I know it’s been a while since I wrote my last post but I wanted to write a sort of follow up to it that has really struck me the past few weeks: of equal or near equal importance to a relationship as forgiveness is openness and forthrightness, honesty.
What is honesty? What is it not? I like looking at what it is not because we tend to take things to their extreme (i.e., John Piper says we should be Christian Hedonist so I’m just going to live for pleasure and thank God while I do it, Jesse says be honest so I’m going to spill everything to everyone).
Honesty in a relationship does not mean you tell your significant other or friend every single thing that you do, think, or experience. Let’s say you want to date an amazingly beautiful girl. You are confident and secure so you find one and begin dating her. You stress that honesty is important to you in a relationship and try to maintain complete honesty with her as an example.
One day she tells you “Hun I got to be honest with you, I was filling my car up with gas today and this guy came up to me and tried to get my number”. No big deal right? You’re confident. You know she’s yours. Well then she goes on to tell you about the guy who whistled at her, the guy who made a sexual joke with her at work, the guy who bought her coffee, etc. No matter how confident you are you really don’t want to hear about every time another guy tries to hit on your girl. If you’re realistic you know it happens but you don’t need or want to hear about it all the time.
It also doesn’t mean telling your friends everything you think about them in the moment. Let’s get personal. I’ve had good friends whom I love really piss me off. I’ve thought some pretty mean things and maybe (sadly) said some things in conversation that were less than kind. Obviously, I love my friends even when we may disagree on something. And I know that I have many flaws for which they are more than welcome to judge me for.
However, would it really be helpful for our relationship for me to tell them everything I think about them in the heat of a disagreement? Usually I have found it is best to realize that sometimes we’re not at our best, we say or think things that reflect that, and we need to just let them be. Certainly, if you slander someone you should make things right but volunteering every unkind thought is not helpful to anyone.
When it comes to the fragile world of dating a lot of people have mixed ideas. Some people lead secret dating lives, ensuring that all circles of friends stay separate. I know people who may enjoy my company but have never once invited me into their circle of friends. These types are often the most honest. If your life is so compartmentalized you really don’t need to share anything about work with your friends from the Bible study who in turn don’t need to be discussed with your boyfriend.
Most people aren’t so secretive. They want to mix social groups, we like thinking that a friend from work would still be our friend outside of work. But hopefully we understand there must be boundaries. I mean do you really want the guy you’ve only gone out with twice hanging out with all your friends or going to the movies with them while you are at work? What if you really like him and things don’t work out? You might be a confident woman but do you really want that?
Others are completely open. Everyone knows everything. This is risky. You can create unneeded tension much like with your friend whom you tell every time she makes you a bit mad rather than letting it go on the small issues.
Hopefully you’ve found a balance which allows you to be open and mingle with different social groups. This balance should also help foster an atmosphere of honesty early on in any romantic developments. If there are things you are not ready for someone to know about you, don’t put yourself in a position where you’d have to lie to cover those things up.
Originally I wrote this as one post but it turned out quite lengthy so I’m going to post the rest separatelely. To keep reading part two click here
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