What's gone before

If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires.
Abigail Van Buren

Interestingly, the guy I was talking to then bitterly asked why the women weren't more honest with the men, as well as with themselves. Now that one I could answer for him, and somewhat bitterly myself as well. It's one thing to be honest with yourself — it hurts sometimes, but in the end it's all for the good, I believe.

It's another thing entirely to be honest with a guy (or anyone) who really doesn't want the truth. Get burned by that once or three times, and I know my thought was I'd be damned before I'd put up with that crap again!

My friend startledly asked me why I was so emphatic on this point, so I explained to him what had happened to me. Early on in my "relationship career" I'd made the mistake of being honest with some of the guys I was breaking up with, telling them I was really sorry but I wasn't sexually interested in them any more — or, in one case, at all.

Oh. My. Blanking. God. I was so desperately, incredibly naïve.

The histrionics are always frighteningly, irritatingly overboard. In one case the guy ranted and raved at the top of his voice at me for about 10 minutes, then took a knife and stomped off, saying he had to go meditate on whether or not he was going to kill himself for my doing this to him, because he didn't know if he could live without me.

In another case the shouting wasn't that bad, but I seriously feared the guy was going to attack me, or go attack the people he blamed for this situation. It was like suddenly finding a violent, raving stranger in the house.

In the last incident the guy whined at me for a while about being so selfish, then just walked out — much to my relief. Unfortunately, like the two before him, he also decided to assuage his apparently shattered ego by spreading malicious lies and gossip about me, concerning how I'd led him on and seduced him, and telling filthy stories about me.

Note in all three cases, these are people who purported to love me. If this is how they treat people they love, I guess I should be glad they didn't think they hated me (I'm pleased to add, twenty-odd years later, one of these guys e-mailed and apologized to me. I thought that was really nice of him).

So I cry and I pray and I beg:
Love me love me,
say that you love me,
fool me fool me,
go on and fool me,
love me love me,
pretend that you love me…."
The Cardigans, Lovefool

And that, I told my (rather shocked) male friend, is why I don't tell guys the truth when breaking up with them. I use polite, face-saving palliatives like, "let's just be friends, okay?" I don't know why guys so hate honesty, but I certainly learned my lesson… the painfully hard way.

Fragile illusions

I'll settle for one day to believe in you,
Tell me, tell me, tell me lies,
Tell me sweet little lies…."
Fleetwood Mac, Little Lies

As another friend noted in a similar discussion, lots of people (both men and women) don't like to find out they're wrong about something they consider personally essential. Some people, male as well as female, hold their sexual virility and attractiveness (i.e. how many they've slept with, or teased about sleeping with), as an accurate reflection of their personal irresistibleness and self worth. Admittedly, I'm not sure how that can accurately reflect anything but their own narcissism, but it's obviously terribly important to them.

Having the current object of their desire let them know these precious beliefs are nothing more than illusion is a horrible, shattering blow to their ego. In such a case, it often doesn't matter how gently or kindly they were informed of the lack of reciprocal interest. They will not — cannot! — believe this might be due to their own actions, and they most emphatically don't want to be friends.

Better by far (to their way of seeing things) to turn their former desire into self-righteous rejection. They can believe it's not their fault — it's someone else's! — by psychologically projecting all their bad habits onto the other person. If they pushed so hard for sex that they were refused, they will claim the other person "led them on"; if they assumed a relationship where there was none, they claim the other person lied to them; etc.

This allows them to blame the other person for all the pain they're feeling — for everything, in fact. [Later edit: I should know; I did this myself on occasion, until a good friend tiredly called me on it — for which I am now profoundly grateful, though I was upset at the time. However, having it pointed out to me meant I could then work on stopping ever doing it again.] What's sad is seeing someone do this repeatedly in their lives… and yet still refuse to learn from it.

I can't help but wonder if it's different between same-sex couples when they break up. If it is, I sure wish we'd learn a thing or two from them.

Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations.
Leo Buscaglia

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