What are the character traits that will put you off a person and why?
Hi! Interesting question – thank you very much for writing this in. It is quite rare that I don’t like a person straight off the bat. I tend to meet people in a fairly open state. I assume that everyone will be my new best friend, and then over time they fit into my life however they will. I also find it hard to put a name on why someone might leave me feeling a little uncertain. My gut is what tells me when there is something off, and then it usually requires some serious reflecting for me to figure out why. I did manage to come up with three major traits that scare the shit out of me. Every time a person has set off my alarm, they usually possess these traits to some degree.
The first one is a lack of empathy. I truly believe that empathy is the most important character trait a human can have. The ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and to try to see the world through their eyes is what separates us from animals. It is what has brought so much love and connection into the world. Without it we are just reacting blindly to every interpreted slight against us. Have you ever been hurt by someone with a lack of empathy? Odds are you were not able to resolve the hurt in a satisfactory way for yourself. Without a sense of empathy the other person lives purely in a world of their own making and their own rules. I believe that as a world we are suffering greatly from a lack of empathy. We can see it through the way we treat those from different backgrounds, genders, race or religion – basically anyone who differs from us in any way. Instead of stopping and asking why things are the way they are for them, they are just labelled as different, other and therefore, wrong. This is not progress.
The second trait I struggle with is materialism. I like people with taste. I love people with better taste than me who can make my outfit better, or my apartment look nicer. Or people who I can look to for style inspiration. I have never been that “cool” or “stylish” (I wish I was), but to have friends who can tell me that I look like I just rolled up out of a salvation army bin is a blessing. However, I do not like people for whom the most expensive thing is therefore the best thing. Taste does not come from wearing head to toe costly designer clothing. And living a life where that is the most important thing is a turn off for me. I do find it hard when other things in life are sacrificed for the getting of said designer products. When someone cannot make rent, but is rocking a high end designer bag, I find it hard to understand why.
Finally, the last trait that scares me to death is narcissism. A little narcissism I feel isn’t that bad. It is a way to preserve yourself, and to make sure that you are getting what you need. Perhaps it is more narcissism plus empathy that makes it ok (sometimes). However, full blown, cold narcissism is terrifying to me. I had nightmares for many years about one particular narcissist – and the scariest part was that they were being kind and loving to me. I had no idea what was going to come out next, and would wake up terrified. What frightens me the most is the ability to switch from loving to straight up ice cold anger depending on the person and circumstance. Along with the lack of empathy, and need to preserve themselves at whatever and whoever the cost – my intuition around these types of people usually leaves me very anxious and on edge. There’s no helping a narcissist either, because it is impossible for them to understand that it is them with the problem, not the countless people within their lifetime who are no longer in contact with them. Scary stuff.
I certainly have loved plenty of people with these traits to some degree. Usually it is accompanied with enough empathy and self awareness to be able to laugh at themselves when they go too far, and to apologize properly for hurt being done. A real, heartfelt apology can change lives. However I have experienced making the hard decision to take myself out of the line of fire, and end the relationship. Depending on how close you were with the person, ending a relationship can be the hardest thing you ever do. I am still in the process of trying to process a particularly traumatic and close relationship ending last year. I don’t believe that I will ever “get over it”, but that I will continue to learn to live with it. And I am alright with that.
At the end of the day, I truly believe that empathy will save all of us. If we have the ability to ask questions about what makes the other person act the way they do, and give meaning and weight to their answers, we will always be able to maintain loving relationships. Because no one is perfect. Every single one of my close friends and family is different. I could never hold any traits against them, just as I hope they would not hold my shortcomings against me.