Dr. G Hits the Spot: Neither integrity nor undies always make the man

photo by Richard Packham

Written by Gretchen Lambert

Dear Dr. G,

I went out with a guy the other day, but toward the end of the date I found out that he was very different from who he said he was. I mean, he is Mormon and had been through the temple and was wearing garments, but he had no problem wanting to have sex with me. I was completely taken aback and got mad. When he asked why I was so angry, I didn’t have a good answer. I still don’t quite know why I was so angry about the situation. It wasn’t the fact that he wanted to have sex, because I’m ok with that. That didn’t bother me. I am not Mormon, but I would expect someone who is Mormon to act the way they say they believe. Why am I still so bothered?

Bugged Bunny

Dear Hoppin’ Mad,

Chameleons are frustrating. Fence-sitters can drive you nuts. As much as we would like the world to be black and white, people are not. Some people play a game when they are dating; they can be whomever they detect that you want them to be. Others don’t really know what they believe or what their purported belief system entails, but they go along with the crowd for many reasons. You may have felt angry because you realized that the person you were with couldn’t be trusted. He wasn’t honest. No integrity. Players gonna play.

But what about you? Do you have a code? Do you have a set of standards that are just your own? No dogma from an institution, no words from your parents acting as a filter, just a code of your own by which you’ve decided to live. Can you verbalize what it is that you expect from yourself and the people you choose to date? Not that being able to do that will keep you from being in the same situation again, but it will help you explain how and why you feel the way you do. People who feel safe to us generally have integrity. They can usually be expected to act the way they do in any given situation. The Mafia has a code. Gangs have codes. Mormons have a code. Some best friends have a code. They might not be codes full of happy ideas, but they are codes that require adherence. If you can put a finger on your own code, do you live by it with integrity? I mean, what good is a code if it isn’t adhered to one hundred percent?

A great personal code exercise that we can all benefit from goes like this: “No matter how I feel in the moment, I will (or will not) ______.”

Some people might fill it in with, “I will not have sex with someone on the first date.” Or it might be filled in by another person with, “I will not expect a text right after I text someone.” It could also be “I will be home by 11 p.m. on a first date,” or “I will only date people who are nonreligious.” Whatever it is that you put in that blank, it has to be something that you are committed to sticking with no matter how you are feeling in the moment. Our emotions can become quite powerful at times, and unless we have thought through situations, have figured out what feels right in our gut, and have something we are willing to live by no matter what (integrity), we’ll end up feeling all kinds of confusion.

It sounds like you might already have a personal code by which you live, and this guy triggered some cognitive dissonance in you when you saw his underwear and his actions in direct conflict with the code he agreed to in the temple.

Good for you for listening to your gut and for trying to figure out what the confusion was about inside of you. That’s exactly how we unravel ourselves and become more in tune with our own code and more filled with integrity.

Gretchen Lambert has a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. She currently does private coaching and consulting both domestically and internationally. To meet with her privately, get in touch with her at [email protected] “Dr. G” is her pen name. She isn’t a real doctor.