When a Relationship Begins with Lies

Dear Liz,

I recently (in the past month and a half) started a “relationship” with a boy older than me. We weren’t official, but we were intimate and he acted like he cared about me. Today I found out he had lied to me about so much. From having a girlfriend, kids, to his race. I told his girlfriend and she was so grateful for me being honest with her. I messaged him after to ask him some questions I had. He’s talking about how he feels about himself and I can’t help but care. Should I just drop him and run because of all the lies? Or should I try and be friends? It hurts me to not try and help someone who is in pain.

Dear Friend,

Because you were so specific with your question (should I just drop him and run…) I will be direct:

Yes.  I do think you should drop him.

The person you describe in your question manipulated you, deceived you, deceived his current girlfriend, denied his children, and lied about his race (which I can’t make heads or tails of—why would anyone lie about their identity?).  He essentially did everything necessary to facilitate his cheating on one woman and his using of another, and then, after getting caught, positioned himself as a victim and tapped into your compassionate heart.

There are a number of “victims” in this story, but he is not one of them, not in this present scenario.  While I cannot say with certainty that he is a narcissist, I can say with confidence that he has certainly behaved like one.  It is concerning to me that he positioned himself as the one in need of care after hurting you, his girlfriend, his children.  Narcissistic people function to remain the center of attention, and they will manipulate the very circumstances they create in order to hold that position—they are seldom, if ever, genuinely remorseful.

But who he is comes second to my concern about you.  Yes, any one of us can get tangled up with the wrong guy, but your hesitation about dumping him raises a red flag for me.  I have a few questions for you:

  1. Do you have a pattern of choosing boyfriends similar to this guy (unavailable and/or deceptive and/or not all that thoughtful of you)?
  2. Do you find yourself with guys who hurt you, but then before you know it, you are comforting them?
  3. Do you find reasons to stick with someone who treats you poorly? What are those reasons?
  4. Do you only feel drawn to guys like this one, and the kind, honest, reliable guys get placed in “friend” category?

Patterns are very important to take note of, because our relationship patterns will actually reveal the deeply held beliefs we hold about our own self.  If deep, deep, down, far from our conscious thoughts, we believe we are unlovable, not worth protecting, not worth all that much, we will “invite in” partners who fail to treat us with love and respect.

This guy failed to treat you with love and respect.

Here’s what I’d love for you to do:

Make a list of what you want in a boyfriend/partner, and really press yourself—don’t put the pen down once you’ve stated the obvious.  Carefully consider those traits you genuinely desire in a partner, and reflect on why those traits matter to you.  Then, when that work is done, make a list of any traits/behaviors that are deal breakers for you, and by deal breaker, I mean the stuff that makes you walk away with no hesitancy.  Next:  compare the guy you were just with to your list.  How does he measure up?  Now do the same for any other guy you’ve been involved with?  Do you see any patterns?

I invite you to trust this exercise at least as much as you trust your heart.

And another thought about who we tend to “fall for” and invite into our life…

Children who have parents who are kind and available and sober, parents who are responsible and can put their kids before themselves, send children into the world who intuitively know they deserve to be treated well, and they usually choose lovely partners. But many are not so fortunate, and if we find ourselves in that “less than fortunate” category, then we need to be deliberate in our work to recover our self-worth, so that we can make self-respecting choices.

You may appreciate reading a column I posted in October 2015, Struggling to Heal After an Abusive Relationship.   You may also benefit from clicking on this link:  Your Inner Gingerbread Person.  Freedom from suffering can be instantaneous once we intuit our authentic nature.

I also recommend the following books:

  1. You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay
  2. All About Love, by bell hooks

And just a few more thoughts:

You wrote, “It hurts me to not try and help someone who is in pain.”  Sometimes, when we carry lots of our own pain, it is easier to project that pain onto others and nurture someone else, rather than face our own pain.  Consider that the care you long to give him, is the very care you need for yourself.

You also wrote “he acted like he cared about me…”  I’d like to invite you to make a list of what caring actions look like:  what does it look like when someone genuinely cares for another person?  Then, compare your list with this guy’s actions—are they in sync?

And finally, you wrote, “we weren’t official, but we were intimate….” By intimacy, I assume you mean sexual intimacy.  Just remember, genuine intimacy always begins with the truth—a willingness to let someone see-in to your soul.  If someone starts out lying, then intimacy is not what they’re after.

Love, Liz

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