When Does the Truth Help or Hurt in a Relationship?

shutterstock_256158817One of the main behaviors that can compromise a relationship is a significant lie. Poll after poll shows we detest liars. And psychologists will tell you that telling the truth, even if it is uncomfortable, is the best way to build up the bond of trust. They will also tell you that people lie an average of three times within any ten minute conversation. Robert Feldman, Ph.D. is a professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He says the number one reason people lie is spare the feelings of another. These are little white lies. We just don’t want to say anything that may cause another confusion, hardship, or pain. For some, the same is true in their relationship. You see it in the woman who drinks coffee as her husband fixes it, secretly wishing for years he would add just a little less milk, but never saying so, or the husband who endures a pet name from his wife, who inside gets pangs every time she calls him it. We sometimes don’t speak up, or lie to give in to what we think our partner wants. But in the end, we are just hurting ourselves, and not being honest with them. At other times, being brutally honest with our partner or spouse can hurt them, yet, add nothing to the relationship. So how do we know when the truth helps or hurts?

Err on the side of the truth. There is no reason to lie about how you like your coffee, or agreeing you like a certain performer that you can’t stand, just to get into someone’s good graces. Bigger lies will poison a relationship, such as infidelity or addiction in one’s past. It is best when things start turning serious to sit the person down and tell them, if you have something concerning in your past. The longer you let it go, the worse it gets. When you hide such things, you have to know that sooner or later they will find out, and it will be devastating to hear it from someone else instead of from your own lips. If your partner is wrapped up in a new hobby or something that doesn’t interest you in the least, do not feign interest. But you don’t have to be brutally honest, if you say think it is the most boring thing in the world. If you and your partner disagree on religion. Say one person is religious and the other an atheist. The atheist shouldn’t feel the need to tell their partner how ridiculous they think their religion is, or vice-versa. If it is just an opinion and that opinion will hurt your partner, without improving the relationship one iota. Keep any severe opinions to yourself. You can just say, “It’s not for me.”

Some people consider lying as a normal part of courtship or dating. In one study 147 people were surveyed. Participants were between the ages of 18 and 71. All of them admitted to lying to their partner at least one-third of the time. In another study, psychologists found that men and women lied in relationships for different reasons. While women generally lied to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings, men usually fibbed to improve the impression they gave. Sorry guys, but all truths are revealed in time. Sooner or later she is going to find out, and be disappointed. The best thing you can do is to evaluate what you are going to say before you say it. You want to be completely honest on the things that matter. You don’t want to swallow a lie on something inconsequential however, and endure some injury from it, like the wife and the coffee. But you don’t want to hurt your partner’s feelings with the truth, without they, you, or the relationship seeing any gain from it. Just keep negative opinions to yourself, or better yet formulate them in a positive light. “It’s not my thing, but I can see why you are interested in it.” Otherwise, be completely forthright and you’ll have a lot to talk about and work through, but you’ll also be building a deep understanding and a close and loving relationship. If you’re okay what you’re saying, but on the lookout for mistruths from the other side read, Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage by Paul Ekman.

Ending the Affair

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Ending the Affair

An affair can be so edifying, passionate, and you may find the person you are having it with irresistible. But infidelity can also tear your life apart. If you are thinking of switching up, think carefully. Will you be able to trust them? Will they trust you? The one you are cheating with may not have the best long term relationship qualities to begin with. They cheated with you after all, what makes you think they won’t do it again when things get too tough? It’s best to end the affair. But it must be done in the proper manner. Only if you are determined can you put an end to it.

It may be comforting to have a place to go to when your spouse or live-in partner doesn’t understand you or ignores you. But sooner or later they are bound to find out about the affair and blow everything wide open. If your relationship is too far gone and you’ve tried everything you can to fix it, with little success, perhaps it’s time to end that too. Usually, an affair is caused for some reason. The cheater isn’t getting their needs met in the primary relationship. Determine what needs aren’t being met. Is it intimacy, appreciation, or fulfillment? See if you can reinvest in your primary relationship to have your needs met and reconnect. But if not, perhaps consider ditching them both and starting over from scratch. You may be happier in the long run.

