Closed hearts, open mouths

Joey Garcia

My girlfriend cheated on me with her ex-girlfriend. I found out because she said she was sick so I dropped by her apartment with soup and orange juice. Her roommate was surprised to see me. He said my girlfriend was out with this other girl. He thought I knew. When I confronted my girlfriend, she said she wanted to break up. But she wouldn’t talk to me about why she cheated. I’m heartbroken. Please help.

Sweetheart, she cheated because she wanted to break up with you, but didn’t have the backbone to tell you. Betrayals are often motivated by passive-aggressive behavior—expressing negative feelings indirectly. Although it might be uncomfortable to initiate a conversation about something difficult, doing so is an act of love. Unresolved anger or hurt is fuel for drama. Instead of openly addressing painful feelings or concerns, one partner decides to withhold, triangulate, procrastinate or betray the other. Those reactions are backhanded expressions of anger that quickly become unconscious patterns.

Withholding sex, affection, information or conversation shuts the gate on intimacy. It’s an effort to punish one’s partner while avoiding one’s own responsibility for the existing problem in the relationship. Triangulation is confiding in others about the core problem in the relationship but failing to speak directly with one’s partner. Turning others into confidants, without confiding in one’s partner, is a way of soliciting sympathy, approval and justification. Passive-aggressive behavior also includes procrastination. When a partner drags her feet about facing or completing an agreed upon task, it’s sometimes the result of an unhealed hurt. But things can get nasty fast if that procrastination is wedded to sarcasm. As in, reminding a partner that she promised to start attending a 12-step meeting and she responds with ridicule, scorn or contempt.

You now have a choice. You can sit in your sadness over losing a woman who didn’t care enough to engage in the most basic requirement of a healthy relationship: honesty. Or you can explore how you participated in your own betrayal. Astonished? Consider reflecting on these questions: Did you cheat yourself by not speaking to your girlfriend about problems in the relationship? When your intuition nudged you to say that something was not quite right in your relationship, did you deny it? Shaking free of bad communication habits will help you shed problematic relationships faster in the future, while also making better choices with your heart. You might also be interested in reading my book, When Your Heart Breaks, It’s Opening to Love. Find it at Time Tested Books and on Amazon.

I met the most wonderful man in the world but his table manners are so disgusting I lose my appetite. He overfills his mouth and spews food as he eats and talks. I’ve talked with him about this, but it does no good. Suggestions?

Yes, stop eating with him. There’s no reason to endure his poor manners, except to continue to prove to yourself that he hasn’t changed. Think of it this way: The man you are dating now is the man he will always be. From that perspective, how will you proceed?

Meditation of the week
“Take your life into your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame,” said novelist Erica Jong. Who holds the key to your reality?

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