3 Things to Do if You Choose to Remain Friends with a Masked Individual
Last September, I started a post series discussing friendships with folks who wear masks. We set the foundation for this discussion noting that we are talking about folks who purposely wear masks versus being their true selves. This isn’t about people who are protective of their relationships but people who are being dishonest and hiding secrets, pretending to be someone they aren’t, and who are otherwise shady in the way they approach you.
Because I understand that some people find it hard to walk away from others, I wanted to follow up with a few more posts on the subject to ensure anyone struggling in this area has some guidance. Today, I will cover some practices you can put into place if you choose to remain friends with someone you know is deceitful towards you so you can minimize the hurt in the end.
Guard your Heart
When you are dealing with people who are purposefully deceitful, it is so important that you guard your heart. This means that you understand they are not being fully honest with you and therefore allow yourself to take what they say at face value. When they speak to you, know they are most likely telling some lies. This will help you not feel as hurt when you realize the comments or stories were based upon lies.
When you share yourself, be sure that you what you share is okay to be shared with others. People who are deceptive are also usually very self-absorbed and serve their interests above others. Anything you share with them becomes leverage. It becomes something they can use against you later when the relationship doesn’t serve them any longer. It is knowledge that gives them power usually and they aren’t afraid to share anything they know if it means they can get ahead by pushing someone else down.
Be Understanding but Not Enabling
Provide a relationship that encourages them to be themselves and provides a safe space to do so, but also know when to draw a line and say that you aren’t encouraging the lies. If they tell you something you know fully is a lie, don’t be afraid to call them out and say, “I know that isn’t true. If you want to continue this conversation, please state the truth or we’re done talking about it.” I have had friends in the past who I have allowed to lie much longer than I should have allowed them to. By doing so, it became so easy for them to lie to me that they no longer felt a need to tell the truth. I finally got to the point where I stopped allowing their narcissistic ways to influence how I felt because I realized they wouldn’t change. They didn’t want to. I had to understand that while also choosing to no longer enable it. It got to the point our friendships faded because those people didn’t know how to be honest and I was done being lied to.
Again, we AREN’T talking about people with walls up who have a hard time opening up. We are talking about people who are purposefully deceptive. While there is hope for people like that when they want to change, the fact is that is can take a while before deceptive individuals will want to change because it means stepping outside their comfort zone and acting differently from what they are used to doing. Opening up is scary for them and takes much more effort than lying and hurting others.
Walk Away When the Hurt Begins to Change You
Finally, walk away when the hurt from being friends with them begins to change who you are. The important thing in life is to be someone who is influenced in positive ways and not negative ones. As you do this, you become a stronger, more positive person. When we change in negative ways, we start to feel worse about ourselves over time. Don’t believe me? Think about how it feels when you are unemployed for a long period of time. Think about how it feels when you gain weight and didn’t need to. Think about how it feels when you notice yourself doing things you don’t consider helpful to your development? People feel better when they are doing good things. Most people anyway. So when you start to change for the worst, it’s time to reconsider your surroundings and who you are around. You want to be positively influenced by your friends and do the same to them. Then you both grow. When you find yourself becoming deceptive because of your friendship with deceptive people, it’s time to walk way.
The Choice is Yours
Ultimately, how you proceed is your choice. Some people are able to be friends with individuals who are deceptive and remain unchanged. They grow stronger because they are challenged to be themselves despite someone else lying to them and purposely looking to lead them in the wrong ways. They realize that most deceptive people are so because they’ve been hurt at some point in their lives. They know that they want to help the world be a better place and they find this a way to do so. If you are like that, THANK YOU. Because your friendship may be the thing that helps someone change for the better.