Have you ever wondered why some people get away with things and others don’t?
From what I’ve seen, the more dishonest someone is, the more they seem to get away with bad behavior of some sort.
When an honest person tries to get away with immoral or unethical behavior, they are often caught in the act and have to pay the price. Of course, you might say, “If they’re trying to get away with something, that doesn’t make them very honest then, does it?”
You may be right!
But I’m referring to a career con artist rather than the opportunistic con artist. The career con artist is one who has no problem lying to anyone to get what they want. They get very good at the game and most people will be fooled by their deceptive behavior. They have been honing their skills for many years.
The opportunistic con artist is the person who probably follows the rules more often than not, but is presented with an opportunity to con or steal and decides to act on it.
The opportunistic con artist doesn’t usually have a chance of getting away with something. They are such amateurs at the game that they are not going to be able to effectively cover all their tracks and will likely get caught – like this guy who chose to wear a clear plastic bag on his head as a disguise when he was trying to steal someone’s stuff!
Then there are people who’ve played the con game for so long that they trick everyone. They are that good. They are like concert pianists who make no mistakes because they live, eat, and breathe their craft. Career con artists know the rest of us so well, they fool most of us easily and effortlessly.
Take this guy for example. He walks around a store taking anything he wants and the owners are oblivious to his behavior. He took their inventory right under their noses.
I’ve worked with some clients that are married to relationship con artists. Their stories are often the same:
“I felt like I met my soulmate. I was showered with compliments and gifts. We would talk about our future and I fell for him / her fast. We dated a few months then moved in together. It was a dream come true. Then one day…”
The “then one day” comment is usually the moment they saw their new partner’s true colors. From there, their stories often sound like this:
• “…then one day, they got upset that I wanted to go see my mom for the weekend.”
• “…then one day, they made a comment about my weight.”
• “…then one day, they acted jealous that I wanted to spend time with my friends.”
There are probably a thousand more I could list. But the formula is the same:
Everything was great until it wasn’t.
It’s not that normal relationships don’t experience that type of shift too, but when you’re dealing with a relationship con artist, you will a vast night and day difference.
They show up in the beginning meeting your every need and making you believe they want to fulfill every desire you have. They put you through a “grooming” and “conditioning” process. You get groomed into loving and trusting someone that plans to turn against you after they know you are loyal to them.
They make you believe they are kind, supportive, and loving. You get conditioned into believing that they are really there for you and have your best interest in mind.
In other words, they make you believe in things that aren’t true. They make you believe they are unselfish and just want you to be happy.
The relationship con is a dirty game. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who play it. However, you don’t have to be conned. When you know what to look for, you increase your chances of catching the con in the act.
This isn’t only about new relationships, it’s about life in general. When you do your best to follow an ethical and moral path in life, you don’t normally see the con artists. After all, it’s very difficult to see someone you’ve never been. It’s hard to spot behavior you’re unfamiliar with.
This is why innocent people end up suffering at the hands of con artists. The cons only go after the innocents who don’t know the game.
But you don’t have to be the victim of con artistry. In the area of relationships, all you need to do is follow a few simple rules:
1. Don’t fall in love fast
When your needs and desires are met really quickly, use that as an orange flag. Pay attention to your emotions to make sure you aren’t opening your heart so much that they have access to all the “controls”, so to speak.
If you’re in a con, it’s a lot more difficult to get out of it after you fall in love.
2. Don’t ignore the first red flag
This is probably the most common mistake I hear from my clients in toxic relationships. Their partner did something a bit unusual or uncharacteristic near the beginning that they chose to ignore.
When your new partner does behavior that makes you think, “Hmm… that’s different / strange / a little over the top / etc“, or they make you feel bad about yourself in some way, that is the time to turn on your radar to make sure you aren’t seeing the first signs of a toxic pattern.
3. Say “no” every now and then and see how they react
You don’t have to do everything together all the time. You don’t have to bring them everywhere. See how they respond when you show autonomy and independence. Do they support your happiness in the direction you want to go? Do they support your decisions, or try to change them?
I’ve often found true character is discovered when someone doesn’t get what they want. You can learn a lot about a person when they don’t get their way. The con wants agreement and compliance so when they don’t get it, they’re very likely to do something that either causes you to fall into compliance or make you feel guilty that you didn’t.
Be aware when someone tries to steer you off a path you want to take for yourself. It might be a form of control.
Obviously, these aren’t the only rules, but they are important when it comes to your mental health and happiness.
Again, Take Love Slow.
Don’t let red flags slip under the radar, and learn who they are when they don’t get what they want. This combination will give you a lot more insight into what type of relationship is developing.
My definition of love is when you support the other person’s path to happiness, even if their path doesn’t align with what you want. Most people want to be with others that support their path to happiness so it’s usually a win-win for a couple that does that for each other.
Love grows and the bond strengthens when someone supports you wanting to be yourself.
Letting your partner know that you aren’t there to control who they love nor tell them what they need to do with their life gives them the choice to love you more than anyone else on the planet.
That’s the beauty of letting someone live their life the way they want. They feel more free to be themselves and more connected to the person who lets them do that.
I think we all want to be trusted to make decisions that we feel are right for us. When people we love allow us to do that, we will feel safer, more trusting, and more connected to them.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you missed all the manipulative or controlling behavior of a relationship con artist. Some people have been at the relationship con game for a long time. Not seeing the red flags shows that you are probably an honest person with good intentions.
Unfortunately, honest people do get conned. It’s a fact. It’s how the con plays the game.
But don’t con yourself into believing someone else’s con when you notice orange and red flags. Dismissing those highlights the biggest con game of all: The one that takes place in your own mind.
- We want to believe we’re wrong about the other person.
- We want to believe they are better than that.
- We think that perhaps we are mistaken about them.
- We relabel bad behavior to justify bad intentions.
And we hold on to the hope that they will see what they are doing to us so they will feel bad and stop that bad behavior.
When we want and hope like this, we stay in their game. We con ourselves! And that is dangerous because when you go into denial about someone else’s bad behavior, you will dismiss it and hope it doesn’t happen again.
The relationship con artist isn’t going to wear a clear plastic bag on their head allowing us to identify them easily. It’s important to keep your wits about you instead of getting swept away with hope.
It is healthy for an emotional connection to take time.
When you take love slow, you pay attention. You are more observant and careful. It’s not about being paranoid, it’s about caring so much for your own well-being that you won’t allow anyone to take advantage of you. It’s self-nurturing 101.
Taking love slow means you get to see who the person is at every stage of the relationship. It’s not about testing them, it’s about building trust and love one day at a time. You don’t want con artists slipping in under the radar, you want someone who will meet your criteria for a healthy relationship.
Allowing your emotions toward others to take more time helps you become discerning so that you create the best relationship possible.
A good relationship takes work.
A great relationship takes a lot of self-awareness, self-love, and self-care.
When you are discerning, you assess and reassess what’s best for you every step of the way which is probably the best self-care you could ever give. The relationship you have with yourself is the key to creating amazing relationships with other people.
Con artists will come and go, but they won’t last long when they realize you can see their true colors and that you care enough about yourself to show them that their behavior is unacceptable. And since con artists don’t like to be caught, they won’t want to hang around those who can see right through them.
You are amazing and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Don’t fall for the con. You can fall in love, just don’t let love blind you to behaviors that aren’t in your best interest.