I love watching people lie. I know that I probably have the same feelings the liars do, the feeling of being stuck. I like to think about what I do when I have that feeling, how people cope with it, and how much pain we can handle before we become our worst selves.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about these lies and the feelings that provoke them:

1. The lie about expectations. 
Have you heard of Ashley Madison? It’s the site that caters to married people who want to cheat on their spouse. We could debate about the ethics of that business model (or this one), but I think Ashley Madison might have made up for their questionable ethics by using their data to provide one of the biggest insights to marriage problems that I’ve read in a while:

Guess which is the second most popular day of the year for women to sign up for Ashley Madison?

I’m leaving a blank spot for you to guess.

The second most popular day of the year for women to sign up for Ashley Madison is the day after Mother’s Day. That report was a major surprise to me.

But just think: Women want to be appreciated for being a mom. In a world where women have more power and more opportunities than ever before, what they want, still, is to be appreciated for where they are devoting their time and energy. Whatever a woman is doing—working long hours outside the home, staying at home with one kid and a nanny, or anything in between—the woman perceives that she is putting a large amount of her intellectual and emotional energy into parenting and she wants recognition for that. The outside world does not value parenting openly, it only values earning money. So it’s up to a spouse to recognize a parent for parenting.

When I coach people and they tell me they want to focus on work issues instead of relationship issues, I remind them that if you get a divorce, your career options shrink fast because you have to support two families.  Your earning power goes down and your power to control your own life goes down.

So Mother’s Day is really a career issue. If you want to keep your career options open, tell your spouse you appreciate her.

But the biggest lie in all of this is that women tell themselves Mother’s Day doesn’t matter. The reason men ignore Mother’s Day is because the women don’t say, “Mother’s Day is important and here’s what I want you to do.”  That’s fine. It’s fine to tell your spouse what you want.

This is true in most of life—tell everyone what you want from them. You’re much more likely to get it. And much less likely to have to lie about the decisions you make later.

2. The lie about inadequacy. 
It turns out that Scott Thompson, the new CEO of Yahoo, lied on his resume. That’s right. His degree is in accounting, but he added computer science, which is, of course, much more relevant to the high-flying jobs he’s held. Which goes to show that no one is immune to having feelings of inadequacy.

This is important to remember when you’re managing up. Making sure the people above you in your organization love you is probably the most important part of your career, because if you do great work but you annoy everyone, people won’t care that you do great work.

The key feature of managing up is finding your boss’s weakness. Many of you work for supremely confident types. But Thompson shows us that no one, really, is supremely confident. And while everyone wants help, not everyone asks for the help they need.

Thompson’s been lying on his resume for a long time. Which is, of course, how it goes with lying. You start the lie, when you think it’s a small, innocuous lie, but then you have to keep lying, and you never really know how big the lie will get. There’s a great children’s book about this topic, where the lie turns into a monster and follows the boy around.

3. The lie about fear.
I think a lot of people resist hearing what is true because they don’t want to have to face that they’re wrong. For example, people love to mock the idea of managing your personal brand. They say how stupid it is, and how transparently self-obsessed it is. But the truth is that people want to be able to find out about you easily, and the people who malign the idea of personal brand simply don’t want to take the time to help people find out about them. It requires learning to be good at something new and people don’t want to hear that they have to do that.

Homeschooling is another example of a truth people don’t want to hear. It’s so incredibly clear that the education reform movement favors individualized learning. And people pass over that information as if it’s impractical. But you can do whatever you want with your own kids. You can give your kids the opportunity to learn on their own, which is exactly what experts advocate that you do. It’s just that many people don’t want this to be true because it undermines how they planned on educating their kids. They don’t want to be wrong about what’s best.

The thing is, it’s okay for personal branding to be a must-have career skill and still you don’t have it. It’s okay for homeschooling to be definitely a better education for your kids and still you’re not doing it. It’s ok to be wrong. Admit you’re wrong and then consider a new choice.

Which brings me to plastic surgery. I was wrong about this. I looked at the research about good looks and drew the conclusion that since good looks give you an advantage in everything, everyone should get plastic surgery. But when I asked Gordon Patzer, the king of attractiveness research, about my theory, he said that in fact, plastic surgery does not make people better looking in other peoples’ eyes. You still are what you are to other people. Which means that plastic surgery is useless.

