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What’s More Important – What People Say or What They Do?

One of the easiest traps to fall into is to put more faith and hope into what someone says rather than what they do. This is virtually how most victims of abuse remain mired in hurtful relationships. If you’re paying more attention to how people say they’ll be than to how they really are, these scenarios may be (sadly) familiar to you.
  • You repeatedly believe the excuses that people give for their behavior: You just happen to catch them smoking their only cigarette of the day; They’re late because the alarm clock didn’t go off again; They couldn’t say no to having a drink though they’d promised to give up alcohol; They keep texting with a former lover because he or she keeps emailing them and they don’t want to be rude and not respond.
  • They make the same promises repeatedly for months, or worse, years and you want to believe them when they say they’ll: get a job, get a better job, come home from work on time, go away with you for a weekend, pay more attention when they’re taking care of the kids, clean up after themselves, stop playing computer games and get to sleep earlier, go to the doctor about that hacking cough, mind their spending.
  • They apologize constantly for not doing something they said they’d do, but still don’t: clean the house, paint the garage, get the kids some new clothes, eat better, talk to their boss, get blood work done, call more regularly, pay back money they owe you.
  • They blame you for how they act and react, insisting that they: only shoved you away because you wouldn’t leave them alone, wouldn’t need to get a job if you were a better budgeter, would stop yelling at the kids if you’d only discipline them better, wouldn’t need to drink/smoke/eat/do drugs/gamble if you were nicer to them.
  • They tell you all the things that are wrong with you rather than: admit to their own mistakes, take responsibility for doing or not doing things, permanently change their behavior, reflect on their flaws, see that they’re projecting faults onto you that belong to them, agree to go to counseling with you to improve your relationship.
Why do you still fall for the lies and excuses and meaningless apologies? Perhaps you don’t want to admit that they’ll never change because you: would be angry at them and feel a strong need to do something about it; don’t want to give up faith because you prefer to believe in the goodness of people; think that if you’re not perfect, you can’t have high expectations of others; don’t want to admit that you made a mistake choosing to keep them in your life; don’t believe that you deserve better than what they can give you. Whatever the reason, now is the time to ignore the words and start paying attention to behavior. If you don’t do it now, you might never do it and that would be a shame.
 
Best,
Karen