Insidious Lies

“The most insidious lie is the one you want to hear.” –Lois McMaster Bujold, Barrayar

No fricken kidding.

Over the past year, I’ve been blogging about serious emotional and relationship issues, and in doing so, I’ve met dozens of very interesting people. All of these people have things in common: fear, insecurity, confusion, and more fear. And then even more fear.

Unfortunately, as I’ve learned the hard way this past year, predators slither across this earth preying on good people’s fear, insecurity, and confusion. They are often highly skilled manipulators and can hone in on exactly what their prey needs to hear the most. Lies and deception are the only language they speak, but they are such well-crafted and lovingly delivered lies, the person is blinded by charm.

Many predators know they are predators, others don’t. I’ve actually spoken with a few men who are truly good men now, but they at one time were indeed predators. In trying to understand how some people can look into the eyes of another person and lie, telling him/her the very thing s/he needs to hear, I learned that that ability comes from a deep self-hatred. A hatred so deep, in fact, they often cannot look at themselves in the mirror without feeling ill. This saddens me, as I’m no stranger to self-loathing, but when that inner darkness is used to hurt another person, my empathy ends.

One former predator told me how he could look into the eyes of a woman and tell her exactly what she needed to hear, and he would mean every word of it in that moment, but the next morning, he could walk away and never look back. Never feel a thing. No remorse. No guilt. No loss. No nothing.

Another former predator told me of a social experiment he once did. He is deeply ashamed of the experiment now or even calling it that, but he said at the time, he wanted to see just how easy it would be to get exactly what he wanted with as little effort as possible. He zeroed in on his target, and he said it was too easy. You just had to “pick the right ones.” When asking how he knew who was the “right one,” he said, “a girl who was vulnerable and had low self-esteem.” After a few pretty words and meaningful looks, he got his blow job. He never spoke to her again. Disgusted, I asked him how he could do that to another human being, and he said, “I hurt so bad inside that I didn’t care about anything or anyone else.”

Appalling, really.

But far too common. Why is it so easy?

Because these predators tell the most insidious of lies: the one their prey needs to hear the most.

“I’ve never met anyone like you.”

“I feel like I can really open up to you.”

“I’ve never felt like this before.”

“You’re beautiful.”

“I could really fall for you.”

“I won’t hurt you.”

Who wouldn’t want to hear these things? And, of course, the person behind the words might very well be sincere.

How can you tell? Actions and time.

Words + Supporting Action + Reliability Over Time = TRUST.

I use these two examples of former predators to show that with some self-awareness, one can wake up to their predatory behavior and make different decisions. That is, of course, if they are truly good people who are just drowning in pain. There are other predators who are monsters through and through. They don’t care about themselves (or they’re just intensely selfish, or worse, psychopaths incapable of empathy or any real human emotion), and they certainly don’t care that their behavior hurts other people. They sharpen their skills as they move from one victim to the next. I’ve talked with a therapist who counsels predators, and some of his clients have shown him with pride exactly what they do. These predators (especially the male ones) know to trigger a woman’s nurturing nature, and they invoke sympathy. Think of the classic cliche “My wife just doesn’t understand me,” or “I haven’t felt loved in years,” or variations thereof. They excel at mimicking human emotion, often saying these things with tears in their eyes. One of the therapist’s clients demonstrated how he could bring up tears by keeping a tack in his shoe.

So, yes, many predators know exactly what they are doing. They toy with their prey as a cat torments a mouse. But the kill is not so quick. Sometimes weeks or months go by, until the prey is quite deeply in love, and that’s when they go in for the kill.

Their insidious lies destroy another heart, and they smile inside.

The only defense good people have against these predators is awareness of the prevalence, their technique, a healthy dose of cynicism, and time. A predator will show his true face in a few weeks, or at the most, months.

Take your time.

Protect yourself.

~ by omgrey on November 2, 2011.

17 Responses to “Insidious Lies”

  1. Very true. And so many of us have to live down the reputations of the predators

    • Unfortunately that is true. There are good wo/men out there, and they are usually good enough to understand that others have been deeply wounded by predators and liars, and they take the extra care and patience to help them work through it.

  2. What an absolutely powerful post, Olivia. As always, you have hit the nail right on the head when describing a predator’s nature and lack of apathy.

    I also find that deep seeded in a predator’s motives is their own insecurity and need for absolute control over those in their life. When they cannot have that control with their 1:1 relationships they find the leap into online predation all to easy and convenient.

    • Online and IRL predation. They certainly lack empathy, although their apathy seems to be limitless at times. Thank you for your comment, as always, my dear. xo

  3. I marvel at how our experiences are so similar at times. This weekend I was the liar and it felt horrible. I did not do it to hurt, but to make everyone happy. The results were terrible. Relearning lessons of truth and authenticity can last a life time. Love that you speak your truth! Xox

    • Thank you!

      Unfortunately when we lie to save feelings, it usually ends up hurting even more than the truth would’ve. Nothing hurts like deception.

  4. This is my first visit to your blog, and I am pleased to discover that in addition to your talented writing skills, you seem to have a good head on your shoulders.

    In regard to the issue of predatory behaviour, I’d like to express that many people may not realize that what they’re doing *is* predatory and hurtful; they may simply believe that their behaviour is normal, that that’s how everyone behaves. In our increasingly-secularized and modern materialistic society, an often-unspoken undercurrent seems to exist which promotes people to adopt selfishness as an ideal — get money however you can, buy shiny things, look upon wealth with hungry eyes while snubbing those with less than you, etc, etc.. This selfish attitude in regards to the material world often translates directly to social interaction, and the resulting predatory behaviour isn’t limited exclusively to romantic relationships, but to all social interactions.

