by: E.B. Johnson
The relationships we build with others are important. They provide us with perspective, and they also provide support, love, and comfort. These relationships bring a lot of value into our lives, but they can also undermine them considerably. This becomes especially true when we’re dealing with false or insincere people. The longer they go unchecked in our lives, the more havoc they can wreak.
Insincere people are everywhere. They can be our romantic partners or our friends; our coworkers and our families. It’s not unusual to say things you don’t mean, but the insincere person takes this one step further. When it comes to their words (and their deeds) the goal is simple: tell them what they want to hear in order to get what you want. To protect ourselves from this manipulation, we have to learn to spot their behaviors in our lives.
Insincerity is important to recognize.
It’s incredibly important that we learn how to spot the signs of insincerity in people and ourselves, but this is a process that is both subtle and nuanced. We can’t always easily spot an insincere person, because they use skills like flattery and circumstance to baffle us and blind us. The longer their behavior goes unchecked, however, the more damage and heartache they create. They get us invested, get us committed, and then leave us high and dry when they get what they want from us.
An insincere person is more than just someone who occasionally lies to you. Insincere people are far more manipulative, and their behavior comes because of far more conscious choices. Insincerity — on its own — is an active form of deceitfulness and deceptiveness. The insincere person actively pretends to feel something that they don’t and pull us down with them.
We must accept when an insincere person has entered our lives and then do what we can to protect ourselves against them. While ultimately one would hope to cut them out of our lives completely, that’s not always possible. That’s why you have to be proactive and vigilant when it comes to identifying this person, then get committed to setting boundaries and reshaping your relationship with them. Don’t tolerate the insincerity. Stand up to it the right way. With courage and understanding.
They’re being insincere, and this is how you can tell.
Are you surrounded by insincere people? There are a number of concrete signs that you could deal with someone who doesn’t always reveal their true intentions. Don’t take these warning signs lightly. They can inflict an incredible amount of damage in our lives if left unchecked.
Seeking to benefit
The most common sign of an insincere person or friend in your life can come down to their desire to benefit from you. These are often people who follow power or wealth. Rather than building partnerships and bridges, they need to gain from their relationships (abandoning you when you’re down and out on your luck). They only get in touch when they need something, or want to dump on you emotionally. When it comes to dealing with this type of person, it’s all take, take, take. And they’ll say anything to establish that.
Mixing up stories
Because insincerity requires us to behave differently from our actions, it can also lead to a frequent change in stories or opinions. The insincere person can’t keep their stories straight because they’re always telling a different one to a different person. They flip flop their opinions easily to chase trends or garner favor with people. They might also get caught up in their lies or caught-out stirring up drama.
Misaligned words and deeds
The sum of a person can’t be judged in what they say alone. If you’re looking to discover the truth to someone’s sincerity, look at both their words and their actions. Do they align? When it comes to the insincere person, they will tell you one thing only to turn around and do the opposite (especially if this opposite offers a greater benefit than you do). Misaligned words and deeds are always a warning sign to be aware of, and a red flag that authenticity is lacking.
Putting on a show
Believe it or not, the insincere person isn’t always malicious or looking or drama. Sometimes, they’re just a bit of a showboat who likes to be the center of their world’s gravitational pull. They’re always “on” or always seeking to be the center of attention. This isn’t really from a desire to entertain others, but more from a desire to feed their own ego. It can also arise from a need to be in control and at the center of the social group.
Have you ever tried to confront someone that you didn’t think was being honest with you? When called out on their patterns, what happened? Did they lose control? Yell, scream, go ballistic? Insincere people are manipulators at their core, and the manipulator is not someone who can tolerate being seen for who they are. They lose their cool whenever they get called out, or things don’t go their way. Their actions only work when cloaked in secrecy, so when exposed they blow up.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, insincere people are rarely supportive people. They are usually not to be found when you need support or someone to help you with a project or issue. The disappear regularly from your life and only pop back up when they perceive that you have something to offer, or they have something to gain. They are the fair-weather friendlies of our lives. The devastating disappointers that never show up on time.