And, forget those self-esteem arguments as well. The Wall St. Journal reports that women who get plastic surgery are likely to have poorer body image than women who don’t get plastic surgery. And the plastic surgery does not help. Their poor body image persists.

Not that this information doesn’t stop me from obsessing about looks. And the photo up top is one of the 10,000 photos I’ve sent to Melissa to have her fix my outfit.  But now I know that getting a chin implant is like getting a salary increase, really: You are happy for awhile, and then you go back to whatever happiness level you are usually at. Salary doesn’t increase your baseline happiness and neither does plastic surgery.

So I was wrong. And I’m telling you this to let you know that it’s okay. Because the first step to finding the truth is to realize that it is okay to be wrong.

60 replies
  1. Tabitha
    Tabitha says:

    Oh, man. I hate getting in trouble, disappointing people, looking stupid, etc. But I’m realizing that it all boils down to not wanting to be wrong. I am trying to embrace my imperfection and own up to where I go wrong–but it’s hard. I do need to admit it more. I am one that knows homeschooling is better (and my degree is in elemetary education!)…but I don’t WANT to homeschool. I have to own it (at least until and if I change my mind).
    Thank you for your posts. They always give me something to think about–and usually make me smile, too.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      I hope this comes out as the compliment it is absolutely meant as in that I admire you for posting this Tabitha. My oldest, best friend in the world (loved her since I was ten) has a masters in edu, is in a high level government office position for the state of NY out of Albany. She and I spent an hour and a half tonight on the phone while she commuted stuck in traffic to her rural home to finally get to her daughter for the weekend, while I did dishes and cooked kids dinner and they did puzzles at the counter, then i poued some wine….

      She is a wonderful, loving single parent and so caring and she would give everything to get to be with her kids everyday. Before her daughter, she maybe thought I was a little misguided turning myself into this wife and mother. She is an admitted “establishment” teacher and now that she is a mom, she just wishes she could be a homeschool mom and would give anything to do so. So this is radical, but I personally know many women that teach as a profession for the very reason that they want to be home more with their kids (holiday breaks, all summer, long weekends, etc.) and so to me, the ARMY we need to really AMP up the homeshool/unschool movement is the teachers. After all, who knows better than YOU what is happening in institutional edu?

      Thank you for your perspective, just know, Lots of us didn’t think we wanted to do this either (don’t yah know I am supposed to be on a yacht somewhere sexing my hot husband in the South of France?). You might just fall in love with it and discover YOU DO in fact WANT this.

      • CJ
        CJ says:

        Oh my gosh, how does the iPad spell check poured to poued?

        Now if I could poo wine, I would be one rich laaaaadeeee

  2. karelys
    karelys says:

    I want to say something useful that adds to the discussion but I’m stuck. I love the way you draw conclusions and how you explain things. For example, happiness of chin implant and happiness of salary increase.

    Could it be that the short amount of happiness of salary increase comes from having increased responsibility or reduced personal time?

    I mean, if salary increase happened without all those added pests then wouldn’t we be super happy or happier longer?

    • Sadya
      Sadya says:

      Hey Harriet, longtime since I read a comment of yours on Penelope’s blog. As always u too have an amusing tale to share.

  3. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    You’ve covered a lot of ground here, Penelope and I could comment on five topics. But I want to single out just one because it is so important.

    You talk about “managing up”. This is terrific moniker for a process most people do not understand nor accomplish with much success. And you give us the tool but didn’t finish the explanation.

    You said: “The key feature of managing up is finding your boss’s weakness.”

    Now, when and IF you find your boss’s weakness, what do you do with it?

    Do you use that weakness for manipulation or psychological blackmail?

    NO. You FILL that weakness. You help your boss to over-ride that weakness, and you do it subtly and with compassion.

    You don’t point out you’re doing it. You just do it. And you don’t tell anyone else you are doing it either.

    Your boss will recognize your help and you just might make a friend.

    Irv

  4. CJ
    CJ says:

    I LOOOVVVVVVVEEEEE ur shooooooos! Red shoe envy alert!

