Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?
One of the most popular words to pop up when discussing qualities of a great partner is “honesty.” Almost everyone I talk with says they want friends who are honest with them. They believe that a person must be able to say what is on their mind, tell the truth at all times, and honor their promises in order for the relationship to survive. But the question is, is there ever a time when a person is too honest? What happens when you are honest about everything? Does being honest put a relationship in jeopardy?
A couple of weeks ago I saw a comment posted on Facebook by one of my friends. He wanted to know if being honest weakens a friendship or helps expose others for who they are. As I ponder this question and statement, I realize that one can look at this question from different perspectives and based on the context. For the purpose of this article I will discuss honesty at the beginning of a relationship, intimate or otherwise.
Is There Such a Thing as Being “Too Honest?
At a younger age I probably would have thought that the above question is ridiculous. I’d probably think to myself, how does one become too honest when everyone I know complains about people being dishonest? But, time and experience has taught me that while honesty is the best approach, one must be careful with whom they choose to display this rare quality and to what extent.
Have you ever tried being totally upfront and honest at the beginning of a friendship only to have the person you were being honest with disappear? If not, congrats, this post might be timely for you and stop you from letting all the mystery of your life out in two gulps. At the beginning of a relationship it is a natural tendency for some of us to feel all excited and talkative. You want to show the other person how trustworthy you are by telling them about things we did in our past and how we’ve changed and become a brand new person. And, our intentions are normally genuine. However, it is best that you curb the get-to-know-me-inside-out urge and give small pieces of information about yourself gradually. For example, it is okay to tell the other person your name, age, address, relationship status in the first week of dating. However, if I were you, I’d think twice about telling someone I’ve only known for a week about a nasty breakup I had with one of my exes.
Rather than concentrate on all the personal stuff, take time to do things together such as swimming, hiking, playing a sport, or watching a movie. As time goes by, bits and pieces of information will naturally be shared if both of you are genuinely interested in each other. Don’t rush the get to know me stage; take time to enjoy the little things and leave the secrets for a time when you are both sure you want to know each other on a deeper level. I firmly believe we must be cautious about what to be honest with; somethings are best left unsaid.
What Happens When a Person is “Too Honest?”
Does being honest in all things affect the quality of your relationships? You may not agree with me, but I think that at the beginning and even in the middle of a relationship/friendship somethings are better left unsaid. If you feel you must say it, telling the person on your first night out may not be the best move…if you want to see that person again.
You see, when we meet someone, we tend to want to know the exciting and happy part of that person first. I am not saying that this is the best thing to do, but it is reality…we want all the fun stuff! So, while I am over here wondering when to tell Joe about my extra-marital affair, Joe is over there wondering what makes me tick. Imagine what would happen if I just blurted out “Joe, I cheated on my husband.” Imagine how shocked Joe is going to be…I do not think this is the kind of ticking Joe would be expecting. He might be pretty polite in staying the entire date, but I’d be lucky if I saw him again.
Being honest is great, but being honest with someone should be a gradual and reciprocal venture. Timing means everything. If a person has strong feelings for you, they will be more likely to accept you despite your confessions. A person who’s known you for a month is more likely to continue seeing you after you’ve talked about something ugly in your life versus someone who’s known you for a few days.
Is There a Way to Be Honest Without Letting Out Everything?
Sometimes, we have no way of knowing which direction our conversations and interactions will lead us. Something the other person says or does might trigger a memory and we may show raw emotions on our faces which the other person may notice. Just because the person expresses sympathy for our anguished look does not mean it is okay for us to tell them all about it. Rather than letting everything out, it might be best to let them know that you remembered a very painful experience, but it is not the right time to talk about it. By acknowledging to feeling hurt about a past experience you are being honest, without letting it all out too early.
Honesty does not weaken a friendship built on a strong foundation. With sufficient time, the right people will stay regardless of what you are honest about. We must keep in mind that honesty and trust goes together. Take time to get to know others, before trusting others, and opening up to them. As your trust for the other person develops your level of honesty will increase. In whatever you do, maintain your integrity and avoid misleading or deliberately lying to others. If you are asked a question for which you are not ready to provide an answer, simply say so. If the person is genuinely interested in you, they will respect your need for privacy and refrain from persistently prying in to your life or your past…until you are ready to do so.
Do you have an experience with honesty? Please comment in the comment section below.