Turn to a trusted friend for support. It can be really difficult going through something like this by yourself. Having a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board and someone to give you advice is the thing you need. Instead of focusing on the positive aspects focus on the negative ones. Break off the affair in your head first and start thinking about it as over. Look for the shortcomings and problems with the person you are having the affair with and the affair itself. It’s time to change your mind set about it. If all you want to do is be with that person, even though you know it’s the wrong decision, you have to start having a negative outlook on it. Once your mind has turned from enjoying to reviling the affair it will be easier to sever the ties to that person. Get rid of all the mementos and signs that an affair has occurred. Erase the text messages. Sell the gifts and tokens. Delete the secret file on your computer of you two together.

Have a face-to-face meeting with your lover. Make it someplace public so that they won’t make a scene. Explain to them how much you enjoyed it but that you need to end it and the reasons why. Let them know that you are cutting off all contact. Once you’ve explained yourself get out of there. Avoid getting back into the affair. Remember that just because you’ve changed the affair’s status in your mind doesn’t mean they have. They could call and plead, beg, even use blackmail to force you to see them. Resist or find yourself in the same situation all over again. For more advice read, How to End an Affair: Stop Cheating with Proven Steps to Infidelity Recovery by Eugene Marks.

Drifting Apart

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Drifting Apart

It stuns you when you first realize that you and your sweetie, you seemed like the perfect couple, are drifting apart. Sometimes just as perfectly as you fell for each other, as if it were only natural an event like a natural disaster, an earth shattering union over which the two of you had no control. But just as powerfully so too can each party find forces pushing them apart, and these can occur just as naturally and as inexplicably.

Sometimes we end up in a comfortable relationship that has no future. This kind of relationship has dueling emotions inside you. On the one hand you have your life goals. On the other you love this person and perhaps fear being single again and facing a big, black who-knows-what. Sometimes the fear of the unknown makes us stay in an uncomfortable situation. But the problem with that is we die a little inside for we are born to seek out our dreams. Scientists have proven that parts of the brain showing good, sound judgment shutdown when we fall in love. As the relationship progresses more and more we get to learn about our partner and deal with their shortcomings, and our own.

Once you have that down, you think you’ve got it all figured out. And you’ll live happily ever after. Or not. More likely it will be like a series of hurtles you’ll have to jump over. You’ll dodge them and do okay. Once in a while you’ll have a victory to celebrate. At other times a defeat to mourn. But when people have different priorities or if their values change, as are natural to do over time you can find the couple naturally drifting apart. The question is how far is this drift going to go? Can you relate to one another anymore? Is there trust and respect? Can you build a deep bond of connection and intimacy despite these differences? Each couple has to decide for themselves. It takes a big conversation.

Some long term couples and married couples decide to live together despite their differences. They share what they can but each also enjoy their separate lives. Others seek out a partner who fulfills all of their needs. Then there are those who try to change their lover, or spurn them for not being the person they fell in love with to begin with. Instead, talk about it. Discuss the drift. See when it occurred and why it occurred. Figure out if it makes sense to stay together and share your life together or perhaps you’ve grown too different after all. For more advice read, Help! My Spouse and I Are Drifting Apart by Dr. Bill Maier and Mitch Temple.

Unhealthy Relationship Warning Signs

jelaous-man

Unhealthy Relationship Warning Signs

Do you know the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship? You’d better or else you could be in one and not even know it. Sure you might feel deep down something is wrong. But you’d be surprised how many people chug along in a relationship that is weighing them down or slowly poisoning them psychologically and they don’t even realize it. Here are the warning signs, see if you recognize them in your own relationship. First, what is the lying situation like?

