Honesty is an interesting trait. When asked what we look for in a partner or friend, the vast majority of people will place honesty pretty high on their list. Most of us crave honesty in intimate relationships, yet often we find ourselves withholding the truth from our loved ones in order to ‘spare their feelings.’ These white lies are usually seen as fairly innocent, but when they start to become your default mode of communication, and you’re not expressing how you truly feel, your relationships can start to suffer. Not convinced? Here are three reasons why getting rid of those little white lies will actually end up strengthening your relationships.
More Honesty = Less Tension
Picture this scenario: Something small happens that either irritates you or upsets you, but you don’t say anything because ‘it isn’t worth the trouble’ or ‘it’s not that big of a deal.’ You think your relationship is better off this way, until the same thing happens twice, then three times, then four times, and suddenly something that felt very small a month ago turns into the worst fight you’ve ever had. If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. This type of situation is common in many relationships and can easily be avoided with a bit of bravery and honesty.
As much as we’d sometimes love it, no one can read our minds, not even our partners or best friends. Sometimes we withhold information because we think the other person will ‘eventually figure it out’ and when this doesn’t end up being the case, it causes a lot of tension that will usually result in a big fight. Being honest right off the bat, even if it’s hard to talk about, will almost always relieve tension and lead to a productive conversation that can bring two people closer together. Holding onto unnecessary tension only causes unnecessary stress, and the more you can practice saying how you feel in the moment, the easier it will become.
When You’re Being Honest, You’re Asking for What You Want
Asking for what you want in any relationship is perhaps one of the hardest but most important things you can do. When you start to be honest with how you feel as soon as feelings arise, you’re beginning a practice of asking for what you want without even realizing it. If you find yourself irritated at your partner for leaving something on the floor or talking to you while staring at their phone, and you’re honest about it as soon as it happens, the natural progression of the conversation will lead to them asking what you would rather them do instead. This opens up a dialogue for not only yourself but for your partner or loved one as well, to be honest about how they feel and ask for what they want.
The important thing to remember here is you aren’t suddenly opening the flood gates of everything you would change about a person, you’re simply being honest about how one thing in the moment makes you feel, and how you’d like it to go differently. Being honest and asking for what you want in this way is difficult, as it involves a lot of vulnerability to ask for something you may not receive. Although it may not always work out in your favour, the act of being vulnerable in this way often strengthens the level of intimacy you feel in your relationships.
True Honesty Shows Love and Care, Not Hostility
There’s a reason there hasn’t been a mention of being ‘brutally honest’ in this list. Although the ability to be honest about anything and everything, no matter how negative, is one people often admire, only some personalities respond to this sort of unfiltered truth-telling. When you approach things from a place of love and care and put whatever irritated or angry mood you may be in aside, it becomes clear you only want the best for your relationship with the other person.
When trying to be honest with a loved one, use ‘I’ statements and be sure to make clear that this is how you feel or what you’ve noticed and they are entitled to their opinion of the situation as well. Talking about things in this open and honest way will make space to speak similarly in the future, thus creating an environment where both parties are more trusting and are more willing to communicate freely.
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Yes, total honesty can be scary and difficult, and no it may not always have the outcome you expect, but it’s a practice that will strengthen your relationships and relieve a lot of underlying tension that may linger below the surface. Is honesty always the best policy? Maybe not, but it sure is most of the time, and it’s never a bad thing to be comfortable telling the truth. Give it a shot and you may find that all your relationships begin to flourish.