The Big Deal With Honesty [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]

I read a really interesting quote the other day that asked, “What if every lie you ever told in your life was published into a book?” I laughed out loud when I read this because my book of lies would probably be like, 10 volumes long. From “Yeah, I took out the trash, Mom” to “I’m totally into sports! I’m a guy’s girl!” We’ve all told our fair share of lies. It’s just human nature. Funniness aside, the quote really made me think for a second—how often do I really lie? Are they needless lies? Are they lies to save someone’s feelings? Are they hurting someone?

Now, there are little white lies, fat lies, and even those pesky technical lies (or as some say, omitting the truth). We’re told in the court of law to put our hand to God and swear that we’re going to tell the truth, the whole damn truth and nothing but the truth. The truth is a big deal! We’ve been told our entire lives that honesty is the best policy. We’re told that telling the truth is the path to a good, noble life. From Pinocchio to George Washington and his cherry tree, we’re told these stories about honesty to teach us lessons about why telling the truth is so important.

So why do we find ourselves lying all the damn time? Why can telling the truth be so hard to do sometimes? When it comes to romantic relationships, trust and honesty are huge components. Even though it’s hard to do sometimes, we need to tell the truth to move forward. We need honesty to be the guideposts for our journey to having a healthy and successful relationship.

When we start dating someone new, we’re never fully 100% ourselves right off the bat. We’re on our best behavior. It’s totally cool that he’s an hour late and didn’t call. He’s totally down for seeing that new Kate Hudson movie you’ve been dying to see. We’re way more flexible than we would ever be if we’d been dating this person for years. We’re way too perfect. We shower more often. We take more time getting ready. We brush our teeth before getting back into bed in the morning. We’re way too self-aware, trying to be these perfect versions of ourselves.

In the beginning stages of a relationship, this is usually the norm. I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing either. It’s just kind of what we all do. If we unleashed all of our baggage, issues, stories and demons right away on the first date, would anyone even bother getting into relationships? We’d all be horrified of each other. We need to take the time to get to know each other, see if this person is trustworthy and then start spilling about who we are. And this doesn’t mean that we’re lying to our partner about who we are; we’re just testing the waters. We need to know that this person is going to love us and respect us despite all the ugly, hard truths about ourselves.

This has always been a really hard subject for me to get my head around. I’m always worrying and wondering: is he really getting to know who I am as a whole person? When is it okay to start being “myself”? I mull over how to tell him about things from my past that I’m not exactly proud of. I wonder if he’ll still want to be with me even though I squeeze the toothpaste from the middle of the tube instead of the end (because this is the way I like to do it, and I will not stop.) Can we get past the ugly parts of ourselves? Can we take down the facades that we built up the first couple of months and show each other who we are without running scared?

I totally understand how scary it can be to be completely honest with your partner, but that’s what adulthood is. That’s what growing up is. You cannot play the part of the perfect girlfriend/boyfriend forever. At one point or another, the truth will come out. It’s better if your partner finds it out from you, in a way that you’re comfortable with. You’ll both benefit from being honest with one another.

Tell the truth—the whole truth. Even if it’s ugly and harsh and embarrassing. Tell the truth even if you’re scared, nervous, or apprehensive that you might scare away the person you love. Take this moment of pure honesty as a litmus test for your relationship—if they cannot handle your truths—then they do not deserve you. We love despite the ugliness. We love despite the harsh truths. If you’re honest in your relationship, you’re building a sense of trust and respect.

When the lies start to build up, you can get tangled in a web that you didn’t even mean to weave. While we think we’re doing good by not exposing ourselves or our partner to the deep certainties of who we are—you’re actually doing them a disservice. Once you release anything you’ve been keeping close to your chest, I can promise you that you’ll feel infinitely better. If your partner reacts in an accepting and kind manner, you can just go ahead and fall even deeper in love, and if their reaction lets you down—you can move on and go find someone who will love you for your openness and sincerity. The truth can hurt. It can be ugly and hard and brutal at times, but in the end, we all know that no one likes being lied to. I encourage you all to be yourselves in your relationships, to tell the truth, and to allow the trust your partner gains from this honesty to be reciprocated.

And let’s be real, the truth doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. Telling someone what you think and how you feel is never a bad thing. It’s courageous and something to be proud of. So go on, tell the truth. Be brave. Be yourself.

Katie recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

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