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The Good Man Narrative

If you live with a man who is constantly pushing his “I’m a good man” narrative — and you’ve about had it — you’ll want to read this post.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Regardless of your religious tradition, most of us feel pretty strongly that one’s behavior is evidence of their character. Those who act in a congruent manner, with a strong ethical position, see good works as evidence of a good character.

The opposite is also true. Poor choices, harmful or abusive behavior is evidence of a problematic character. The issue we’re discussing today is, individuals engaged in unkind, abusive, or evil acts do not see that behavior as wrong. When called out, this type of individual sees their actions as good. They justify their behavior and argue that you are just as wrong.


Leveling the playing field or attempts to mutualize wrongs with the one who did no wrong is a popular abuse strategy.

The Good Man Doesn’t Have to Self-Promote

If you are with a good guy it is very likely he is not trying to promote his good guy narrative while simultaneously abusing, dismissing, controlling or treating you with unkindness. Good men do not have to go around trying to convince everyone they are a good guy. They just are. 

A man who hurts other people and does so to get his own way, will push his agenda for that purpose. He does it to conceal his abusive behavior and blame his innocent victim. He will self-exonerate while villainizing his victim. 

The Good Man Battle

Abusive men know they are being abusive. They know just how much they can get away with and they know just how far to push the narrative so they can keep the narrative going long enough to create great distress in their partner. 

If you live with an abusive man, you are likely familiar with this pattern of behavior. It can be one of the most distressing discussions you attempt to have with him. It tends to be pointless.

Man vs. Self Conflict

When an individual has an internal/self conflict, there is a struggle between conscience and character. This will happen any time an abusive man defends his poor choices and the abusive outcome of those choices. 

Often this results in the next phase with the “don’t shame me” narrative. Shame, like guilt, is a corrective state of our conscience. This is a hardwired feature every human being possesses. It is possible to disconnect from one’s self and from this feature of our humanity. What typically happens in people like this is they stop caring about the impact of their behavior on others. 

Character and Conscience Connection

We all judge the actions of others. We do it to assess our safety, our belonging, and the regard the individual has for the dignity of others. Judging isn’t the horrible social error it has been made out to be. Criticism may be – but even critical statements can be offered in kindness and result in a desire to help. 

We assess the quality of the conscience and the individual’s connection to prosocial thought patterns when we evaluate behavior. When the conscience is connected to the soul, this individual lives in such a way as to take personal responsibility for their actions – especially those that inadvertently cause another person harm. 

A low-conscience character will not care about the outcome if the end result is in his favor. In this case, the individual is not in conflict. He has adjusted his narrative to be OK with maladaptive behaviors and disrespecting other human beings. 

Protecting His Self-Concept

What this kind of individual does care about is promoting his self-advancing self-image. He may not be the typical in your face type of “narcissist” that many people talk about in the pop-psych social media world. In fact, his patterns may be much more insidious and passive, but they will nonetheless be self-promoting to cover and conceal anything that might tarnish his self-promotion.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

In the final analysis of the good man narrative – actions are the evidence of who he is regardless of what he says about himself. If he is controlling, verbally abusive, passive-aggressive, or engages in any number of egregious actions – he is NOT a good man. 

The best course of action with an individual like this is to walk away from the conversation. This is not a discussion that ends until this individual is ready to own his own behaviors and work on humbly correcting thinking patterns that got him to where he is – and do the reparative work to correct the harm he causes others.

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