How to avoid choosing a charming, deceitful narcissist for a spouse

Here's some helpful advice for women about choosing a man
Here’s some helpful advice for women about choosing a man

For fun, I’ve decided to publish the 2000-word first draft that I normally send to my 6 female editors, because sometimes it’s fun to let people know what I *really* think about things before my editors force me to make it sound much better and more persuasive.

We got a comment a while back that I thought was worth a response.

Let’s start with the comment:

My husband was a Narcissist. He slept all over the county and never worked a day in this marriage. Plus, He couldn’t decide if he was straight or gay. After my son finally left home I filed for divorce. I wish I did it sooner. Now he claims to be born again and wants to stay together. When is enough, enough?

We don’t know if this woman was a Christian, was chaste, and whether the man she chose was Christian or was chaste. All we know is that the man she chose was attractive enough to easily find other women who would have sex with him despite the fact that he was married. Whatever he has, it’s something that causes women who are not married to him to have sex with him. That’s who the divorced woman chose to marry. His “charm” wasn’t from his moral character or his deep knowledge of Christian theology and apologetics.

My first response to this was to put the responsibility on the person who had chosen the bad husband. After all, I reasoned, everyone who takes a massive step like marriage is obligated to investigate who it is they are marrying.

But when I said that, I got some responses from women that said that she wasn’t responsible for her poor choice of man, and that she was an innocent victim of his magical charming powers.

Here’s Lee:

A lot of time people don’t show their worst qualities until the relationship is firmly in place, and it starts coming out slowly. It’s not always as clear cut as a woman stupidly choosing an unsuitable husband who acted unsuitable from the get-go. I mean yeah, sometimes it’s obvious early on and the woman is just stupid/ blind/broken/other. But we should be careful to not assume, and careful to not make harsh judgments from our ignorance.

If dangers like infidelity are not “obvious” then it’s not the woman’s fault that she didn’t detect it. Apparently there is no way for the woman to detect it if it’s not obvious, so she’s not responsible.

And Mary:

Narcissists are skilled at charming and persuading people that they’re really great. And they’re skilled at convincing others that their misgivings are irrational fears. Unfortunately,there are a lot of people like that. Not saying that people (men AND women, btw!) don’t just sometimes choose stupidly, for bad reasons like “hotness” and excitement. But narcissists are a whole other kettle of fish. They can come out with a completely different personality once they’ve snagged their prey.

If a bad person is “skilled at charming”, then their victim has no way of evaluating them accurately. Basically, deciding who to marry is just an activity where you talk, and decide how you feel about that person’s talk. If the person is charming, then they make you feel good, and it’s rational to marry them. A lot of women express this as “I want a man who is confident”. It’s never been explained to me how “confidence” is any evidence that the man has an ability and a past pattern of self-control and fidelity.

And Sara:

Probably because narcissists can be very charming at first and easily win people over.

[…] What I was trying to say and the article pointed out is the power of narcissists is they can put people, especially women, under a spell of sorts. They are just so slick and charming that common sense goes right out the window. They don’t think to verify all these things that seem obvious because they are so captivated.

All that’s necessary to detect a charming narcissist is “common sense”. His suitability to do husband and father roles should be “obvious” from what he says and how he makes her feel.

So, let’s take a look at some tips for avoiding these charming narcissists who can convince you to marry them just with their words and the feelings they cause.

How to avoid marrying a charming narcissist who cheats on you

Here is some advice on how to avoid marrying a charming narcissist.

1. Evaluate a person based on objective evidence instead of how they make you feel with their words

There are a lot of lies coming out of the artists, actors, celebrities, etc. in this secular leftist culture that basically say that marriage is all about you and your feelings. If you prepared for marriage by watching movies made by pedophiles in Hollywood, and listening to music made by promiscuous musicians, and reading self-help fiction written by divorced spinsters, then you are not ready to detect a charming narcissist. Marriage is a practical enterprise, with distinct roles for husbands and wives that must be performed regardless of how either spouse feels. You need to understand and evaluate what behaviors are expected of husbands and wives in a marriage, and then look for evidence that the person you want to marry can perform those behaviors.

