Honesty is Necessary in Love
"Love is nothing without truth."
How Honesty Effects Relationships
I had always thought myself to be a fairly honest person, and by society's standards I was. But what society considers honest and what true honesty really is, are two separate things. We've been systematically taught in our culture to make lying a part of our lives. We do it so often that we don't even notice it anymore.
Honesty is telling "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Society's definition of the truth telling is to tell the truth ONLY if it doesn't make anyone uncomfortable, doesn't cause a conflict, and it makes you look good.
I'm not talking about the big lies, but more about the consistent, persistent "lies of omission" and "white lies" we tell people almost everyday. For me, I didn't even consider these small untruths to be lies until I experienced the exact opposite. The whole truth.
It hadn't realized exactly how dishonest I was and how much of myself I was holding back. This dishonesty caused me to feel disconnected from others and created small walls between me and my partner. When I withheld my whole truth, I withheld others from seeing all of me. This may be fine in most relationships but not in my primary relationship with my spouse, I wanted all of me to be loved, even those parts I judged as bad or wrong.
If I wanted to create true intimacy and closeness, I was going to have to let my partner see ALL of me. This was very scary for me because what if he got angry, or hurt, or decided "all of me" was not what he wanted and left the relationship? But then, what kind of relationship would I have if he only knew part of me?
"Honesty can be tough but it's necessary if you want a close intimate relationship."
Below are two excerpts from books I feel do a good job of explaining how honesty effects relationships. The first one is from the book "The Unimaginable Life - Lessons Learned on the Path of Love" by Julia and Kenny Loggins.
Truth is the expression of love and is therefore always the necessary healing and loving action.
Mother always said, "The truth hurts." To this homily we would now add, "The truth heals." Love has taught us to be extremists for the truth. It is the surest path out of the old relationship-sabotaging belief systems. Many of us were taught that telling the truth is sometimes not being kind or loving, that it can separate us from what we want most, but telling the truth only separates us from our lies and our confused, limited self-images. Sure, the truth may hurt sometimes, but it never wounds the way a lie or half-truth can.
Most of us were taught to avoid pain at all costs, so it is a challenge to stand in our truth, knowing that it may seem to hurt a friend or lover or a member of our family. But when we don't tell the truth, it drives an invisible wedge between us and our lovers. If the goal is to stay within the awareness of love, the truth must be practiced continuously. Our greatest fear is that the truth will be abhorrent to our lover and we will end up alone. The reality is that the longer we are together, the more we practice the truth, the more trust develops and the easier the truth becomes. When we hide nothing, we can give everything.
In the book called "A Child of Eternity," there's a section that says what I've been trying to say for years regarding honesty in relationships. This is quite a nugget. Enjoy.
"Adri stresses the importance of living in truth, not as an esoteric principle but as a discipline. I really didn't understand what she meant by this until she created a lesson to teach me.
My brother, Jamie, Michael, and I were sitting together with Adri in August 1991, about to begin a meeting. Adri decided that we were not operating in a state of truth and she challenged us to recognize that and to do something about it before we started in.
Once she pointed this out to us, I knew it was true. I sensed in us all, not lies but states of incomplete truth. Still I hadn't intended to do anything about it. Why?
Because the state of half-truth is a normal one for most of us. The three of us weren't harboring dark secrets or lies that threatened to destroy our relationship or our work. We were simply suppressing all the little untruths - trying to avoid any troublesome confrontations.
Jamie went first, and confronted Michael about feelings he felt Michael was denying. Then I followed suit, questioning both Jamie's and Michael's commitment to this work. Lastly, Michael talked about how hard the whole process was for him.
Even though these weren't particularly significant concerns, still the difference in the room and between us after they were aired and cleared was amazing. I found myself in tears, first because I was certain, on a very deep level, that if I told all my truth, I would be abandoned - and secondly, because of course that didn't happen. That's the healing power of truth.
As Adri told us, "LOVING IS NOTHING WITHOUT TRUTH."
