Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work as a counsellor. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links above.
Honesty can be difficult in relationships. We care about our partner and don’t want to hurt them, and so sometimes it is tempting to tell a “white lie”, to bend the truth a little, or just not to mention something at all, in order to protect our partner’s feelings. Sometimes that’s what our partner wants – the classic example is the “does my bum look big in this?” question, but there are many more examples; very often when we ask our partner’s opinion, we want them to agree with us, or at least not to tell us that we are doing something wrong.
So, sometimes those little white lies are sensible. But when is a lie white? If your partner thinks you’ve given up smoking, but then you just smoke one cigarette when they’re not around, there’s no point in telling them, is there? They’ll just be upset, or disappointed in us, or angry with us, when it’s just one little cigarette – they’ll “overreact”. So we protect them by not mentioning that we’ve had a smoke. But are we protecting them, or is it more the case that we are we protecting our own feelings when we do this? We would feel guilty, ashamed or a bad person, perhaps, if we said something to upset our partner – or we don’t want the difficult atmosphere there might be if they are angry. Very often we are really thinking about ourselves when we lie, or hide things – we pretend we’re doing it for our partner’s good, but in fact it’s more about ourselves.
Lies, of course, can grow. That one cigarette can become two or three, and can grow into a regular habit, that becomes more and more difficult to talk about. It is the same in lots of other cases; a bit of flirting, a drunken kiss, a one-night-stand – these can seem harmless enough but they can become habitual or develop into a full-blown affair. Drinking, watching pornography, spending money, gambling…the list of possible deceptions is endless.
Sometimes we lie by omission. The cigarette example above is relevant here. Whether we actually say “I didn’t smoke”, or we “forget” to tell our partner about the cigarette, it’s still a deception; we deliberately leave our partner believing something that isn’t true. Either way, if (or more likely when) our partner does find out, the effect is the same, and they will end up wondering what else they haven’t been told, waiting for the next revelation to hit them. These deceptions undermine trust and create barriers in relationships – and in a healthy, intimate relationship, most of us seek to build trust and break down barriers; that’s what intimacy is about.
So I tend to encourage honesty in the counselling room and in relationships. Secrets, however small, are potentially poisonous things.
It seems important, as well, to think about how you might react to a confession from your partner. If they’ve promised to give up smoking and then own up to having crafty cigarettes when you’re not around, how would you react? I’ll talk about this more in my next post.