Monday, February 22, 2010

Sex, Lies and Text Messages

Maybe it's best that I have sons. Because the day my daughter would look in my eyes and ask me why men lie, I would not have an answer for her. I wish that I'd be able to say that was a generalization. But then, I'd be lying.

Not that women don't lie too; I get that. But that's not what we're talking about today. Sorry! Men lie because they can't handle the reaction of being truthful - and because often make it very easy for men to lie.

On Friday, I watched Tiger Woods’ press conference with two female co-workers, and all three of us pretty much shared the same sentiments: The only thing worse than a cheating, lying man is a cheating, lying man trying to explain why he won’t cheat and lie anymore.

Let’s face it: Tiger wasn’t standing in front of the media - and the world - promising to be a better husband and better man because he had change of heart, had found a new sense of love or appreciation for what he stood to lose or because it was the right thing to do. Tiger Woods promised to be a be a better husband and better man because he got caught. Had the Thanksgiving weekend incident not happened, if my math is correct, by now he’d probably be on woman 38.

Those of us watching the press conference were of different ages, one single, one divorced and one married, yet we all agreed that the best damage-control Tiger could have done at that point was to walk in front of the cameras without a script and say, "I’m going back to work, and I will handle my personal business at home."

No one but Tiger’s wife needed to hear him make the promises that most of us have heard at least once in our lives: “I made a mistake, I was wrong, and I want to prove to you that I won’t make it again.” Surely Tiger had already said those words to his wife. So why was he saying it to the media?

If he had kept that part of his personal life private, it wouldn’t be the topic of conversation, news reports, and yes, blogs. But since he didn’t, I have no problem weighing in.

Elin Woods, like many women, was faced with the decision to continue to live with a very flawed man or to leave him. It’s as simple as that. The difference between her and most women is that she has to make the decision with the world watching.

It is said that the second most intense life stress is loss of love. The first is death. But I question this. Both are final. Both, in most cases, result in the physical removal of someone special from your life. Both result in the loss of a way of life we have become familiar with. Both result in the lingering torment of things that were never said.

However, with death, you have the peace of knowing you were in your lost loved one's heart. You know you were not abandoned purposely, cast aside or rejected. With death, you can take off work and get sympathy. You are given gifts of comfort and understanding. You can go through closing rituals, and you can feel contentment that your beloved is in a better place.

But with breakups, separation or divorce, even though you have the assurance that they are still alive somewhere on this Earth, that person's love was intentionally withdrawn from you! They opted to leave you. And when they leave you with a trail of lies blowing in the wind behind them, it only magnifies the hurt.

I wouldn’t want to be in Elin’s shoes for all the money in Tiger Woods' bank account.

If she had it to do over again, maybe she would have done everything she could have to keep her very private matter with her husband private. Instead, it spilled out into the street ... and, as they say, the rest is history.

Some of us have done the same - made a big, loud display out of something that happened at home. The problem is - and then what? When you put your business out there, there’s no turning back. Then your problem is not just with you and whoever the issue is between, but with your mama, your daddy, your girlfriends, your co-workers - and who needs that added stress?

The reason so many women had little or no love for Tiger and his apology is that many women have heard those words before. And they know that words without action are nothing.

What Elin and most women say they want is honesty. But do we really? What if Tiger’s truth was that he loves his wife, but he also needs to have several other women in order to be happy? Would she accept that? Would we?

In the past month, the lies and eventual truths of men have caused me to wonder if my honesty actually acts as deterrent to theirs. If I openly give my heart to a man and react honestly to things I want and don't want, does this make him lie to make me believe he wants the same things? Does any one truthfully want honesty in any relationship? Or do we all really want to be made to feel better all the time? If I can't accept your truth, have I encouraged you to lie?

Should I be grateful to someone for saying early on that he's in no position to be the person I need him to be, or should I be grateful to the person who did a good job pretending that he could be - until his lies caught up with him?

I don't have the answers.

But I do know that while changing the way I react may be in order, changing the way I love isn't. My heart is pure, even if my actions and reactions aren't always that way. When women are driven to extreme measures - whether it's bashing out teeth with a nine-iron or putting up billboards all over town - based on the lies they've been told or truths that they haven't been able to accept, they're allowing someone else to control who they are. And that should never happen.

Relationships are complicated enough when they’re going well, and when trouble rears its ugly head, how you start has a huge bearing on how you finish. One guy recently sent me a text message to apologize for his disappearing act, saying that as much as he wanted to, he couldn’t be the man I deserved and didn’t want to mess up my life. Another male friend of mine – who was angling to be more – told me over dinner in the beginning of our relationship that he could be a jerk, often thinks of himself before his mate and has a weakness for threesomes.

Check, please!

I’ve learned the hard way that honesty is always the best policy – a little hurt in the beginning is always better than a lot of hurt later.

And that’s what I teach my sons.

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