Although our issues and responses were different, what we learned had an enormous impact for each of us. I think we really understood, for the first time, how different our lives - and the world - would be if we could all operate out of a state of truth and love.
Within a loving context it becomes safe to reveal one's own truth. In retrospect we could see that suppressing truth limited our ability to love one another. And when we limit our love, we truly limit our lives.
As we experienced what it was really like to be in truth, love, and alignment, we became painfully aware of just how rare such moments are. Yet it was incredibly energizing to realize that we all have the potential to live in such a state. It is within our power, each moment, to choose truth over lies and love over fear."
Honesty, What a Concept
On Friday, January 16th, 1999 John Stossel of the ABC 20/20 News team did a story on Brad Blanton's book "Radical Honesty: How to transform your life by telling the truth." I watched it because I wanted to find out what exactly "radical" honesty was.
As it turns out, "radical honesty" is ....well....honesty. What astounded me most about the program was that people thought telling the truth WAS a radical idea. Don't you find that just a bit odd?
At the end of the story, Barbara Walters even warned viewers, "don't try this at home without someone trained in this." Tears ran down my face as I rocked with laughter and disbelief. Don't try this at home?!? Honesty?!? Are we so lost as a culture that we regard honesty as a dangerous pursuit without a trained "non-liar" at our sides?? Has the world become so warped that we consider telling the truth, a dangerous exercise? It seemed extremely bizarre to me.
But yet, maybe it's not so bizarre. Haven't all of us been taught that it's better to lie to someone than to hurt their feelings? That there are just some things you simply never, never tell another? We're not suppose to tell anyone when we've had an extramarital affair, especially not our spouse. And god forbid we're honest with each other about sexual matters.
But have we become so adept at lying, that we've "forgotten" that we are, in fact, lying? Have we forgotten HOW to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth"?
"The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else."
--George Bernard Shaw
Perhaps we were taught to lie because we as a society believe we actually can hurt another emotionally. We believe we have the POWER to make another person feel something emotionally.
So who's responsible for how we or another chooses to respond to words? If you truly had the power to make people feel certain emotions, then you should be able to create other people's reactions at will. If you said the same thing to thousands of people, you should be able to get an identical emotional response from all of them, right? But the fact is, you'd get as many different responses as there are people. Each would react according to their belief systems and interpretations of your meaning.
If people understood everyone is responsible for their own emotions, we'd feel freer to say what we think and feel. Most times, it's our own lack of trust in ourselves to be able to deal with other's reactions, that is the stumbling block to our honesty. "How will *I* feel if this person reacts badly" we ask ourselves. "I might feel guilty, so I wont tell the whole truth."
Because face it, people WILL get angry and hurt sometimes in reaction to our honesty. But the alternative of living lives filled with lies and half-truths is not much of an alternative. We end up walking around on eggshells, monitoring our every word, and trying to predict how others might respond. It's a slow, awkward process of communication.
I agree with Dr. Blanton. Honesty about everything truly does open the doors to intimacy, love, and dynamic relationships. Without it, we're all just actors on a stage, reading our scripted lines. And to some degree, I think everyone knows we're pretending to be truthful. It's like we're all walking around holding dead chickens in our hands, making deals with each other. "Pretend you don't see my chicken, and I'll pretend I don't see yours." It's a scam, but one we're pulling over our own eyes.
I have this impossible dream about everyone on earth standing up, and all at the same time shouting out, "I'm a liar!". And as we all look at each other and smile, we could start anew and begin fresh. Then, we could continue our lives with a willingness to trust that its okay to think and feel what we do, and have the courage to speak our truth.
Imagine being real and genuine with each other. Imagine what the world would be like if you could actually believe what people tell you. It might get a bit rocky at times, but it would "radically" change the world.
So maybe honesty is a radical idea in this day and age, but lets do our part in "telling the truth" so honesty becomes common place. The love that would follow would be far from common.
"You know how it is when you decide to lie and say the check is in the mail, and then you remember it really is? I'm like that all the time."
Staff, H. (2008, November 8). Honesty is Necessary in Love, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, September 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/creating-relationships/honesty-is-necessary-in-love