Your ex tells you he/she is not ready to get back together just yet and suggests that the two of keep in touch as friends and see where things go. So you are emailing or talking regularly and you feel that you’re engaged in each other’s lives once again. You’re not back together but communication between the two of you is warm and friendly. You’ve even talked about being open and honest with each other because you value each other’s friendship. But then one day you find out that your ex lied to you.
He/she told you he/she was going out with friends but yet he/she was out on a date. You’re livid. Why would your ex lie to you? Why didn’t he/she just tell you the truth? Do you just keep quite and pretend nothing is bothering you? Should you ignore it since it’s really none of your business who your ex goes out on a date with? Should you confront him or her about his/her lies?
Now, most people would tell you “just get rid of the liar”. If lying (or cheating) was a major problem in the relationship, I’d say “lose the loser” too.
But if not, there are many reasons why your ex might not want to tell you he/she was out on a date with someone else.
1. The most obvious one is your ex didn’t want to hurt your feelings because he/she genuinely cares about you. Not a very good excuse for lying, but an understandable one.
2. If there is a history of jealousy, needy behaviour or any kind of emotional outbursts, chances are your ex probably feared that talking about his/her date with someone else would create an emotionally-charged situation, and he/she wasn’t ready for a shout-out, tears of tantrums.
3. Your ex thinks it’s none of you business. You’re not back together and so going out on a date with someone else is not like he/she is cheating on you.
If you’re hoping to get back together, shouldn’t being honest and open be something you both want?
I believe so! I also believe that you should talk to your ex about what you know but without completely ruining your chances of getting back together.
1. Whatever you do, do not accuse your ex of lying by omission.
If you didn’t discuss not going out on dates or seeing other people while you “see where things go”, you have no justification for calling your ex a liar. If you are like most people with poor communications skills, control or needy and clingy issues, you may think that it is “implied” that if you are “taking things slow” you will not be seeing other people. No it is not! Taking slow means taking slow. It doesn’t mean either of you should put your lives on hold unless you both agree to it.
2. Do not accuse your ex of lying unless you have concrete proof.
Accusing your ex of lying when you don’t have proof is like running against a wall really fast — head first! For all you know, unless you actually saw your ex with someone else on a date, your source may not even be accurate.
3. Go for constructive dialogue — and not a fight.
My advice is to go for the cooperative solution-oriented forward-looking approach. The use of an open, direct, non-confrontational, non-antagonistic and non-coercive approach radically reduces the harmful consequences of the traditional adversarial back-ward looking approach.
It’d sound something like this: “You know how much I care about you and value your friendship. We’ve had our ups and downs but look at us, we’re still friends. This past weekend, however, you told me that you were going out with your friends, but I found out that you were out on a date. I fully understand we’re not back together but for my own sake, I need to know that I can trust others by trusting myself. If you were out on a date, would you tell me?
4. Follow with a forward-looking empathetic response
Listen to your ex’s response without interrupting, then after your ex is done taking, follow with a cooperative solution-oriented response, “I understand. I’ve made mistakes in the past and some of those mistakes may have caused you to feel that you could not tell me you were going out on a date. I am working on myself and knowing that you can be open and honest with me about things such as this will give me the opportunity to practice being more trusting of my own judgement and of others. As my friend, I may need your help from time to time. Will you help me?”
Most people are generally more comfortable talking freely when you are asking for their help other than accusing them; and when you’re focused on the solution rather than the problem. And most people approached this way will likely face up and admit that they did actually go out on a date and tell you why they felt the need to lie about it.
The cooperation-seeking approach may at first seem like you acted “weak”. But a forward-thinking, forward-looking, cooperative approach that does not compromise your values (openness, honesty and trust ) has tremendous advantages.
1. You’re being totally honest;
2. You’re non-threatening and non-confrontational;
3. You’re telling your ex that you want him or her not to lie to you again;
4. You’re telling your ex that you want him or her to know you are working on yourself and becoming a “new you” different from the person he or she broke up with and;
5. You got your ex to agree on something you can work on together as a team.
Cooperative team work is essential to getting your ex back because it is the glue that binds two people together.
This is just an example of cooperative solution-oriented things you can say. What’s important is that you phrase your cooperative solution-oriented questions and sentences in a way that suits your personality, but keeping it direct and assertive. If your ex senses fear in the form of passive aggressiveness, he or she’ll counter attack and force you to back off, and you’ll end up feeling petty, insecure and angry.
More about handling potentially explosive situations using a cooperative-seeking, forward-looking approach, including more examples can be found in my eBook, Dating Your Ex.