“Do I look fat in this dress?”
For centuries, women have been asking men catch-22, impossible questions. We want reassurance, but then we freak out when they give us the brutal truth. ~smile~ From early on in our marriage, Eric assured me that he would always tell me the truth. It sounded great! That is… until I asked him a question and he responded with an answer I did not appreciate.
Thankfully, I cannot remember the first time this happened – I just know it happened. I asked a question looking for affirmation and instead received the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Of course, I was hurt (or at least annoyed) by his response; but, I knew the truth!
Yes, this outfit does not flatter me.
Perhaps that post could have been better written.
No, I should never make Hawaiian tuna again. [Actually, we agreed on this one!]
Growing up in the South, I became adept at lying to spare people’s feelings. Though I am not proud of it, I did not know any other way to handle those awkward moments – it was culturally ingrained. After all, hurting others’ feelings was never an option – unless I was angry with the person. ~wink~ Not to mention, everyone around me appeared to practice polite lying! (There were few Eric types in my circle growing up!)
How do you answer honestly when your friend’s hair really does look terrible and she asks you if you like her new hairstyle? What if leopard skin really does not suit her, but she is covered head to toe in it and wants your opinion on her new and “improved” look? What if he asks you, “How did I do on my solo?” and you know the truth would crush him?
Is It Possible that Eric’s Brutal Honesty Actually Made Me Feel More Secure?
Due to my Southern “bless your heart” background, I was not used to blunt honesty; so, not surprisingly, (at times) it made me mad! I mean, really – how dare he answer me honestly when I am clearly looking for a compliment?!
Yet, something strange happened after my first few collisions with his honesty. My trust in him skyrocketed. Why? Because if a man (or woman) is brave enough to honestly tell you how you look in something, how your meal tasted, or how you need to improve in your vocation, he is brave enough to always be honest.
I quickly learned to only ask questions to which I wanted honest answers. Seldom do I ask him how I look in something. ~smile~ Though, I don’t want to paint a negative picture of him. He is not cruel. He does not offer the truth in a mean-spirited way; but, when I know I am only in search of a compliment, I am careful not to ask him questions that could lead to hurt feelings.
Really, it is unfair to back people into a corner and make them choose between lying and enduring our wrath. I want us all to take special care in how we ask questions. In fact, we would do well to ask ourselves these questions before posing sensitive questions to others:
- Am I seeking an honest answer?
- Will I be angry with this person if he or she gives me an answer I do not like?
- Am I looking for validation?
- Will the answer to this question help me in a practical way?
- Will I be potentially harming my relationship with this person by asking this question?
Truly Sweet Words
Because I trust Eric to always tell me the truth, I find his compliments to be far sweeter. Knowing how easy it is for people to lie to spare my feelings, I sometimes mistrust kind words. I almost never ask people for their opinions of me (e.g., What did you think of that post from Wednesday? How did the music sound last Sunday? What do you think of this outfit?, etc.). For one, I do not want to put them in an uncomfortable situation; and secondly, I am not sure I want to know the truth! Waiting for others to volunteer kind words and accolades is far safer! ~smile~ (And, I still need to work on believing them.)
When Eric says, “I really liked your post today,” or “That is a really nice shirt,” I know he means it. That level of honesty is a blessing to my heart and I encourage you and your special someone to adopt the same policy in your relationship and future marriage (we call ours the Honestly-Only policy). It is worth hearing a few stinging answers along the way to develop that level of trust.
Sometimes the Truth Does Not Have to Be Spoken
Here is one quick note for you lovers-of-truth out there (you know who you are ~wink~). Sometimes, the truth does not need to be shared. Having an honestly-only policy in your relationship does not mean you point out every flaw for the sake of being honest. When asked a question, you can answer truthfully… but kindly. When your sweetheart is about to embarrass himself or herself, say something in private (e.g., that song may not be quite ready to perform, your shirt has a few holes in it, this meal is extremely salty and you may not want to serve it to company, etc.). But, in those moments when pointing out a flaw is unnecessary or not beneficial, it is okay to let it go. If you highlight everything, you will eventually overwhelm and discourage your partner and they will tune you out.
In short, I appreciate Eric’s consistent honesty and I appreciate that he typically holds his tongue unless I specifically ask him for his opinion. ~smile~ His flattering remarks are sweeter because I know he does not say anything he does not mean. Are you ready and excited to bring that kind of security to your relationship?
Do you and your sweetheart have an honesty-only policy?