A lot of students come into my office to talk about a lot of different things but by far the most popular topic is relationships that have gone bad. And the commonality in those conversations is striking because they all want the same questions answered.
How can a person love you one week and not love you the next? Why did they end the relationship with no explanation? All I need is closure and why won't they give it to me? Was it all a lie? I thought I knew them so well, why does it now seem like I didn't know them at all?
I could go on and on but you get the drift. Whenever relationships end, the person ending it knew about it long before the other person did. And rather than being honest and forthcoming with a person we've shared major parts of our life with for months or years, we tend to take just the opposite approach.
We don't tell them anything other than it's over.
We nurtured and protected and took care of this relationship for such a long time until we gave up on it. And we usually give up on it without the other person having a clue. If we had told them when we first started noticing a change in the relationship, maybe it could have been salvaged.
If we had been honest and forthright in our negative feelings the way we were with our positive feelings, maybe the relationship would have had a chance. We tell them we love them fifty times a day but when feelings begin to change and we start questioning that love, we keep on telling them we love them instead of confronting and discussing our new feelings.
That's why breakups and divorces tend to be so ugly. I talked to one friend in town who thought his marriage was practically perfect until he came home one night only to be told by his wife that she was leaving him for another man. A woman left her husband for another man and then left him for yet another man. But as bad as the breakup is, it's the lying and the deception that's even worse.
The adults in this world can handle the truth; God knows we've had to deal with the unpleasantries of life enough. We've had numerous things taken from us we weren't ready to give up and we survived them all, even though we didn't know if we would or not when they were happening.
But despite that, people either don't think we can handle the truth or they don't have the nerve to confront us with it. It's never easy delivering unpleasant messages. While I served on the Tulsa police department, I had to deliver several death notifications to unsuspecting relatives and there's no school you can go to that will prepare you for that. But somebody had to do it.
Medical personnel have to do it on almost a daily basis. If a relative is dying, you can't tell the family that everything is okay. If a relative has died, you can't tell the family that they're alive. We all know that and appreciate it but that's exactly what we do when we end relationships.
I sometimes don't have good answers for my students when they ask me these questions because I don't know the answer to them either. How can we treat somebody so good over a period of time and then treat them so bad on the most heartbroken day of their life?
I suppose, more than anything else, it just shows a lack of character, a lack of resolve, an inability to do what's right or even know what's right.
Unless this person is evil and has done terrible things to us, the least we owe them after years of love and intimacy is the truth.
And, unlike Jack Nicholson's courtroom testimony in the movie 'A Few Good Men', most people CAN handle the truth.
It's the lies and the deception that destroy us.