Are you lying about small things? Do you tell a web of lies, one to cover up another and so on? If you aren’t a pathological liar by nature, then it is likely serious issues in the relationship that are making you lie. What about your partner? Are they lying all the time too? If you suspect they are lying, even on small matters, or worse if you’ve given up on whether they are being truthful or not, your relationship is rocky at best. Once the bond of trust has been severed, it’s hard to restore it. The next warning sign is infidelity. If one or both of you have gone astray, not only has the trust bond been severed but you’ve both been hurt emotionally. And what caused the cheating to begin with? This is a serious warning sign.

Do you have a secret goal that you wish your partner would achieve? If you have secret desires for them you haven’t shared, then go ahead and share them. Sit down with them and see if they want to commit to accomplishing whatever it is you have in mind. But to harbor them and have them affect you, thereby affecting the relationship, is a poor way to conduct yourself and it hurts your partner without either one of you knowing it. When they aren’t living up to some imagined expectation you punish them, even though they have no idea why. Is there jealousy issues? If you or your partner try to cut the other down, say separate someone from their friends because they are popular, or trying to get them fired because they are successful, a toxic jealousy has crept into the relationship. This will drive you two apart if it isn’t dealt with.

Being overly insecure and jealous of the opposite sex is another red flashing, warning sign. When you aren’t feeling any emotional intimacy the relationship is down the tubes. Reestablish it by reconnecting, or drift apart. If there is no sex in the relationship, this is a big sign that problems are deep and profound. Do you or your partner set each other up for a fall, just to say, “I told you so”? This is a warning sign that things aren’t going well. Find ways to turn this relationship around or get out of it. For more advice read, Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Dr. Robert Hemfelt, Dr. Frank Minirth, and Dr. Paul Meier.

Dealing with a Relationship that’s complicated

a problematic couple

Dealing with a Relationship that’s complicated

Sometimes you meet someone. Things move along smashingly well. Little problems come up and you try to accommodate them. Then more problems come up and you are trying to deal with or accommodate them more and more until you are just overwhelmed. You’re dealing with a relationship that’s complicated but you don’t even realize it, since each problem seemed to creep up slowly, all on its own. Some people are in denial about the complications in their relationship due to how emotionally attached they are to a person. The truth is that dealing with so many complications can leave you exhausted. And are both people getting equal time and energy bestowed upon them?

There are all kinds of things that can complicate a relationship. There are someone’s pet peeves coming to bare one right after another. Working through infidelity can make a relationship very complicated. Sometimes insecurities can creep in. Falling out of love, squabbling, or hurt feelings on both sides can all make a relationship difficult. Manipulation or neediness can also complicate a relationship. Once things get complicated, it can be draining, and a lot of hard work. Relationships are supposed to be fun. But if yours is weighing you down, think about whether you’ll be ending it or trying a new tactic to renew your relationship.

No problems in any relationship are solved merely by dwelling on them. Each relationship is different and brings with it different problems. However, the issues you bring to the relationship are the same. Start to realize what emotional baggage you have from past relationships or from your parents and how they affect this relationship. Does this tie in or exacerbate the complications? Next, approach your partner. Pick a good time to talk about the situation. Put your electronic devices and all other distractions to the side and invest some time into talking about the issues. Get rid of blame. Jettison shame. Talk about how you feel. Ask how your partner feels about that and start a beneficial dialogue going.

If you have too many big problems perhaps tackle a little one, celebrate that success and use the momentum to try and affect a larger problem. If the problems are too difficult, if your partner is hurting you or taking advantage of you in some way, if the patient is dead with no hope of revival, or you feel that you give and give and get nothing in return, then don’t be afraid to break up with the person. Give it your best shot. But when it’s not worth it or doesn’t feel right any more learn to walk away and cut your losses. For more advice read, Women Are Crazy, Men Are Stupid: The Simple Truth to A Complicated Relationship by Howard J. Morris & Jenny Lee.