For example, if the behavior is fidelity, then the person should be able to demonstrate chastity and self-control during the courtship, and produce references from past girlfriends / boyfriends, and have written about chastity and self-control using research sources to explain the connection between premarital sex and marital instability. If you’re choosing with your feelings, and you haven’t done an analysis of marriage roles, and partner abilities, you’re headed for a disaster.

Just so you know, when I said this to some of the pro-irresponsibility, non-judgemental women I know, their response was to laugh in my face at the idea of asking someone’s previous partners about whether they were chaste and self-controlled. And this is why people are taken by surprise by the charming talk of narcissists. Feelings-oriented people today laugh at the idea of doing any evaluation, preferring to rely on their feelings. A lot of the failure to choose wisely is just down to people not understanding how the world works, then trying to manufacture a psycho-babble rationalization of why they screwed up.

When you’re hiring someone, you do a job interview, you test their skills, you contact their references, you do a drug test, a credit check, a criminal record check. And you have other skilled people sit in on the interviews and tests, in order to make sure that the person can really do the job they are being interviewed for. The marriage evaluation should include everything that the job interview includes as a minimum. Marriage is at least as complicated as choosing to hire someone for a job. If you aren’t doing the bare minimum of evaluating their education, career and finances, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

2. Learn what it takes to make morality rational, and then determine if your candidate is capable of being moral

Because marriage deals so much with moral obligations, it’s incumbent on you to read extensively on moral issues. You yourself should have developed worldview (through study and debate) that rationally grounds the minimum requirements for moral values and duties: 1) free will, 2) consciousness, 3) objective moral values, 4) objective moral duties, 5) a divine judge, 6) life after death. Why? Because doing the right thing isn’t something that you always feel like doing. When doing the right thing goes against your feelings, you will need to have a reason to act against your own self-interest. And that reason is going to be because the world is the sort of place where morality is real, and independent of your feelings, where you are a free moral agent, and where is a divine judge and an afterlife.

At the center of the ability to rationally ground morality is the ability to know God is real rationally, and to defend his existence using objective evidence and logical arguments. If you don’t know whether God exists based on logic and evidence, how will you evaluate whether someone else knows it? If you can’t rationally ground doing the right thing when it goes against your interest, then you won’t be able to know how to ask questions and investigate in order to decide whether someone else is moral or not.  Marrying someone who doesn’t believe in a moral lawgiver and a moral judge after death is as prudent to going into a city dump eating all your meals from what you find there.

In the specific case of fidelity, it’s important to remember that some people have goals and an understanding about how poor choices right now will make those goals more difficult to obtain. It’s easy to say that you want your spouse to be faithful. But what’s really needed is to measure what they are really trying to achieve in life, and whether they understand how infidelity would affect those plans. If you can’t see from their past decisions that they KNOW that 1) marriage and family are important enough to sacrifice for and 2) that they understand and apply the research that shows what decisions helps to make a marriage last (e.g. – no premarital sex), then, they don’t really have the goals and the information that you want in a marriage partner.

Conclusion

I have to end this post with the reaction from my friend Lindsay, who is one of my reliable advisors. She responded to Lee and Mary above with this:

There are ways to avoid marrying a narcissist, addict, abuser, or other bad man. However, most women don’t know how to evaluate men because no one ever told them what to watch for or that they need to focus on long term character traits and not ignore red flags. They have been actively encouraged to follow their hearts and indoctrinated in this view since they were small children. That doesn’t mean they are without blame, but they have also been let down by their families, friends, and society as a whole. Women need the eyes of family and friends on the men they date to help them see problems they might not recognize and warn them. But too often, family and friends are too uncomfortable saying something and think they are supposed to stay out of it. Our society has broken down and women do not have the protections they need.

