The general advice for romantic relationships is, if you want it to last, be completely honest. But after talking to a friend, she suggested that feelings and situations can make us say hurtful things. We may feel different in an hour. So sometimes, honesty isn’t the best policy. I would say it’s good wisdom, but not a good rule.

I’m writing this post having recently interviewed Aukelien about her new book, dare to date (Read her interview here). It was great to hear about her work and how God is using her to help others in this important area.

Does Total Honest Always Help?

As we were chatting we went off on a tangent, as you do. She said a throwaway line that didn’t make it into my post. We were talking about how, in dating, people need to be kind because the dating culture has forgotten how to treat people well in many ways. Then she said:

‘And that may mean not being completely honest all the time’.

It’s intriguing because that advice goes against everything we get taught about good healthy relationships

Naturally, I was thrown a bit by this comment. Luckily we were skyping, and I could blame my high eyebrows on a dodgy internet connection that makes the screen skip. But this really did throw me.

It’s intriguing because that advice goes against everything we get taught about good, healthy relationships. We’re told to be honest and tell each other everything if we want it to last. And I believe that. Which is why I asked her what she meant.

Feelings vs. Character

Aukelien proceeded to reply with the words to the effect of, that in a counselling session, her counsellor told her not to tell her new boyfriend everything. Aukelien said at the start she was having doubts, like many people do at the start of a new relationship. She thought it was best to share them with her boyfriend and describe all of her feelings to him.

The character of a person, who they are… that’s more stable

However, her counsellor challenged her. The counsellor said that feeling can’t always be trusted. Feelings, like doubt, can come and go. Hormones and situations can also change and affect us. So what we believed an hour ago because of a feeling may change. The feelings we have can be fleeting.

But the character of a person, who they are, the way they act, and how they treat you day after day, that is something that’s more stable and foundational.


Helpful Advice?

I do think that there is something helpful in these words. I mean, it’s true that feelings are unstable sometimes. The character and ongoing behaviour of a person is more stable.

That’s why sometimes initial attraction and romance fizzles out once we get to really know a person. Or doubts about dating someone who isn’t ‘my type’ reduce, and romance grows as we get to see someone’s good qualities over time.

But does this mean we don’t need to be honest all the time?

The problem is, we get taught that romantic feelings are the only part of a good and happy relationship. They are part of it, you need an emotional and romantic connection, but it’s not the only part. Trust, respect, how you treat each other, is all part of it too.

But does this mean we don’t need to be honest all the time?

Good wisdom vs. A Good Rule

I did reflect on this for a long time. I think it’s very good wisdom, but not a good rule.

At the start of a new relationship for example, a couple still getting to know each other and build trust will naturally have some doubt and worries. They’re different to a couple that have been together for years, and the couple who have been married for decades.

Total honesty is something we should head towards

Trust grows over time. Feeling safe enough to be totally honest grows over time. Being sure how you feel about someone grows over time. So it is different for people just beginning a relationship, but total honesty is what we need to head towards.

Applying Wisdom

I would say that not being totally honest about the range of feelings at the very start of a relationship, when we may have a mixture of excitement and doubts, may help. Because the doubts may have indeed gone away by tomorrow as we get to know each other more. And revealing all may be hurtful and unnecessary.

However, communication is key, and if negative feelings persist then that will need to be communicated fairly and honestly. (Read Dating Someone? Commitment Assumptions Can Cause Cracks.)

Also, I would stress that total honesty is something we should head towards in our romantic relationships. A married couple, people who have been dating for a long time, should trust each other enough to be vulnerable and support each other. But it is true to say that this will take time. I’m sure Aukelien would agree.

Imagine if…

Imagine if we were told, and told others, to date in a way which heads towards trust and honesty. To build a relationship based on romantic feelings as well as character, treating each other well, and trust. But realised building trust takes time, and sometimes we need to wait for a day or so to work out how we really feel at the very start of a new relationship.

The next time you or a friend who is dating, expresses doubt or bad feelings, think about some of the other things that are important to building a good relationship. Reflect on whether or not these things are lacking, to help put some of the feelings into perspective.

When do you think total honesty should occur in a relationship? Comments Welcomed below 

Originally posted 1/2/2017