LIFESTYLE- Trust is fragile. Secrets and lies jeopardize trust and can damage us and our relationships sometimes irreparably. We all tell “white lies.” We say, “I’m fine,” when we’re not, compliment unwanted gifts, or even fib that “The check is in the mail.” But in an intimate relationship, emotional honesty includes allowing our partner to know who we are. Honesty is more than simply not lying.
1. They block real intimacy with a partner. Intimacy is based on trust and authenticity the ability to be vulnerable or “naked,” not only physically, but also emotionally.
2. They lead to cover-up lies and omissions that can be hard to remember. These mount up, and if the truth comes out, it may be more hurtful than the original secret. The longer the truth is hidden, the greater becomes the hurdle of revelation
3. The secret holder feels guilty, or at least uncomfortable, during intimate moments with the deceived person. Closeness and certain topics tend to be avoided. Avoidance may not even be conscious and can include things like being preoccupied with work, friends, hobbies, or addictive behavior, and doing activities that leave little opportunity for private conversations
4. Honesty is valued as a moral norm, although the context and specifics may differ among cultures. When we violate religious or cultural norms by hiding the truth, we experience anxiety generated by guilt. Despite our best efforts at hiding, our physiological reaction is the basis for electronic lie detectors.
5. This violation of our values not only leads to guilt; it also affects our self concept. Over a long period, deception can eat away at our self esteem. Ordinary guilt that could be reversed with honesty now becomes shame and undermines our fundamental sense of dignity and worthiness as a person.
6. Our ways of managing guilt and shame create more problems. We hide not only the secret, but more of who we are. We might build resentments to justify our actions, withdraw, or become critical, irritable, or aggressive. We rationalize our lie or secret to avoid the inner conflict and the danger we imagine awaits us if we come clean.
7. Not surprisingly, beyond mental distress, research reveals that lying leads to health complaints. 8. The victim of deception may begin to react to the avoidant behavior by feeling confused, anxious, angry, suspicious, abandoned, or needy. They may begin to doubt themselves, and their self-esteem may suffer. Often, victims of betrayal need counseling to recover from the loss of trust and to raise their self-esteem.
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