Holding back parts of the truth when beginning relationships is a necessary evil. We all hide some of our worst characteristics when meeting someone new. The idea behind it, is to give ourselves enough time to allow our good characteristics to shine, before we unveil our less favorable ones.
Nobody is perfect, but some of our flaws are more easily accepted than others. For instance, a dislike for chocolate might be easier to overlook than a dislike for animals, or a slight temper might be easier to accept than a past marital affair. On the flip side, how much honesty is too much?
These are the things about a person that would could stop any chance of furthering relationships. Some very common deal breakers are smoking, dislike of pets (cat person vs. dog person), religion, children (have vs. want vs. already have), ethics, and politics. But these are not the kind of subjects you want to kick off on the first date. The point of a first date is to put your best foot forward, get to know each others’ surface qualities, and then you can delve into each others personal life later on (say the third or fourth date).
White Lie vs. the Hard Lie
If you should find yourself on the receiving end of questions that are too personal and/or too fast, you don’t have to lie, but you don’t have to divulge everything either. It’s okay to talk about recent exes, but don’t name drop or guesstimate numbers. It is okay to explain why you broke up, but don’t feel obligated to offer the intimate details. A little mystery in a relationship is good, especially if it is harmless.
An example of an appropriate white lie is telling a date they look ‘great,’ whether or not you really think so. This type of lie is looking out for their best interest. A hard lie, however, is identified as a cover-up meant to protect your best interest, such as saying you are divorced, when, in fact, you are only separated. In these cases, you are bending the truth to match what you think the other person wants to hear.
A lot of experts will say the white lie is a great way to prosper in social situations, but in a committed relationship, gentle honesty is the better approach. If your partner asks you a question about their outfit, they want your honest opinion, and not some canned response meant to keep you out of the frying pan. These honest opinions, however, should never become toxic truths, such as ‘That dress makes you look frumpy,’ but rather spun with a positive undertone, such as ‘that color looks great, but I’m not sure about the style.’
Where the black and white line of gentle honesty becomes gray, is when you start to discuss the etiquette of telling someone about an indiscretions, such as cheating. These types of lies fall under the guise of both protecting a loved one from being hurt and protecting your own interest of remaining in the relationship. How should such a situation be handled?
Whether or not to confess is a big question, which deserves an honest answer. Trust and honesty are at the core of every good relationship, so when this trust is compromised, the relationship is already broken. There is no ‘one time’ mistake with cheating, but a lack of respect and commitment to that partner. We all make mistakes, yes, but we must be willing to face the consequences.
Whether or not your partner will choose to stay once they know what you’ve done is irrelevant. Rarely can a broken relationship repair itself, so it is unfair to drag out an inevitable ending if you are not willing to make the commitment necessary for the relationship to work.