    (Ok, now I will read your post) ;-)~

  5. joanna
    joanna says:

    Hmmm I think “personal branding” is an unpopular idea more because it sounds totally phony than because it’s difficult. Instead of using creepy buzzwords, people could say something like “People will google your name to find out about you, just as you do to others. It will be helpful to them and yourself to put together a clear and descriptive website, and set your facebook profile to private.”
    It reminds of “networking” and how long it took me to realize I was already doing it…

      • Erica Peters
        Erica Peters says:

        Why not just reputation? At this point, most of us are building our reputations online at least as much as offline.

  6. Gib Wallis
    Gib Wallis says:

    I really love your last several posts. They are almost like a new archive of your greatest hits to me.

    Are you happier recently? You write that not writing on your blog makes you unhappy, so I want to know which came first… Writing more and being happy? Or being happier and then writing more?

    If you’re miserable right now, I selfishly hope you can maintain your current frequency and quality of writing as you get happier!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s nice of you to ask, Gib. I am happier. My sense of wellbeing is tied closely to how often I write. When I don’t write I feel like my head is spinning and there is nowhere to put all the information.

      I am realizing that the only way I’m going to be able to write as often as I want is to write while I’m with the kids. I didn’t used to do that. I have thought for a long time that I needed peace and quiet to write.

      So I’ve been forcing myself to write when there is no peace and quiet. I told myself my life would never feel satisfying if I did’t teach myself to write while I was with the kids.

      The best way to create change, I have found, is to convince myself that my life will never get better unless I make a specific change in behavior.

      Penelope

      • Mark K
        Mark K says:

        The post was great, but I find your mini-story here to be inspiring.

        It was true that you needed quiet to write. The best many of us would have tried for was to be true to themselves in this respect–having come to that understanding.

        But you pierced to something deeper. You refused to be a slave even to the truth of your self. This is a great example that some truths, even very deep ones, are still subordinate to choice.

        You can’t change everything but knowing what you can (or being willing to figure that out) is the difference between being the captain of your life, and the victim of it.

  7. CJ
    CJ says:

    Oh sh$! Now I feel like like crap for going straight to a vanity comment before I read this! Snap. But it is not a lie, the shoes are super gorgeous.

    And so are you Penelope. This plastic surgery thing I have discovered as a topic in your writing is intriguing. I was a chef in LA for some years and let me tell you, up close at the Oscars, many of the celebs, while they have a tiny waist I might admire, their pulled back eyes to ears and triple Ds dangling over 16 in mid drifts truly scared me. I think that if the surgery makes the person having it feel better then it is ok. But to your point, it doesn’t usually and moreso the problem is that it doesn’t make them more attractive in the eyes of people surrounding, in fact, unless the person relocates, it changes things to more negative judgements. It gets them treated worse than before.

    One of my hard and fast mantras since I was about 11 years old was that you should ALWAYS ask for what you want in life, 100% of the time, because the worst that can happen is that you might get refused, hear “no” but at least you tried and when you try, you don’t regret. So to your ending of number 1, I hope with all my heart that all your fans listen.

    Really great piece. Peace, CJ

  8. frieda
    frieda says:

    YAY!!! That’s the one thing you’ve said over the years that I thought was completely misguided, so I’m really glad and relieved to hear you changed your mind.

    I moved from plastic surgery central to a small town where most people are natural, and I think the natural look is so much more beautiful 99% of the time. I go back home and see everyone with that fake mug and the trout lips, and it makes me sick. Formerly beautiful women (and men) are destroying their individuality. It’s so sad.

    I don’t know what I’ll feel in 20 years about myself, and sure sometimes it does improve people, but for the most part, if someone already looks decent, I think it’s the wrong thing to do.

  9. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    I would love it if you wrote a post about what to do if people are lying about you. You can’t control what other people say. How to fight the effects of other people trying to harm your reputation or bring you down or manipulate your situation behind your back.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I really think you have to ignore people lying about you. They don’t like you, so they don’t want to hear that they are not right about you. Why bother educating people who hate you about who you really are? Who cares? Spend your time on people who like you.

      My Wikipedia page is a good example of this. The page was zapped by the Wikipedia editors because so many people were writing lies about me.

      I didn’t say anything. I did’t defend myself. I just let it go. And finally, Wikipedia put my page back up, with people who hate me, but no liars.

      You might say that your situation is different. Like, in an office, it’s different. But it’s not. In an office you can be your best self and show people your best self and they are not stupid – they can judge for themselves.

