Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Sometimes Honesty Isn't the Best Policy...

A good friend of mine, Brittany, is going through a very difficult breakup. The relationship was long-distance and demanded a considerable amount of time and energy to maintain. Brittany felt like it was worth the multiple plane trips, expensive hotels, and weekends away from friends. She felt like she had found a "good guy" when she met Jonas.

But last Friday her good guy called her after work around 11 pm. He acted like everything was normal until the conversation took an unexpected turn and he began sobbing over the phone. Jonas confessed that he had sex with a co-worker at a recent convention and that he wanted to break-up with Brittany. Understandably, Brittany was shocked and devastated. She felt humiliated, enraged, and deeply sad. Not only did she have to deal with being dumped, but she also had to deal with the information that her boyfriend cheated.

When Brittany recounted the situation, she wondered out loud why Jonas would choose to tell her about the infidelity. "Wasn't it enough to breakup with me?" It felt like salt rubbed into a wound.

Usually I endorse honesty as the best policy in relationships. Honesty about feelings can lead to greater intimacy and strengthen a union. With that said, honesty frequently needs to be finessed--and diplomacy is important. It is even more important to understand why you feel the need to be honest with your partner. Ask yourself, "Why is it important that I share this information?" and "What are my motivations?" Also ask yourself how this revelation, whether small or large, will affect your partner.

But sometimes honesty is not the best policy. Telling your partner something like, "I really hate your cooking" probably will not strengthen the relationship (although it may lead to less cooking, which may be a secondary gain). If you are wielding some bit of truth as a weapon to hurt your lover, then honesty is the service of aggression is not the best tact. Similarly, if you feel compelled to confess a secret because you want to lessen your guilt or make yourself feel better, then you may cause your loved one unnecessary pain.

No comments: