I recently read WHY WE BROKE UP by Daniel Handler (awesome book, btw) and without giving any of the story away, it reminds me of my own high school experience. I feel compelled to share. Names have been changed.
I was a junior. Dylan was a senior. We met at Papa John’s Pizza where we both worked along with several other people from our high school. There was a gender divide at Papa John’s. Boys made pizzas; girls answered the phones. The only time a boy answered the phone was when we girls were busy and it was only to say, “yeah, um, hold on.”
Except Dylan. He actually, you know, took orders. And when it was slow, he would use funny voices with the people on the phone, or ask them strange, personal questions. He was handsome, charismatic, funny… except every once in a while, he’d tell a lie.
Early on in the relationship I recieved a warning from Dylan’s best friend, Javier. Javier and I were playing video games while Dylan was occupied elsewhere in the house. Javier paused the game, turned to me and said, “You know that Dylan is a pathological liar, right?” I laughed it off (surely, you jest), but Javier assured me, “No, I’m for real. Homeboy lies all the time.”
Red flag. I didn’t argue with Javier because by then I’d noticed it as well, a little white lie here and there, all fairly innocent (Yes, I have enough money to cover dinner. No, I’m not late, you’re early. No, I didn’t get fired, I quit.)
I generally knew when Dylan was lying and I even knew why he lied. He wanted to be that person who didn’t make mistakes. I chose to see his potential and overlook his faults. So even while the evidence mounted against him, even when my friends raised their eyebrows at his inconsistencies, I forgave him.
But being lied to is not cool, no matter how small the lie. It makes you feel stupid when you believe that person, and it makes you angry to think they think you are stupid enough to believe them. Not to mention that lies breed more lies, mistrust, loss of faith, etc. etc.
As my boyfriend’s life spiraled out of control (skipping school, which led to dropping out, which led to doing more drugs, which led to…), I could no longer be the person treading water for the both of us. I had been doing it for too long, and I was exhausted.
It took two break-ups to make it stick. At the time it was very painful–the death of a relationship, my first love–especially when I found out how quickly he’d moved on. But that experience taught me a lot about what I was willing to put up with in a partner. From that point on, lying was a deal breaker from day one.
So, when you are thinking about who you are going to trust your heart with, I encourage you to make a list of the qualities you want from a partner and hold yourself and your someone special accountable. Tread cautiously and take it slow. If you mess up, forgive yourself, but learn something from it. No one is perfect, but there is someone out there who is perfect for you.