      And if you still can’t make headway then you have failed in the game of office politics. The person who lies about you has a lot more credibility in the office than you do.

      Go to the next job and build up your own credibility by being nice and thoughtful and vulnerable. Then peoples’ lies about you won’t matter.

      Penelope

  10. chris
    chris says:

    I’m sorry, Penelope. You know I am a big fan of yours, but I find this post all a-jumble.

    Lying points to feeling stuck (opening)?

    Expectations–no, the denial of having expectations–that is a lie?

    Being wrong and denying it is a lie? Being unwilling to act on what we know is wrong–that is a lie?

    And last, I am not reassured about by this post–mainly because in your opening remarks
    you admit to feeling stuck. And because you have entertained the idea of cheating. And because it seems you don’t feel appreciated for what you do as a mom . . . and Mother’s Day is coming, and I think you are predicting that the story you tell in the post may very well be your story . . .

    Penelope, you work very hard at being interesting, and you are dazzlingly successful at it. But I think you succeed despite your circumscribed life, not because you have an interesting life. You are the author of interesting . . . despite the fact that you are in the wings (for your sons as you homeschool them), not on-stage.

    I hope you have enough to sustain YOU, besides creating interesting & giving it all away to family and farm.

  11. Laura
    Laura says:

    I am so happy to see your back flip about plastic surgery!

    So many of my girlfriends have had surgery of some kind and/or botox.

    It really makes no difference whatsoever to their happiness or self esteem level in the longer term. In fact, I would go as far to say that it actually makes them focus more on their appearance. Most end up finding more areas they would like to “fix”.

    A low self worth is a hungry beast that is never satisfied.

    • Deb
      Deb says:

      Yes, I agree with this comment 100%, especially the last sentence. It’s important but tricky to acknowledge.

  12. Andi
    Andi says:

    I am normally an up-front, all-cards-on-the-table kind of girl — which gets me into trouble as I don’t play games & don’t understand the rules of manipulation (or how to get along in polite society, for that matter!). However, lately I have been lying off the cuff, almost chronically, straight to my mother’s face. That bitch is scary! When she asks if I have done something, I say *YES* even if the truth is actually NO. Why? I’m 36-yrs-old. But I still have the fear of getting grounded beat into my head, & it’s easier just to tell her what she wants to hear.

    I wonder if that is the same reason people lie to themselves.

    Andi-Roo

  13. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot says:

    Happy mothers day! On my iPad so can’t write much. Yes, ignoring lies about you is best.

    Love the outfit…be great with accessories:) Hint to farmer and kids for mothers day….

  14. downfromtheledge
    downfromtheledge says:

    “The truth may hurt for a little while, but a lie hurts forever.” And they do take on a life of their own…I just posted about lying in fact.

    I am stuck in a situation where I can’t tell the truth and also keep a job & work in my field. It took forever to *get* a job because I couldn’t convincingly explain away my unemployment/underemployment. Had I been a skilled liar, instead of feeling ashamed and humiliated that I was depressed and suicidal, that I quit my job and burned my bridges … I would never have wound up with all that unemployed time in the first place.

    I hate lying as much as I hate being lied to. I feel like I am watching my SELF the way you describe watching liars in the act.

  15. elaine
    elaine says:

    Interesting post, but I’m mostly curious about the writing around doorway. It is ideas, quotes, affirmations? Lies?

  16. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    Penelope,
    Great post. I’m thinking about your point about homeschooling, and I do agree that people don’t want to admit that sending kids to school isn’t really a great way to educate them. And something else for me comes up, our school systems teach people that they should never be wrong. Because schools today are so test-centered, it is always good to be right. And, even if, say, a particular teacher tries to allow for other types of assessments, the bottom line is that kids still need to be right so they can get a good grade. If a kid hands in a literary analysis, it better make sense, or s/he will get a bad grade, so there’s not room for being wrong or making mistakes.
    Suzanne

  17. D.J. Phillips
    D.J. Phillips says:

    Positive change is a major source of happiness. Negative changes come to us unbidden, and we have to consciously seek out something to balance them. Make your positive changes small and frequent, and don’t expect any one change to keep you happy forever.

  18. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I think I would have picked out that outfit. What did Melissa change? I really love Melissa’s fashion sense (from her blog!). My guess is she told you to put a more fitted top on so people can see what great shape you are in. But the red shoes and cute pants look good to me and I love blue and red (but not for patriotic reasons).

