Have you seen the movie that is currently in release called, “The Invention of Lying?” I saw it last week with Jem and, coincidently, the question of honesty, and “what is the truth,” has been coming up for many Dating With Dignity clients. How honest should you be? Should you disclose everything? If so, when? When it’s “not a match,” should you tell why?
First off, most men and women will say that they want a partner who is honest. In fact, when my clients are creating lists of values they hold as important for themselves and others, honesty ranks in the top five of “must-have’s.” In digging deeper, we typically discuss what honesty looks like to them. Yes, while it seems obvious that honesty is not up for discussion or debate, there are certain situations we discuss in which it might not be necessary or appropriate to tell the absolute truth.
1. How many lovers have you had in the past? When it comes to kiss and tell, discussing your past is not necessary. The past is done, and for most of us it bares no reflection of who we have are now. If you feel that you must know about your partner’s sexual past, ask yourself why it is important? Do you hold judgements that impact your ability to see a potential partner for who they are now? Or, are you holding on to shame or labels from your past? If so, are you projecting these feelings you have about yourself onto someone else? To be a successful dater, you must ensure you don’t bring your past into the present by unconsciously treating someone new as if he or she were all the “bad” men and/or women from your past. If you feel you must know, do not bring up the subject for at least six months into your relationship. This way, both of you know each other quite well and will be able to put information from the past into proper context.
2. When do I discuss STDs? If you have an STD, it is important that you are honest with your partner, when it becomes appropriate and necessary to discuss these issues. Clearly, the topic of sexually transmitted disease is not first date fodder. In fact, do not discuss STD’s until you are dating someone and both of you have agreed that the relationship holds potential for becoming monogamous. Make sure you have this conversation vertical and clothed. It is not something best brought up or discussed in the heat of passion.
3. Are you dating other people? In the 21st century both men and women are dating, a lot. The internet, especially, has made it quite easy for both sexes to have multiple dates in one week. What happens, then, when there is someone with whom you have a connection and want to explore the possibility of relationship. When, if ever, do you let him or her know that you are still dating other people? If you begin to date this person consistently, he or she is someone with whom you would like to continue dating because there is long-term potential, and choose to have sex with him or her, the Dating With Dignity point of view is to make it clear (explicit) that you are still dating other people (if this is true). Typically, men may make the assumption a woman is not sleeping with others if she is having sex with him. If you are a man, and are still dating other people while dating this person, you must be honest, treat her with respect, and enable her to make an informed choice about how she wants to be in the relationship. Perhaps she won’t want to have sex with you if you are still dating others, regardless of whether or not you are having sex with any of the other people you are dating. You do not want this person to mistakenly assume that because you are intimate with each other you are no longer dating other people. Many women will assume that if they have been dating a man consistently and then choose to become intimate, the man is going to be exclusive. None of these assumptions can be made without having an honest discussion, preferably prior to having sex. Again, have this conversation while standing vertically and clothed.
4. If it’s not a match, should you make up an excuse as to why you don’t want to see this person again? Using the words, “it’s not a match,” is a powerful way to politely disengage from someone with whom you are not interested in dating. Lying, neglect, or choosing to ignore phone calls and text messages are not appropriate if you are dating with dignity. If you are looking for someone to treat you the way you deserve to be treated, then don’t play games. As one of the Dating With Dignity Man Panelists stated recently, “If you play games, then you leave us no choice but to do the same.” This holds true for both men and women. It’s the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do to you.” As you know, there is nothing worse then wondering why someone didn’t call when they said they would, questioning why he or she flakes repeatedly, or basing your expectations of a relationship’s potential based on false hopes or impressions. Be honest. Tell him or her that it’s not a match, and then create space for someone else to come into your life.