Fool Me Twice: Why We Believe the Liars That We Know Are Lying

In my experience, it is the one who most vehemently accuses someone of something that’s actually the one doing it—like cheating in a relationship or voter fraud. And also in my experience, the person being lied to is usually the least willing to accept the weight of the revelation. They say that it is because they don’t believe that the person they put their trust in would do them like that. But, I think it is really because they are afraid of being wrong, even with mounting evidence, because they have built so much of their life around a lie and just can’t bear the thought that they can’t trust THEMSELVES anymore. Or like an addict who keeps using even though they want to be clean and know they should stop, they think about the things that they did under the influence and the shame is so heavy that all they can think to do is destroy themselves because they can’t stop any other way. And they can’t bring themselves to ask for help because, most of the time they’ve probably been taking their fear of being wrong out on those who tried to warn them.

They’ve defended their abuser or their usage so much that they feel like they can’t backtrack now. So they double and triple and quadruple down. They may even point out the failings of others in some twisted way of trying to normalize what they’re going through and minimize the psychological impact of accepting that the person THEY CHOSE has treated them so poorly by cheating on them or committing voter fraud or accepting the reality that they never had their addiction demons under control.

Even when people will tell them that they witnessed the impropriety, the person will continue to make excuses and try to justify the behavior of the cheater or abuser, voter fraud perpetrator or their own addiction. Some will even go so far as to blame the institutions like the romance industrial complex for making them susceptible to the seduction of their philandering partner or the dirty politicians that forced their otherwise trustworthy politician to play dirty. We’ll literally do everything we can think of besides face the fact that we were just plain old lied to or we lied to ourselves. For most of us, it isn’t until we hit rock bottom that we’re able to look back and see that the signs were always there—the secrecy, the pandering, the trying to sneak in alternate electors.

So as someone who has lied to myself in order to avoid the pain of accepting that I was being lied to, let me say to those who are still in denial or are avoiding watching January 6th coverage, I know what it’s like to want to believe in something so much that you’ll almost let yourself be destroyed before facing what’s been right in front of you all along. Very few of us are above the hypnotic powers of manipulated hope. But at some point, you’re going to have to look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself the truth that you’ve so heavily invested in avoiding.

We’re not wrong for wanting to believe we were right. That’s what humans do. But, we are wrong once we see the truth for what it is but keep on pressing forward. After that we’re complicit in our own harm and the harm of those who have to deal with the consequences of our unwillingness to be corrected.

No one is wrong for being fooled. But we become fools when we can’t admit when we’re wrong.

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