True Life Relationships – The Science of Brutal Honesty
Should you always be honest?
Should you ever lie in your relationships?
Now I know what your probably thinking…what an obvious answer to this question it is that “Honesty is the best policy”…Right?]
But if the answer was that obvious why would I write a whole blog on it?
Obviously this is still a necessary topic, as so many people in relationships still lie to each other…
Dishonesty is one of the biggest problems in relationships…It always has been, and always will be…
Because people just have trouble being 100% honest with one another! Even in the most intimate of relationships!
Because being 100% honest means being 100% open…
It means being vulnerable…
Letting someone in totally and fully, and having nothing to hide, no privacy!
And that’s hard! Right?
But the problem is that when you lie to someone you are in an intimate relationship with…they usually know that you are lying…because they have gotten so well accustomed to everything about you and your behavioral characteristics and how you function…including all of your communication sub-modalities and all your most subtle mannerisms…that its very hard to tell them something that is not true and have them believe it!
And those lies will oftentimes end a relationship! The first big one maybe won’t…but it will certainly make things very difficult from there on because your trust will be forever damaged…and the second one will probably end it, and if it doesn’t, it will probably make things near dead between the two of you…and by the third or fourth one your partner will know for certain that they cant trust you and that things will not last and not only that but hold a very definitive grudge this time that they know is irreparable and things will end then or shortly after. So dont lie!
But what are you supposed to do then when when your partner asks something that you do not want to tell them? Or can’t tell them, for whatever reason?
Well there are two situations I am going to talk to you about here today in this sort of dilemma.
1.) The first kind of situation is one in which your partner is asking you about something that you simply do not want to talk about. It is personal private sensitive information, and probably has nothing to do with them (though it might), but it is not that you did anything wrong that they are trying to “catch” you and confront you about doing, it is just something you do not want them to know about. In this case the situation is very simple. You simply have to not tell them. Avoid doing so, and if they ask you directly, simply say “That’s not something I want to talk about right now”. If they ask you further questions, such as why not? Or “Don’t you trust me?” Which they may, especially if this is an intimate relationship in which you have connected psychologically, they may feel hurt that you do not trust them with being open and honest and vulnerable. But do not worry! It is your choice not to share private information at any given time! You simply have to say this (which is a good thing to say even if they do not press the issue further): “It’s not that I do not trust you enough to let you in on such personal information and be open and honest with you about such things, its just that it is not something I want to talk about right now.” And there are some variations of what you can say in the second part of that sentence, such as “It is something that is not comfortable for me to talk about and I would rather not do it right now, but in my own time.” Or if its something really negative (like when women question me about my distant past as a gangster) I say “I’ll definately let you in on all that…I just would really like to only focus on positive feel good things with you right now and save all that stuff for later.” Or one of my personal favorites, “If you wanna hear about all that your gonna have to get me good and liquored up first!” Which while it may seem a little controversial, it really puts a fun spin on something that is less than pleasant, and you can turn those kinds of topics into a two person party where you grab a bottle of wine and play a little game of truth or dare or something like that. Or you can tell your partner that if they treat you out to dinner and drinks sometime you’ll be happy to answer any questions they ask even about things you dont like to share with just anyone. This makes sure that you are both mutually investing in one another, and can turn the occasion of bringing up a checkered personal history into an intimate date in which you two really bond and learn a lot more about each other.
2.) Now this second scenario is a little more dangerous. This is not the “Getting to know one another” stage of a relationship where you are worried about sensitive information. This is when you are considering lying about something you “DID” in a relationship…that is something you really should not have done….now I am sure you had your reasons at the time…but it is something that can hurt the relationship in some way and you know it…and so you are thinking about lying about it if your partner asks you about it. Now this could be something that your partner might not find out about for a while…but believe me…they will suspect that something is up while you are holding it in…and there will come a time when they question you about it. And more often than not they know sooner rather than later that you have done something they wouldn’t have liked. By way of a for instance, oftentimes when two people are dating and one person is still seeing other people, but the other person is not, and is trying to become a couple, but they have not had the exclusivity conversation yet…well the person not seeing others will find out that the other person had been out on a date with another person…and then they will confront the other about it. And what happens if this person lies and says they had not been out on said date? BUSTED!!! Then the person doing the confrontation has full rights to take a very offensive stance…why? Because a lie is an admission of guilt! By lying about something you are showing that you know you were in the wrong! And whats more isb this…and this is where I give you some secret insider info from the social science realm…
You see, when someone is going to confront another person in a lie…they have already rehearsed what they are going to say in their head. They were probably in the shower that morning going over the dramatic soliloquy they were going to give you, and all the ways they were going to tear you a new one…
So if you lie…you are in for it! It is already pre-ordained! They already have everything all plotted out in their mind and trying to defend yourself after a lie will be impossible…
So what do you do in these situations where someone is trying to “confront” you about doing something they think you shouldn’t have and “catch” you in a lie?
Tell the exact truth, in the most bold, blunt, and honest manner in which they did not expect to hear it!
You heard right! Tell the truth! But not only that…do so in such a straight foreward unexpected manner that it baffles and confounds them!
What makes this work?
What is the science behind it?
