Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Honesty Can Do Your Relationship More Harm Than Lying

Most of us have a deep desire to be heard. That’s part of what makes falling in love so exciting, we can finally share our deepest selves with someone and be met with enthusiasm. No longer do we have to hide our truth under a veneer of politeness.

But our relief is short-lived. Eventually, we find out that honesty is not the best policy. Not even with the one we’re most deeply connected to.

The truth has the power to obliterate love.

Admitting we dislike a present that our partner picked with care can make them feel rejected. Directly critiquing our partner’s parenting style, especially without any constructive feedback, can lead to defensiveness and conflict. And questioning their dreams and aspirations can dampen their spirit and drive a wedge between us. 

On the one hand, withholding information feels like a betrayal. On the other hand, full disclosure may destroy our union. 

How do we reconcile these two views? Let’s look for the answer by exploring one of the most commonly held beliefs about love.

To many, politeness and romance are at odds with each other. And it makes sense at first glance: one creates distance and the other builds connection. But we mustn’t forget that honesty can be far more destructive than any white lie. 

Something most parents understand very well. Few mothers will tell their four-year-old that her painting of mommy and daddy looks nothing like them. That’d be cruel. 

In the same way, a partner who shares wounding remarks in the spirit of being honest is not being kind. They’re being selfish. What makes our feelings so important that we should give them priority over supporting our partner?

Politeness might be a little fake. But it protects what matters most to us. 

It’s not that the polite person is afraid to speak the truth. They’re just a little too familiar with how vile and petty their fleeting thoughts and feelings can be. So they’d rather shield their loved ones from their darkness.

To be polite means to understand that we’re not always nice people and that others are often one comment away from misery and self-loathing. Since the well-mannered know that the small things have the biggest capacity to hurt us, they do their utmost to treat the small things with care.

Let’s not mistake politeness for acting distant or being unfriendly. If done right, a white lie is an act of love and affection. 

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach