Great Expectations and Narcissists

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Author, Attorney, Podcaster, Media Commentator, Motivational Speaker, and Creator of the World's Most Successful Breakup Program. 

  • Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You (Hachette Book Group 2009)
  • Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup (Hachette Book Group 2015)
  • Getting Past Your Past Workbook: The Definitive Workbook to Emotional Healing, Health and Happiness (La Bella Vita Publishing 2012)
  • GPYP Power! Affirmations (La Bella Vita Publishing 2019) 

 When someone shows you who they are, believe them. ~ Maya Angelo

Some of you may remember this post from the Mail. We Get Mail series. Last year I received a note from someone who was coming out of a 3 year relationship. Before that relationship they had been friends. During that friendship she saw him date other women and be dishonest and commitmentphobic with them. So when they dated, she was SURPRISED by his dishonesty and commitmentphobia. Why?

The cycle of self-deception begins when someone says “I’m a cheater and a liar.” and we say, “But not with me, right?” Like MAGIC, they changed. They didn’t have any huge revelation. They didn’t go to therapy. They didn’t go to Cheaters Anonymous. They didn’t suddenly find religion and decide to reform. Nothing happened. And if nothing changes, nothing changes. But you, for some insane reason, with no basis in fact, believe that they will be true to you. There is just one response to that…hahahahaha…to infinity and beyond. Ahem. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

A person says “I am dishonest.” Expectation SET. A person says in his or her actions “I am dishonest, evasive and non-committal.” why does part of you swoon? WHY? What part is that? What struggle are you trying to overcome from your past when you see the dishonesty and the inability to commit and still say: I want that. It’s not because you’re a dope. It’s not because you think “I DO want someone who is a liar.” It’s because you have unresolved stuff from the past going on.

The poster from last year said to me, “oh he was charming and fun and attractive and social!” Okay. There are many people who are charming, fun, attractive and social that don’t have “oh, and by the way cheating and lying” to go along with it. In fact, being a cheater and liar makes one fatally unattractive — or SHOULD — unless you’re looking for and attracted to cheating and lying. Usually the lying liars and the cheating cheaters will come back with promises of fidelity and truth and loyalty and a whole bunch of other fairy tale endings. Why believe this? Why believe this from someone who has shown NO tendency toward truth and fidelity and hasn’t done a single thing to change?

I’ve even heard people say, “Well I’m a nice person…” As I’ve said a whole bunch of times…that sentence is translation for “Well, I’m a fool…” There is a HUGE difference between being nice and being a fool and putting up with lying liars doesn’t make you nice. It makes you an idiot. Giving and giving to someone who doesn’t give back (or pay you back) doesn’t make you generous. It makes you a fool. Knowing a person’s unfaithful past and expecting different behavior from them doesn’t make you a victim, it makes you a volunteer. Smarten up. After the cheating cheater lying liar is walking out the door, we say “I WAS GOING TO MARRY YOU! We were going to be together A LONG TIME!”  Why did you want to be together a long time with a cheater and a liar? What’s in it for you? MUCH more of the same. Why get married to that? Too many people have to deal with it with no warning…here you had all the warning and wanted it anyway. WHY?

Great Chemistry, Great Expectations and Why It’s All Craptastic Nonsense You Make Up To Rationalize This Bananahead’s Bonehead Existence In Your Life

The “great chemistry” is, as I’ve often said, usually our dysfunction saying hello to someone else’s dysfunction. Without honesty and trust, “great chemistry” is a bunch of hormonal blathering. Means nothing. It’s the “rush” of the possibility of winning over the struggles of our past. It’s the “rush” of roping in someone who doesn’t want to be roped. It’s the idea of winning against all those other suitors who are vyying for his attention. Other fools.  You are trying to “win” the guy who has 14 baby mamas and still sleeps with a number of them but doesn’t pay child support?  Okay, then, knock yourself out.

The world is full of fools. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a bunch of people trying to be the one person a cheater walks off into the sunset with. Guys punch each other out. Women key cars. Fools. One and all. In dysfunctional relationships “great chemistry” is there because it’s so unstable…like a roller coaster ride….gives us great adrenaline while being whipped around turns and plunged down hills…even as things are calm and we’re clacking up a nice incline enjoying the view our heart is pounding because we know we’re going to be dropped like a stone as soon as we get to the top where the view is the best. Some people like roller coaster rides. They’re addicted to them…but you can’t live on the roller coaster. Eventually you get so sick that none of it is fun anymore. Now, back to our normally scheduled head scratching:

I Will Totally Not Stand The Thing I’ve Totally Been Standing For

Our erstwhile reader writes: I tried talking to him about the cheating, telling him I wouldn’t stand for it and we obviously had different idea of relationships. I got really angry with him and yelled (at which point he wanted to leave and stop talking to me). He apologized, yes, but I didn’t feel he had compassion in the situation; he seemed more sorry that he was a jerk and less sorry about what his actions had done to my self-esteem. It always nagged at me that I would never have known had I not caught him. Not only that — he told me the ex hadn’t realized they were broken up! But you DID stand for it. Why should he have compassion? He’s not capable of it. He’s a NARCISSIST. They don’t CARE about YOU.

