My dearest and I have one rule. We have a few shared agreements and understandings about how we relate and how our relationship works, but only one absolute. We always tell the truth to one another.
No exceptions; no white lies; no omissions of things that could be relevant. There are no questions that are off the table.
The only boundary we agree to have in this area is with regard to other partners and the privacy that other relationships deserve. I do not inquire about his relationship with his nesting partner and he does not inquire about my mine. If there is a matter that is related to our ability to be safe and connected to each other that somehow involves another partner, we navigate those water with intention and always respect the privacy owed to the other person.
It seems simple enough — to tell the truth — but the reality of that is much harder than it seems it should be most days.
The journey to this space has not been instantaneous. It has taken time to build trust and safety between us. We had to learn that our truth was not only welcomed but was able to be offered without having a negative impact on our connection.
Honesty during Conflict
In order to have an open conversation, I’ve learned that I must be honest with myself first. If it is a conflict, what is really behind my upset? Did my dearest actually cross a boundary or break an agreement? Or is it that I do not like the way something was handled and prefer that it is different in the future? Both of those things are worthy of conversation, but what is needed for a solution is quite different.
In my journey, what leads to my upset is most often something within me rather than something with him. Fears and insecurities are the most frequent culprits but jealousy and exhaustion show up more than I wish they would.
Teasing out what is behind my upset has saved us from many conflicts because starting from a place of authenticity and sharing what is troubling me is possible without getting caught in the unproductive loop of blaming him. It also allows us to seek solutions together for how to prevent or address the real struggle.
Revealing the Truth
Honesty is not always about solving conflicts between us. In fact, the absolute hardest spaces for me are when I am revealing some piece of myself that is broken, scarred, or fragile. Those places that feel impossible to love allow my fears to run rampant and make up all kinds of stories about how he will receive me.
Whether it is expressing a kinky sexual desire or sharing a never before spoken story from my abuse in childhood, this honesty is actually about solving a conflict that is internal to me. My fears and insecurities that are fueled by shame are called to task by the truth.
“If he knows this about me, he won’t desire me anymore…or he will think less of me…or he will see me as broken.”
These lies that tie my heart and keep me from loving freely are proven to be wrong time and time again. With every lie that falls, our relationship becomes stronger — I become stronger and more confident. And his experience has been the same.
A Courageous Space
The real act of courage is not honesty with my dearest. Real courage is required to be honest with myself. Doing the work in my own life so that I don’t push the blame on him for what is actually my own challenge and discomfort is the most difficult and rewarding adventure I have ever undertaken.
The beauty of courageous honesty comes from the joy of knowing that I am completely accepted in this relationship. The messiness of my humanity and lived experiences are not just welcomed but invited into our shared life. Knowing that he allows me to see him in the same ways creates safety and security between us.
The true beauty of this shared value of courageous honesty is we each have complete trust in the other. There is no wondering. There are no games. We ask questions when things are unclear. We speak our truth knowing that whatever is said is met with grace and love.
Courageous honesty has taken us to many unexpected places together. Perhaps the most remarkable have been those moments when a deeply held want is revealed and we discover the other has similar desires that have been unexpressed and unfulfilled. The trust built by being completely seen by another has been a strong foundation for the love we share.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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