And you start to believe him.
But the biggest warning sign of all? Your friends and family are all warning you about him. Often from the very beginning. At first, you jump to his defense, declaring his wonderful qualities—how happy he makes you. They continue to warn you, and gradually, ever so slowly, you pull away from those you care for. Now you are isolated from people who have known you, loved you and cared about you for years. You’ve concluded that they’re just jealous. Or they’re negative. Or they just don’t understand.
See how that happened?
What are the consequences of turning a blind eye?
Standing too close this Mr. Wonderful can be devastating. It’s life-altering any way you look at it. Once they are found out, and this is almost (though not always) inevitable, you have created a life that is about to crumble. At best, you end up with a broken heart, a wounded pride, and some pieces to pick up. At worst, the consequences can be devastating.
If you have intertwined yourself financially with this person, your own finances are likely to be in disarray (if you’re lucky) or in ruin.
If there are children in the relationship (whether this is “dad” or someone they have come to admire), this will potentially impact them in any number of ways, from feeling abandoned to complete disillusionment. It will impact their internalized messages about relationships and trust. It will impact their relationship with you, as the person who allowed this destructive force into their lives. In the extremist category, if they have developed an idealized attachment to this person, your kids could very likely to go into their own denial (which you have modeled for them), and that could potentially lead them into similar, anti-social behavior as they get older.
But most importantly, if you have embedded yourself legally or through your behavior into any aspect of his criminality (knowingly, or not) you may be held legally liable. Once you sign your name to a legal form (think of joint business and personal contracts), the courts do not care if you were vulnerable, if you were in love, if you had no idea what he was doing. Ignorance may be an excuse with your therapist, but the courts won’t care and are likely to have no mercy. If he is held responsible, you will likely be held responsible. If he is going to prison, then you could very well end up in prison as well.
Mr. Wonderful is looking a whole lot less wonderful now!
If I realize that I am involved with a criminal, what does that say about me?
It says that you’re human and you put your trust in a less-than-trustworthy person. It says you have been, for whatever reason, vulnerable. It says that the hope for “what could be” overwhelmed your better judgment.