Narcissistic Behavior 11: Lack of Integrity/Inconsistency

As you might have already noticed, many of the characteristics of narcissistic behavior are interconnected or even overlapping to some degree. The next narcissistic mode of behavior I will focus on (lack of integrity) is closely connected to their hypocrisy and the fact that they love blowing hot and cold. Narcissists often seem to change their opinions, plans and wishes on a daily basis. Their actions almost never match their words: They say one thing, and then do something that totally contradicts their words. For those involved with them this inconsistency and lack of integrity is frustrating and confusing. It is completely impossible to find the rationale behind their behavior and to figure them out. However, we never stop trying to make sense of them, because we so desperately want things to work out. Since this endeavor is bound to fail, we waste a lot of energy and dedication and in the end have to face the depressing realization that everything was in vain.

The most painful aspect of their inconsistency and lack of integrity is that they often make grand promises and propose possible plans for the future and then don’t stick to them. We tend to believe in their promises (because we so desperately want them to be true) and consequently we are often left completely shattered and despaired once we have to accept that they never intended to act on them. Disappointment is a constant and fixed component of our relationship to the narcissist. After a while our hearts are nearly broken beyond repair from all the setbacks and broken promises we had to endure. We have to come to terms with the painful truth that we just cannot rely on the narcissists. Their behavior is so inconsistent and lacking in integrity that we can never believe in their words and we completely lose trust in them. The heartbreaking truth, however, is that we still do not have the intention to leave them. We often accept their shady behavior, we swallow the pain, we allow them to go on breaking our hearts, because we cannot stand the thought of losing them and being on our own again. In the end we have sacrificed our well-being for nothing, as our endurance and patience will not be rewarded.

The narcissist I dated completely lacked integrity and was absolutely inconsistent and unreliable. He broke thousands of promises, he almost never stuck to his words and he changed his views on a daily basis. Being with him was one of the most frustrating and exhausting experiences I ever made in my entire life. My heart got broken every single time he broke another one of his promises and in the end I was on the brink of a break-down because I just couldn’t handle any more disappointments. I know that I am partly to blame for what happened to me. I should have given him the benefit of the doubt at the beginning, but then I should have opted out after having realized that he would likely never act consistently and give me the commitment, honesty and affection that I was looking for. I allowed him to break my heart over and over again, but after a brief period of intense despair, I would swallow the pain and go on as if nothing had happened. I always clung to the hope that one day he would stick to his promises and things would turn out the way I wanted them to. Even though there was no basis for daring to have hope, I held on to him with patience and endurance, because I couldn’t stand the thought of losing him. The months I spent with him felt like a test of how much I could endure before finally breaking down. It was a time of intense self-sacrifice, pain and heartbreak.

His lack of integrity and his inconsisteny became apparent in every aspect of his behavior. The most painful aspect was – as I have already pointed out – that he just never kept his promises. He told me he would spend another weekend with me and my family and even cook dinner for all of us, he told me he would move out of his exgirlfriend’s apartment, he told me he would look for job opportunities in Germany so that he could stay there – and not once did he stick to his words. He said that spending time with me was very important for him and that he would always make every effort to be able to be with me. In reality, I often didn’t get to see him in weeks, because he was either “sick” or “too busy”. At the beginning of our relationship he told me he would always treat me with respect and that he always wanted me to feel save and protected. However, no one ever disrespected me the way he did: He took me for granted, pushed me aside repeatedly and turned me into an emotional wreck.

His actions almost never matched his words: He told me he wanted to spend time with me on the weekend, and then just ignored my messages when the time had come. He insisted that his exgirlfriend was driving him crazy and sucking the life out of him, because she was hysteric and mentally imbalanced. A short time later he would again call her his best friend and go to concerts or on city trips with her. He wasn’t even consistent when it came to the most basic aspects of his lifestyle. He told people that he was a vegan. However, whenever I spent time with him he consistently ate meat (sometimes even large amounts of it). Of course he always had an excuse (“I needed the protein”). On various occasions he complained about our work colleagues, insisting that they were all “stupid motherfuckers” and that he would one day say it to their faces. As you can probably imagine, ne never did. He just went on complaining about them to me and then acted in a very subdued and nice way when he was around them.