  19. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    Scott Thompson’s personal brand went from competent CEO of Yahoo to liar in a matter of days. That said, I have noticed that going for “personal branding” instead of just competent professionalism sets up a positional arms race so that many people feel they need to embellish/lie about their accomplishments on their résumés to stand apart from the crowd. All they really need to do though is separate themselves from their peers in a unique manner, without lying, and they will have a personal brand.

    Accounting skills might even be more important to a CEO job the computer science, since you can hire programmers for those jobs.

  20. scrilla
    scrilla says:

    “plastic surgery does not make people better looking in other peoples’ eyes. You still are what you are to other people. ”

    So there’s the character issue which is important. But maybe he meant that obvious plastic surgery is different from “good looks” since it’s often enough not aesthetically pleasing in the first place.

  21. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    It’s interesting to think about the relationship of the content in #1 -the lie about expectations and #2 – the lie about expectations.
    In #1, you write women want to be appreciated for being a mom. So don’t tell a lie and say Mother’s Day isn’t important. In fact, tell your spouse what you want from them so that you’ll have a better chance of getting it.
    In #2, you discuss how important it is to manage up. Basically, find your boss’s weaknesses and do that work for them to make them shine and be appreciative of your efforts. Ideally, do the work without them having to ask for help. Know their strengths and weaknesses and pitch in on the weaknesses that matter.
    The advice in #1 and #2 is good. It seems to me, though, that #2 is more difficult to achieve as it’s about asking a lot of good questions, discovery, and following through with meaningful action. If your’re a star at work and good at managing up, those talents would seem to come in handy at home even if you can’t read your spouse’s mind.

  22. Heroine Worshiper
    Heroine Worshiper says:

    Plastic surgery is a complicated issue. I’ve seen lots of blondies get their teeth straightened & their ears pulled up in only minor ways, then find the love of their life, which they couldn’t do before. Would be surprised if the improvement in their self esteem was really temporary, or even if the self esteem of a blondie isn’t already as high as possible.

  23. Tim
    Tim says:

    “…women who get plastic surgery are likely to have poorer body image than women who don’t…”

    It’s a chicken-or-egg problem. Maybe poor self-image leads women to get surgery.

    Or maybe Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice applies: once women know there is more than just one chin (or nose or chest) to choose from, they become envious of the alternatives and expect (but fail to obtain) perfection when those things arrive. This would lead to lower self-image.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh, I like that theory about the Paradox of Choice applying to this situation. I think you might be right.

      Also, I have to add that Barry Schwartz, the author of Paradox of Choice, was speaking right next door to my son’s cello lesson. So there was no parking, anywhere. But all the cars were BMWs and Mercedes. And I think it’s so funny that people drive those cars and go to hear him talk about how we have to stop searching endlessly for the best of everything. So not what I expected.

      Penelope

  24. emily
    emily says:

    I think the reason plastic surgery backfires is because people think authenticity is beautiful. So when you get plastic surgery you’re even more removed from yourself then you were. That’s uncomfortable for the people around you because actually vulnerability, as you say, is key to being connected to other. Not that you have to worry about that if you don’t want to – but if you do, then it’s clear to my why plastic surgery is better in theory than in practice.

  25. Sian
    Sian says:

    You look great Penelope. Really. Thanks for taking back on your earlier comment on plastic surgery. You had me going around in my head on that one for a while. It is a lot harder to work on self perception than to fix the outside, but it is a lot more long lasting.

  26. Joan
    Joan says:

    A television stylist once taught me that black and red never go together, it creates a Spanish look every time.

    Instead, Red pairs well with grey, charcoal, camel, brown, cream, silver and bright blue (like your top).

