The old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” has come up a bunch of times in the last month for me and for others in my life.
I know someone who’s been apartment hunting in Los Angeles, a city whose rental prices have been notoriously increasing beyond the cost of living. Looking at various apartment websites, he found a great guest house for a ridiculously low price (one bedroom, one bath with parking and a yard for $750). The landlord appeared like a typical landlord until he requested a deposit to view the place. Basically, the landlord greedily requested a deposit to then be able to pay a security deposit. Doing a quick internet search, my friend realized that this is a scam and removed himself from the situation. My friend never got to visit the apartment, which was a red flag that this was too good to be true.
Then there are the millions of stories, both personal and distant, of people who meet someone online and they end up talking, meeting, and falling in love, only to find out one of them has a significant other or spouse and is lying and cheating. Or, commonly, you meet someone attractive online and the other person never wants to meet. You ask yourself, “how can this be? We’ve connected and gotten so close!” These catfish experiences really hurt. Often, you wonder how you could have been so blind or trusting? You wonder: How did I not see the red flags? You might say I should have known better.
What about the new job that offers excellent benefits and flexible hours, is exactly what you’ve been looking for, but ends up having shady corporate practices? Or you interview with your would-be boss and he seems tyrannical as early as the interview. Or worse, your coworker is sweet and communicative at the beginning, but once you’ve been there a few months, it turns into a hostile work environment. That situation is so disheartening. You’ll likely blame yourself and say I could have done more research.
Or the time you were pitched on a biotech investment deal where your money would triple in under two years? You would be part of bleeding edge technology and get to attend special user conferences and parties. The frontman is always someone who seems charismatic and persuasive. The deal is so good. You have just enough extra money to invest, you’re looking to diversify. You want to belong to a specialty group of people who are hand-selected. You decide to make the investment, only to realize a year in that the company and its programmers are not as savvy as you first thought. In this case, the deal was too good to be true.
We go through life wanting something to feel passionate, unique, special. And when it finally comes along, we jump! Sometimes we high dive too quickly, without checking the pool’s depth. Other times, we dot our Is and cross our Ts and still we are blindsided.
We are normally so good at double-checking, trusting ourselves, or being able to identify scams, so how can this happen? How did I nearly fall prey to an internet scam a few years ago when trying to sell sneakers on craigslist? Normally, my guard is up and I know how to spot a scam. Or, how did I get taken by a person who falsified a name and fraudulently contacted me? I offer these examples to serve as reminders that anyone can be a victim of the too good to be true blues.
I believe we have so much hope for realness and connection, or something better in our lives.
I hold a fantasy or wish in my heart, and secretly pray for it to work out magically. Skepticism or cynicism doesn’t initially cross my mind until I’m being burned. And then, it often feels too late. That’s when my favorable view of humankind is exasperated; I really don’t want to expect that I could be taken. Instead, I want to believe people are ethical, honest, kind, and generous. When they prove to be immoral, lying, mean, or stingy, I’m greatly discouraged.
You might think I’m naïve. Maybe I am. Perhaps I need to thicken my skin or build up stronger defensive walls in order to protect my heart from pain or disappointment. But I think differently. I still believe in the goodness of the world, but I have certain strategies for checking to make sure it’s not too good to be true.
- I look at situations for how they are, not what I want them to be. I give up on the idea of a fantastical outcome and see people exactly as they present themselves. I use my monocle to look at what’s truly happening
- I speak to a few close friends and my own coach who have a clear head and they give me honest, authentic feedback. We can all be swept off our feet, so having a few good friends to help stay grounded is important.
- I look at history. I don’t want to suggest that people can’t change, or deals can’t ever be good. But, my research needs to point to a positive reason for me to engage.
- When shady things start to happen, pull the rip cord early. Nobody needs to be a martyr and stay longer than necessary. Once you have a gut feeling, or start seeing signs of unethical behavior or poor results, leave.
- Trust yourself. If you have inklings or a sneaking suspicion that it’s too good to be true, go with it. It probably is.
- Don’t beat yourself up over the should haves, would haves, could haves. We all make mistakes and it’s time to learn from them.
To learn more about me, or to refer me to a friend in need, please visit Coaching By Nina Rubin.