• DeAara Lewis

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Bullshitters & Shit Starters: How to Deal with People Who Never Accept Responsibility for their Actions…

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone and the error in their actions were as clear as night and day, but yet they would not acknowledge it?  They made excuses or had a reason for everything they did, no matter who they violated in the process.  Or it was never their fault, it is ALWAYS somebody else.  Most of their relationships are chaotic.  They glorify and then quickly demonize someone and have a strong case of grandiose delusions. In psycho therapy this is often labeled as borderline personality disorder (a very, very close cousin to this could be Antisocial personality disorder or the more popular name, a “Sociopath”).  One of the main characteristics is the unwillingness of them to see the part they play in conflict or take responsibility for their actions.  Most of us know someone like this or perhaps have done this ourselves.

Taking responsibility is very tough because often times an abundance of shame comes with that.  Who wants to be the culprit or the reason someone else is hurt or some conflict is going on?  It’s easy to point the finger at others, it is tougher to point the finger back at ourselves. I talked to my Life Coach about this the other day.  This is something I have struggled with – people who cannot see their part in a conflict.  It burns me up, sends me into a fucking rage and I had to work through this.  He shared with me that he too has been caught up in dealing with people like this and all you can really do is let go.  You don’t have to like it, but you can’t control them or their behavior.  And if other people choose to believe this person without further investigation, there really isn’t much you can do about that either.  However, you can take some lessons.  Now you know these people are easily persuaded, probably meddle in gossip, and you’ll do better to stay away from them.

My father and I had a long conversation about this last night.  We know quite a few people who fall into the category of a Borderline.  My life coach also shared with me the traits many Borderlines carry and the similarity in them are quite eery.  Usually they are quite friendly, charming, a cheerleader who constantly sings your praises, they form an instant connection with you and your family.  They quickly share personal details about their life and if you are off guard, you feel comfortable enough to start doing the same.  A few things start to happen after this induction – first they may start taking side swipes at you, all in good-natured fun of course.  You may find yourself actually having to think about what they said because you don’t realize they have just insulted you until a few hours later.  They may be very helpful, volunteering to assist you with things you need to get done (even when you don’t ask) and if you accept their charity, they then expect you to be available at their every beck and call.  The moment you say, “No,” they turn on you.

In romantic relationships, they may be very charming in the beginning,  but if this is not their core, it won’t last.  And you notice this because once they have you, it’s as if another person takes over their body; a completely different personality emerges.

Another way to identify a Borderline is if they are constantly involved in conflict with someone else.  Now, just because someone is constantly involved in conflict does not mean they are Borderline, but if the conflict is NEVER the result of their own actions – you may be dealing with a Borderline.

When you determine that you may potentially be dealing with a Borderline, PROCEED WITH CAUTION!  I can’t emphasize that enough.  They WILL turn on you and in their minds, it will be all your fault.  They are vampires, they have no reflection and are either unable or unwilling to take responsibility for how they show up.

One of my sisters just dealt with a situation like this.  The other person just lashed out at her, without getting all of the data.  In the beginning, she and this person were cool,  but every time my sister looked around, this person’s name kept coming up in drama.  Even then, my sister tried to give this person the benefit of the doubt, because she saw a different side to this person. I remarked that it was only a matter of time before this person turned on her as well based off of their past behavior.  And sure enough, it happened.  The person never went directly to my sister to get clarity, they instead handled it in a very passive aggressive way and just like a Borderline, in their mind, they played no part in the conflict.  It was ALL MY SISTER’S FAULT.  This person even went as far as to “accidentally” push her.  When we shared these series of incidents with my father his response was, “That’s some real nigga shit and a real wounded human being you’re dealing with.  You’ll do best to leave that shit alone.”  A Borderline is what I call them.

