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.