We tend to think of communication as a mostly verbal process, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s assumed that a substantial portion of the communication we do with others takes place non-verbally. Among these non-verbal displays are our micro-expressions. As the name indicates, these are small expressions that take over the face and body, and traditionally they align with true feeling. If someone says they’re being open with you, but their micro-expressions (like avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, or crossing their arms over the body) say differently — then they aren’t being sincere.
Interrogations come standard
Insincere people are really skilled at making us feel comfortable with them, or as though we can trust them. This makes them exceptionally good at getting us to open up and reveal our secrets or issues. Sometimes, though, this opening up can feel more like they’re fishing for information — instead of seeking to know you better. They may be trying to feed this information to someone else for gain, or they may want to use it to manipulate you later.
Is there someone in your social circle that really likes to talk about themselves? Whenever there’s a topic of discussion, does it come back to them and their accomplishments time-after-time? This leaves very little room for others to display their own views and indicates someone who is in it just for themselves. As friends, we should celebrate one another. A person who is looking for someone to celebrate them doesn’t want friends — they want worshipers.
With the insincere person, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to ever get close to anything “real”. This is because the truly insincere person protects themselves with a wall that is meant to prevent other people from seeing who they truly are. Due to this, your relationship never gets past the superficial stage. You never share experiences or memories that are anything more than what you would share with a stranger. It’s all superficial niceties and tiptoeing around anything that might cause drama that impedes workability.
Rumors and gossip
Do you have someone in your life that is an incessant rumor-monger or gossip? Are they constantly putting their nose into other people’s business and then airing the dirty laundry to anyone and everyone that will listen? If that’s the case, then you can believe that this person is doing the same to you. The face we show to one person is the same face we will eventually show to another. No matter what they tell you, if they’re willing to gossip about someone else — they’re willing to gossip about you.
How to deal with the insincere people in your life.
You can’t allow the above behaviors to undermine your happiness forever. You have to take steps to protect your wellbeing and that begins (primarily) with accepting who the other person is and how they impact your life. Then, you can focus on building up the good in your life and creating walls around those who would take advantage of you or cause harm.
1. Accept who they are
The first step in dealing with an untruthful or insincere person is often to accept who they are. This isn’t easy. While their behavior might be hurtful or without faith, we can still find the insincere person to be a crucial part of our lives. This, however, doesn’t minimize the consequences of their behavior or the toll it takes on us and our mental and emotional wellbeing. In order to protect ourselves, we have to accept who they are and how their behavior affects us.
Stop running away from the truth and start identifying the negative patterns. Look for moments when the other person told you something that wasn’t true, or instances in which their actions were not aligned with their words. Have you ever discovered them talking negatively behind your back? Do they often abandon you in the name of “cooler” or more powerful people?
You have to accept who this person is in order to identify the patterns that are impacting your relationship with them. Don’t hold back. Be brutally honest with yourself. This acceptance is in no way a reflection on you, or your worth. It’s also not an allowance. It is simply taking a step back and looking at things for what they really are, so that you can get realistic about getting your own house in order. Stop running from the truth. Accept it so you can start setting boundaries that work.
2. Set boundaries (and stick to them)
Our boundaries are crucial, no matter what relationship we might be considering. We can think of our boundaries like the limits or perimeter fencing around our wellbeing. It keeps the bad stuff out, so that we are better equipped to keep the good stuff in. These boundaries also help us to communicate our expectations to our intimate partners, our friends, our families, and even our coworkers and supervisors. They’re important, but they’re especially important when it comes to an insincere person.
Take some time to yourself to focus on what means the most to you. What do you want from your life? What do you want your partnerships to look like? Your friends? Your family? Really idealize your future, then prioritize the things that mean the most, and the things that mean the least.
Break these items down and allow them to form the boundary lines of what you will and will not accept from the surrounding people. You don’t have to make space in your life for deception and deceit. You have a right to surround yourself with those who want you to be as happy as they are. Build up your boundaries and stick to them. When someone doesn’t tell you the truth, make it clear that they don’t need to be in your life. If they cross the line one too many times, set consequences and then stand beside those consequences with action.
