In early relationships we are in the “Wonder of me phase”. Everything we learn about our new infatuation is nascent. We present our best selves and are intoxicated by the personality of our new interest. However, many people sabotage relationships by being too honest. For the first three months, we are hopped up on dopamine and serotonin drawing us together. This is nature’s calling card, However, after three-six months, the hormonal attraction begins to die off. The red flags we chose to disregard in place of libidinous urges start to resurface and the wrong information we gave out during this early phase of a relationship can be destructive.
In the beginning everything is amazing. The sex is hot. We spend long nights on the telephone like teenagers, longing to know everything. But be cautious, the answers given during this time need to be considered carefully and total honesty can be deadly. Many off us ask questions about our new partners’ sex experiences. Women, this a RED ALERT! He really doesn’t want to know the craziest things you’ve done, or how many partners you have had, (If he perceives them as a lot). It will eat at him and many times ends up resurfacing later during a fight.
The following are real situations that I have either experienced first hand or dealt with in therapy. They will be presented with multiple choice answers of possible responses. The real answers will be showed along with how it hurt the relationship.
- (Four months together) A young woman is in love but still wants to have an active social life. She is honest about that from the beginning and goes out a lot. After a big weekend with her friends (3 party nights out) he says it doesn’t work for him. They talk and agree that one day a week is enough for her to go out but any more is unacceptable. She lets him know that there is a weekend that her friends have planned and she needs to go. He reluctantly agrees. Leaving to go out he says “Have a good night and let’s talk tomorrow”. She responds by saying that she will text him if she has a chance. (She stays out until 6 a.m. going to parties in Hollywood). He misses her call in the AM, and she leaves a message that she has a pool party to go to and will call him that afternoon. She calls him and he picks up. (The pool party is very fun with lots of guys giving her attention) What should she say?
- “Hi honey, so sorry, I didn’t have my phone last night, the parties were OK but I miss you so much. I’m at a party now but it’s not that much fun, I’m missing you, when can I see you?”
- “Hi Hon, OMG, didn’t have my phone last night. Crazy night! I didn’t get home until 6am. By the way (Insert an “A” list celebrity name) was there and was hanging all over us. I’m at a pool party now, so fun, and I’m telling guys here I have a BF but they won’t let up”.
- “Hi Hon, sorry didn’t text you last night. I didn’t take my phone out so guys won’t ask for my number. Really fun night but I’m tired. I’m at a party with a lot of drunks. I’ll be home tonight and I’ll call you. When can I see you this week?”
Answer 2 is the actual truth of what really happened, and that is the answer she gave. But is it really crucial that her BF knows all of it?… NO! It demonstrates her insecurities. She wants him to know how cool she is and that she is a sought after woman. Unfortunately, that is not the message it sends. It says that she needs male affirmation. He realizes how much work this relationship will be and breaks up with her. 3 is the best answer. It states the facts without causing her BF to be jealous and can be a relationship saver.
- (Four months together) A couple are falling in love but have a long distance relationship. (3 hours by car). The girl is insistent on speaking every day and being totally transparent about everything. The guy vocalizes that this is too intense but relents to please his new found love. It becomes apparent through daily conversations that she has a very close guy friend who she spends a lot of time with. They have drinks and smoke pot together. She goes to dinner and movies with him. One night he calls her and he is in her room on her bed. She offers no explanation and acts like it is innocent. Wanting to be sure, he later asks if he should be concerned and if they ever dated. ( In fact they have been friends for a long time and had sex once. She really loves her BF and this guy is just a friend ). What should she say?
- “No we have never dated. You have nothing to worry about. He’s a very special friend of mine and my family and that is the extent of it”.
- “No we never dated but we hooked up once randomly and it was a bad decision. We are much better as friends and that is all I want from the relationship”.
- “No we never dated but we did F#$ck once. Now he is just a friend.”
2 and 3 are the truth. If the couple is keeping up with transparency, the fact that she did sleep with him is consistent with that. However 1 is the best answer. It’s not lying. They did not date and that is the question that was asked. If he follows up and asks if they hooked up then that changes things and answer 2 is relevant. But he didn’t, and maybe he won’t. It’s very possible that all he wanted is assurance that there is nothing to worry about and doesn’t want the gory details. Her answer was 3. The “F” word was a bad call. It makes her seem callous about sex and that she is prone to one-night stands. The relationship never recovered and this “friendship” was a source of distrust that brought the relationship down
- (One year together dating casually) A group of guys go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Many of his friends are single and players. He has told her about his friends’ escapades and uses the stories to assert his difference from them. His girl told him that she wants to be totally honest about everything, even bad stuff. She states that if they want to move forward as a couple, they can work through anything. ( During the weekend he hooks up with a girl but they don’t have sex. He has some guilt) He knows it was a mistake and doesn’t want to lose what he has. When he gets home she asks him if anything bad happened in Vegas. What should he say?
- “Honey sit down, I feel so horrible, I made a huge mistake. I got drunk and hooked up with a girl. I know we said we can be honest about everything and that’s what I’m doing. I love and you are the only person I want to be with.”
- “No honey nothing bad happened. We partied hard and it made me realize that the single life isn’t for me. I only want to be with you and spend my life you.”
- “Yes honey something bad did happen. I made a mistake and hooked up with a girl. It meant nothing and I just love you.”
Answers 1 and 3 are the complete truth. The couple did have a pact that they should be honest about everything. However, she asked him if anything bad happened. That can be taken different ways. Bad?…. He didn’t kill anybody, go to jail or lose a 5 grand. Those are bad things. He made a mistake which made him realize how much he loves her. That actually could be viewed as a good thing. Unfortunately, he chose answer 1. The reason he told me is that he couldn’t handle the guilt of lying to his GF. That makes it about him. He is actually telling her to appease his own guilt.. If he did this “bad”, thing then he has to deal with that fact by himself. His catharsis should not include hurting his GF. In the end, she didn’t believe that they just “hooked up” and never trusted him again. They ended up breaking up.
Dishonesty should not be a rule. The paradigm changes when relationships have been established by being together for years or by marriage. Then, honesty can be a powerful ally. But trust must be established first. Before that point, brutal honesty is a bad idea and can kill otherwise strong bonds.