In relationships, trust is the glue and the foundation – it keeps interactions healthy. Without trust, relationships normally wither and perhaps die.
So why be with someone who is unsafe, like a Dark Heart or narcissist? How do they keep people enmeshed?
Dark Hearts know trust is important to people, but they can never give it on a deep, supportive, or nurturing level. They can make you feel like they are giving it, but they don’t. ( “I’m promoting John here to this new position because he’s learned well from me how to improve sales.” ) To bypass our need to feel safe and have trust, emotional predators use work-arounds. One is keeping us on our heels with blame.
To understand how this works, we must compare safe and unsafe people as explained by Drs Cloud and Townsend in one section of their book, Safe People.
According to the authors, when safe people confront us with integrity, love, and willingness to forgive,
- They can see and recognize a fault in us, without downplaying or overplaying it.
- They don’t let the issue lessen their love and concern for us. They know how to move on.
- Despite our failings, they stay close and don’t play games.
From the book Safe People: “That’s why the forgiving person is safe. He sees our wrong, yet loves us beyond it. And that love helps heal and transform us into the person God intended.”
When Dark Hearts — who are good at finding weaknesses in others — see a fault in us, they condemn:
- They hold up our weakness like a banner.
- They keep waving a fault in front of us so we won’t confront their faults.
- They won’t allow a weakness to be worked off, forgiven, or repaired.
- They use our faults to keep themselves in the more superior, more righteous position.
- They value a rulebook more than developing true friendship.
From the book Safe People, “Yes, we need to be confronted with our weaknesses. Unsafe people, however, confront us not to forgive us, but to condemn and punish us. They remove their love until we are appropriately chastened.”
The Dark Hearts bypass our need for trust in a relationship by focusing us on our own faults, weaknesses, and failings. They do this so well — and often so subtlety — that we feel any problems in the relationship stem from us.
Ain’t that some trick?
How we respond
And being goodhearted instead of dark-hearted people, we jump into thinking:
- I’ll fix this by putting in more time.
- I screwed up, so I must be more careful.
- I must not have listened well enough, so I’ll shut up and listen more.
- I don’t know what I was thinking! Time to wise up.
- I hope I can make this up to them. I’ll try harder.
These thoughts are fine if you are dealing with a person who truly appreciates your efforts. But if all this is being pocketed in the Dark Heart’s memory to prove his position and wisdom over yours ( “Last time we talked you admitted you were in the wrong…” ) they are hardly empowering thoughts, are they?
We all play different levels of the blame game in our lives. It’s because we don’t want to feel the weight of personal responsibility. That is human nature. Emotional abusers, however, use the blame game to control, manipulate, and belittle others so they always come across as the wiser, smarter, or more morally superior person in the relationship.
Want to know more? Take a look at
The Narcissist — A User’s Guide
Take away exercise:
Ask yourself and teach kids to ask:
- Deep down, does this person make me feel more — or less — whole and safe?
- Does this person act morally superior to me?
- Does this person blame me for relationship problems all the time?
- Can I tell them anything without expecting a chastising, verbal spanking?
- Do I look too much to this person to “keep me in line?”
This is a small portion of what I will be writing about regarding this subject and on this site. I hope you subscribe or return often to discover more about unplugging from emotional predators.
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