Exactly How Honest Should You Be In A Relationship?
Is honesty *always* the best policy?
It’s always the inevitable question that comes up in the first couple of dates with someone new; when was your last long-term relationship and how long did it last?
The thing is, I’ve never had a long-term relationship. And divulging this little personal truth – I feel – gives men this preconceived idea I’m a flake, consequently sabotaging the relationship before it’s even had time to start.
So I’m presented with two choices: I can tell the truth, or I can lie.
… And let’s just say I always choose to ‘fabricate’ the truth.
I quickly worked out that although these men were asking questions and expecting me to be honest, they really didn’t want to know the answer. Kind of like when we ask our new beau how many girls he’s slept with… it’s never going to end well.
So why were they asking me? Were they expecting me to expose all my flaws and assess if I was worth the investment of their time?
I used to assume that honesty was the best policy, so I’d naively spill the contents of my heart on the restaurant table. I’d explain that, although I’m a total romantic who would love to settle down, I only ever seem to have fleeting romances, and I’m never the one to end them. And just like that, the interrogations would start as to why I’m always the dumpee and never the dumper. The fact I was too honest made them question my dateability.
So I began to change up my story and skew the honesty… just a little. And the newly improved tale depicted a highly selective and assertive version of myself who was focussed on her career and didn’t have time for fuckboys. And just like that, I could pass GO, collect $200, and be deemed dateable again. Stupid AF, right?
And so I let that little tale continue until I felt I trusted each guy enough to tell them the whole story about my scarred, unique romantic past.
Is this why relationship gurus advocate “a little mystery” in early days of dating? Is ‘mystery’ just a cutesy euphemism for skirting around the truth until it’s safe to share it? Does it involve quickly changing the subject with a flirtatious wink without ever answering? Or does it involve presenting a small white lie, similar to those you’d tell a potential boss when we’re vying for a job? Apparently, mystery, not milkshakes, brings boys to the yard…
So what should be revealed to someone in the early stages of dating, and exactly how honest can we be without it backfiring on us? It’s all well and good to espouse being your ‘authentic self’, but when the real you likes to eat Doritos off her lap in week-old PJs while surfing PornHub on her phone of an evening, it’s probably better you reframe her as someone who “loves a good chill night at home every so often”, rather than spill the whole truth.
But we should also probably never get to a point where we feel we have to weave a story so intricate we need to keep a notebook in our bag to remind us of what was said. If you’re telling that many white lies, you need to ask yourself why you feel the need to hide so much about yourself.
I believe a non-negotiable matter you have to be honest about, is your intentions. If you just want to sleep around, then be upfront about it. Never lie when it’s about love, as that’s just a low thing to do.
I’m a firm believer that you teach people how you want to be treated, so feedback is crucial. Whether that’s bedroom communication (are people still faking orgasms these days?!) or being honest with your partner if they do something that isn’t cool. These are times when honesty is imperative.
But in the early days of dating, it shouldn’t be the time for intense conversation and confessions of the soul. If you’re feeling the need to hold back little aspects of yourself, it’s a clear sign you aren’t yet comfortable enough with that person to discuss it yet, and that’s totally normal! A little bit of mystery is never a bad thing. So long as you eventually reach a point where you trust your partner enough to know you can be completely honest with them without the fear it’ll send them running for the hills.
While trust and honesty are essential backbones for a successful relationship, I still believe there’s a time a place for things to reveal themselves – within reason. If I get comfortable with someone after getting to know them, I’ll be honest about the fact I’ve never had a serious relationship before. As for my Doritos-eating and porn-viewing habits; those things can remain a mystery forever.
Images via flickr.com and giphy.com.
Comment: What do you believe you need to be honest about?
Peta Serras is a model and SHESAID’s dating expert who’s willing to go on as many bad Tinder dates as she needs to in order to find the perfect guy. In her spare time she loves drinking coffee, eating almond croissants and spending lots of money. Follow Peta on Twitter and Facebook.