Honesty in Relationships

As a comment in my last blog about Jealousy, Chris wrote in to talk about his own problems with a lying girlfriend, and the suffering he endured while knowing she was being dishonest. It definitely is not a good feeling to be lied to. And most of us know when we are being told a fib. “Lies are a slippery slope. If you’re capable of lying just because you can get away with it…where are you going to end up? 4 marriages & 10 male role models later, you’re going to wonder why your kids don’t respect you.” I agreed with just about everything he said, except for the part where I’m a cheerleader for man haters (I’m not, I promise!), or that my friend is someone who can’t be taken at face value because she told a lie. In her defense, and in the defense of all humankind (men and women), we have all been guilty of omitting the truth at some point in our lives. Does that mark us with a Scarlet L for LIAR? Emphatically, no!  Does it mean that my friend Jen chose a really immature way to deal with an uncomfortable question? Sure it does.

Many good points by Chris and by others were brought up. And those points made me muse the topic of honesty. Honesty is probably the most important part of a relationship, and is vital to those early stages of developing deeper feelings as the relationship grows. And the reason for this is because the foundation for love is trust. How can you trust someone when you have reason to believe that they may not be divulging the whole truth?

For the next couple of days, I really want to delve into several qualities of a relationship, starting with honesty and jealousy. I feel that they are a huge part of any person’s relationship, not just Jenny’s and her boyfriends.

Today’s topic? Trust.

The beginning of a relationship is a thrilling time. Here’s this person that suddenly seems to be the part of you that was missing. You love how you feel around them. Their qualities seem to only compliment yours. You want to spend every single waking moment with them just to be near them and learn everything about them. I love the excitement of those first few weeks in a relationship. For all I know, that person is perfect. They have no flaws. And guess what?

Neither do I.

Know why? It’s because we are putting our best foot forward. It’s hard to escape that period of time when all of our flaws are neatly tucked away in the back corner of our souls as we present this perfect person to the one we are infatuated with. Is it wrong? I don’t think so. Is it dishonest? Maybe a little. But the thing of it is, we don’t yet know this person well enough to be able to let our hair down, greet them without makeup and with unshaved legs, or to eat messy tacos in front of them – complete with the cilantro that gets stuck in our teeth. We want them to see us at our best in those first few weeks so that they won’t go after some shinier new thing that is looking her best. We want to attract them. It’s why birds fluff up their feathers and strut in front of some lady bird. Their feathers aren’t always fluffed up, their chests do not stay puffed out. But they want to seal the deal, and are going to be sure that they impress this lady bird more than any other bird out there.

We are only animals in our journey to lasting love.

Eventually the time comes when we really can let our hair down. But, like the case of my friend Jen, there may be some skeletons left in the closet that are just a little too ugly to share right away. If you don’t remember, Jen was asked about a fling she’d had with a mutual friend months before she and her boyfriend got together. And she decided that instead of fessing up and dealing with whatever the reaction was, that it would be easier to escape any possible conflict and lie about it. And when she later admitted that it had happened, it resulted in a fight between the two of them.

In my comments area, James mentioned that the boyfriend has every right to be upset, that she put him in an awkward situation that he didn’t have all the information about. And Brian pointed out that there are two sides to every story, musing that maybe this wasn’t the first time this has happened. Both gentlemen make excellent points (and they also make me wonder where the ladies are on this subject?). And I have to agree wholeheartedly that the way this should have been handled in the first place was with the truth. Now, I stand by my point that honesty can be hard to come by when a certain type of reaction is expected from the ugly truth. But remember the foundation to love?

TRUST.

It goes both ways here. Jen needs to be able to trust her boyfriend with the truth, and Jen’s boyfriend needs to trust that he is only getting the truth out of her. That means that Jen’s boyfriend should be laying off of her for things that cannot be helped, like her past. And that also means that if Jen is going to tell anything to the man that she loves and is hoping to build a life with, it better be the utmost truth. But there’s also a third part of this equation. Occasionally there may be times when Jen or her boyfriend is asked about something that he or she just isn’t ready to talk about. And that’s when these words should be used:

“I’m not ready to talk about this right now. But can we talk about it at a time when I am in a better frame to discuss it?”

Of course, hearing those words come out of your loved one’s mouth, it’s not easy to take. I mean, you know when you hear something like that, you are about to hear a truth that you were hoping you were wrong about. But this is when both parties to the relationship can build their trust with each other. When one requests a later time to discuss something difficult, the other can respect that boundary and agree to postpone the conversation for a later time.

These scenarios describe the niceties of honesty and trust, when there isn’t really a huge issue going on but definitely something that needs to be fine tuned to keep the relationship going. But what about dealing with a habitual liar? What if Jen had a hard time telling the truth on a regular basis, like Brian noted as a possible predicament. My personal opinion is that any bad habit can be changed. But if this is a habitual problem, my question is WHY are you with her in the first place? If a promising future is built on trust, what kind of foundation is built on doubt? A very flimsy one. If someone you love has a hard time telling you the truth, and you know if your SO is that person, then just get out. Have some self respect. You’re worth more than feeling like crap while you work hard to maintain a crumbling building of a relationship.

Thoughts?

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3 thoughts on “Honesty in Relationships”

  1. As I mentioned in my comment on the predecessor to this post, there are some things that simply aren’t best to share at the start of a relationship. Everyone has a past, but a potentially serious relationship could easily be nipped in the bud if a first date included sordid details of previous relationships. I’m a pretty open person, and so is my bf…but there were some things we didn’t get into when we were first dating. We waited until we felt comfortable with each other.
    We also did our best to be funny and interesting, and I know that I certainly shaved my legs, cleaned my room and wore my most flattering clothes any time we were meeting. That’s the way new relationships are. It’s a polite dance while you become accustomed to each other and see if you will suit, before the weekend of being taken care of while you have a cold, or being held after an emotional breakdown. If a runny nose and a peak at the crazy doesn’t scare them away, you feel like you might be able to trust them with more, like maybe they won’t head for the hills when they hear about the ill-advised one-night-stand or the photos from the hot tub party, and that they won’t do bodily harm to the person at work that you are pretty sure has a crush on you.

    I don’t think that lying is ever the best choice, but on the other hand, when one is not yet sure how a new love will respond to a comment like ‘I’m not ready to talk about that yet’ it might seem like the best path to simply convince them that you arrived on a beach, fully formed and lovely, riding on a scallop shell, untouched and pure. Yesterday. Maybe when those truths eventually do come out, an explanation of why the person wasn’t comfortable enough to share them at the start of the relationship might ease the way. And maybe, a significant other (male or female, guys — boys have secrets too.) who is learning new information could try to listen and understand why it wasn’t revealed earlier and appreciate the fact that trust has built to a level where their partner is now comfortable sharing with them.

    Then again, some people are just compulsive liers. And I suppose they need love too…but maybe they can get it from other compulsive liers or something.

  2. It’s a risk / reward proposition. The risk is that you might kill the relationship before it starts. You may be caught the second you open your mouth. The reward is that you get to hide your skeletons. Is the risk really worth the reward?

    I’d rather have a woman who has been with some guys, and is completely comfortable with it. As long as she makes me feel like the only man in a crowded room, nothing else matters 🙂

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