Texas Withhold’em

There’s a particular kind of deceitfulness that I have very little tolerance for, the sort where someone withholds information you have a right to know. The scenarios differ but it’s typically done by someone who thinks they have something to gain or to protect by keeping things from you, whether they plan to do so for a while or indefinitely. This is the person who, if/when found out, attempts to cover their ass with excuses like, “I was going to tell you later,” or “I didn’t think you’d care,” or even, “Oh? I thought I did tell you.”

The information withheld can range from the small to the very significant. Sometimes a person keeps things from you because they are afraid of your reaction and/or fearful you’ll see them differently after the revelation. Or that they will lose something of value, material or intangible. Whether their concerns jibe with reality or not – and people can really miss the mark here given their own insecurities and projections – tends to be beside the point to the person being deceived (at least when that person is me). It’s still manipulation if of a passive sort.

To me, the lack of character, the deliberate, spineless attempt to deceive by omission is the truly bothersome part – not necessarily the specific subject at hand – because once you’ve been on the receiving end, you (now) can expect more of the same from the person. If they feel threatened or are working an angle or an agenda, they’ll selectively withhold and omit. But you won’t know exactly when that is happening – maybe once in a while, maybe daily, who knows? (In my experience, reassurances – You can be honest with me, I’m sure it’s not that bad, I can’t deal with it till I know what it is, We’ll figure it out together – have little effect on grown adults who habitually withhold particulars in their relationships. Generally, they’ve been at it a long time; it’s their modus operandi and is largely driven by forces that have little to do with you or anyone else.)

The more crafty, manipulative withholder, the one found in all kinds of places – at jobs, and on committees, in positions of authority, among relatives, and sometimes in close relationships if you’re not careful – is the one who is playing with you, usurping power. Information is their weapon of choice and leaving you in the dark is tactical, done as leverage for gain: “I know something you don’t know!” This person wants to screw you over, have one up on you, undermine you, and play you for a fool. I detest this withholding most of all. It goes beyond everyday spinelessness; the motives are skeevier and more malicious. It’s harder to fight an enemy you can’t see, but unlike the old saw, what you don’t know, can well and truly hurt you.

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10 thoughts on “Texas Withhold’em

  1. siriusbizinus

    My family is very passive, as a rule, and they withhold information all the time. I even have a friend that does it to me. It messes with me, because it’s a form of control. They’ll sit there and swear up and down that it was something else, or that they wanted to, or that somehow it’s my fault that nothing was said. And no matter how many times I tell them that I need honesty from them, they still do what they do.

    It erodes trust when you find out that other people are lying about it too. At any rate, it’s a terrible thing that people do to each other. Both because of its lingering effects, and that it’s completely unnecessary.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Yes! The back-pedaling and excuse-making that some people trot out can make you wonder if you’re bring gaslighted at times. It makes you think, “How could you possibly think it was ok not to tell me “X” and in a timely manner?!? Are you just screwing with me??”

      Sometimes I’ve tried to rebalance power by doing the same thing, but find I can’t. It makes me feel really uncomfortable. Like you, I have spent A LOT of time telling people I want honesty from them to little end. I now suspect either people are honest and forthcoming from Word Go or they aren’t. Nothing you say or do will change that – I’d like to be wrong but….

      I appreciate your comment. –Colette

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I’m all fuzzed-up on that. Their explanations for withholding sound so plausible at times and I don’t always feel I have the knowledge, etcetera, to challenge it. And sometimes it’s simply too late. And I know I don’t want to become a crackpot with an arsenal holed up somewhere yammering on about the gov’mint. It’s a dilemma.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Exactly. I wouldn’t like it one bit, but would prefer and have more respect for, say, the person who TOLD ME they were going to cheat, giving me an opportunity to react, than one who connived and went behind my back.

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