I dealt with this too, as is well chronicled on this blog with my Ex and his now wife.  She took no responsibility in anything that happened and really neither did he as far as I know.   Everything was because of me.  He cheated because of me.  She threatened to kill me because of me.  She emailed me this year because of me.  She read personal letters I had given him because of me.  He came on to me last year because of me.  Everything was my fault in their heads, they played no part in anything and when I struck back, her feelings got hurt and of course it was because of me.  She never once acknowledged how she cyber-stalked me, called me names on her social media pages, called me from blocked numbers, sent folks past my house, sent threatening messages to my phone when she was THE OTHER WOMAN, but as soon as I took a strike back, she went victim.

But that’s what Borderlines do, they attack and attack and attack and when you strike back, it is your fault.  Some welcome the adversity because they are always looking for a brawl; they feed off of conflict and negativity. That is a defining point in all of this.  If you don’t remember anything else about their behavior, remember that.  No matter how wrong they are, how clear the violation is, it will ALWAYS be for another reason other than their own actions.  Always! IT WILL NEVER EVER, EVER BE THEIR FAULT! EVER!

There’s a little more you’ve got to watch out for, because many Borderlines know how to pretend especially if you’ve trumped their card.  They may apologize, but it won’t be genuine.  How do you know?  Listen to the apology.  In reality, it really won’t be one.  It will go something like this, “I’m sorry for what I did but I only did it because you did this.”  See how they flip it?  It will never be about them.

Now let me add some clarity to this, people can and often apologize and will tell you why they did what they did.  But often times it will go something like, “I’m sorry for what I did, I did it because I felt sad, hurt and attacked.  I thought you were coming at me unfairly and I just went on the offense.   I do apologize for how I  handled that situation and in the future will commit to asking for clarity instead of assuming.”  That’s a real apology.  The person acknowledged their behavior and what triggered it.  They didn’t blame you for any of it, instead they spoke for the part of themselves that was hurt and judged they were violated.   Now you very well may have said or done something that caused that person to react the way that they did.  The difference is, the person recognizes that their feelings are their feelings and you are not responsible for how they feel.

I hope this has helped some of you who may be dealing with this have some cognizability about exactly what you are dealing with.  These are very, very wounded people and there is nothing you will be able to say or do to get them to see how they show up. If you try, it will be exhausting, because no matter how genuine they seem about accepting responsibility, it will always go back to it being someone else’s fault.  I don’t think I can emphasize that enough. I would suggest that you keep your distance or sever times with them completely because they can be highly manipulative, are skilled liars and can potentially cost you some relationships.  It is almost sociopathic and it is very dangerous to try to “save” them.  They can only save themselves and in order to do that, they have to be willing to see themselves first.

Leave a comment and forward this post to your friends!  Also for more the characteristics of toxic and manipulative people, check out the post “The Addiction to Playing God.”  Thank you for reading!

25 Responses

  1. Damn! I’m almost speechless DeAara! This is now my favorite post! I never knew it was a name for this kind of behavior, it was always tough for me to lay my finger on it, I just knew when it was being done to me. I knew when I was being “handled.”

    I very much like how you broke down exactly what to look for. I got a little nervous and had to ask myself do I do any of the things you listed. How in the hell did you figure this shit out? Lol. But anyway, great post and I will certainly be forwarded it to my friends and family! This is a subject that definitely needs more attention.

    • People who refuse to take responsibility for anything bad does not equal Borderline. One of the nine traits is black/white thinking, but that doesn’t mean they think all or nothing in everything. To be diagnosed as Borderline you need five or more of any the nine traits. Think of it like phone numbers, how many unique phone numbers can be created using 1 to 9, five or more of the numbers? Just because someone has a diagnosis, which this article didn’t even say the person she was talking about did, don’t pigeon-hole them. Borderline is a very little known diagnosis. When I mention the word Schizophrenic does the word psycho-killer come into mind? Being Borderline myself, having three other friends (two of which are in loving relationships) and other friends who are schizophrenic and other diagnoses, they are gentle, kind, people. Sure they can be annoying or I disagree with them sometimes, but that what anyone’s friends are like. Associating Borderlines as “Vampires” and anyone else with a mental illness as some sort of monster is damaging. That is what stigma is. It’s not just people with mental illness that have the monopoly on bad break-ups, relationships or crime. The “normal” people do that too, because if they didn’t they would be perfect, and that just ain’t human.

