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Dear John:  The Truth Comes Out – He’s A Liar

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


What's your problem? Write to John at [email protected].

Dear John,

A couple of weeks ago I had a date planned with my boyfriend. It was something I was looking forward to for a while. That day he called me up and said he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to cancel. I understood. Those things happen. But a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a picture a friend of his posted on Facebook, and there he was in a group of friends who were watching one of the Red Sox playoff games in some bar on the night we were supposed to be getting together! I am hurt and angry. This isn’t the first time he’s done something like this. The last time (the last time he got caught, at least) he made it sound like something he was forced into and was just trying to spare my feelings. He insists he wants to stay together with me and when things are good, they’re really good. I try not to be too demanding of his time, give him space, etc. How can I get him to just be honest with me?

Lied To Again

Dear Lied To Again,

If he were honest with you, he would say, “I really want to spend time with you unless I have an opportunity to do something I’d enjoy even more. Then I’m going to do that, and if I have to lie to get my way, that’s what I’ll do.” Is that what you want? Because that’s pretty obviously how he feels.

From what I know about your relationship from your letter, it sounds like you’re dating a selfish liar. Not one without some positive qualities, apparently, but a selfish liar nonetheless. You can accept that that’s the boyfriend you have, or you can find a better boyfriend. Those are your options as I see them. The one thing you shouldn’t do, though, is date a selfish liar in the hope that he won’t tell self-serving lies now and then. He’s shown you who he is. Whether that’s enough for you is entirely your choice.

Dear John,

My husband and recently had our second child, a daughter. Everything is fantastic, except for one small issue involving my mother-in-law. She has made it known since the day we told her that she can’t stand the name we picked out for our baby and she refuses to call her by it. (Apparently, it was the name of someone from her past that she had an especially horrid experience with.) My husband and I just laughed it off at the time, but to our surprise, she has remained true to her word, calling her instead a variety of baby-ish nicknames. I am growing increasingly angry about this, but I also feel bad for my daughter. What is she supposed to think as she grows up and Grandma won’t address her by her real name? Assuming she doesn’t come to her senses (she can be very stubborn, moreso than I imagined), how can I get her to drop this silliness?

Two Babies To Deal With

Dear Two Babies,

You can’t. I assume she was expecting her earlier pronouncement to prod you into picking a different name, and since it didn’t, she’s going to punish you for it. All you can do is see this sad, petty display for what it is.

I don’t think you need worry about your daughter, though. She’ll take all her cues from how you react to this. If you treat it as something to stress over, she’ll stress over it. If you treat it as a grandmotherly quirk that merits nothing more than an amused eyeroll, that’s what she’ll do. People like your mother-in-law only have as much power over us as we give them.

Dear John,

I work in a small company and my office is right next to one of the partners’ offices. He’s kind of a loud guy and occasionally, through the wall, I can hear conversations he’s having that are clearly serious private discussions about the state of our company, certain employees, etc. Based on this, sometimes I know things I shouldn’t that could have a serious impact on co-workers, up to and including losing their jobs. My question is, what is the right thing to do with this information? I feel like I owe it to vulnerable co-workers to give them a heads-up if I can, but at the same time, I don’t want to be seen as a gossip or pot stirrer.

Something I Heard

Dear Something I Heard,

What you heard was not meant for you to hear, so you have to act as if you never heard it and try to put it out of your mind. I know you think you’d be acting in a colleague’s best interest by sharing something you overheard, but I think it’s just as likely you would cause undue worry by misunderstanding or not knowing all the details. The best thing you can do with this information? Use it to explain to the office manager that you can occasionally overhear bits of your boss’ private conversations and you’d like to move offices before you hear something you shouldn’t. If that’s out of the question, have your boss sit at your desk, go into his office and say, “There’s something I think you should be aware of about our offices…”

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected]


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