Honesty, they say, is the best policy.
It’s an old cliché that’s pounded into our heads from the moment we are old enough to understand what it means. But how often do we heed its warning? We spend our days, our weeks, telling sweet little lies, usually without even realizing it, and when we do catch ourselves in the act, we rationalize that we are bending the truth to spare the feelings of someone else (and to save our own hides in the process).
“Oh no, that (hideous) dress doesn’t make you look fat!”
“I love your hair!”
“What a cute baby!”
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman!”
“I love you, too!”
At some point, everyone says, “I love you,” without really meaning it. Usually, it’s either to get someone into bed, or to spare someone’s feelings after he/she says, “I love you,” first.
It’s been more than a year since I’ve said, “I love you,” in the romantic sense (and yes, I meant it, at the time). I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson after all these years. Even when Marcelo uttered those dreaded words, “Te quiero,” less than 24 hours after we re-entered each other’s lives, I resisted the urge to say it back just to spare his feelings. When he asked me to be his boyfriend, practically pleading with me to do everything short of marrying him (wait, he asked me to do that, too!), I tried to change the subject.
But if I’d only resisted my still-powerful urge to people please. It was clear to me about a week into our renewed acquaintance that it wasn’t going to work out. Though he had changed in some key ways, the old Marcelo occasionally reared his ugly/beautiful head. I should have come out and just told him those six magic words: “I’m just not that into you.” Instead, I tried to spare his feelings. My friend Luciano told me that I should stop returning his calls and text messages. But how could I resort to a tactic that drives me insane when I’m on the receiving end?
So I started to lie. I began coming up with excuses why I couldn’t see him. He continued to push, and every time I was able to avoid seeing him, I felt a sense of relief followed by dread. Would it work the next time? By mid week last week, I felt a little tickle in my throat, which for Marcelo’s benefit, became the cold of the century. I was off the hook for several more days.
Then, on Sunday evening, after a bit of a tiff over his not returning several of my phone calls and text messages on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I agreed to meet up with him the following day. I spent all of Monday dreading the hour of his call (which was usually between 7 and 8pm), wishing there was some way I could get out of it. My friends invited me out to dinner, but I had to decline. I didn’t want to blow Marcelo off.
In the end, he blew me off. It was the first day since we’d met again that he didn’t call me. Late this afternoon, he finally called and left a message in which he complained about not having heard from me. What a strange time, I told myself as I didn’t budge from the sofa to pick up the phone, for him to start playing tit for tat. I suspect he went out with his friends, got really drunk, and after waking up at 5pm, had to save face somehow. Part of me feels relieved because at least now I can let this one go without any guilt. Although I could have called him just as easily as he could have called me, I won’t be the bad guy. We both made our choices, for whatever reason, and now we have to live with the consequences. For him, the consequence is that I won’t be returning his call or any call he makes to me in the future. I’m done.
But why was I so afraid of being the bad guy with someone who’d screwed me over before? Anyone who follows this blog regularly know that most of the guys I’ve encountered in Buenos Aires have no problem being the bad guy. And if they do, they hide it very well. I’m not saying that Marcelo is a bad guy (though it wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate), but he certainly isn’t worth all of the effort I’ve been putting into sparing his feelings.
So another one bites the dust. Good bye and good riddance. But this time, what have I learned? Will I adopt the honesty policy once and for all the next time around? I hope so. But something tells me that ultimately, my need to not be the bad guy will win out again.