  2. Hey David! Thanks for commenting. We all have done some of the things on the list, it doesn’t make us a borderline. The fact that you can look yourself and see that separates you right there.

    I’ve been involved in various forms of soul work for a long time and have gone through some things. This book I am reading called “The Gift of Fear” says that there is no such thing as Us and Them when it comes to who could commit a violent crime. Depending on the circumstances, every single one of us is capable of going there. The same thing is true about behavior. Depending on the situation, we can show up in a number of way.

    I am telling you this to answer your question about how I have been able to figure a lot of this stuff out. It is because I’ve been on both ends. I’ve been the victim and I’ve been the bully. I’ve been manipulated and I’ve been the manipulator. While I’ve seldom had any ill-intent towards anyone and usually was unaware of what I was doing, I know how it feels on both sides of the coin. And I know many of the feelings, thoughts, judgments and beliefs that motivate people to try to control someone else or to refuse to acknowledge their part in a conflict. One thing I love about my life coach is that he has been there. He has gone through much of what I have, so there is no self-righteousness in the work we do. It comes from a complete compassionate place of Self. I think that’s the only way you can truly help someone, you have to be willing to be vulnerable and find that place in yourself that truly connects with that other person. If you just talk AT them and not listen or try to relate to where they are coming from, whether you agree or not, you really serve no purpose in that person’s life. – DeAara

  3. OMG! I think that the world is rampant with these “Vampires” as you call them!!
    I had a GF act out in this very way a few years back and I literally had to cut her ass off. She made me think she was crazy because her actions were so ridiculous. Always fighting with people and arguing, always trying to take over and then act wounded when nobody played along. At first we all thought she was a closet lesbian and was secretly in love with me which was why she was trying so hard to be all up in my life; Now I know understand her ass just might actually be straight borderline… LOL

    I played Rugby for a number of years and in regards to playing dirty and on-field fighting, a well respected coach once told me;
    “People will never see what triggered your retaliation. They will only ever see you as a dirty player and judge the melee according to YOUR actions. Remember that before you punch a bitch in the face.”

    *One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.*

    Point being – no matter what people throw at us, always try to carry yourself with dignity and respect and avoid the drama at all costs. It makes it much harder to get sucked into foolishness when someone does you dirty or if someone wants to pop off with some BS.

  4. i would like to call into play your creditdentails, are you a certified psychotherapist? also how do you know what the point of no return in which you can turn the cheek on someone? also, there is something called perspective, what about the perspective of the person that says they are being persecutued. also as a student of psychology i would ask you to give a clinical diagnosis of a person, which can be only done through professional training, never tell an untrained person how to diagnose a person without actually consulting the dsm. in any case, please do not give symptom analysis without actually showing the full range of symptoms which for borderline personality disorder shares many of the symptoms with many other personallity disorders like for example; manic depression. also for all the other readers out there this is not a professional colunm with absolutely no credibility since it is not recognized by any journal of professional medicine.

    • Don’t know how I missed this, but I’ll address it anyway, Anthony, I believe you are the only person who took my blog post of my personal experiences that I chose to share with the world as a “professional column”. If you had read the full spectrum of my blog, you will see that this is a blog for artist who deal with every day life events.

      I hear that you are a student of psychology, I am assuming you wrote this to qualify yourself. And hear that I have been working in interpersonal/shadow work as a facilitator for over 10 years. So what some approach me with from a “text book” perspective which I overstand, I have real life experience. Please do not come on my blog and tell me what to write and how to write – that’s not happening.

