Heart, Spirit & Mind

Self-deception in relationships

DenialDenial.  To a greater or lesser degree we all do it. Some of it is pretty harmless. However, there are other times when self-deception is far more extreme. In fact it can be disastrous for relationships.  Self-deception can often reach a state where people are unwilling to look at themselves and their situations as they really are.  They have deceived themselves into believing their own truth which is often more about what they want to believe rather than how things are.  People will justify and rationalize their behavior and their decisions.  People in denial often will not accept the truth from people who know them best.  They perceive the opinions as flawed or biased. It is necessary for them to believe this so they can continue to perpetuate their self-deception.  When you are close to a person who deceives themselves, it can cause a lot of pain.  The self-deceiver will preserve their self-image at the expense of the well being of their relationship.  Many people do not want to face such challenges and instead chose to resists or quit when someone they love challenges them to grow.  They instead develop strategies of resistance such as:

  • they get agitated with you
  • they dismiss your arguments rejecting their validity and appeal to authority
  • they tune out the message entirely
  • they chose selective exposure to the issues at hand;  inflating  the good and dismissing or under-emphasising the bad
  • they diffuse the argument by presenting new arguments that don’t address the initial argument

Enablers perpetuate the problem of self-deceptive behavior telling them what they want to hear because they don’t want to offend the self-deceiver.  Enablers and self-deceivers often have delicate inauthentic relationship. The self-deceiver doesn’t react well to constructive criticism.  The enabler can’t really be honest in their relationship without fear of being discarded.  Self-deceiver often have a long history of casting out anyone that gets close enough and cares enough to be honest.

Being in a relationship like this is a strong indicator that one or both parties are not emotionally healthy and could benefit from a reality check. They should seek help. If help is not sought, progress will not be made.  Self-deceivers continue to deceive, enablers continue to enable.  Neither take responsibility for their actions or feel the pain of they inflict upon others.  If the only way to preserve your relationship with a self-deceiver is to withhold your thoughts and feelings, then you are hurting them and yourself more than you know.

People who live in denial often deceive themselves. They believe the image they project to others instead of the image they see reflected in the eyes of their partner.  The self-deceiver or enabler expends energy toward maintaining their public image rather than energy maintaining the quality of their relationship.  This leaves the relationship fragile, without a solid foundation of mutual trust and respect. Both parties will feel unloved, unfulfilled and in need of more.

Those who are afraid to grow and become more self aware miss the opportunity to have and share a real and meaningful connection with someone.

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