Is Truth in Breakups Overrated?

"I'm just trying to be honest" is no excuse for being a jerk.

couple fighting
(Image credit: Ellen Moran/iStock)

The other afternoon, I went to see a hilarious and insightful play called Kin — about a young couple who meet and fall for each other but are having some trouble committing because of ongoing turbulence with some of their family members, including his alcoholic Irish mother and her widowed father. (It's a really wonderful afternoon at the theater, and the writing, by Bathsheba Doran, is superb.) The narrative begins with some drama between a young professor, Simon, who's a little too stylish for his own good, and Anna, a reticent younger woman who is an adjunct in his department. Simon is breaking up with her. He begins his rambling tirade by saying, "I know what I'm looking for, you know what you're looking for, we know what we're looking for, or maybe we don't, maybe that's the thing, maybe I don't know what I'm looking for but I know it's not you."


He continues: "That sounds terrible, doesn't it? But no, f*ck it, I'm trying to be truthful here, let's have truth in human relations for once, how about that?"

Have you noticed how often modern-day people — especially men who are behaving like douchebags — try to excuse their misbehavior by saying, "I'm just trying to be honest." I'd like to announce here, once and for all: That's no excuse! And honesty and kindness are not mutually exclusive, particularly not during a break-up. It's entirely possible to be both honest and gentle.

There's also a difference between being honest and blurting out every pathetic idea in your pathetic mind! Couldn't this nincompoop simply have said, "I don't think we're compatible," or "Things don't feel as effortless between us as I'd like them to feel," or "I don't feel as comfortable in this relationship as I'd like to feel." That kind of thing could be just as honest and a lot less obnoxious.

(Why is it that the smart men are so often the most stupid when it comes to "human relations?")

Simon continues: "And I mean — I'm so much older than you, that's probably why you picked me, right? A father figure? You lost your dad when you were very young, right? So that was probably part of the attraction, don't you think? But that's not healthy, that's not sustainable, or maybe it is, I don't know."

Anna responds: "My father's still alive."