There is nothing quite as awful as being let down by someone that you once believed you could trust. Oftentimes, untrustworthy people find ways to successfully fly under our radars until they’ve caused a significant amount of harm, leaving us frustrated that we didn’t see the signs of their negative behaviors sooner. Still, there are certain traits and actions that people who are habitually untrustworthy have in common that we can look out for when placing our trust in peers, coworkers, significant others, and anyone else we come to depend on. These are four qualities of untrustworthy people to stay alert for!

They believe their own lies

Untrustworthy people tend to be skilled at one, major task: lying. Sometimes, those around them can see through their fibs, and other times, their lies go undetected until substantial harm has already been caused. However, these liars don’t only fail to tell the truth to others. They are also master manipulators when it comes to themselves. Untrustworthy people have a skewed vision of their realities, frequently painting themselves in a positive light despite being cruel and unpredictable. This causes them to be arrogant, as they believe that they are above the rules, that they are more important than others, and that they can do no wrong. These over-confident traits are a recipe for untrustworthiness, resulting in a cocktail of impulsive behavior, acting out, disregarding the importance of their peers, and failing to recognize when they have significantly damaged a scenario.

They are emotionally unpredictable

While emotional people aren’t necessarily untrustworthy, people who are genuinely untrustworthy often experience mood swings, impulsivity issues, volatile emotional polarizations, and other issues related to mental health. How does poor emotional health relate to a lack of trust? The extreme shifts in emotion that untrustworthy people experience can result in disturbances in their relationships, home lives, and work lives, causing them to withdraw from those around them and let their responsibilities slide. This results in tasks which they were entrusted with being incomplete or abandoned. They may try to backpedal to eliminate the responsibilities they were assigned or use their mental unwellness to justify letting those around them down. This doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is a bad person or making up nonexistent problems; many trustworthy people can experience emotional instability, as well. Still, those who frequently and apathetically fib for their own self-interest to evade the consequences of not fulfilling their responsibilities will likely let you down more than once.

Their relationships are unstable

Between their blunt lies and their storms of emotion, untrustworthy people often struggle to form meaningful connections, communicate properly, and meet the needs of themselves and others. This makes it difficult for individuals to maintain healthy relationships in any form, whether romantic, platonic, or professional. Untrustworthy people are often unliked by their peers, as they tend to present themselves as apathetic rather than empathetic and alienate themselves from larger groups of people. Isolating allows them to maintain complete control over the situations around them, including the lies they’ve presented as their realities. This isolation may make an untrustworthy person feel safe, yet it puts those who are in any type of relationship with them in harm’s way, as untrustworthy people can be chaotic when presented with stressors, abandon important interpersonal responsibilities, and fail to meet needs or communicate in your relationship.

They don’t display empathy

Have you ever met someone who is frighteningly apathetic? If so, they might be less trustworthy than someone who expresses healthy levels of concern and compassion. Individuals who lack empathy are often concerned with only themselves and their needs, and can easily neglect the needs of others in order to advance their own goals. When they display behaviors that are untrustworthy and receive negative responses, they don’t slow down to assess the impact that their conduct has on others. Instead, they try to justify their unsettling behaviors by ignoring or discounting the harm and unsettlement that they’ve caused by being untrustworthy. This makes it easier for untrustworthy people to become serial let-downers, as they never feel guilt or shame for how they act or how their actions impact others. As a result, they never identify issues with how they behave, as they normalize behaviors of untrustworthiness to themselves.