Whose Problem Is This Anyway?

What did his actions do to your self-esteem? Nothing. You knew what he was all along and chose him anyway. You are responsible for your own self-esteem and your own bad choices. If you choose to be with a cheating liar, your self-esteem is going to plunge. But only YOU are responsible for that. YOU didn’t care about your self-esteem so why should he? When you have good self-esteem it doesn’t matter what others do. You nurture and care for yourself. And you start by picking appropriate people.  Here’s a hint: lying, cheating, commitmentphobic narcissists are not appropriate.  A newsflash, I’m sure. Sorry to be the one to break it to you. Many people don’t get into relationships and KNOW the person is a liar and a cheater. You had ADVANCE WARNING. You had a HEADS UP and you ignored it or you thought “Not with me!” How did that work out for you? All that advance notice…those neon red flags…the flashing blinking lights saying, “KEEP OUT!” “Go AWAY!” “RETREAT!” “RUN!” and you just plowed straight ahead.  Like the silly people in horror movies.  When the mean, scary voice says “GET OUT!” you should not take it as cue to GO IN.

Many people who wind up with cheating liars or lying cheaters (tomato-tomahto) do so without knowing it in the beginning. You had so much advance warning….and chose to ignore it all. What more do you want? Do you know how many people would have LOVED that information and turned tail and run to avoid a broken heart? Not you…you think, “YAY! I got me a cheating liar! Awesome!” And you want HIM to care about you??? YOU don’t care about you. If you DID, you would not be with HIM. Cheating lying narcissists don’t CARE about cheating and lying. Their own self-worth is not high enough to give a damn that they are unfaithful bananaheads.

Why would they care about someone else’s self-esteem?

They don’t and they won’t and they can’t. Even if a person didn’t lie and cheat, when someone wants out they want out. They don’t want to stand around feeling sorry for your self-esteem. They just want to GO and with the least baggage possible. They aren’t going to give a rat’s patootie about your self-esteem. The question is why go to the dry well for water? Why try to get blood from a turnip? Even if he “cared” about your self-esteem or even acted like he did, so what? Who cares? What would this “response” do for you? How would it change things? Who cares what level of compassion a lying cheater has? Would him feeling bad make you feel better? Why? That and 22.50 would get you a Starbucks coffee. It’s worth nothing.

Repeat after me: NOTHING.

He would try to reassure me his feelings were for ME, but he couldn’t easily talk about how he felt and after he cheated and lied and apparently kept his old relationship going — well, I couldn’t feel secure with him.

Well of course you couldn’t feel secure with him. He’s a narcissistic cheater and a liar.

To me, it seemed he didn’t know what he wanted. He would say he wanted me and that was why he was with me. But he wouldn’t make eye contact. I was feeling insecure in the relationships because of our start. I felt anxiety when I found out his ex moved to the city in which we lived. She wanted to reconcile and I didn’t know if he would cheat on me again… No he wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. Everyone else be damned. I do have abandonment issues. I would try to tell him that, and how his actions had really tripped a painful part of my past. I would cry and get angry and he would walk away. He got sick of talking about all the heavy issues. He refused to talk to me about any of it anymore. Again…dry well for water.

He is INCAPABLE of dealing with this. Furthermore, these are your issues. If you don’t want to be abandoned, stop choosing people who will abandon you. Work on yourself. Raise your self-esteem. You were in a power struggle with him to MAKE HIM STAY AND TALK ABOUT BEING MEAN TO YOU. You were in a power struggle with him to extract compassion and caring when there was none. What struggle is this for you????

Sometimes things were fine and fun. I went on vacation with his family. I got along with his friends. We had our routines. Other times he was distant and cold. He kept very busy, and I wasn’t able to see him often. I would ask if we could make more time for one another, and he told me flat-out he didn’t want to give up any of his activities (things that kept him busy until 10 o’clock on weeknights, and from early morning to late afternoon on weekends). He grew defensive if I asked if he could rearrange his schedule so we could spend more time together. The time we DID spend together was often in groups, his friends or his family. We spent little alone time together. Sometimes he seemed to want to, other times he seemed very set in his ways. I tried to get us to go away for a weekend for months — he said we could go only after one of his basketball leagues ended. The league ended and we still didn’t go. I planned a trip we could take that would include activities he liked, and yet he still couldn’t give me a firm answer.

He kept you off your pins…and you allowed it. What are you getting from all this unsettledness? And settling for the unsettledness?

He didn’t want to talk about a future after almost two years of dating — I didn’t know if he ever saw himself getting married and wanted to know what he pictured for himself in the future. He once told me he thought he would die young. I thought the Jim Morrison routine was a bit juvenile.

