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Home | Flourishing Relationships | Intimacy, Honesty and Love
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | September 2015 (edited December 2, 2021)
By establishing a habit of open honesty, we not only build trust but are motivated to not screw up to avoid making embarrassing confessions
Without commitment to honesty, deception creeps into relationships, creating distance and disrupting connections. Secrets provide momentary benefits, allowing behaviors to go unexamined. The money wasted at the casino is not challenged, the dinner with a co-worker doesn’t spark suspicion, and the broken vase isn’t missed, at least not immediately. We do what we want, conceal the evidence and pretend we are doing what’s best for the unknowing spouse, sparing her (or him) the emotions, and avoiding a fight. We’re accustomed to being stupid; we just don’t care to defend our stupidity—so we fib. Whether our action is justified or not, the secret concealing the act, weakens intimacy and challenges trust.
Openness demands engaging in discussion of those uncomfortable subjects that challenge justifications and expose risky behaviors. Emotional discussions are difficult, poking sensitivities, so instead of difficult honesty, we dodge and conceal. Even strong connections erode from blows of dishonesty. Just a few lies, once discovered, weakens communication in other matters. Deceived partners must cautiously evaluate communications for deception. Even when we tell the truth, the history of secrets ignites suspicion.
Once committed to honesty, our actions are mediated, knowing we must divulge our stupidity and suffer the consequences. When facing the weight of an emotional confession, we find additional motivation for the higher path. Honesty becomes a habit.
Once committed to honesty, our actions are kept in check by knowing we will have to divulge the stupidity and suffer the consequence.
I can’t promise honesty will always make you richer, more popular, or more intimate. Actions still carry consequences. You tell the cop you are drunk, you still may be arrested. You tell your wife that you had an illicit affair with her best friend, you still may be left. It’s best not to drink and drive; and best not to cheat. Honesty doesn’t buy a free ride. But it can, when coupled with reasonable action, build trust, and with that trust comes intimacy.
Search your heart, honestly share the secrets, trudge through the emotional dialogue, examining behaviors with a partner. When truth is given and receive without harsh judgments and responded to with loving-kindness, a bond is forged, and joy is found. We no longer live alone in but in a joyous communion with another.
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