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Our addictive demand for honesty

Your demand for honesty will blind you to the truth

I find it sadly interesting that in asking women what's the number one trait they look for in a romantic partner or spouse, they often reply, "He must be honest."

I like honesty

I am exceptional in practicing honesty and openness. Others, I find, are exceptional in their level of honesty and openness with me.

One seemingly paradoxical reason for the level of others' honesty with me is that I don't get upset if I find that they lied to me. I just get curious about it. I try to discover how I might have contributed to the fact that they lied to me. Another reason that others are more open and honest with me is they find I am rarely judgmental about what they reveal to me. 

"How many gay or lesbian people do you know?"

Consider this intriguing fact: When I pose this question to my friends from China, almost everyone claims they don't know anyone. However, this does not reflect reality. In China, I've encountered numerous individuals from the LGBTQ+ community who have trusted me enough to share their sexual orientation. The reason my heterosexual Chinese friends most often remain unaware of these LGBTQ+ individuals in their vicinity is because these individuals don't feel sufficiently safe from possible criticism from the general Chinese population, or perhaps even with some of their specific friends, to disclose their sexual preferences.

Why am I so easy going about whether someone lies to me?

First of all, I am careful not to indulge in expectations that I know for sure that someone will not lie to me. If I did, I would be lying to myself that there was no risk of them lying. Therefore, in whatever agreements or arrangements I make with others, I make those while fully accepting the risk that they might lie to me. I might later need to adjust my boundaries or relationship with them if I found them lying, but I accepted that I might need to do that from the beginning. 

In tandem with this first reason is that I will ask for information up front (although they still might lie) in order to reduce the risk of unwanted surprises in the course of my relationship with that person. 

I also remain aware of the fact that some types of lies may have no bearing on whether I can have a mutually selfish and satisfying relationship with someone. Many of us will lie about some types of things but not others.

I also remain aware of the fact that my behavior may have encouraged or made it easy for someone to lie to me. If I find that someone lied to me and they are willing to have a partnership conversation with me about it, I will want to discover how I might have contributed to their lying to me.

I am careful to question my own "knowledge" that someone has lied to me

I don't necessarily assume that someone lied to me even though I have some evidence that suggests that they did. If I confront them, I will be careful to not call them a liar. For example, "John, you said you would leave the money you owed me on the table. I only found $20 on the table. From my memory, I thought I gave you $30. What are your memories?" 

Three types of lies

#1 the first type is when someone doesn't tell the fuller truth in a given situation. They leave out some information, hoping you will not notice it and that you will assume something that they know not to be true. For example, your ask your spouse where they went and they say, "I went to Joe's bar and hung out with my friends," which was true but they left out the fact that they also stopped by their lover's place for a quickie.

Many people don't consider the first type of lying to be lying. And, to varying degrees, all of us engage in this type of lie, frequently not noticing that we have done so. It can be as innocuous as, "I came right home so I could be with you," when the fuller truth is "I came right home because I was getting bored with the party and I thought being with you wouldn't be so bad."

#2 the second type is when someone tells you something is true which they currently know it is not true. For example, your girlfriend says to you, "I haven't seen Paul in ages," when in fact she was kissing him the day before.

#3 the third type is when someone promises you they will or won't do something and sincerely intends to keep their promise when they spoke it to you, like, "I will always be faithful to you unless tell you otherwise." But then when they later change their mind and sleep with someone else, they decide not to tell you about it.

Many of us frequently engage in this third type of falsehood, often without acknowledging it as such. We deceive ourselves consistently, regardless of our past actions, by convincing ourselves that we'll follow through on our promises when we initially make them. We sincerely intend to keep these promises at the time of commitment, but there are various reasons why we ultimately fail to do so. We might not consider the practicality of our promise, fail to establish the necessary support system to fulfill it, overcommit, lose motivation when the time arrives, or even forget that we made the promise in the first place. For instance, a simple illustration would be saying, "I'll call you at 5:00 pm," but neglecting to set a reminder alarm, causing 5:00 pm to pass by unnoticed, breaking our word unintentionally.

Our addictive demand for honesty in others is driven by our own lack of honesty with ourselves

We desire to indulge in and reap the immediate advantages of forming expectations that deviate from the reality of our understanding of how the world operates. This allows us to experience a false sense of security in the present, lending an illusion of predictability to our lives, and prematurely celebrating our successes. We are reluctant to relinquish these advantages that we persistently enjoy by deceiving ourselves through the expectations we cultivate.

Therefore, we try to "force" our expectations to be true by putting our focus on trying to make sure others don't lie to us.


We are hypocrites. And it's worse. Others may lie to you. But you are lying to yourself. 

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