Break-ups are a shit thing to deal with. Everyone who’s been through one knows that. It’s easy for me to say if they want to leave you, let them, but in reality dealing with a break-up requires a few stages before you arrive at acceptance.
There are also certain break-ups that feel worse than others. Physical infidelity of your partner is one of them but when it turns out that someone has been lying to you when it comes to beliefs crucial for both of you, it’s equally devastating.
Underplaying one’s beliefs is, unfortunately, pretty common in dating. It’s understandable that everyone wants to put their best foot forward early on. No one expects you to even talk kids, religion, politics and all these important issues on date one. Some things actually become evident in a conversation (ie it’s enough to mention your married gay friends to get some idea of whether you should even finish your drink). There are other things, however, that need to simply be spelt out a bit later on in a relationship to make sure you’re on the same page. At a certain point, when a relationship gets serious, you just have to accept that you should be real as underplaying your beliefs revealed later on may result not only in a break-up but also in a very emotionally difficult one.
A girlfriend of mine has just finished a few year long relationship with a partner because it’s turned out that even though they seem to have agreed on the topic of not having biological children one of them turned out to be hiding their true beliefs about the matter just after they moved in together.
This recent event was too close to home for me as it reminded me of my own ex boyfriend who after a year of pretending that he was not religious at all, shut me down at a party when I was telling people I’d never baptise my children by saying “Of course, we will baptise our children. We don’t want them to go to hell.”
I remember exactly how I felt then: betrayed, outraged and very, very hurt. It was almost like my reality was collapsing.
The question, of course, is what a person underplaying their true beliefs has to gain. Most people who do it hope that the person they’re in a relationship with is going to…surprise, surprise… change their mind. People are not that likely to change, though and even if they do, they should do it of their own free.
I think that the only situation in which it’s okay to underplay your true feelings about an important issue is when you don’t really care that much. For instance, your partner may think that a woman should stay at home with kids for a year after giving birth but if you don’t mind some time off you may not feel like it’s worth expressing your true feelings about how you don’t feel it’s a requirement (I would, anyway, knowing me!).
Underplaying your beliefs is one thing and an outward lie is another. While I don’t think that there’s anyone who hasn’t used at least a white lie in a relationship, a big lie early on that misrepresents you is a different story.
Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of experience with liars.
One guy lied to me that his ex-girlfriend was dead to induce sympathy in me and make me want to be with him. Perverse, right? Well, it worked on me!
This was more or less as bad as another who lied to me and said he was 22, while in reality he was only 19. He thought I wouldn’t have dated a teenager at 24 and he was quite right. I wish I had known earlier.
The last big one for me was my ex telling me that he didn’t go to University because he “didn’t feel like studying”, while in reality he didn’t even finish high school.
These lies on their own did not lead to my relationships ending but they were certainly another drop to the cup of relationship doom.
The biggest relationship sin on this list is cold-blooded manipulation. Let’s agree that underplaying your beliefs and lying to pretend you’re a bit better than you really are (or just closer to something your partner would like) is not great. The intentions behind such actions do matter, though.
If you’re a city girl and he wants to live in a desolate island you may not survive the reveal of his true feelings. However, after the feelings of betrayal and hurt are gone you realise that the person did it because they cared about you and they couldn’t deal with the thought of losing you. In the case of lying it’s often people wanting to be with you to the extent that they’re willing to lie.
This is very different to someone manipulating you to get what they want. I’m talking here, for instance, about a person changing facts or making you look silly about the way you feel. A good example that comes to my mind is my ex-fling telling me at the dinner that he made out with a different girl. I almost choked on my food, while he started to mock me telling me that we we never established that we were together so I had no right to feel upset. All that before I even managed to say anything.
How to recognise a manipulator? It’s a topic for a whole posy but briefly, manipulators tell you that you said something different than you did (and who remembers exactly), interpret facts as he or she wishes or, like in the example above, ridicule you so that you can’t raise any objections to whatever they’ve done.
They also do it not because they care about you but about themselves and having you as their backpocket girl, girlfriend they can play, accommodation provider or anything else they feel like.
A lie has no legs and the truth usually comes out. More importantly, even if it doesn’t it’s just a bad start to a relationship and doesn’t exactly suggest a great future. If before reading this post you were planning on any of the above techniques – don’t do it. It’s important to be real and if a person you’ve met and like has very different views on something that’s important to you, let them go. There’ll be someone there for you sooner or later. I mean there was Afton Burton, the woman who wanted to marry George Manson, when he was already incarcerated…
Inappropriate jokes aside, you really don’t want to pretend all your life and it’s not fair on your partner not to know who they’re really dealing with.
If, on the other hand, you came here to read that you’re not on your own as your heart has just been broken proceed with the break-up and stay strong. You deserve better – a person who’s actually what you’re looking for not just pretends to be.
Dear Rinsers, do you have any stories of such betrayals you’re willing to share? Maybe you’re the one who’s responsible for breaking someone’s heart because you’ve pretended you’re someone you’re not? Tell me, please!