My friends were surprised that I chose the field of Social Work and not another field. They said that I am the type of person who liked to cut to the chase and get to the point right away. I can’t stand when people make excuses or don’t own up to what they have done. I told them that I was the new type of social worker. Truth be told, in the beginning of my career I was assigned cases of clients who needed a kick in the pants. I was assigned clients who wanted to change their situation but didn’t know how to go about doing so. I wasn’t the social worker to cry with and who would hold your hand, nodding at everything and saying, “That must have been so hard for you.” I was empathetic and sympathetic to clients, but right after the boo-hooing, we got down to business.
When dealing with people or clients, you must listen carefully to what they say and try not to make your own inferences or think you know what they are saying. Don’t finish their sentences or think you know what they are talking about when there may be some doubt. In the letter below, the young woman did just that. She was given some information and ran with it, thinking it was the whole truth when in fact it was half-truths – not that the other person lied, but this woman assumed she knew the whole story when in fact she didn’t know all the fine details. She thinks that the fellow is portraying himself as someone he is not, but did she ever consider that she was misinterpreting his words?
I’ve gone out with someone a few times and I am finding that he is, well, not lying to me, but he embellishes things. Let me give you a few examples.
I’m starting to doubt everything he tells me. When I was redt the shidduch, I was told that he works at a company and is very close with the manager of his department. I called around and found out, yes, he did work for that company and has done so for many years. But on the actual date, as we were speaking, things just didn’t add up. It turns out that he is secretary/support staff of the manager. This was a letdown. He said he’s worked in the position for the last two years. This is not what I expected. I thought I was dating someone on his way up in the company.
We were talking about summer plans, and he showed me pictures of a house he “always goes to” during the summer. The house looked great: pool, fire pit, large rooms; the pictures were with him and friends having a good time. On our last date, he said it was his brother’s house. His brother’s house? I thought he and his friends rented this house or maybe it belonged to one of them. But now I find out that he goes there with friends when his brother and family are away. He never actually said he rented the house or anything. But it was the impression that I got. I feel a little deceived. I know it wasn’t a lie. But can it be considered a lie by omission?
On our first two dates, he was driving a nice SUV. He never spoke about it. I never questioned him about it, but then he showed up on the third date in an older RAV4. Nothing is wrong with a RAV4, but I asked if something happened to his SUV. He explained that the RAV4 was his and had been at the mechanic for a while, so he had borrowed a friend’s SUV for our dates.
Any of these little things can be overlooked, but I just feel when you add them all together that he is living a fake life. I feel as though he has been giving the impression that he is an executive with a nice car and vacation house. I know I sound shallow. “Waaa! Waa! No nice car! No expensive house.” But I feel like he was giving a false impression.
What do you think?
Batya, thank you for your letter.
I’m just trying to figure this out, so let’s review. The person whom you are dating never once told you he was an “executive,” and he indeed does work in the company you were told he works at – just not in the capacity you thought. He spoke about his vacation and showed you pictures of him and his friends at a house that you later found out was his brother’s. And he doesn’t drive what I can assume is a luxury SUV, from how you described it, and drives a regular SUV, but has a friend kind enough to let him borrow it for a date.
Oh, my goodness! Run! Run, girlfriend, as fast as your legs can carry you and get away from the… liar? No, he’s not a liar. It doesn’t sound as if he portrayed himself to be anything other than what he is – a hard-working person who has generous family members and friends. If you would have told me that he lied about his position at the company, that would be one thing; but it sounds as if you got the wrong information from the shadchan or a “reference.” Maybe this fellow, whom I will now refer to as Shlomo, is learning all he can about the business from his manager, and soon he will ask for and receive a promotion. He may be on his way up in the company. Did you ask that? Or do you assume that he is a secretary/support staff and that is all he will remain for the next 40 years? If so, that’s harsh on your part.
It just so happens that I started in an agency 17 years ago in one capacity, and here I am, 17 years later, with a new title and new responsibilities because my hard work and patience was rewarded. The young woman who was my support staff five years ago is now my Senior Navigator. She is second in command in the office. She worked her tailbone off and I saw what she was capable of and I rewarded her. It sounds as if you are looking down your nose at his position, or maybe because he is a male who is a “secretary.”
But let’s move on to the vacation house. Did Shlomo ever hint or allude to the fact that he rented the house with friends or the house was his? Did he just talk about the house he spends time at during the summers? Again, not exactly a lie and he did tell you it was his brother’s. Weeks didn’t pass by where he let you think he rented the house. Is there anything wrong with spending time at a family member’s vacation house? I wasn’t there, so I can’t tell you if Shlomo spoke as if the house was his or alluded to that. I always say numbers are objective: one plus one always equals two, but words are subjective and how one person interprets them may be different from how another does or how they were intended to sound. Maybe you just thought that the way Shlomo spoke about the house meant that he had some type of ownership to the home or that he rented it. Yes, I can see how that may be annoying. Why wouldn’t he just say from the start that he and his friends go to his brother’s house on the weekends or for a week every summer? I don’t know. But again, it wasn’t a lie, and it was cleared up on what seems like the next date.
In regards to the car situation, I don’t really know what to say. I have been out when fellows have said that the car they were driving didn’t belong to them. One was a big minivan. My date apologized and said it belonged to his sister while his car was being fixed. Maybe that was an obvious one, because why would a single fellow drive a minivan (with car seats). Another time, my date borrowed his friend’s Jeep, but the air conditioning didn’t work! He didn’t know about that before the date and apologized for it before I climbed in. Yes, maybe Shlomo could have mentioned something about the car, but the fact that he didn’t doesn’t make him a liar.
Batya, I can understand what you mean when you say, “Any of these little things can be overlooked, but I just feel when you add them all together that he is living a fake life,” but I don’t think that Shlomo is. Maybe Shlomo thought that he was being up front with you. It’s not his fault you were misinformed about his job or that you assumed he owned or rented a house and had nice SUV. No one wants to work he or she is having a conversation with someone. No one wants to be Rashi and try to interpret what someone means when he is talking. You want to be able to take things at face value. So, I do agree that this situation is very annoying, but I don’t think Shlomo is a liar by omission.
If you want to find out about car, home, job, then just come right out and ask. Ask what you want to know. Ask so you can have some clarity. You wrote, “I know it wasn’t a lie. But can it be considered a lie by omission?” This is a grey area. Some may say yes, and others may say no. I don’t feel that you have gotten to know Shlomo that well to make an accusation that he is living a fake life or giving a false impression. It seems as if you are looking to catch him in another miscommunication or “lie.” Relax and have a good time with him. But please ask questions so you know exactly the type of person you are with – whether it’s Shlomo or someone else. This advice can be applicable to all; if you want clarity about something, ask!
Hatzlachah to you all.