Well this is a technique that in Neuro-Linguistic Programming is called “pattern interrupt”. See this person was expecting you to lie or avoid the topic, or do anything to prevent admitting what you did that they are trying to confront you about. They have already prepared themselves mentally for that and have all the thought and behavioral patterns congruent with that situation lined up in their head. That is their mental process right now.
The very last thing they are expecting you to do is to tell the truth!
And what happens when you do so…and not only that…but do so in such an honest, straight foreward manner that their entire pre-prepared response that is already locked and loaded, which is probably beginning to come out right after they asked you the question because they were so ready for you to lie…is no longer congruent with your response?
Well, their pattern has been interrupted…and they do not know what to do or say!
Instead they will be completely perplexed….and will be torn between whether to be mad at you for doing something they didnt like…or to appreciate your honesty…or to be surprised at how open, genuine, and confident you are in telling the truth…And what to think of the whole situation at all!
But you see you must be straight foreward with the truth, and say so in a manner that is completely sure of yourself and confident in giving the information.
Now this does not mean you cannot have regrets about it. This is not to say that you have to stand behind your actions. Because after your partner recalibrates and takes issue with the fact that you did it, then you can just say “yes it was something that seemed right at the time, however afterwards I found myself second guessing my actions and beginning to regret what I did and eventually I was certain that I did not stand behind what I had done and know that I will not do so again.” That is if you do in fact regret what you had done. If you are being questioned about seeing other people and do not want to be exclusive with this person, or some other issue that you do feel you are in the right about but think should be a non-issue (and would otherwise have told a lie to avoid it), you will have to take another route however! So you can either revert to scenario #1 above and say “I do not want to have this discussion at this point in time.” Or when confronted with the issue you can say confidently as if you had no idea it should be an issue at all “Yes…I (insert thing you did here)…because (insert reason why here)…” And then you can follow this up with a confused look as to why they are bringing it up and questioning you…or you can say something like “I’m sorry I guess I do not see why this is even being brought up…” or “I’m sorry…why are you questioning me about this? I’m a little confused as to why this is an issue and kind of feel like you are interrogating me a little and don’t see how that is appropriate.”
These responses work really great when you feel as though you really do deserve to not be attacked about something. However lets say that you are even more in the wrong and there is a good reason for this to be made a serious issue and for your partner to take an offensive stance…like for instance seeing another person when you are already in an exclusive relationship with your partner…well when confronted with an issue like that you would have to revert to a combination of my first example and my last example: “Yes, I did that, because (insert reason here), which made it seem right at the time….however afterwards I found myself regretting my actions and wishing I hadn’t”. And your partner will appreciate your honesty. However, in this case, you did of coruse do something hurtful to them that you sh oudlnt have, and you will have some reparaitions to make to the trust in your relationship, so be sure to talk about it then and there and do some damage control immediately with something to the effect of, “I guess I acted initially without taking your feelings into consideration and feel badly that I did something that would hurt you, and I just wnat you to know that I regret doing so and understand that I am going to have to rebuild our trust and am willing to work h arder on doing the right things for us in this relationship and just hope you will let me prove myself to you again over time.”
But of course if that is really not something that you want to do, then dont say all that! Because that would be lying! So if you have done something that your partner would consider a “wrong” to them, and you really dont care about their feelings, just be honest with them about how you feel, and revert to the “Yes I did that…because…” and then insert something like “I realized that being able to make my own choices, whatever they may be, is very important to me, and I guess I really need my freedom and do not want to have to answer to someone right now. Its really not about you, I do respect you and want to do right by you, but I have to really do what is right by me first and foremost and make sure that I am living the way that I see fit. And I honestly cant see how it would be fair to you for me to try to live a lie and do things that I do not want to do for you, because that to me is dishonest.”
And it is important to be able to tell your partner that, because that is the reason why many people lie, they feel like they still want to be able to make whatever choices they want to in life and do things that their partner may not like because they do not like to feel that their freedom is limited. So if that is how you feel, when your partner confronts you about doing whatever it was you did, then you need to tell them that, and that the kind of relationship in which you loose your freedom and have to answer to another person is just not for you! Because having to change your lifestyle for someone is just not genuine! You may not even have to loose them. They may not like hearing that, but they will appreciate it much more than your lying to them.
And so in conclusion, here is the truth about lies: When confronted with someone you are in an intimate relationship with who is trying to “catch” and “confront” you with having done something they do not approve of, the truth will fool them much better than a lie. Because it will cause a pattern interrupt, and then they will have no choice but to face the honest to god truth that you have to tell them about why you do the things you do, which they will have no choice but to appreciate the fact that you are being so honest and genuine about. That is not to say that they will like it. They obviously will not. And there may still be some hurt feelings, drama, arguements, etc. But there will also be the pattern interrupt which causes the bewilderment, and then the appreciation for the honesty, both of which do damage control to the offensive stance they would have otherwise taken against you, and been right for. And you will find yourself not necessarily in the wrong, though you will have to be able to defend your frame of reference of course.
But the best part is that this all leads to them understanding your frame of reference better, and instead of having a fight, you will be doing relationship work and coming to some sort of mutual agreement about the issue at hand, which will result in a much better relationship.
And thats really what these things are all about! Right?
So take care of yourself and your partner in relationships and avoid unnecessary fights and dishonesty. Be genuine in your relationships, be true to yourself, and true to the ones you love, and youll find that sometimes brutal honesty is a powerful weapon against discord, both within yourself and your relationship.
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