Dear Carolyn: I have been getting more involved with a friend of mine. We have a complicated history of dancing around possible romantic interest, which we have finally decided to act on.
However, I’m beginning to question his character. He told me he was a smoker, and when I interjected my surprise because I have never smelled smoke on him, he explained in great detail all the ways he goes about hiding it. I accepted this and moved on. Then, later in the evening, he laughed and said he would never smoke a cigarette!
Well, after much pulling of information from him, he told me he had been “just kidding” about smoking a pack a day.
But the scary part was that, at one point of this “joke,” I honestly couldn’t tell which was the truth. Looking back, he does this kind of thing all the time, so sometimes it is hard for me to tell if he is telling the truth. I am always honest with him, but shouldn’t this be a two-way street? Is this a sign that this relationship is one to exit gracefully?
Liar Liar Pants on Fire
You just can’t take a joke, can you … fortunately, you can tell him where to stuff it.
This isn’t about lying, since he eventually does share the truth (though clearly he can lie, expertly). This is about his using your simple expectation of honesty against you for cheap yuks, and, more important, amusing himself with your ignorance for hours. What occurs during those hours isn’t a joke or a relationship — it’s a power trip.
That’s its own exit-gracefully sign.
When you do exit, expect him to try the can’t-take-a-joke tack, but don’t buy it. The whole point of a relationship is to have a safe place to be yourself, and, for this guy, your natural vulnerability isn’t enough; he manipulates you into a state of artificial vulnerability to him.