Trust is a fragile thing. Secrets and lies jeopardize trust and can damage us and our relationships – sometimes irreparably.
We all tell “white lies.” We say “I’m fine,” when we’re not, compliment unwanted gifts, or even fib: “The check is in the mail.” But in an intimate relationship, emotional honesty includes allowing our partner to know who we are. Honesty is more than simply not lying. Deception includes making ambiguous or vague statements, telling half-truths, manipulating information through emphasis, exaggeration, or minimization, and withholding information or feelings that are important to someone who has a “right to know” because it affects the relationship and that person’s free choice. Although we may consider ourselves honest, few of us reveal all our negative thoughts and feelings about people we are close to. It requires the courage to be vulnerable and authentic.
Harm Caused by Secrets and Lies
Most people who lie worry about the risks of being honest, but give little thought to the risks of dishonesty. Some of the ways in which lies and secrets cause harm are:
1. They block real intimacy with a partner. Intimacy is based on trust and authenticity – the ability to be vulnerable – “naked” not only physically, but emotionally.
2. They lead to “cover-up” lies and omissions that can be hard to remember. These mount up, and if the truth comes out, it may be more hurtful than the original secret. The longer the truth is hidden, greater becomes the hurdle of revelation, for this brings into question every instance of cover-up and every time the innocent partner relied upon and trusted the betrayer.