Everything about him was juvenile.

I tried very hard to maintain my own interests, but I wasn’t always good at it. I saw friends, etc. But I felt I wasn’t getting the intimacy from him that would have allowed me to feel secure enough in our relationship to comfortable.

Definitely a problem. You must have your life. You can’t get intimacy and security from someone who doesn’t have it to give.

We talked every day, but if we fought about something he wouldn’t want to talk to me or reconcile. He told me he “fought to win” and that relationships should be “all about fun.” He said our arguments (which I thought were simply conversations about regular relationship issues) sapped him of energy.

I’m sure they did.

I wanted more than just fun. I wanted a partner. “You don’t want a boyfriend,” he once scoffed at me. “You want a HUSBAND.” Other times he was sweet and told me he adored me.

Would you have stayed if he didn’t throw you a crumb once in a while? This was to keep you in the game.

The whole thing was exhausting, but I wanted it to work. WHY?????:?

Well we eventually broke up one night after he’d had a lot to drink and was ignoring me at a party at his friend’s home. The week before, I’d been upset about the sudden death of an acquaintance and become emotional. I’d wanted to see my ex but he had better things to do. That night I called him a few times but he didn’t pick up. When I told him he wasn’t there for me, he sarcastically told me he’d be sure to keep his phone on her person at all times. He told me I was needy and pathetic.

Why should he be there for you? And his response was to torture you and call your names. Nice guy. True colors splashed all over the sidewalk.

So we split. It had been a very intense relationship and I still had feelings for him. He wouldn’t talk to me after the break-up except to send back all the birthday cards and loves letters I’d ever sent him. He told me I was passive-aggressive and manipulative. He told me I left him. He told me I could never admit how much he had loved me (when in fact he got angry when I tried to tell him I needed to hear how he felt a bit more). We talked once on the phone after we broke up and he hung up on me. We met up once and he ended up walking away from me.

Why do you keep going to him with a mallet in your hand and saying, “Here please hit me with this.” ??

I admit there were times I was emotional. I never fully got over him cheating, and I felt like I wasn’t getting enough out of the relationship. You should have left when he cheated. However, he found a new (long-distance) girlfriend a few months after our break-up. I thought so many of our relationship problems were because of him, yet he’s was able to enter into a new relationship quickly and I still feel unsettled by what happened between us. I’ve gone one dates and men have expressed interested, but I haven’t wanted anything. I feel to shaken up by my whole experience with my ex. I got into therapy, traveled, journaled, wrote, reinvested in my friendships, read, and spent time with me. But I know I do want love eventually.

Water seeks its own levels. Your problems were not all about him.

Is it normal to carry doubts through a relationship when someone cheats early on and doesn’t seem to know what he wants? Why would he tell me I dumped him, left him heartbroken, abandoned him but then not return my calls or talk about reconciliation, all the while engaging in something with another woman? Why wouldn’t he just be honest? If someone enters into long-distance relationships (half a country apart), does it suggest issues with commitment and intimacy? How can I move past this once and for all, instead of recycling and feeling sad and wondering why he could move on so easily when I am still hurting?

You’re asking why a lying cheater can’t be honest? Because he can’t be. Unless you, like my ex-husbands second wife, put a tracking device on the man. He can move on easily because he doesn’t care. He didn’t care when he was with you, he doesn’t care now. He’s said and done some gawd awful things and has played you and played you and played you. Why does/did he do anything? WHO CARES? It is NOT important. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. First take the focus off him and put it on you. The question is WHY did you put up with it? You have to do your journaling, your affirmations and your Relationship and Life Inventory. Somewhere deep inside you is a struggle with someone ELSE (father/mother/caretaker/old boyfriend) that you are trying to win. In addition, there are huge self-esteem issues.

Once a person cheats: BUH BYE. Period. end of story. If you think you can change it/cure it, good luck with that. Sometimes people are astounded that their partner cheated, they did not have the data available beforehand and it comes as a shock. But this guy acted in accordance with who he was from the beginning. Why the shock? Why the disbelief that he acted completely in concert with who he showed you he was in the beginning? This is not about him. It’s about you…and it’s about how you need to fix your broken chooser and fix you. You can do this. No more Mr. Bananaheads for you! BE GOOD TO YOU!!! And this is for everyone (you know who you are!) who have written me similar letters over the past few months. Take the focus on “he/she did to ME” and put it on you. You all can do this!!! Be good to YOU! And just say no to bananaheads!

Do the work in the books and the workbook and TAKE BACK YOUR POWER!!!

Copyright 2007-2019 Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed. All Rights Reserved No Duplication is Allowed Without Explicit Permission of the Author and a link back to the original content 

ALL GPYB Resources

GPYB on Social Media

Pins, Memes, Audiograms

GPYB Quotes on Good Reads

GPYB Newsletter

If you think this post would help someone,

please use the Social Share buttons below to share: