Is honesty the best policy when it comes to love and sex?
02 September 2016, 15:00
Nairobi - It was a rainy day in the Mother City and my (very) new love and I were ensconced in a perfectly hip coffee shop, sipping frothy caffeinated brews and staring lovingly into each other’s eyes. All very romantic. And then he opened his mouth to drop some truth bombs.
Quietly, slowly, he told me about his previous relationships: things that had been done, people that had been hurt, lies that had been told. They were uncomfortable offerings of vulnerability. I asked questions, he answered. I took some time to process everything he’d told me. He took some time to process that he’d actually told someone.
Truthfulness, with ourselves and others, can be pretty damn scary.
Honesty is funny that way. Denial and ‘small white lies’ we can opt into without a moment’s thought, but living truthfully about who we are and what we want – and then sharing this with someone – requires a heck of a lot of thinking, effort and facing unpleasant realities.
Which is maybe why we shy away from it sometimes. And that’s a pity. Because the more we’re able to be honest with ourselves and others, the better the relationships we share. Judith was the first person to teach me this.
When I was a kid I went through a period where I lied about everything, even the stupidest things. It didn’t matter, because I didn’t think I liked anyone (let alone myself) enough to care about what people did or didn’t know about me. Until I met Judith. Some part of my squishy teen brain equated wanting to have a real friendship with getting real about who I was. I wanted Judith to like me for me, even if ‘me’ was boring.
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I think she may have been my first totally conscious honest relationship. Luckily, this venture paid off. Judith is now my oldest friend and I’ve learnt that, like denial and lying, honesty is totally self-serving. The difference is in what kind of reality you’re trying to create for yourself.
Lies and denial will always cloud the picture, whether it’s a small white lie about loving your mate’s cooking or a big lie about an emotional affair you’re pretending not to have with Peter from accounts. Honesty in your intimate relationship will always bring clarity. That clarity will either strengthen your trust and bond (and cooking skills) – or it will break what needs to break.
When Mr Man dropped those truth bombs, they cleared away the cloudiness for him and set the stage for practising sensitive honesty between us. (‘Sensitive’ because if you’re Hulk-smashing your opinions in the name of ‘just telling it like it is, man’ you need to check the intention behind your ‘honesty’.) For me, this honesty is the foundation of a meaningful, authentic relationship. It’s what builds trust that’s strong enough to explore intimacy and vulnerability, and hold the difficult feelings and tough realities.
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For better or worse, that’s the relationship vibe I choose to create for myself. What about you?
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