This post was updated on Nov 29, 2022
Most people would probably agree that being honest and authentic in your romantic relationship is crucial for nurturing a lasting bond. In fact, a great deal of intimacy problems in a relationship can be resolved with open communication and a willingness to embrace vulnerability. After all, isn’t it good to strive to get to know the people closest to us and let them know our most vulnerable thoughts and feelings, too? Why would we hide anything from the person we care the most about?
Naturally, honesty has a crucial role to play in relationships. However, the idea that honesty is always the best policy is not absolute. There is a definite grey area in all relationships, just like life in general. With the exception of intentionally lying in order to cheat or trick your partner, there certainly can be some situations in which diplomacy and honesty may be at conflict.
Is It Best To Be Honest In A Relationship All The Time?
It’s highly likely that you’d get a positive answer to the question of whether honesty is important in relationships from most people around you. But the key here is to discuss what honesty means to each individual. For some, being honest means being open to your partner about your whereabouts, about your personal history, or your deep fears and insecurities.
For others, however, honesty may mean saying what you mean at all times, even if it means offending or hurting your partner. If honesty means open and constant criticism for you, you may find yourself struggling to maintain a relationship or make your partner feel unlovable and unworthy.
This is not the only grey area when it comes to honesty in relationships, however. Most people have extremely private thoughts that they are hesitant to disclose to others, no matter how close they may be. They may even be dishonest with themselves about their most private and vulnerable thoughts.
These private thoughts may range from completely harmless, such as finding a stranger on the plane cute, to those that may be more hurtful to your partner, such as having a sexual fantasy with a person you both know. While it may seem like you or your partner are not supposed to have such thoughts, they are perfectly natural, and disclosing them may only create doubt and uncertainty in your relationship.
How Does Honesty Affect Relationships?
Honesty is a cornerstone of any lasting relationship. It can help create a sense of trust and safety for both you and your partner and help you overcome any challenges that come your way without fear. Here are some other positive effects of honesty in relationships:
- By being honest, you can help your partner to better understand you and find ways for your relationship to grow.
- Honesty can prevent doubt and suspicion in your relationship. Your partner won’t have to guess what you’re feeling and thinking.
- If you lie or withhold important information about yourself from your partner, they are likely to feel betrayed and hurt, which may breed resentment.
- By nurturing a relationship based on trust, you can learn to be more honest with yourself as well. If you and your partner are able to listen to each other without judgement, you’ll be less ashamed of your less gracious acts and thoughts.
Can Honesty Hurt A Relationship?
Just like with many other things in life, the role of honesty in relationships isn’t as clear cut as it may seem at first glance. Complete, uninhibited honesty can have a number of negative consequences on relationships. Of course, these effects of honesty can vary depending on your and your partner’s personalities. For instance, some people value directness, even if it means receiving criticism from their partner. Other people, however, may be more defensive or prone to internalizing even the slightest negative remarks.
People come from different backgrounds and have different expectations of relationships. You and your partner may both be comfortable with sharing even the most private thoughts with each other, but that may not be the case in all relationships. Respect, understanding, and mutual trust are often dependent on honesty, but may also depend on the unique nature of each person and the relationship in question.
How Can I Be Honest In A Relationship?
If you want to nurture a relationship based on honesty and trust, but maintain some balance, consider the following tips:
- Aim for mutual trust.
Discuss the meaning of trust with your partner. For many people, trust means no secrecy and deceptiveness, feeling heard in the relationship, and feeling free to be yourself while you’re with your partner.
- Not everything has to be shared.
Honesty doesn’t necessarily mean full disclosure. It also doesn’t mean constant white lies and selectiveness with truth. Instead, it means that our minds are complex and chaotic, with thoughts and feelings that often don’t matter as much as we think they do.
- Think before you speak.
It is common for people to blurt out everything that’s on their minds to alleviate some of their insecurities or anxiety. However, this may put your partner under too much pressure to provide support 24/7.
- Don’t expect full disclosure from your partner either.
We simply can’t know everything that goes through another person’s mind. Also, some people are simply more comfortable with sharing their thoughts and feelings than others. Even if your partner is somewhat withdrawn, that doesn’t mean that they’re unhappy.
- Think about the effect of your honesty.
Think about how you’d feel if your partner said the same thing to you as you said to them. If honesty means just criticizing your partner, take a step back and see what the purpose for your honesty actually is.
- Learn to listen.
If you have a lot of thoughts and want to share all of them with your partner, it’s only fair that you let them do the same. Make sure to listen to what your partner has to say without judgement. After all, honesty is a two way street.
Establish Balance Through Transformative Relationship Intimacy Coaching
Whether you’re struggling with honesty in your relationship, need help maintaining your integrity, or worry that your relationship will be ruined by a lack of affection, don’t hesitate to contact PIVOT. We can provide you with the relationship-building skills you need to improve your relationship and attain emotional stability. Our expertly designed individual coaching sessions and couple retreats are designed to bring positive change into your life and help you heal your core emotional wounds. Get in touch with us now.