    This problem is often perpetuated unwillingly; we are, after all, largely creatures of habit, and if the only success we’ve ever known has come at the expense others, it is simple enough to look the other way while we hurt the ones we claim to love.

    Moreover, the reverse side of predation is victimhood, and the psychological response is often quite similar: the victim comes to believe that being victimized is the norm, and when they look out at the world through such bleak and tear-stained eyes, and see others who appear to be happy, they may question their own self-worth as someone who simply cannot deal with the assumed pain which is presumed to be universal. Then, when and if a virtuous person comes along, they can only respond with so much venom as to drive that good away, thus reaffirming their place as an eternal victim.

    It is often a sad state of affairs, on both sides of the predator-victim complex, and there is frequently no recourse suitable to the situation. I wish there were more actions I could take to help bring people into the light, but I think that, in the end, no one can be helped who does not already come forth, of their own volition, with a readiness to change.

    Best wishes, and thank you for your thought-provoking blog!

    • I agree with you on both sides. There are predators who do not know they’re exhibiting predatory behavior, largely because they have no interest in self-examination, same for the perpetual victim mentality. Hopefully by writing about it and talking about it, we can raise awareness on such behavior and help those exhibiting such behaviors to realize it themselves (or have friends point it out for them). Several men have read my No Means No post, as well as the one on Sexual & Emotional Predators, and they have examined themselves to see if they were ever “that guy.” Many of them were horrified to discover they had been at one time in their lives, and there were also some who have become aware of current behavior as well.

      Awareness…and self-awareness…is the beginning of change.

      • “…wake up to their predatory behavior and make different decisions. That is, of course, if they are truly good people who are just drowning in pain” That was my experience. I experienced trying to completely control someone as feeling utterly vulnerable and out of control. Didn’t feel like a choice, I couldn’t imagine breaking free of the behaviour. The predator was the one with the low self-esteem (and a fantasy of the other as superhuman)..

      • When one is in that sort of head-space, it certainly doesn’t feel like there is a choice there, no doubt. I totally get that. The challenge for us is to realize there is always a choice, but we often either don’t see it or just plain don’t like the choices before us. But I get into those states where it also feels like I don’t have a choice to break out of a certain mind pattern or behavior, so I understand completely. This is where in DBT training they talk about the “wise mind,” which is the place where the emotional mind and the rational mind overlap. I’m learning to find that place and listen to it more.

        How do you feel that you were exhibiting predatory behavior in your vulnerable state?

      • The relationship in question started as an ethical, responsible secondary relationship – I even bought her a copy of “Opening Up”. We adored each other, and the attraction for me was her strength and independence, and the completely frank communication.

        It ended up as the complete opposite. Love and respect had become need and fear of loss. Honesty became lies, manipulation, ignored boundaries. There was stuff going on in my life that was too painful (or anxiety-inducing maybe) and the NRE just became complete romantic infatuation and dependency.

        There was no shift to callousness. Nothing was more important to me than her – but now because of how she made me feel, not because of her worth. My values and world view genuinely changed – I really saw this relationship as meant to be, and that justified *any* behaviour to avoid it ending. I walked away from my (informed, consenting, supportive) primary partner, and would have sacrificed everything I value – friendships, business I’d built, to just win and keep the affection of someone I’d known for a few weeks.

        So, predatory in that I prolonged (rather than started) a sexual (and emotional) relationship through deceit, acting entirely to affect an outcome rather than be authentic. While she was the most important thing in my world, I didn’t have her interests at heart. She became a way to prop up my psyche – the NRE let me escape intolerable anxiety. But still, another person ceased to have intrinsic value for me and became only how they could make me feel. I wasn’t unfeeling, quite the opposite.

        There may be a moral difference between sacrificing someone else’s interests to stop your pain, and to give yourself pleasure, but it’s a fine one.

        But enough fear (and reasonable in the circumstances – really bad medical news) and low self-esteem, and despite knowing all the theory and espousing non-possessive love, none of that ethical outlook made any difference. Sobering to realise it doesn’t necessarily take much to show us a side of ourselves we wouldn’t recognise.

      • I’m confused. Lies, manipulation, and ignored boundaries on your part or on hers? It sounds like it was on your part. Why did you feel the necessity to turn to deceit to keep her just after a few weeks? I do understand anxiety-induced infatuation and dependency, and boy do I understand intolerable anxiety, looking for any way to escape it. Although the willingness to walk away from so much just to keep her sounds like something else was going on. Even at the height of my attachment, where I would’ve given up almost anything in my life for him, my primary partner was never one of them.

        Feel free to write to me privately if you’d like to delve into this more.

        Sometimes we find out things about ourselves that are not pleasant, indeed. Sometimes it’s downright shameful when we’re faced with who we truly are, or at least partly are…but you are a remarkable man just because you recognize it and acknowledge it, rather than pretend you didn’t see it. Rather than hide from it, which is what most people do. It shows incredible strength and integrity.

        Email me.

      • Thanks for the invite – email sent. Be interested in your thoughts – and if it strays into oversharing, no offence intended (but please give me that feedback) 🙂

      • Not at all! Just busy evening. I’ll reply today. xo

  5. =)

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