“You should know; you’re a psychologist.”
Sometimes I don’t know. Sometimes I, too, am puzzled as to why people do the things they do.
I’ve been trying to make sense of why, despite my commitment to honesty, I remained in relationships with people who consistently lied to me. And I didn’t even like them very much. I have this tendency to try to make relationships work at all costs, even when I don’t like the person. Even when they do things that are inconsistent with my values, like lying. It’s maddening.
One of my exes told me up front that he was a liar. Still, my first instinct was to believe him. It’s too much work not to trust people, I think. But sometimes it was more costly to make myself believe that he was being honest. It’s hard not to beat myself up for trusting a self-proclaimed liar. Why would anyone do such a crazy thing?
My best guess is that I stayed with these guys because I wanted to believe in the version of themselves that they were selling. It’s who they wanted to be, and who I wanted them to be. I wanted to help them get there, even. You can do it! I have faith in you!
Plus, I knew they were lying because they were ashamed of who they really were. I was trying to do the whole unconditional positive regard thing that therapists do. Because that is the most healing gift that we can give to others. It works well in therapy, but not so much in romantic relationships. I realize now that there is a limit to how much you can allow someone to hurt you in order to prove to them that they are lovable.
I understand what it’s like to fear that people won’t love you or respect you if they knew what you’re really like. That is the purpose of this blog, after all. To challenge myself to show the world what I’m really like. And while I haven’t outright lied about who I am, I haven’t always shared the things that I’m ashamed of. Not even to my family–the people who do love me unconditionally.
So I guess we can all challenge ourselves to be more honest. Some people have further to go than others, but as long as we’re making the effort, that’s what counts, isn’t it? Anyway, it makes me feel better about myself to frame my tolerance of dishonesty in this way, so that’s what I’m going with.
But I’m still going to be more selective about who I choose to be with from now on.
I guess you and I both have a strong messianic complex, believing in the best in people we love and maybe needing to save them? I guess as long as you know your boundaries, then it's okay. I'd rather believe in the good in people than always be on the defensive, guarding everything, doubting. You're right. That's so exhausting. Thanks for another insightful post, Christy!
Thanks, Joy! That impulse to save the world is something else. Haven't quite managed to shake it, but I guess the world needs some people who are crazy enough to try.