When To Shut Up And When To Speak Up About Why You’re Breaking Up

When I discovered one long-term, live-in ex had been cheating on me—long after we’d split—I was shocked. I’d had my suspicions, but he’d always been so judgmental about philandering friends and sanctimonious about his own fidelity, I figured I was just the jealous crazy lady he kept accusing me of being. So when he broke up with me, I had no clue as to why and desperately tried to talk him into loving me again. (It was every bit as humiliating as that sentence would lead you to believe.)

I have yet to experience the pain-free breakup, but I wondered if knowing the truth about this situation would’ve helped me heal faster. I mean, I’ve been less than up-front with certain guys I’ve broken up with. So when isn’t honesty the best policy? 1. When it’s something they can’t help. One good reason for fudging the truth is if you’re breaking up with someone over something they just can’t help—like their appearance. For example, a friend of mine was dating a woman who looked a lot like Karl Rove. (Yes, really.) She was lovely in some ways, but her outward appearance was a barrier my friend couldn’t overcome. Would it have helped anyone if my friend had explained that a female version of the Turd Blossom was a boner-squisher of epic proportion? Answer: No.

“This just isn’t working” sufficed just fine.

2. When you’re positive they’re gay, but they’re not convinced yet. You might wonder why a gay dude would even want to go out with a girl, but you have to remember how ridiculously homophobic our society remains. Hence the closet case.

I have had a good gay boyfriend and a very bad gay boyfriend—the difference was a couple decades. (The similarity was how little action I got.) Teen Gay BF was still figuring out who he was and now lives happily ever after with a man of his own. Adult Gay BF remains an angry misogynist who would be a lot happier if he’d just gobble a c**k or three. Unfortunately, his religion frowns upon that, so he’ll just continue to take out his frustration on any member of the female population dumb enough to date him.

I actually shared my thoughts with both of these guys. Predictably, Teen Gay BF acted outraged for approximately five seconds, but stayed friends with me, while Adult Gay BF flew into a near-homicidal rage. If it came up again, I’d just keep my mouth shut and let ‘em figure it out themselves.

3. Because he’s “too nice.” First of all, if you’re breaking up with a guy because his only crime is kindness, you’re a moron and deserve to get stuck with a perpetual cycle of misogynistic cheaters. But if you’re ditching him because he’s a spineless doormat, that is an entirely different thing altogether, though the two are often confused. When you tell a dude you’re smashing his little heart to bits because he’s “too nice,” that encourages him to be a jerk to the next woman he dates. And yes, as you may have guessed by my tone, I’ve been that next woman.

Being a spineless doormat is something he can fix and that will ultimately improve his life. So if that’s your reason, tell him. If you actually have an aversion to nice men, do us all a favor and lie to the guy. Tell him his ass is too fat, his ass smells of onions, but whatever you do, just don’t tell him he’s too nice. There are plenty of ladies who love a good guy and you’ll just ruin him for the rest of us.

4. But when you’re leaving them for someone else? As uncomfortable as it might be, suck it up and tell the truth. It’s one thing to protect your partner’s feelings; it’s quite another to cover your own ass. Lying goes hand-in-hand with cheating, but the least you can do is be honest if you’re ditching your partner for your side piece. If my ex had been straight with me, I could’ve saved myself nearly a year of navel-gazing misery and worries about my sanity for a few brief, sizzling months of white-hot fury.

Which is why, if I’m ever in that situation (which I don’t plan on), I will fess up. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, but taking responsibility for your actions will go a long way towards repairing the karmic debt you’ve racked up.