Why are we so often so willing to let people lie to us repeatedly? Is it that we just want to believe the story they are telling? Or that we don’t want to face the truth, especially the truth of our own gullibility?
When I got divorced the first time, I encountered a hunk of a man who embodied my ideal date. I was in a country-western dance bar, and drinking plain coca-cola. As a joke, the bartender put three cherries in my glass. The hunk gestured to the cherries and asked if I was celebrating something. I said, “Yes, my divorce has been final for a month now.” He said, “I know how you feel, it’s been four months for me.”
That was LIE number one. He was not divorced, hadn’t even filed for divorce. But as he would point out when I finally caught on–he never actually SAID he was divorced. He implied it, through judicious use of a pronoun with no antecedent, and I jumped to a conclusion.
Fast forward a few months (months full of hot dates), and I discovered that he was living in the same house as his wife (who I still thought was an ex-wife). So now I was presented with LIE number two: “papers are on file at the courthouse.” The new story was that his divorce was not yet final, and they were in a dispute over the house, with possession potentially affecting the outcome of the property settlement. So, he claimed, she was living upstairs and he was living downstairs in a battle of wills.
When I finally discovered the full truth, I realized he had skated on another technicality. Sure, there are lots of papers on file at the courthouse, but none of them were divorce papers with his name on them.
Years later, he was apparently going through a 12-step program and he sought me out to apologize for the lies, which he finally admitted were deliberate. He started trying to flirt with me again, but I had learned, “You’re still married, aren’t you?” And since I had asked him point blank, he sheepishly admitted the truth.
At least I finally learned to spot that type of lie, and learned that sometimes you need to demand confirmation. When the next guy that asked me out claimed his divorce had just become final, I asked for proof. So he brought a notarized copy of his decree to our first date. My female friends were shocked, but my male friends thought it made total sense. I had established that I deserved respect and that my trust had to be earned.