3. Put your energy where the good is
Whether we decide to remove the insincere person from our lives or not, it’s important that we don’t expend all our time and energy dealing with them. At some point, we have to make the conscious choice to focus on those people and experiences that do add some positive value to our lives. These are the friends, family, and loved ones who build us up and encourage us when we’re down.
Rather than focusing any more time and energy on someone who doesn’t mean what they say, focus on those who bring good and positive energy and feedback into your life. Open up to your support networks and let the people that you trust know what’s going on.
Listen to their advice. Allow them to be a distraction. Let them know that you appreciate them, then allow them to spread out and take up more space in your life. Put your energy where the good is. Banish that insincere person to the outskirts and allow yourself to recharge by getting back in touch with your roots and the people who value you as much as you (should) value yourself.
4. Communicate your feelings considerately
It will become necessary at some point (no matter how you decide to proceed) to communicate how you’re feeling with the insincere or deceptive person in your life. This means sitting down and letting them know — explicitly — how their behavior is making you feel, as well as any decisions you make in regards to their place in your life. You have to do this candidly, but also considerately. Not for their sake, but so you can retain your dignity.
Find a safe time and place to sit the other person down and start an honest dialogue. Keep it as basic and as brief as possible and stick only to the facts. Don’t deep-dive into the psychology of it all, or use blaming language. An insincere person will only deny and do what they can to escape the discomfort. Keep it direct and keep it brief. Leave them room to respond, but don’t give them space to manipulate.
Say what you need to say, but keep it civil and keep it considerate (even if they don’t). If you’ve decided to keep them around, express your boundaries and the consequences of disrespecting them. If you’ve decided to cut them off — tell them why. Get it all out in the open, but ensure you keep respect at the forefront. When you look back at this memory 5 or 10 years from now, make sure you can do so with your pride and your dignity intact.
5. Move on and don’t respond
You can’t spend your life dwelling on all the things the insincere people do or don’t do for you. At some point, you have to make the conscious decision to move on. While this isn’t always possible when it comes to physical relocation, it is possible when it comes to the emotional responses and allowances we make. Stop giving these insincere people anything to feed on. Keep them at arm’s length and move toward the things that bring fulfillment and joy.
If you have the ability to put a great deal of space between you and this toxic person, do so. There are so many people out there who can offer what they do, and so much more. You don’t have to allow a liar and a deceiver to take up valuable real estate in your life. If you can’t, however, cut them out completely — you have to distance them emotionally.
Stop responding to their games, and their passive aggressive attempts to gain an inside edge on what makes you tick. Don’t share important information with them. When they goad you or strike up the “show”…walk away. You are worth more than drama, pain, and endless insecurity. You have a right to be surrounded by people you can trust. Encourage the insincere person in your life to cancel themselves by withdrawing all affection and interest in them and their lives.
Putting it all together…
Insincere and deceptive people are all around us. They are in the bedroom and in the boardroom. We have them in our families and even in our friend groups. While this insincerity can be relatively harmless, it can also be manipulative and insidious too. When you spot the signs of an insincere person in your life, it’s important to take stock and take note. Then, you have to take action in the name of your personal wellbeing.
Accept who this person is and accept the behaviors they exhibit. Notice when their words and deeds aren’t aligned, or when they go behind your back to seek attention or revenge. Set boundaries and stick to them. When they cross the line, let them know, then set a consequence that makes your expectations clear. Focus on the good people in your life and allow them to take up more space than those insincere or deceptive friends and loved ones. Once you’ve had some time to process how you feel, sit down with the insincere person and confront their behavior candidly and factually. Tell them how you feel and how it impacts your life. If you’ve decided to cut them out — tell them. Other people don’t have a right to access your emotions or your body without your consent. When you’re ready, move on, and stop giving them the emotional fuel and fodder to upset your life.