Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?
Linda from Austin, Texas asks:
I was honest with my teenage children about my relationship with a married man as he is very present in our lives. I did not wish to insult them with lies. This man and I are best friends and lovers. Our relationship is progressing slowly. It changes constantly. I remember how I felt as a teenager when I first realized infidelity existed. My children are angry. Do you have any advice for me to help my children heal? This friendship started as my husband was at the end of a long-term illness.
Thank you, Linda for sharing such an interesting scenario. We’re in strange and treacherous territory when we tread the paths of Eros. You speak of honesty as a priority—as a concept you value greatly. But in love, it is very often the case that self-honesty is lost. So much of the spell of love is illusion and intoxication; the truth of our own secret selves and motives is laid to waste. I know you love those children of yours, no matter how judgmental they’re being. I also know you’re working very hard to justify your reasons for sharing the facts of your situation with them. The altruist is the most dangerous form of deceiver for they believe the facade they present. I’m not hopping on the bandwagon to criticize you here. I’m only asking that you keep an open mind as we proceed. It’s well known that I take no prisoners when I am asked my opinion or advice and in coming to me, I believe you seek the keys to liberation through my methods.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that children deserve to hear the truth from the adults that guide them. If something directly affects them, their safety and security, I think children should never be shielded from the harsher aspects of reality. However, we’re not talking about some dire truth or a survival situation here. We’re not talking about anything your children needed to know at all. Your sex life—who you choose to share your bed with and why—is none of their business. If there is a man who agrees to undertake their care as your husband and thus their stepfather, then that’s another matter. But if you’re simply a man’s friend and he’s around, it should be left at that. Your sex life with him, or anyone else, is not their domain. And it is certainly not their place to stand in moral judgment of your choices.
It’s hard for me to understand what response you were hoping to get when you gave them this information. Because they’re teenagers, pretty much any revelation you make about yourself is likely to be met with disapproval or derision of some kind. I think your so-called bid for honesty was really a bid for sympathy. And I think you were trying to make things between you and this man more “real” by including more people in the drama. Your hope for something long-term with him became more solid in your own mind when others were brought into the loop. But, Linda, no matter how mature a teenager might seem, in reality they all think they know everything without ever having lived the script. It’s not their fault. It’s how we all were then, and how they are now. And you as the adult should have known how they’d react.
The fact is, you don’t need their approval. You don’t need anyone’s approval. They are the children and you are the parent. Now that the whole thing is out in the open, what’s done is done and you can pretty much forget about finding “healing” for anyone involved in the whole mess. Instead, do what you should have done in the first place, and don’t talk to them about your bedroom life. If they have comments or observations from this point on, tell ‘em to shut up and go do their homework. You are not in your children’s lives to be their friend and they are not born to be yours. You’re in their lives to help them learn to survive and be strong. If you do your job right, they probably won’t approve of a lot of what you do, but you won’t care and they’ll be all the better for it.
As far as your friend goes, I think the one who really has a problem with him being married is you. You love him and he loves you so why is he taking so long to leave his situation? Are you so very sure he’s going to make the long haul with you after all? You’re investing a helluva lot without much promise of payback from him. You’d better be sure you know what you’re doing. Right now, it seems to me he has the best of both worlds and two women to sleep with. Why the hell would he change that when you seem so cool with it all? Think about it.
Do you have a question for Liam? Ask Liam your question now.