Ted is married to Marcy, but he’s wanted to break it off for a while. He doesn’t believe they are compatible, so after several years of treating her unkindly, he moves out.
Though he doesn’t want her as a wife, he allows her to stay in the marital residence while he moves into a new apartment. In less than a month, he’s moved in a new girlfriend. However, the relationship doesn’t last and he has a series of short-term relationships with several women. Whenever one of these relationships ends, he is so tortured by loneliness that he turns to Marcy until someone more suitable comes along. All the while, he continues to give Marcy hints that they will eventually reconcile and he will move back into the family home. Marcy’s reaction is to put her life on hold and remain in a state of perpetual readiness for him.
Ted is a Narcissist. As such, he continually engages in bad-faith actions with Marcy, keeping her stuck in life. Ted doesn’t see it that way because he has allowed her to stay in their home, citing this as evidence of his generosity. However, if he really cared for Marcy, he would provide for her in a manner that doesn’t keep her bound to him – perhaps with a generous divorce settlement or deed to a townhome. Instead, he selfishly refuses to let her go – keeping her on hold as backup and insurance against loneliness.
According to Wikipedia, bad faith is “double mindedness or double heartedness in duplicity, fraud, or deception. It often involves intentional deceit of others. It is equated with a sustained form of deception which consists in entertaining or pretending to entertain one set of feelings, and acting as if influenced by another, and is synonymous with disloyalty, double dealing, hypocrisy, infidelity, breach of contract, unfaithfulness, tartuffery (a show or expression of feelings or beliefs one does not actually hold or possess), bigotry, and lip service”.
Narcissists are among the most manipulative personalities. They use bad-faith tactics to accomplish two things simultaneously: 1) conceal their true intentions, and 2) invite you to believe they are having doubts or in the middle of a crisis when, in reality, they are keeping you in queue because they have alternatives they want to explore. Therefore, they resist making permanent decisions, such as making a clean break from a once-stable relationship, because to do so cuts them off from possibilities. Choosing one partner means relinquishing control of others, while simultaneously giving up a sure thing, such as the case with Marcy. The more Ted faces limits, the more he’s faced with surrendering personal specialness, unlimited potential, and freedom from the dynamics of a normal, mutually loving relationship.
Does this sound familiar? Are you the recipient of bad-faith tactics, someone’s insurance against loneliness? Recognizing these schemes and resisting them are the keys to personal empowerment.
4 Bad-Faith Tactics used by the Narcissist:
1. Excuse Making / Justifying – When Narcissists make excuses for their behavior, they know what they’re doing. They’ve merely created a façade to justify their unacceptable actions; things that most everyone would regard as wrong. But although they know it’s wrong, and that their reputation could be affected, they remain resolved to do it. In fact, they believe they are justified, going so far as to attempt to get people on their “team”; defying standards they know society wants them to implement. And more importantly, they’re also trying to get you on board; their only problem is with your perception of their behavior. Narcissists favor this kind of tactic over open defiance because it not only helps disguise their true intentions, but at once helps them maintain a more positive social image, encouraging your submission and acceptance.
2. Torn Between Two Lovers – Did your Narcissistic partner put on a convincing performance of how you forced him into the arms of another lover, and then pretend he is so “addicted” to you/in love with you that he can’t leave you alone?
Reality – He doesn’t have the new supply hooked yet. Therefore, while he’s with her, he’s giving her all his best: Love-bombing, awesome sex, fancy trips, gifts, introducing her to his circle of friends. While he has you believing he’s still hooked on you, he’s telling everyone he knows that it’s over between the two of you and slowly infiltrating the new supply. Once he has her emotionally dependent on him, you’ll possibly become the other woman, if you allow it.
Or, perhaps the new supply doesn’t fulfill all of his needs, so he keeps you on the side to procure what’s deficient in the new girl. Either way, he has you as an alternative supply source and insurance against loneliness.
3. False Remorse – False remorse is a good part of any skilled Narcissist’s behavioral toolkit. However, this bad-faith tactic is typically used during hoovering attempts. During hoovering, they pull out all the stops, showing previously unseen regret about how much they hurt you (perhaps squeezing out a tear or two). This can seem quite convincing, especially to altruistic types.
So how can you detect whether the Narcissist is feeling genuine remorse, versus false remorse? Research on the subject indicates that signs of false remorse include:
- A greater range of emotional expressions
- Swinging from one emotion to another very quickly
- Speaking with greater hesitation
What does this look like in the case of the Narcissist?
- Going from “regret” and/or kindness to cruel and nasty – example: receiving a text that they are sorry and when you don’t respond, immediately calling you a loser, piece of sh*t, trash
- Stumbling and mumbling when you ask for an explanation for something they did – example: You: “Why did you tell me you weren’t seeing that girl from the office when I saw the two of you together?” Narcissist: “Well, um, see…well, she just had a, um, death in the family and…well, I was just…I was trying to make her feel better. Maybe I went a little, um (long pause)…overboard, but I um, wasn’t…wasn’t thinking clearly at the moment.”
- Frequent shifts between positive and negative emotions, with fewer displays of neutral emotions in between – example: From showing up at your door with a bouquet of flowers and a tear in his eye to telling you (in less than thirty seconds) that he always knew you were bad news. Everyone tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen. Then, saying the two of you are destined to be together for life (seriously, he’s received signs from God. Ironically, he’ll alternate between divine endorsements for your relationship to signs that it’s doomed).
4. False Promises – As with the case of false remorse, false promises are typically offered during hoovering. If the Narcissist feels you’re serious about leaving this time (because you’ve shown herculean strength during your latest attempt at No Contact), he’ll use the bad-faith tactic of the seductive dangling of carrots. Remember that new car you mentioned a few months ago? He takes you to the dealership to look at cars. Had the two of you discussed marriage? He encourages you to shop for rings. Did you express your desire for a house in the near future? He’s suddenly talking to realtors and bringing you the latest copy of “Homes for Sale”.
Don’t fall for it. He has absolutely no intention of following through. When this becomes clear and you call him on it, he’ll resume the character assassinations and lead you to believe it’s your entire fault. This is only a scheme to take the blame off of him and make you feel responsible for the destruction of your hopes, as well as the relationship. Don’t fall back into submissive behaviors in hopes he’ll keep his false promises.
Avoid falling for bad-faith tactics or settling for being someone’s Insurance against Loneliness
To avoid becoming the narcissist’s insurance against loneliness, cease all contact (or implement modified contact in the case of shared custody), set firm boundaries, don’t flatter them, don’t be a “yes” man, and don’t engage if they break through your barriers and become nasty. Engaging with them only rewards their behavior. Further, reaching out via email or text to tell them how hurtful they’ve been or how cruel they are only invites them to ignore you (though inside they are elated). In most cases, they’ll come back hoovering when they feel you’ve fallen for yet another bad-faith tactic – pretending they want nothing to do with you, and swooping in like the love of your life during a moment of epic weakness on your part, setting you up for a self-loathing extravaganza.
**Narcissism knows no bias. The use of the pronoun “he” is for reading ease only. Females can be Narcissists, too.
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