A few months back I shared how I ended up telling an acquaintance that the man she suspected of telling her porkies was in fact married. I’d met him a few months beforehand with a few other people and when she described him I was like “Well it must be X because the one you’re describing sounds like Y and he’s married”. She kept telling me I’d got them the wrong way round and by the time I realised I actually hadn’t got them mixed up, the truth became very clear. Mor-ti-fi-cation!

Now one of the things that annoyed me at the time was this whole ‘Man Code’ thing, you know, the so-called unspoken rules between guys. He told her that if she didn’t believe that he wasn’t divorced, she could ask the boyf (my partner). Of course, he knew she was highly unlikely to follow up. This is what’s known as a ruse.

When someone pulls The Ruse, they tell you that they can show/do something or that you can ask somebody else, so that you can verify their claims, all while knowing it’s highly unlikely that you will follow through. It’s a form of gaslighting.

The ruse-puller knows you’ll be reluctant to call their bluff. They play on your possible fear of coming across distrusting or of creating conflict. The Ruse aims to silence any queries and allay your fears and, ultimately, they gain your trust. A crucial aspect of the trick is saying stuff like ‘Just ask X’ or ‘If you don’t believe me ask Y’ or ‘If you don’t believe me, we may as well end it now’.

They make what they’re suggesting sound like a fact. In turn, you take it as the truth and assume that the ‘evidence’ that they pointed to is there should you decide to avail yourself of it. As it’s supposed to be ‘fact’, you assume it’s immovable.

Even if you do say ‘OK then, I will‘, they’ll guilt-trip you. They’ll accuse you of not believing them. ‘Is my word not good enough for you?’ or ‘Well, [the relationship] obviously can’t go on if you don’t trust me.’ Or, they’ll string it out.

Take Mr Married-But-Pretending-He’s-Not. He believes the ‘Man Code’ is alive and well. He assumes that if she’d called up the boyf, that he’d verify the story without him even having to ask him to do it (um, no!).

The ruse-puller may get melodramatic or just plain mean so that somehow you forget that this is about questionable ‘truths’ and you end up guilt-tripped.

You feel bad that they feel bad and feel guilty for having justifiable concerns. This leads you to question your judgement. If you don’t follow through and clarify, this is an example of the setting up of a trust point. From there, you’re likely to take information at face value for fear of reprisals if you question it.

Now you’d think that the story of this cheat would end there. Nope! He’s phoning, texting, emailing up a storm, weeping, begging to be taken back and saying ‘I can show you the divorce papers if you like’. Obviously, she’s still giving an ear to this twit when he needs a closed door.

He’s still pulling The Ruse. For a start, if he’s that desperate to show his non-existent divorce papers, he’d have put them down on the table long ago. Oh, that’s right, he can’t because he doesn’t have any! And he’s relying on her taking him at his word or bamboozling her if she asks to see them. Either that or he’ll be buying fake divorce papers from a website. Again, everything he’s doing is gaslighting. He’s attempting to hijack her reality by creating doubt and through misdirection, emotional blackmail, misinformation and contradiction.

Pulling The Ruse is manipulation.

Psychologically, the message is clear: I know I told you that you could ask this person or that I can show you this stuff, but I only said that you could so that you’d believe what I’m saying. It’s not an invitation to actually do it. Doing so would mean that you’re questioning whether I am a trustworthy person. You’d make me feel bad about myself. The fact that what I’m telling you isn’t actually true is beside the point. If you cared about me, you’d believe me without having to check up on me. Wah wah wah.

As humans, at least honest ones, we don’t like to feel like we’re causing someone else to feel that they can’t be trusted. When we imagine what it feels like to be distrusted, it makes us feel like a ‘bad person’.

But comparing yourself with a dishonest person who’s offering you ‘evidence’ that you’re not allowed to substantiate is rationalising the irrational. You’re not the one talking out of your bottom while trying to convince the other party that you’re talking out of your mouth.

Someone pulling The Ruse means that they’re highly manipulative. They’ll beg, borrow, steal, cheat, and of course, lie to exploit those around them.

If they’re behaving in this way, it will be part of a wider picture of lies and code red/amber behaviour. What they don’t realise is that aside from any lies they may be telling, what can actually become the bigger issue is the mind f*ckery. The gaslighting. I’m always suspicious of anyone who turns something they’re doing around and puts it on you. Next thing, they’re the ‘victim’.

Be careful of those that seek to draw you into their web of lies. Their version of truth and honesty is woven out of a carefully constructed set of lies and premises that they have to keep intact to remain in denial and avoid taking responsibility for their actions. This isn’t honest communication.

You will find that whenever issues present themselves, they’ll attempt to manipulate you into not being able to see their dishonesty.

To add insult to injury, they also pull this stuff to set loyalty and love tests. In their mind, someone who loves them will believe any lie they tell. That’s emotional blackmail.

Don’t deny anything, and be honest with yourself about how they’ve come to be pulling The Ruse on you. You have discovered (or come close to finding out) the truth, which means there are lies in your relationship. There are lies that not only is this person refusing to admit to, but they’re actually seeking to drag you down further. Watch out, because they’ll likely drip-feed you the truth. And by the time the last drip is in, you won’t know your arse from your elbow.

Hit the flush handle and opt out. Instigate No Contact if necessary. Don’t worry about them – they’re already pulling The Ruse elsewhere. Don’t try to teach basic decency – we are all too old to be teaching another adult the difference between truth and lies. How much you try to teach or how much you’ll listen will govern how ‘deep’ you’ll get into a bad situation. I suggest you turn yourself on to an honesty ‘frequency’ and shut them out.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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