It’s time to start getting honest …
A wise woman once said, “An honest person will tell you when they’ve lied.”
Newsflash, folks: We all lie.
If you find yourself disputing this statement — you’re a liar, liar, pants on fire!
So if we’re all liars in one way or another, how do we get the people we care about to be truthful with us about the important stuff?
It’s easier than you think, but first, we have to understand the why of the lie.
Humans lie when we’re in trouble when we’re backed into a corner, or sometimes when we feel our life, livelihood, or safety is threatened. It’s a knee-jerk compulsion — a primal response to a perceived threat.
In layman’s terms, that means it’s normal. Of course, when we’re the ones being lied to, it almost invariably sucks.
So how do you get the truth we crave and learn to trust the people you love?
When we don’t like someone’s behavior, we might say they’re “misbehaving.” But people don’t misbehave. They behave in a manner that is consistent with their nature.
A professional con artist behaves consistent to the way a con artist behaves. Would it make sense to put your trust in a con artist and say, “Well, I want to trust him, so I’ll just give him a chance”?
Hell to the no.
This example goes to show that you must assess a person’s character by observing their words, actions, and outcomes, and then choose whether or not to place your trust in them — all your trust — every bit of it.
It’s societally acceptable to say things like, “I want to trust him.” We say it like we could and should trust a person with everything, instantly.
I trust you to be on time. I trust you to be faithful. I trust you to tell the truth.
When we’re willing to concede that people behave in a manner consistent with their nature, and when we take a moment to examine what their nature is, we learn what we can truly trust individual people for.
This can be for the big ones, like fidelity, and for the more everyday stuff, like who can be trusted to remember to book reservations for dinner.
For example, unless I have to catch an airplane, my partner can trust me to be consistently five to ten minutes late for pretty much everything.
He can trust me for a higher-than-average natural sense of direction.
He CANNOT trust me to not eat chocolate if it’s left lying around the house.
If all six feet of him came home one day stomping through the house and barking at me, “Wendy, did you eat the dark-chocolate-covered apricots?” — guess what my knee-jerk response would be? To lie. Would I?
No. I wouldn’t be fooling anyone around here.
Here are 3 steps to take now in order to find real, honest connections with people you trust.
1. Know what you can trust people for.
When we try to trust people for what they can’t be trusted for, it opens the door for lies and deceit. Step one to getting the truth from people is to not set them up to fail with words, actions, and ways of being they can’t be counted on for in the first place.
2. Don’t put anyone in the doghouse.
You might be thinking, “Huh? Is that even possible?” Yes. Seriously, it is.
Consider what your life would be like if you lived with someone who was never in trouble with you and vice versa. It seems like too high of a bar to set, right? It is possible — I know because I live it. But I will say it is tricky. Putting others in the doghouse for punishment can feel satisfying, if not downright gleeful sometimes, even if the feeling is fleeting.
If you don’t punish your partner, they’ll misbehave more, right? Wrong. When we’re upset, it’s generally because someone we care about has done something that crossed our boundaries, or maybe because their needs have fallen out of step with our own.
Consider this. Instead of getting angry and making them pay, attack the problem, not the person. Together you can examine where your needs conflict and see what can be done about it, instead of blaming, shaming, or trying to weasel out of a crappy situation with a lie.
3. Own your own feelings.
This is a two-way street if there ever was one. It won’t work unless both parties are accountable and able to own their own feelings. He didn’t “hurt” your feelings — feelings can’t be hurt. Something he said or did triggered you, and that’s causing you to react in a negative way.
Valid? Absolutely. But it’s up to you to decide how to handle the feelings that come with that hurt. This means no responding with a flippant, “Nothing” or “Whatever” when he asks you what he did wrong. You owe it to yourself — and to him — to be honest.
I once had a friend who’d have bad dreams, and when she woke up, she’d be pissed at her husband because in her dream he was misbehaving. Say it with me: “My feelings are mine and mine alone. I interpret things that happen to and around me, and then consciously decide how to handle the feelings that I feel.”
When you know what you can and can’t trust people for as individuals, when you’ve demolished the doghouse, and when you’ve held yourself accountable for your own feelings, you’ve learned the secret to getting your partner to be honest with you.
If there’s no threat to confront, there’s no need for hiding, hemming, and hawing, or spinning a story.
The people in our lives want the intimacy that comes with honesty as much as we do.
Now that you and your loved one have the tools to be more honest with each other, I challenge you to implement at least one of these tactics in your everyday interactions with your partner.
You can do it — honest!
I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor. Pick up my book, 121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!) here!
By Wendy Newman originally published on YourTango.com.