I just watched a romantic comedy—I know, I know. It’s too late for me, I suppose, because there are hundreds of these movies lodged in my psyche. Romantic comedies present a long list of what-not-to-do’s of course. The little item that I think romantic comedies illustrate so well is dishonesty. The movie characters seem to have created the concept “acceptable dishonesty,” that is, something that others go along with or excuse. Let me be clear that the best way to kill an intimate relationship second to financial disputes is lying/deception/omission.
So, what can we do? Don’t keep secrets.
One of the movie characters did the following:
–she secretly discovered the gender of her unborn child then led her husband to believe that she didn’t know,
–she ordered baby clothing and more but hid the boxes at her office,
–she required her friends to keep her secrets,
–when husband saw her stack of boxes in the office she lied, “oh, just supplies.”
All of this was in the first half of the movie. This couple gained nothing except stress and emotional distance. And for what?
I’ve known males and females who ascribed to the idea that “you have to keep some secrets.” My advice is DON’T KEEP SECRETS. To do so is an automatic destroyer of trust. Actions that erode trust jeopardize deep emotional connection. No deep emotional connection makes a healthy, long-term relationship unlikely.
CAVEAT: not everyone wants deep emotional connection. Some people want companionship. Others want a business arrangement. They don’t want to share feelings or to dig deep emotionally with a partner. Some people get it that a relationship takes work and they don’t want to do that work. BUT it’s all okay. These are all life choices to make. It just matters that we are each truthful about what our intentions are with the people we care about. So, in the interest of greater closeness you’re going to tell your partner/dating friend/spouse that when something is too hard for you to own up to your pattern is to lie or avoid telling the truth, right? Expect a deeper conversation.
WHAT TO DO: if you are aiming for partnership and deep emotional connection then
–being revealing of self,
–allowing yourself to be vulnerable,
–and committing to NOT lying.
Practice truth telling. It might feel weird at first but it can become quite normal. Smile.
Give up the idea of “protecting your partner from the truth.” Don’t mistakenly believe that avoiding conflict is for the best. You may have bought temporary peace but you didn’t contribute to a long-term foundation that makes for a strong relationship. Think of
–conflict avoidance and
as many steps in the wrong direction.
Even when we are thinking like eight-year-olds and believe that we’ve gotten away with deception there exists the energy of dishonesty. Bad vibes. I’ve told partners in the past that I felt that something was wrong even though they were saying, “no, there isn’t anything I’m not telling you.” There was trouble even if I didn’t know the details yet. The point is nothing was helped or made better by lying.
My recommendation is to make a personal commitment to truth and vulnerability. Vulnerability in an intimate relationship defines intimacy. It’s a point of strength in your bond, not weakness. Not that I grew up among adults who believed in truth and dealing with reality when things got difficult. I did not. My parents, my church, and my teachers were risk adverse. They all cared most about what other people might think so tension-filled silence was the social rule when situations were awkward or morally in question or hurtful to someone, including me. As for relationships, I never saw anyone talk through problems or dating people negotiate for their needs before committing to each other and after.
Today, everyone in my closest friend group aims for deep emotional connection. That means being surrounded by truth tellers; we are not our parents. We’ve had gritty moments that we’ve had to talk through but that’s a good thing. We always use discussion and love to get to an even better place with each other. Mutual respect helps immensely.
Last, I’ll mention my relationship with my own life partner. We believe in honesty by this stronger definition. We practice a good level of emotional vulnerability with each other. When life throws us some harder situations we buckle down and hold each other tightly. All that well-earned deep emotional connection pays off every time that we most need it.
©2018 Aisha-Sky Gates All rights reserved. Quoting from Gates Counseling posts is allowed as long as proper credit is given to the author.