  27. John@PGISelfDirected
    John@PGISelfDirected says:

    “The second most popular day of the year for women to sign up for Ashley Madison is the day after Mother’s Day.” It’s quite awkward reading that when Mother’s Day is just right around the corner…

  28. awiz8
    awiz8 says:

    Why people lie, from “A Few Good Men” 1992

    Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessup
    Tom Cruise as Lt. Kaffee

    Col. Jessep: You want answers?
    Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to.
    Col. Jessep: *You want answers?*
    Kaffee: *I want the truth!*
    Col. Jessep: *You can’t handle the truth!*

  29. Zee Stylist
    Zee Stylist says:

    Penelope you look so darling. :)
    Great choice of color combination.
    Royal blue looks amazing on you.
    The red shoes are perfect because they show off your personal style. The skinny pants are an excellent fit for you. I read in the comments they’re blue but on my screen they look black. Melissa is right about the blue if indeed they are blue. My only tip is to stay clear of draped tops that come down so low in the front because what happens is, the draping gives the false illusion of “stretched out” especially around the neckline (think of a kid pulling the neck of a shirt to get it over their heads). I would suggest wearing draped tops tucked in for a more polished look, like this:

    http://www.cusp.com/store/catalog/productImagesPopup.jhtml?selected=mg&item=prod132631&pageProductId=prod132631&yB=mg_prod132631&mwsInfo=enlarge

    But of course, for an everyday outfit you look super cute and I’d let you wear that :P

  30. Julie Knapp
    Julie Knapp says:

    This was very interesting! I’ve never looked into reasons behind why people lie. Definitely something worth reading more about. Great examples also, they were very relatable and easy to navigate.

    Love your blog, keep it up!

  31. KJ
    KJ says:

    About #2, I believe you have mentioned previously that it doesn’t really matter if you “fib/lie” on a resume (of course, I can’t find the actual post now). Does this change your opinion? Or is it more likely that this is just being “used” as an excuse to get rid of someone (i.e., if it wasn’t this broken “rule” they would have found a different one to hound him about).

  32. fashioncritic
    fashioncritic says:

    Please don’t wear this outfit. The blue top and the red shoes don’t work. The red is too red.

  33. KatyL
    KatyL says:

    “For example, people love to mock the idea of managing your personal brand. They say how stupid it is, and how transparently self-obsessed it is. But the truth is that people want to be able to find out about you easily, and the people who malign the idea of personal brand simply don’t want to take the time to help people find out about them.”

    It IS stupid. It’s not just self-obsessive, it’s shallow and idiotic.

    There’s are good reasons I don’t flaunt my ‘brand.’ First, I’m not a tampon or a bottle of ketchup. Second, all you need to know about me if you’re an employer is if I can do the job, and how well I can do it. The rest is my business, not yours. And third, the truth is that brand-flaunters are bores.

    Really.

  34. Jazmyne
    Jazmyne says:

    I was first attracted to this aticle because the title intrigued me, but as I kept reading it seemed to stray off topic. This article simply tells us what kind of lies are out there, but not necessarily what we can learn from the lies we’re told. For example: #2: the lie about inadequacy; it’s perfect that we know that Thompson is a man who lied on his resume, and maybe it shows that he’s a bit insecure, but what do we take from that? Lying about our strengths can help us make loads of money? That’s the most tragic response I’ve ever heard. My point is, I don’t really know what we can take from some of these examples; is it the inadequacy that we lie about that hurt us? Or are we learning that our inadequacies can help mold who we are? or am I missing the point entirely? Your point comes across very vague in the long-winded examples you’ve provided and I’m wondering if maybe you’d consider being more specific next time. Thank you.

  35. Ed
    Ed says:

    If you are engaged with a person physically and you can see them, watch their eye movements. When a person looks to THEIR left, especially the upper left, they are telling the truth. When their eyes flicker to the top right corner of their eye (even momentarily), they are usually telling a lie!

  36. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Once involved with a darkly beautiful, whip-smart lady who lied to me all the time. I mean, flat out all of the time. None of the give-aways above worked because she was also an accomplished actress, with a scary level of self-control (if a low level of self-possession.)

    Finally I figured it out how to decode it. She was so conflicted about the relationship that she kept trying to talk herself out of it. but always chose to lie about the precise things that she wanted to mislead me about.

    For example, if she said “I’m working too hard to see you this week,” it meant I should send her an IM at the very height of the work day saying, simply, ‘busy?’ and we’d be at it in maybe a half hour. If she said, “you should really take better care of yourself,” it meant I should find my most beat-up biker boots and jacket.

    And when she said ‘I could not possibly love you,’ I knew we’d both be divorced within six months.

    A few times she tried apologizing for this. But I said no problem: “don’t ever stop lying to me! If you did, how would I ever know what the truth is?”

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