Lindsay probably has the best and most successful marriage of anyone I know. She did everything right that I tell young women to do. Multiple STEM degrees, debt-free, years of private sector experience, married a virgin as a virgin herself right in the middle of her 23-27 year window, and is now a homeschooling mother of 3. Perfect, and did a thorough evaluation of her perfect husband Doug. Doug had done enormous amounts of work demonstrating through actions and achievements that he had the character and skills to be an excellent husband and father. Anyone who evaluated him beyond the surface level of talk and feelings and “confidence” would have found a gold mine of husband and father capability. Capabilities which are now on display in their marriage.

10 thoughts on “How to avoid choosing a charming, deceitful narcissist for a spouse”

  1. ” I know, their response was to laugh in my face at the idea of asking someone’s previous partners about whether they were chaste and self-controlled.”

    Aaaagh! No wonder these women are easily hoodwinked if they never even think to ask hard questions! I can’t imagine ever dating someone and not making sure he’s also a virgin–though I understand being tactful is important. And with Lindsay’s comment, I’m glad my church did teach about marriage and how premarital sex messes it up. Plus I had other resources like the Ladies Against Feminism website that also taught about it. People need concrete examples of what to do and not do, and a mental principle framework to gauge things against.

    What do people talk about when they date anyway? I probably would just get to the point and discuss marriage and Christian values/worldview, politics, and all the important stuff. With the added bonus that it’s innately interesting and deep…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was talking to a Christian woman a while back who was very serious about marriage and chastity, but ended up losing her virginity to a guy she met in her church who was putting up a false front with church attendance, indicating marriage interest, talking to the pastor, etc. This all sounded terrible to me, because he was doing so much to put up an elaborate charade for her, that even I might have been tricked if I were her. However, I asked her how much she had asked him about apologetics, politics, marriage, schools, parenting, etc. And she said (and I’m not making fun of her here) that she just asked him basic stuff like how his day went.

      So I think the failure there was not with her, but with her parents and church making Christianity a very shallow thing abotu church attendance. Here is the deal. Men should not be chasing women with the majority of their time, money and energy. They should be serving God. And that ought to be visible to women. One of the most obvious things in the world for a woman to test is “what is his plan to make sure our children will keep their faith when they meet non-Christian teachers, students, co-workers, cultural celebrities, etc.” And that means that the woman has to know apologetics herself, to know what to ask him to see if he knows. And more than what he knows, is what he’s done with the knowledge. I.e. – teaching in his church, mentoring others, debating atheists, blogging.

      She just had never thought of these things, and wasn’t equipped to test them. So, the relationship with this guy (and other guy who did similar lying) was basically a non-Christian relationship with some church attendance and talking to the pastor about shallow stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Even if she didn’t do the deep dive with the guy…She should have known the false front the minute the guy tried to convince her to fornicate. (That is unless she was putting up a false front to you she was serious about chastity and marriage)

        Like

      2. If your spiritual conversations with a boyfriend or girlfriend are shallow enough that a non-Christian could fake being a Christian, you’re not doing it right. You have to talk apologetics and deep theology and look for real passion about the things of God. That’s not easy to fake.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Very accurate and wise piece on how to avoid falling for the deceitful charm of a narcissist. I think it was the exact dilemma that Eve faced in the Garden of Eden in dealing with Lucifer. After all these years, women still fall for the glib talk. It seems that the best personal protection might be a healthy cynicism. Take every charming word with a grain of salt. I agree with the two erudite suggestions. Wish my two daughters had heard such advice from me when they were growing up. I lacked the wisdom to give this advice back then. Great article, Wintery. :)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Most people choose a spouse based off passions of lust rather than evaluating them for things like chastity, character, and being God-fearing. The whole idea you should marry someone based off feelings is often also the rationale most people use to divorce.

    Now do most men and women not get this advice…yes. However just because you didn’t get the advice doesn’t mean the consequences still won’t happen if you choose only based off lust and feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

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