Most people, if asked whether or not they considered themselves to be honest or not would probably say they were. Our society values honesty and we are taught to be honest. Honesty means being honorable in principles, intentions and actions.
Let’s first look at everyday honesty in a relationship. Honesty is good policy in a relationship, and yet we can all think of situations which might require some withholding of the absolute truth or perhaps a twisting of the truth.
Tammy, a 46 year old woman married for 15 years and a mother of three children puts it clearly when she says, ‘I’d be in a dilemma if my husband asked me if I thought he’d put on weight. The truth is, he has, but he’s a bit on the vain side and he tries so hard. He watches what he eats, he works out, he runs, but it’s that middle-age spread that’s taken hold of his middle body. Thankfully, he hasn’t asked me, but a friend’s partner put her to the test and she told him the truth and he didn’t speak to her for three days!’
This kind of dilemma is easy to picture – we’ve all been there in one form or another. Remember when you got that present that you absolutely hated but obviously he loved and thought you would too? What about the time that he gave that awful speech at his friend’s wedding and you dreaded he’d ask you how he went?
Sexual honesty – and you
Maybe you think that honesty is good – as far as it goes. Perhaps something in your past warns you that complete sexual honesty is difficult to practise. You might even have had an experience where your complete honesty wrecked havoc in your relationship.
Try this test:
To question 1 you might have answered something like, ‘Yes, of course, there shouldn’t be any secrets’ or maybe ‘Only if she asked’ or even ‘No, it’d only create a huge problem’
To question 2 you might have responded, ‘Innocent flirting is just that’ or perhaps ‘Why’s he so threatened by another guy?’ or even ‘Yes, I’d love to have sex with this stranger, but the feeling will pass’
To question 3 you might have answered ‘Yes, she’s got the right to know’ or maybe ‘No, my fantasies are private and mine alone’ or even ‘What’s the point in telling him, but I hope it comes true!’
It’s a delicate matter
Sexual honesty can seem like a minefield. There are some situations that require discretion. Always be mindful as to why you’re being honest. Is it to shift some guilt? Is it to punish your partner? What’s your agenda?
People have told researchers and counsellors that mostly, they attempt to be honest in sexual matters in their relationship. But sometimes, a little twisting of the truth or a ‘white lie’ is necessary.
Perhaps you can reflect on the following points and use them to direct you in your thinking about your honesty:
To read more about relationships and how to deal with the issues that emerge see The Rules of Love.
Did you know….?
Developing your ability to be assertive and stand up for yourself helps with your dilemma about whether or not to be sexually honest. If you believe you can handle challenging issues in your relationship openly, then it’s less threatening and hurtful if you joke about your fantasies of having sex with that attractive stranger or your past romances.
Both of you are in the relationship together – it takes the two of you to be determined to practise being honest and assertive about sexual challenges. Agree on your guiding principles and you’ll find that you can deal with whatever issues come your way.
If you see your lover glancing at that cute person at the next table in the café, make a joke about it, use your discretion and think about the consequences before you threaten them with ending the relationship.