Lies and other holiday small talk

Joey Garcia

A friend of mine is dating a married man. I felt nauseated when she told me that her only disappointment is that after dinner and sex, her lover warns her to never call him. He wants to keep the rendezvous secret from his wife and kids. His rule makes her wonder whether he has other girlfriends besides her. I care about this young woman. If she finds Mr. Right someday and marries, will she ever be able to trust him?

Trust isn’t a byproduct of love; it’s an ingredient required to love. We can’t trust if we’re not honest, and honesty is an inside job. If we’re truthful with ourselves about who we are at our best and worst, and we accept ourselves (even as we continue to evolve and transcend), we can be confident in self-trust. When honesty and trust are alive within us, those qualities flow naturally from us.

Your friend’s dilemma seems to spring from an attraction to secrecy and control. Some people imagine that having a secret makes them special. Other people believe that an affair is proof of how desirable they are—she or he is so irresistible it’s worth breaking vows. The reality is much darker. An affair is just dinner and sex with someone who is willing to include you in their schedule, but not make you a priority in their life. When your friend decides to be honest about what she deserves, she will end the affair. Unless, of course, her boyfriend wakes up first and breaks it off. Or his wife does.

My last relationship ended after my boyfriend cheated and lied about it. We were together nearly a decade and have been broken up for two months. What is the simplest but most sincere way to respond to people at holiday parties who ask about him? I feel alone because I know my other women friends are in relationships in which they are cared for and loved. Please help.

Too often bad news inspires people to be curious instead of compassionate. They ask impertinent questions, rather than inquiring about what kind of support might be needed. A kind person asks how you’re holding up, and invites you for an outing to distract you from your loneliness. Any adult who shrinks from extending genuine care and concern is not worth your time.

Holiday party small talk will be easier once you accept that there’s no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed about ending a relationship, or arriving solo at an event. The next time someone asks about your former boyfriend, take a moment to feel proud of breaking free from the unhealthy relationship. Then say, “I ended that relationship, and I’m open to the next heart-centered adventure the universe has waiting for me.”

If the person presses you for details of the breakup, say: “People come and go in our lives. That’s natural, isn’t it?” And, if you don’t want to talk about it, let others know: “Our relationship ended two months ago, and so many other things have happened in my life, and the world, that I would love to talk about.” Then talk about something else. If he or she acts like you owe an explanation, smile, feel the positive energy that results from ending an unhealthy relationship, then excuse yourself and find someone interesting to chat with.

Meditation of the week
“Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the last 300 years of industrial society—our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value,” writes Pat Kane in The Play Ethic. Are you having any fun?

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