So to cut a long story short, he just completely lacked integrity. He probably wasn’t even aware of this flaw in his behavior. From what I could gather from our conversations and interactions, he thought of himself as being very honest, genuine and straight – a model human being. He was surrounded by an aura of integrity and sublimity that his actions just never matched. This was of course very confusing for me. I was so taken in by this aura, that his contrasting actions were like a slap in the face every single time. The narcissist I dated had already occupied such a large spot in my heart that I was repeatedly willing to forgive and forget. I so desperately wanted things to work out between us, that the only thing I ever focused on were his words and grand promises. I so wanted them to be true that I was keen to deny and blend out his inconsistent and disppointing actions. Whenever I was once more disappointed and let down, I tried to focus all my attention on his words and keep my hopes alive. I allowed things to go on for far too long because he was always very good at keeping me going through his sweet-talk and false promises.

The narcissists lack of integrity and inconsistency is harmful for those involved with them on many different leves. We suffer because we cannot make sense of their behavior. We try to find the rationale behind the fact that they almost never stick to their words, and more often than not, we seek the faults in our own behavior and think that there must be something wrong with us. Furthermore, the continuous disappointmens that come our way as a result of their lack of integrity are sucking the life out of us. As we keep believing in their false promises and sweet words, we allow them to disappoint us over and over again. We so desperately want things to work out that we forgive and forget and cling to a naive hope that one day the narcissist’s actions will match his words. This will likely never happen. We go on enduring the disappointments with endurance and patience until we reach the point where we can’t take any more of it and are on the brink of a break-down. Our relationships to them are therefore characterized by extreme self-sacrifice and pain. In the end, we often have to admit defeat and come to terms with the fact that all our efforts have been in vain. As I have mentioned so many times before, it would be better to notice the red flags early and find the strength to opt out. Things will likely not work out no matter how hard we try. We can save ourselves a lot of drama and heartbreak if we just let go. Every healthy and working relationship needs two partners who are willing to treat each other with honesty, integrity and commitment. If one of them is just unwilling to do so, the relationship is doomed.

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20 thoughts on “Narcissistic Behavior 11: Lack of Integrity/Inconsistency

  1. This sounds like the calmer version of a post I wrote recently when I was very angry and I couldn’t express my rage in prose non fiction. I know this one so very well. Waffling. “I said this but I didn’t. If only you could do but why did you do. I have principles and I’m selling out on them. Don’t judge me and I’ll judge you harshly with made up facts.” Long lists. Exhausting. Be well. x

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    • Thank you for your comment. You are right: It is absolutely exhausting. We spend all our energy on figuring them out…and so we have no more energy left for functioning in all the other areas of our lives. Thank you again. I appreciate it very much to get an insight into other people’s experiences. x

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      • It’s sad that we even have these experiences and are able to understand each other. Reading your posts gives me much needed distance and perspective as to what I may have been enabling by being “understanding”, “patient” and “compassionate.” Thank you again. x

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are right…by being so compassionate, enduring and patience we allow them to repeatedly trample all over us and we never take action. Unfortunately I hadn’t realized any of it before the relationship was over.

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      • That’s the power they have. The ability to blend in with us, to understand what we want and give feed it back to us. It’s a wonderful thing to be detached and know when someone is trying to manipulate you. It’s happened recently and I thank every star out there I was able to play along without getting sucked in. The thing is they’re so subtle about it that they can escape notice and so it’s important to not blame yourself. x

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      • I’m glad to hear that you were able to be detached and spot the manipulation! I hope that after my recent experiences I will also be able to notice the red flags in time and then stay detached. But you are right: they are so subtle sometimes that it’s hard to realize their manipulation before it is too late. x

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  2. Wonderful post yet again resonating with my narc mum’s dynamic. Thank you for unravelling it. I sometimes don’t do it so promptly on my blog myself.

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    • Thank you so much. It took me a long time to figure all of this out. While I was still dating him I never really questioned my behavior and never allowed myself to think too deeply about how disrespectful he was. It helps a lot to finally be able to put a label on things.

