Honesty as a Weapon
Ok, so this is a little embarrassing; something akin to admitting you have a crush on the singer of Maroon 5 (which I do) even though you don’t like their music (which I don’t), but you still watch all their videos and maybe have some of their music on your iPod just because you think a guy is hot. Oh yes, it’s heart shaking embarrassing stuff I’m talking about here, folks.
I’ve been reading Belle De Jour’s Guide to Men, yo know, just for kicks. For those of you in the dark, Belle De Jour is the pseudonym of an escort who rose to fame through blogging about her life as a prostitute. She eventually wrote a book (or two or three) and her story became a pretty popular TV show in the UK called Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
The book isn’t exactly blowing my mind, so far it’s been filled with broad stereotypes I don’t even understand, but while I was waiting for the mask on my face to dry I picked it up from the floor next to my bed to pass the time. I read a passage on honesty that actually interested me.
I’m a fan of honesty. I like it when people are true to their word and I try to be true to mine as much as possible. I wouldn’t say I’ve never lied, because I have. Mostly in high school when I didn’t want to get in trouble with my parents, and like most people my answer to how you’re doing is usually “fine” even when I’m not, but regardless of all that, honesty is a value I hold high.
Getting back to the book, the point that she raises is that it’s important to be honest in a relationship (duh), but you also have to be clear on what you expect others to be honest about (duh?). You have to set guidelines. When you tell someone you want them to be honest with you, you should specify with what, because there are some things that don’t need to be said outloud. In a relationship, not everyone wants to hear about the time you had a threesome with your ex and her roommate. Not everyone wants to hear about how your other ex gave the best blowjobs. Of course, some people might find that a turn-on (wink), but in some cases too much information can create mental images that pop up at the most inconvenient times.
Personally, when I’m dating someone I think it can be damaging to hear how he could have easily married his ex, or how he misses so and so. I mean, those kinds of conversations can be good, and they certainly have their place in a relationship, but sometimes I feel there are certain people who use honesty as a weapon. They dismiss their disrespectful attitude or actions with a quick “I’m just being honest,” as if to say you can’t get mad at me or you can’t hold me responsible, because “I’m just being honest and if what I said upset you, that’s you’re issue not mine.”
Honesty isn’t some shield you can hide behind. It’s not something you can use to hurt other people. It’s supposed to foster communication and lay the foundation to authentic relationships… with other people… whose feelings you care about. Honesty should be compassionate, not something you use to manipulate or twist the knife in the wound of someone else’s soul.
I remember a relationship I was in, where the guy I was seeing would always talk about his ex and how she would go crazy, and how jealous she would be, and how much they would fight. He was so traumatized by it all, that I became afraid to get angry even when my anger was justified, because I didn’t want to be perceived like her. There’s nothing more dismissive than brushing off someone’s reaction to a situation with a well-timed, “you’re just like [insert name]” or even a patronizing, “just like a woman.”
Now, I don’t think he was consciously being manipulative, but that’s my point, you have to think about the things you say and how they might affect others. It’s no good being in a relationship where you have to censor yourself all the time, and it’s fucking amazing to have a friend, a partner, or a lover with who (whom?) you can be an open book, but there’s something to be said about showing care in the way in which you choose to tell someone something that’s important to you, and if it’s not important and has the potential to be harmful or hurtful, just keep your mouth shut… or tell one of your buddies, or better yet, your shrink.