. Now, this side of walking around with a notepad, jotting down character traits and red flags of every person we come into contact with, there must be an easier way.
The Only Red Flag worth mentioning!
Whether you’re dealing with a personality disorder or your average asshat, there is one thing that everyone must do to avoid the emotional abuse and trauma that comes with relationships, and dealing with people in general: ignore the nice words!
My mother would tell me how much of a disappointment I was, that I was stupid, ugly, I ruined her life, etc. Then she would turn around 20 minutes later and tell me the complete opposite. This always confused me; which one was the truth? Throughout my adult years, I have noticed that compliments are easy to lie about. “You’re hair looks amazing!” when really they think you have destroyed your head and should wear a hat until it grows out or fades. People tell “white lie” compliments all the time! It’s easy, and we justify it by saying it makes the other person feel better. But I want you to stop right here and actually think: have you ever seen someone lie to hurt another person? Like, a true lie? No. We either hear projections or true feelings finally let out because they just don’t give a flip!
Now I know that most of you are thinking back at the last argument you had with your partner and the “I hate your cooking!” or “I can’t stand your family!” lines are playing in your head. Every couple has these moments. And I hate to burst your bubble, but those feelings are true (or they could be projections, but you need to sit down and figure that one out on your own). Yes, they could have been said nicer. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are real and deserve the same acknowledgement as your other feelings.
Here is where the red flags come in. You have your argument, “mean” truths are thrown everywhere, and now you’ve both calmed down. When you come back to address these issues, they will “lie” to you. They will tell you all of the nice things about you, how much they love you, blah, blah, blah! They will completely discard the other statements, and try to distract you with compliments. Red Flag!!!
You might actually be a terrible cook, and you have heard nothing but “white lies” to avoid hurt feelings. If someone truly cared about you, they would tell you the truth regardless of hurting your feelings. Emotional abusers, like NPDs and sociopaths, will try to drag you down while simultaneously confusing you. They want your perceptions of yourself and reality completely distorted, making it easier on them to manipulate you.
So why do I tell you to ignore the nice words? Because they are a distraction! They are there to catch you off guard and make you forget the true feelings of your abuser (or their projections). But what if you’re dealing with a normal person and they really care for you? They will show you. A real partner will never disrespect you, or do things intentionally to hurt you. They may make a mistake or say something in a not-so-nice way. But you will never question they’re true love for you. They will tackle issues and problems for the greater good of your relationship. They won’t need to be right, they will help.
Your partner will use nice words to accentuate their actions rather than letting them be the bread and butter of your entire relationship. Example: a man that says he really wants to spend time with you, but you end up sitting in his room watching him play video games. Or, he tells you that you look beautiful, but he’s not looking at you. If he meant the nice words, you would see it rather than just hear it.
Do not focus on only the nice things said about you. If you’re as amazing as they are telling you, you won’t need to hear them. You will see in their patterns how they feel about you.
If a partner says something mean about you to hurt you, listen. Do not absorb it as absolute truth, but take in what its saying about them as a person. Then pay attention to the back peddling. Don’t let them ignore the issue completely. If they care, you will solve the problem together.