Published:  12:00 AM, 20 February 2017

How important is honesty in a relationship?


To deepen the love bond with your partner and stay more connected to each other you need to be totally honest. The more committed you are, the more loving the relationship. You can only have real honesty in a relationship, however, if you are perfectly honest with yourself. Once you master that, you can build a stable relationship with lovers and life partners. Honesty means being truthful, doing the right thing and not telling lies. Connecting with others in an honest way is vital: this is what builds trust, the key element for making the relationship strong. Honesty makes us trustworthy and sincere to those close to us. None of us are perfect though and being honest all the time is not always possible. Deception and telling lies are nothing new; children start lying at an early age. You told lies as a child because it was one way to avoid punishment or to get some extra chocolate. As you grew up, your parents treated your first lies lightly doing their best to reassure you that you wouldn't be punished severely if you told the truth. But parents too are guilty of not being honest. They do it because they want to protect their children and sometimes, they lie or evade the truth because they want to keep the joys of childhood going for as long as possible: the magic of Christmas is one of the best examples of this. The story is different now that you are an adult and have a sense of right and wrong. Little lies can get you out of trouble and help you look good. Look how you congratulate yourself for the way you convince your boss you got held up because of traffic and how skillful you've become at manipulating your work colleagues to get out of onerous tasks! That's all very well at the office but what about honesty in a relationship? At home you often find yourself telling the occasional lie. It's usually on a trivial matter such as when your other half brings home his work of art and asks your opinion. He's been laboring on his drawing for weeks now and is obviously pleased with the results. He comes to you looking for support and wants your recognition. You don't want to hurt his feelings, you think it's not that great, but you aren't going to tell him that. What do you do? You tell a little white lie out of love.

The art of lying: Consider a situation where your mom or best friend has told you in confidence, something which doesn't concern y our partner or husband. You would be betraying their trust if you were to discuss the secret with your partner and besides, it is your responsibility to do the right thing by respecting your friend's trust. Another example of not wanting to share could be something could be that came up at work an embarrassing incident that you don't particularly want to talk about quite yet. There's no harm keeping it to yourself until you are ready to talk and discuss what happened. Things become more complicated, however, when you are dishonest on something specific relating to your partner. There might just be a more serious issue lurking in the background, a situation where you are not being honest with yourself. Not facing the truth means that you are not taking full responsibility for the situation, this is a dangerous route as you might directly or indirectly hurt yourself and your partner. Say for example your lover has started putting on weight and is doing nothing to rectify his weight gain. You suggested running, dance classes but he's not taking you on, and although the love is still there, his body is no longer sexually appealing. In other words, you no longer fancy your partner, and you are finding it difficult to fake it. Sadly, as time goes by, and you find yourself plodding along in an unhappy union, you no longer address the conflict and secretly you are looking for a way out. If your discontent is deep, and you feel are heading towards adultery, then it's best to be brave and break the relationship up as kindly as possible. He will probably be upset but has probably felt it coming and won't be too surprised. It's crucial to be honest here and ask yourself what the real reasons are for wanting to end the relationship.

Honesty in a relationship goes with trusting each other: If you find yourself looking outside of the relationship for comfort and even dating someone else the simple truth is that you are unhappy in the relationship, you are disconnecting from him and even worse you are not truthful to both you and your partner. The challenging task here is to talk, to discuss what's not working, and see if you can fix it and progress in the relationship. Your partner most probably does not realize there's a problem and trusts you totally. Ask yourself how you would feel if you found out he was cheating. The songwriter Billy Joel puts it well in his song about Honesty;
Honesty is such a lonely word
everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
and mostly what I need from you

In long term relationships and marriage however the story is quite different. Love and commitment are more binding; the relationship is much more emotional because quite naturally as couples you have over time developed trust and communication. But if time and energy is spent outside the relationship with someone else this can only be regarded as blatant cheating and living a lie. Cheating is without doubt dangerous as it causes pain and sadness. All the understanding you and your partner have built up over the years becomes meaningless, there is no honesty in the relationship. It will take a lot of hard work and courage to bring back any honesty to the relationship once it has gone this far. The problem with lying in a relationship is that it is it carries with it the burden of guilt; it stops you from feeling good about yourself. If you truly love someone you should want to be open and honest with him these are the essentials of honesty in a relationship. Any meaningful relationship has to be built on trust. Think too how upsetting and distressing it would be to discover that your partner has lied to you. Once mistrust sets in a relationship communication dies.

Bad for your brain: A recent study, the first of its kind published by Nature Neuroscience showed some distressing news. It showed that telling consistent small lies desensitizes the brain and encourage big lies in the future. This study took place at the University College London Experimental Psychology in 2016 showed that when the brain desensitizes, lying becomes easier and telling bigger lies becomes easier. According to Cognitive Science as soon as you start lying the nervous system starts building up stress hormones called cortisol. High levels of cortisol over a long period cause stress and could set the stage for more serious mental health problems, like depression and Alzheimer's disease. It's best then to stop telling lies and instead, aim to accentuate all that is positive in a healthy relationship.

Honesty means listening and accepting your partner: Being receptive to your partner is important for an honest relationship. Of course you like to hear tender words from your partner, who doesn't? At the beginning the relationship is more physical, you do your best to please each other but as time goes by the sexual attraction wears off a little. You are happy with your spouse, it's like a dream come true, but be aware there's bound to be a thing or two about you that he finds difficult to accept. If you truly want to work towards honesty in a relationship and you want that relationship to be long term you need to really listen to those things without being too defensive. You need to take in what he is saying, discuss with an open mind and see how you can change the situation.

Being honest means sharing: When you are in love and ready for real honesty in a relationship, sharing your hurt, your feelings your deceptions, ambitions, and problems come naturally. With time your relationship has developed enormously. You have successfully overcome the first hurdles, you are comfortable with each other, and the relationship seems secure. If you want a sustainable, honest relationship, then you need to share. Sharing doesn't necessarily mean comparing notes on your past affairs unless of course, it helps with healing. Sharing anxieties such as money problems is vital for an honest relationship especially if one of you is irresponsible in spending habits. Think how unfair it would be to enter a relationship built on such dishonesty. For a lot of people, honesty is the best quality a partner can have. It's easy to understand why, honesty is comforting, it gives you a certain peace of mind and if you want a meaningful relationship built on confidence, the right thing to do is, to be honest. As Benjamin Franklin said, Honesty is the best policy.


The writer is a lifestyle contributor at  www.youqueen.com

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