how to keep your mouth shut when you really don’t want to

this is tangent from yesterday’s post “how Christians get divorced”.  a lot of people seemed to identify with the bit about the injured party not being the one who runs around blabbing to everyone about why the marriage really ended.  it got me thinking that maybe that needs to be applied to dating relationships and expanded on.  but thinking hurts so i just wrote the following:

oh man, the immediate gratification of completely blowing up your ex by telling everyone what a truly terrible person she is and all the awful things she did while you’ve been nothing but decent is almost as tempting as…

let’s be honest, there’s nothing more tempting than that.

and nothing will kick you off the high road and down to her mucky level faster.

but sharideth!  she’s an emotional vampire who made my life a nightmare, then cheated on me with my dad and scratched my Gears of War: 3 game!  people need to know!

calm down.  they will.  but it won’t have to come from you.

these things have a habit of making their way into public knowledge without any help from you.  how?  one way is that your friends all have pieces of what actually went down.  things they saw first hand.  when people start telling them about what a schmuck you are based on what she’s saying, they will defend you with “oh yeah?  well i was there, so…”.  it’s very effective.

the other ways it happens are a mystery to me.  all of sudden, somewhere down the road, people are going to just know the truth.  it just…happens.

the hard part is the patience it takes to wait for it.  but believe me, if you try to force it, it will make a much bigger mess and stick a knife right in the gonads of your credibility.

if someone who has been a close friend comes to you and sincerely wants to know what happened, tell them.  keep it factual and don’t vomit all the negativity on them.  that’s just awkward…and gross.  tell them in the simplest terms how you were hurt, what role you played in the demise and that you’d rather not get too ugly about what she did.  that’s respectable and they will see it.  also let them know you are grateful they asked instead of just assuming you’re a jackhole or listening to gossip.

if it’s someone who doesn’t seem sincere or who might have ulterior motives, it’s none of their freaking business.  you’ll know soon enough if that’s the case when you decline to talk about it.  they will probably counter with “well, she said (insert vicious lie here).”  you’re only response to that is “that’s what she told you?”  then nod, grin, shake your head and walk away.

it will leave them pissed.  then baffled.  then curious.  then suspicious of what she said.  then their respect for you will be begin to bud.  it’s like magic.

those that never do believe the truth?  screw ’em.  consider it a great way to separate the wheat from the chaff, to get all biblical up in here.

just stay on the less is more train.  she’s going to hang herself and you will look better for it.  you are under no obligation to explain yourself to anyone.  the more defensive you get, the more she sounds legit.

have you ever blown it at keeping your mouth shut?  how did that work out for you?

have you ever been on the receiving end of nasty break up gossip?  how did you handle it?

*if you are female, please don’t send hate male that i wrote this to dudes.  it can absolutely go the other way, too.  but this is A Blog for Men so i just went with my default.  k?  k.

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6 comments on “how to keep your mouth shut when you really don’t want to

  1. Giles Hash says:

    I gotta say I agree with you 🙂 I went through a bad breakup (at least it felt bad at the time) about, oh gosh, that was seven years ago, I think. I’d already started my blog, and I talked about the breakup, but only in the vaguest terms. And I never said anything on the blog that I wouldn’t have said to her face. I was unhappy with just about everything that happened, but I still wanted to make sure I was nice to her.

    I know there are plenty of people who aren’t like me, but if any of them read this, they should take solace in the knowledge that I got over it, and now I’m very happily married to the woman of my dreams, and my ex is happily married to a man who genuinely loves her. 🙂

  2. Dena G says:

    but sharideth! (couldn’t resist…)

    Seriously, things DO somehow eventually make their way into public domain. When I went through my divorce, I had a very few friends in whom I confided everything; everyone else knew pretty much nothing of the “real story”. I wasn’t trying to be nice or respectful or anything admirable–it was my private hell and I just didn’t want to invite the world into it. But somehow, people who really cared just knew and rallied around me.

    I can talk about it truthfully, factually and unemotionally now, but I couldn’t have done so back then. I’m glad I didn’t come off looking like a pit viper, even though it would have felt really good at times to just unleash…sometimes “vindication” isn’t always in the form we expect, is it?

  3. I absolutely agree with you. When I was somewhat recently dumped (gay marriage is soooo 2008, gay divorce is the new black) I found people all too ready to villify my Ex and her new girlfriend. But I was more than aware of the role I played in the break-up (all the juicy tidbits are detailed in a post on my blog so no need to list them here) and refused to bad-mouth or blame them for everything. Surprisingly this resulted in even more support and sympathy coming my way, to the point where I sometimes found myself trying to convince people that I wasn’t a totally innocent victim in the situation. But my protests and taking responsibilty for my actions usually just end up earning me more respect for somehow rising above being vindictive or bitter. I find it all a bit confusing … but also pretty cool!

  4. Mairi Steinhoff says:

    Keeping your lips zipped will truly have a positive effect on future relationships. My fiance’s ex-fiancee randomly broke off their engagement after four to five years of being in a relationship. After three years of being with him, I have yet to hear anything negative about her. I know the facts and that’s it. That’s all I need to know (she and I do have open, friendly communication so if I asked her why exactly she did it, she would tell me). Had he spilled the beans and villianized his ex, I doubt I would feel so secure in the relationship. How would I know if he was gossiping to his friends all my bad habits or when I’m not sporting my best attitude towards him? It only has strengthened my trust in him.

  5. Emily says:

    Love this —

    A friend of mine had been dating a girl for seven years. She came back from a trip having cheated on him and broke up with him.

    Shew.

    But he responded like a gentleman and even as his friend I didn’t hear anything except “We broke up” until four months later when it finally got through the grapevine (not from him).

    Needless to say, girls are super into this stud.

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