      I actually chose to use the term “borderline” because that is the term my facilitator who is a trained and licensed psychotherapist for more than 50 years used when I shared with him my experience. It was used as a colloquial expression for people who found themselves in situations that I have experienced. So please do not attempt to challenge my interpretation of my life experiences and those people without having any of data and “challenging” me based on your predispositional beliefs and assumptions. Now I’m sure that goes against the very curriculum that you are studying.

      Now carry on…

      • If this is the Anthony Jodlowski that I know of.. I always shook my head at him going into psychology seeing how he cant figure himself out.He is book smart but very naive on the common sense part.And belittles everyone that don’t agree with him.I do wish him the best in his career but I hope he can learn to see other people’s problems from his studies and not judge them and miss guide them because of his own selfish needs.

  5. After quite a few encounters with vampires recently, I came to Google today for some guidance of how to deal with such situations. This is a really succinct post. Thanks. PS I LOVE the title…

  6. Wow, reading this opened my eyes. My spouse……She always made me feel that it was always my fault no matter what. This describes her to a tee. How do you deal with a ……….. like this? I’m at my wits end.

    • I wish there were a “right” answer. The best thing I can suggest is to do whatever you have to do create a space within yourself so you don’t get hijacked and take on someone else’s shit. There are methodologies out on how to do this too. 🙂

  7. Very clearly explained and direct! Loved reading this! In a relationship with a man who won’t take responsibility. SO frustrating! Thank-you for sharing your insight and experiences. Needed to read that right now! So many “yup, uh huh!” moments.

    Thanks, R.

  8. She clearly sounds like a sociopath. Sociopath’s are more likely to attack you verbally. And mentally try to break you down. They can appear to others as kind and caring but are monsters if you are their target. My advice is to change your # and have no contact with her. The more you respond the more ammo she has. She will try to socially and emotionally destroy you. She will even at times make you feel your the crazy one, but know its all her. Stay away from her and let your man have her. Cuz she will eventually start verbally abusing him

  9. How can someone cope with a person like this at work? We work in retail, have the same title, salary, etc., both female over 50. She has actually been there longer than me, but does not retain or try to learn anything to advance herself. I am tired of hearing so and so did it, not me. I took the time to train her, (my boss does not have the patience),
    and had her write everything down that I taught her so she had something to reference when I wasn’t around. Doesn’t work. Our job is just a series of repeat occurances. We do just the same things every day- I just can’t understand it. Help?!

  10. Your article is well written and accurate to my experience. But for me sad that in order for me to not experience such behavior I have to distance myself from such a person. I have tried in so many ways to have a good relationship with the type of person you described. I have let go of incidents, had tried to have adult discussions with this person and I keep getting burned. It’s hard for because the person you described is my sister. She has two beautiful young boys and I’m really close to them. In order for me to have a relationship with them I have to go through her. She is always involved in some kind of conflict and is not able to resolve it properly. Very negative and aggressive. Nothing is ever her fault and her fav line is “your attacking me.” She makes friends easy but who ever gets too close to her she turns on them. Lots of times you dont know what happened, or you are about to get it. Many of her friends, boyfriends, family members have confided with me about her behavior. Her now husband is dealing with it. I googled the topic because we recently had another minor incident that she has turned it into a world war lll episode. And I’m tired.

  11. […] will argue that it is important for an individual to take ‘responsibility’ for their actions. That is, I believe, a fallacy. The act of what is commonly supposed to […]

  12. I’ve never in more than 15 years have I ever posted, blogged or commented on the thousands of article sites I visited over these years. But, there is a first for everything; I was and still am so very much overwhelmed with disbelief that someone else and others alike have/has experienced what I’ve endured for more than 4 years.

    I dated a young lady with by far the most extreme borderline disorder anyone can even imagine, or that I can even possibly articulate in writing. No matter what, absolutely 100% no matter what you did to show, tell, or otherwise with facts, figures, video, audio, transcripts or logs would she ever admit to anything. At best, if she did acknowledge anything, it was to defer that the issue or fault was not hers but seemingly somehow I was the causation of the problem, whereas, I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I cannot stress even close enough how frustrating this is, even for a Pope, not wanting to just run, scream or curse at a person like this.

