Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: A column of yours on breakups brought up some really good points - the big one being, if you're dissatisfied with a relationship, don't fake it because you don't want to hurt the other person's feelings.
I was recently on the receiving end of this, despite my multiple attempts at and encouragement of honest conversations no matter what the truth was.
Because my ex didn't want to lose me as a girlfriend - he enjoyed the perks - he didn't say anything. When he was done, he then revealed the truth.
Trust me, he was a superb actor for years. I had no idea he didn't like me at all.
Now that I'm in a new relationship, how do I spot this dishonesty?
NOT GETTING BURNED AGAIN
Your ex enjoyed the perks, but did he create any for you to enjoy, besides words?
Carolyn: Yeah, sure he did. The companionship and conversation were big ones. It's just that they all ended up being insincere - like the entire relationship. They had to be, since he said he never loved me. He was just filling a role he thought he was supposed to, complete with gestures. So, yeah, that's why I'm curious to know the difference.
Maybe so, but you did say this: "despite my multiple attempts at and encouragement of honest conversations." That sounds to me as if you were looking for reassurance that he loved you, and people don't do that unless they sense on some level that the love isn't there.
If there's anything to this, then the first thing you can do is become attuned to your insecurities, to a need for affirmation. When it's there, intimacy usually isn't, because intimacy is its own proof.
I'm also skeptical of the "he said he never loved me." That may be so but it's also possible he changed his story for his own reasons.
We are all revisionist historians to some degree, and minimizing (or exaggerating) past feelings is a specialty.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Chat online 10 a.m. Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.