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Spell out appetite for truth, then sit back, watch and wait

Spell out appetite for the truth, then sit back, watch and wait

Q: Caught my boyfriend in a small lie (he said an office event was employees-only; I later found out spouses and significant others were welcome). It led me to think he was concealing something major — maybe a work girlfriend. When I asked what was up, he apologized for lying but said he had really wanted to attend the party alone for shmoozing purposes but didn't know how to tell me that without hurting my feelings.

I kind of get it, but instinctually I don't know whether that explanation is okay/holds water. What's your take on this?

E.

A: There's certainly no shortage of people who believe ignorance is bliss, who like their bad news withheld, who want their truths told selectively and with all the sharp edges filed off with white lies.

Because of those people (and solely because of those people), I can't say outright, "He lied to you, so get out." For all I know, a parent or sibling or close friend — or you yourself — trained him to believe protective lies were an act of kindness, and he merely transferred that notion of kindness to this situation.

For all I know, he's having/planning a mad affair with someone at work. So there's that, too.

Since the scope of the problem is still an unknown, you have a two-part decision to make. First, you need to correct any misconceptions he has about your appetite for the truth. Presumably you want it straight, so tell him you want honesty even when it's awkward. Assure him you're not as fragile as he seems to think. And while you're there, ask him where he falls on this issue. Does he want you telling this kind of lie to him?

Once your preferences are out there, then you go to Part 2: watch and wait.

Just don't wait long. Either he has a "duh" moment over the whole episode — "You're right, of course I shouldn't (cow pie) you; I was an idiot" — and you both become more honest brokers for it, or you'll find other, abundant signs that his heart's in this only halfway.

You love who you love, but you can open yourself to criticism

Q: I am 22, and my boyfriend is 31. He has been called a pervert; I've been called a gold-digger. Why is it so impossible for people to believe we genuinely just fell in love? I do think I am more attracted to older guys and the stability they offer, etc. He's divorced, and she was older than he was and had definitely stopped taking care of herself (gained 40 pounds, etc. — I've met her), so it doesn't seem crazy he'd be attracted to the opposite of that (I jog every morning, eat right, etc.). Does that make us bad people or everyone's worst stereotype or what?

Regarding Age Gaps

A: If you're a reader of mine, then you know what my response is to questions on the propriety of age gaps: Consenting adults can decide for themselves whom to date.

But if you're going to spell out that you're attracted to older guys in general for their stability, "etc.," and not just to this one specifically — and that he has earned a little youthful hotness after his first wife got fat, then please don't feign surprise when people express skepticism that you "genuinely just fell in love."

Spell out appetite for truth, then sit back, watch and wait 10/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 4:30am]

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