    APOLOGIZE!!!! Never!!! These people never apologize trust me, I’m sorry doesn’t necessarily constitute an apology, it’s the sincerity and honesty behind the apology. “I’m sorry, BUT, you….”. I truly am speechless and totally beside myself when I read this article. These people are truly craftsman of their art, they will have you apologizing for them stealing the cookie from the cookie jar, and you caught them. Interesting enough these individuals are as sly as a fox, manipulative, controlling, argumentative and absolutely sickening (such strong words, but not nearly strong enough or overstated).

    Yes, we all have the propensity to defend ourselves when under attack, but this is not the case with borderline people. Most mature have rational people when directed or pointed to their mistake or errors, they accept, acknowledge and admit their actions. NOT with borderline or at least not with this particular young lady, they always have a reason, excuse, rational, or cause for their behavior, and its not because of them, its because of YOU!!

    In short, I’m still speechless and totally blown when I read this article as I felt someone was writing on my behalf. So to any other reader of this article or my reply posting, I can only pray for you and strongly recommend with every ounce of my body for you to RUN LIKE HELL, damn packing bags, or thinking about the great escape…. RUNNN nothing good will ever come of it. “Find them a fool, leave them a fool”, you’ll change a fool.

  13. Excellent and accurate. This explains a lot!

  14. Great article!

    “They may be very helpful, volunteering to assist you with things you need to get done (even when you don’t ask) and if you accept their charity, they then expect you to be available at their every beck and call. The moment you say, “No,” they turn on you.”

    Really hits it on the head! You nailed it!

  15. And if this describes to a tee your spouse of forty years?

    • I am so amazed at reading this post and the replies. It is 6:35 am and I have never replied to a blog in my life. The behavior that has been described is my husband of 18 yrs. I have had it. I want out. He never takes responsibility for his actions, has no empathy, is controlling, manipulative, and mean as hell behind closed doors. Raves to all how he loves me an his family then belittles me behind closed doors. Wont forgive but wants forgiveness. Wont get help. Im ready to divorce and move on ,but I want to be smart and safe about it. Any suggestions?

  16. Wow very powerful and so true I met a women like this things went fast she moved in with me and when I would confront her about her pill addiction she was passing out with cigerttes in her hand burning my carpet she would say.your picking on me”and tried to make me feel guilty for even saying anything no matter what I said or felt it was never her fault she blamed it on her childhood or who ever she could blame..she even told me one time she thought about suicide to teach het mom a lesson I was shocked this article helped me a lot because there are people out there who side with her and am the bad guy..it’s clear yes I played a part but I always apologized when I made mistakes she wouldn’t acknowledge her part I felt like I was going crazy thanks so much for clarifying am not the only one who takes the blame when it not my responsibility for someone else’s happiness..it’s a inside job

  17. Reading this describes someone who ,up until today, was my very best friend. She redirects me to put her above and beyond family and even my husband. Everything is my fault and I’m always told I need to apologize and take responsibility for the conflict. She is very needy and clingy. She is a hypochondriac and plays the “poor pitifully me” game like a trained professional. She is always in conflict with someone in her family and it’s always their fault. She expected me to forfeit one on one time with my husband who works everyday of the week with the exception of maybe 2-3 days in a month to help her with a craft bazaar. She had the nerve to tell me I was selfish for putting myself before her and even more ballsy, she emailed my husband demanding that he “talk some sense into me”….as if my husband would ever entertain the idea of taking her side that me not spending rare quality time with him was less important then being her servant for the day. We’ve been friends for 18 years and she has always made everything about her. She’s the kind who has to “one-up” you. If I’m sick, she’s sicker…if I’m depressed, she’s more depressed etc…. I want to write her a letter for my own closure but I’m not sure how to get my point across to the point of it actually sinking in her brain…any suggestions??

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