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How Much Truth is enough in a Relationship?

Updated on July 26, 2017
ian 12am profile image

Ian is a Senior Orthopedic Officer currently working with Fort portal regional referral hospital - Fort portal western Uganda

To be in love is a beautiful feeling, but to be in love with someone who loves you the way you deserve to be loved is heavenly. This is why it can be heart shuttering when you discover that the person to whom you have surrendered your heart isn’t as honest with you as you would preferred them to be. It’s not uncommon to find people who have given up on romance altogether for fear of such uncertainties, or because they have been through a disturbing past experience and are weary to trust.

It is without doubt that honesty is vital for all forms of relationships including basic friendships, but where romance is involved, it couldn’t be more emphasized. Romantic relationships are fragile and take time to nature. It takes trust to grow a relationship to full maturity, and honesty forms the foundation upon which trust is built. A strong foundation of honesty forms a stronger happier relationship.

But how much truth is enough for a relationship?

It is no easy task to measure the truth, and whether or not it’s measurable is a story for another day. In this article we shall break the truths that affect relationships into two; truths from the past, and truths with in the current relationship.

Truth from the past

You have probably heard some people say that ‘some truths are best left untold’. Such minds argue that certain stories from one’s past may be irrelevant to the current relationship and should therefore be left in the past, unless they have a bearing on the future. And that this is for the good of the relationship. This school of thought understandably tends to lean towards protecting the individual from unnecessary memories of painful past experiences, while protecting the partner from knowing things that will cause them unnecessary heartache.

The challenge here is that hidden truth, even from a distant past event has a tendency to manifest at awkward times in life leaving you embarrassed. You can just never accurately predict when and how it will come back to haunt your happiness. Secondly regardless of whether you talk about them or not, memories from the past will always pop up ounce in a while for whatever reason. In my opinion, they should be less painful if talked about especially with someone you can trust. I also believe that it is unfair to keep a past event from someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life with. Your partner should have the right to decide whether they can live with your ‘baggage’. If they decide to judge you on the basis of your past, then it’s time for you to re-evaluate the health of the relationship. The crucial thing here is timing. You must carefully choose at what stage to reveal such information.

Truth from the current relationship

Throughout my clinical practice, I work with clients who decide to share certain information with me and thereafter make me swear never to tell their partners about the contents of our discussion. They do this in belief that they are trying to save their marriage. They feel they have a small issue which should be quickly dealt with, and then life should go back to normal without burdening their partners with this unnecessary information. Well, my job is not to judge them and neither am I here to judge anyone who does this. “Let he who is innocent cast the first stone”

Keeping things from our loved ones or altering the truth to suit our needs, is part of human nature yet some level of honesty is very important for trust to thrive. It is dangerous to keep secrets regarding important matters such as health, finance, and security because these can have serious implications.

So how much truth is sufficient to sustain a relationship? Should you reveal every detail in your everyday life to your partner? The answer largely varies from one relationship to another since all are unique. If you volunteer detailed information about your daily life to your partner, it could come off as romantic and if they are willing to listen, you have a great love story. Whether or not they reciprocate the favor should entirely be up to them. If on the other hand you require them to tell, then you can quickly come off as controlling and possessive which will hurt the trust. They will then feel pressured and actually start altering the truth. In other wards the truth should not be forced. Otherwise the relationship will start to feel like an inquisition. Trust is fragile and must be handled as such. It should come naturally rather than out of cunning maneuvers, trickery or coercion. If you are having a hard time trusting your partner, then something is not right. Sometimes it could be you playing tricks on your mind. If you are finding it difficult to be honest with your partner even in little things, then there is need for careful re-assessment in order to seek out the problem.

Is there such a thing as too much Truth?

Yes, especially in the early stages of the relationship. Being too honest or volunteering too much personal information after just a few dates is counterproductive because it creates a picture of being clingy, needy and too fragile. This can be a big turn off for many men and women. Honesty is a powerful tool in building romance but should carefully be used at every stage of the relationship.


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    • ian 12am profile image

      Ian Batanda 18 months ago

      "Being truthful doesn't mean you have to answer questions you feel are no one's business but your own. Being truthful is simply not lying."

      I agree with you. If couples can find the right balance and timing regarding when to share personal information, then there's chance for the relationship to thrive.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 18 months ago

      "Being too honest or volunteering too much personal information after just a few dates is counterproductive because it creates a picture of being clingy, needy and too fragile. This can be a big turn off for many men and women. Honesty is a powerful tool in building romance but should carefully be used at every stage of the relationship." - Very true!

      Without honesty there can be no trust.

      Having said that one of the biggest issues with couples is "timing" when it comes to revealing the truth. Naturally if someone asks you a direct or point blank question they expect you to give them an honest answer.

      However it's those things they (didn't ask) but felt you should have "volunteered" that oftentimes causes problems.

      Some might call it "lying by omission".

      For example a transsexual woman who was born a man may feel like she shouldn't have to introduce herself as that every time she goes out on a first date. She might reserve that for when she believes there is chemistry between them or signs that there will be future dates/romance. And yet her male suitor may feel like she should have told him the minute he said "hello".

      The reality is everyone is guilty of trying to impress those they find attractive. We all put our "best foot forward" during the (infatuation phase) of a new relationship. Very few people lead with all their warts, baggage from past relationships, love they never got from parents, betrayal of friends, and assorted things they hate about the opposite sex.

      No! They save that stuff for when there is an "emotional investment" and they feel it's "safe" to RELAX and reveal their "authentic selves".

      Some people really live by the "Don't ask don't tell" philosophy.

      I met a girl in college and we moved to California together and lived together for almost 2 years a few decades ago. It wasn't until recently we crossed paths through LinkedIn that I learned she had been raped her freshman year of college. She now volunteers as an intake person at a woman's shelter.

      "Have you ever been raped?" is not a question I would ever ask a woman. In fact I surmise the older we get the less "personal questions" we ask within the realm of past relationships, sexual experiences, how many times someone has been in love....etc.

      Not many guys would ask a 50 year old woman about the number of sexual partners she has had. And yet many young guys feel that's a perfectly legitimate question to ask a girl in her late teens or early 20s.

      Even if the woman tells them she views her past as being her private business. A lot of immature guys need to believe they have more sexual experience than the women they emotionally invest in.

      Being truthful doesn't mean you have to answer questions you feel are no one's business but your own. Being truthful is simply not lying.

      Naturally the moral thing to do is let someone know if they'd be at risk getting involved with you whether it's a STD or violent ex stalker.

      Another thing if there has been talk of comingling funds making a joint purchase one might want to mention their credit status or any bankruptcy. Once again none of this would be "first date" conversation.

      However the great divide is over (when) to volunteer such information.