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  3. Their contradictory behaviour and statements are legendary. My ex-narc was like that, too. Their ability to verbally rip someone apart is also legendary. Harry often didn’t care who heard him, especially if they were strangers. The straw that broke the camel’s back in our relationship was when he complained loudly in a restaurant about the amount of food the family across from us was consuming. He criticized their weight (their weight was normal, imo) and then turned on me as well, telling me that I was about to eat enough for four people – I had a small slice of pie. He was obsessed with people’s weight and was absolutely scathing in his criticisms. It was interesting to watch, too, because he has no idea what normal weight is. He frequently complained about people being overweight when they weren’t at all. I knew that this obsession began with his own weight issues – he had had gastric by-pass surgery – but his inability to accurately gauge the weight of others was an indicator of a general inability to gauge most things. He was always wildly off-kilter when it came to estimates about anything. For him, people are either saints or absolute devils, and he has no problem loudly proclaiming his opinion to the world. Like most bullies, though (and like your ex-narc) he melted into the background if he felt intimidated by someone and criticized the individual, often in the most ugly way, later.

    Good post. πŸ™‚

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    • Wow…being with him must have been really exhausting. I’m often amazed by what we put up with…Looking at their behavior in retrospect after we gained some perspective really is an eye-opening experience. I’m often shocked that I allowed things to go on for so long…but I was so intent on making things work that it never really occured to me to question his behavior. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I appreciate it so much because it helps to know that I’m not alone.

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    • I’m sorry to hear that you are hurt and struggling! It really is frustrating to deal with people that completely lack integrity. We try to make sense of them but just can’t. And the most painful part – as you said in your comment – is that they don’t even care that they are ripping our hearts apart. We are full of despair and sadness…and for them it often is just a game. Thank you for your comment. I hope you will get better soon.

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  4. The lack of integrity cannot be stressed enough, it is a spiritual sickness, a moral decay that spreads while you don’t even know if it were spreading. Also, inconsistency, it could very well be the #1 read flag when it is all said and done. Keep up the good work!

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  5. Thank you for a very good post. I’ve dated a narcissist and can relate to what you are writing. A good friend once told me that even the most intelligent people can be manipulated by a narcissist! Love your blog πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you so much for your kind comment! You are right. I tended to put all the blame on myself for what had happened. Now I slowly begin to realize that I was too harsh with myself, as I was – as you call it – manipulated.

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      • I just came across this nice line in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. “Whatever you do, don’t try and escape from your pain, but be with it. Because the attempt to escape from pain is what creates more pain.” This quote let me to think of you because I think you are dealing with your pain and that you should be so proud of it. I’m very inspired.

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      • Wow…thank you for sharing the quote and thank you even more for being so kind and encouraging! I deal with my pain out of necessity. I was feeling so broken, empty and despaired after the end of the relationship that I had to find ways to deal with all the pain. If I hadn’t found an outlet for it, it would have eaten me alive. Writing about it seemed to be a good way to try to heal and become aware of what had happened. I guess I really needed to reflect on what was going on to make sure it would never happen again. Thank you again! I really appreciate your kind words.

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  6. I wondered if a lack of integrity was a narc trait. I’m not at all surprised to find out that it is. It’s just one of many ugly traits. I just learned about it a few months ago. I knew that something was seriously wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had a major ah-ha moment when I learned the symptoms of NPD. His major hearing loss makes it even more of a challenge. If I had known what it was, I would have ran away and never looked back. I can’t count on him to keep his word. More often than not it’s about money. Our finances are completely separate. That isn’t a bad thing since I’m sure that I would have to account for every penny if it wasn’t. My income is low because I’m disabled. He gets me to pay for things by ‘forgetting’ his wallet now and then. I’ve learned not to bring my purse unless I absolutely need it. Also, he has offered to pay for many things and doesn’t follow through. I would say about 75% of the time he doesn’t pay for what he says that he will pay for. He says that he’ll give me the money and he doesn’t. Now and then he asks me to buy things while we’re out and offers to go in half on gifts. Just the other day he said that he would give me money for something for my mom’s birthday. I won’t ever see it. He earns about $100,000 a year and doesn’t follow through. It’s not a lapse in memory. He’s extremely selfish. I earn about $3,000 a year working from home plus I receive child support for my daughter. I barely get by. The level of selfishness is unreal. I’ve never known another human being like this. In some ways he’s good, but he’s self-absorbed in many other ways. He has a mean streak too. I could go on and on, but I won’t. 😦 It’s really sad.

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