So if you're in a relationship, business or personal, with a person who exhibits more than a couple of the following behaviors, do not pass Go, get the hell outta Dodge--but you might want to grab that $200 on your way out because it's likely the only compensation you'll ever see.
- Chronic liars are mostly easily spotted because they tell small lies, what you might call "white lies," for no obvious reason. They concoct elaborate fictions when telling the truth--or saying nothing--would be simpler. They may do this to a third party even if you're standing there and you know the truth. If you don't contradict them, they know you'll be complicit. If you become more intimate with this person, they will expect you to back up their lies. And they will lie to you. Don't kid yourself about that point.
- When you do catch them in a lie, depending on the severity, they will either deny it or use charm to get out of trouble. They may justify it, but they will more likely construct an even more complicated story to validate the perceived discrepancy. If they are absolutely forced to the wall, they may cave under and flagellate themselves: "You're right, I'm a horrible person, I don't know why you put up with me.... *sob*..." until you relent.
- They are cagey about numbers, particularly when it comes to money and time. You can't pin them down to a schedule. You never know quite where they are. You end up spending more of your money on joint projects/purchases and they're always going to "pay you back."
- They always seem to have money for fun things, but not for essentials. They always have enough money to buy presents, buy back your goodwill in a crisis.
- They can always sweet-talk others into doing things for them but they never seem to reciprocate; they have a bad back, or a damaged knee, or are committed elsewhere, or are just too busy.
- They give the impression of working harder than anybody but never have anything to show for it. Regular displays of martyrdom are essential.
- They are often gregarious, but never seem to have any close friends. They have a wide range of acquaintances that they keep at arm's length, because their behavior can't withstand extended close scrutiny. They may be two-faced, accusing others of being phony or dishonest.
- Paranoia is a bonus. A recount of their day will largely involve how somebody tried to screw them or they put the screws to someone else. Somebody is always out to get them. If there's one thing I learned in retail, it's that the guilty customer is quickest to go on the offensive.
- When anything goes wrong, it's someone else's fault. Probably yours.
- Nothing is ever wrong, ever. If there's a crisis, they'll take care of it. They can't tell you how or when, they just tell you not to worry about it, it's no big deal, they'll take care of it.
- They borrow things and never return them.
- They steal. And if caught, they tell you they only meant to borrow.
- They tell you little bits of the truth, like, "Oh, I placed a little $10 bet this week in the office pool, didn't I tell you?" and you say, "Oh, that's okay," when the fact is they lost a thousand on the big game last Sunday.
- They usually have addictions. Some more destructive than others. Some more obvious than others. The question here is, which came first? Did the lying develop to cover for the addiction or did the addiction develop to placate the guilt over lying? Or do they both have the same not-yet-understood root cause? Does it matter?
In print, most of this looks like simple immaturity, but what's acceptable in a five-year-old is not acceptable in an adult. Anyone over the age of five should have a basic grasp of fair play, for example telling the truth, paying back what you owe someone, sharing toys and dividing labor. For a grown-up to not have a grasp of these basic concepts.... well, it's mentally deficient.