There is hardly anyone who doesn’t expect their partner to be honest and transparent in their relationship. However, most of us have had moments when we hide things from our partner for the fear of being judged, fear of hurting them or fear of venturing into the unknown. If we have felt these fears, it is no surprise that our partners feel them too. However, if we avoid speaking the truth, we deny our partner to see some of the most vulnerable parts of us, and thus over a period of time our partner and us would have images of each other which are far from reality.
This need to hide our authentic self from others has crept into us quite early in our life when we experienced the difference between who we are and what we are expected to be. As a child, we were taught to be ‘good’ boys and ‘good’ girls. We were taught to behave in a way that is accepted by society. We were taught to say “I am fine” to every “How are you?” We were taught to say ‘yes’ even at times we didn’t want to. We were taught to hide our vulnerability. We were taught we are ‘good enough’ only if we ticked all this and more – which implied we are not ‘good enough’ as we are. This has created a split between who we are and what we had to be. In this process, we had to sacrifice a degree of freedom, spontaneity and vulnerability we were gifted with.
This split within us inevitably shows up in our intimate relationship too. Although we talk about the importance of truth and transparency in a relationship, we struggle with truth. We find it difficult to speak the truth when it is unpleasant – we fear embarrassment, rejection and abandonment. We find it difficult to be vulnerable, and face the consequence of speaking truth. We start to manage truth, use it to our convenience and rely on white lies that save us from the discomfort. This takes away the joy of intimacy from our relationships and promises us a false sense of safety and comfort.
We can expect our partners to be honest to us only to the extent we are honest to them. Only to the extent, we are honest to ourselves. Only to the extent, we create a space to listen to their truth without reacting to it. We need to remember that it takes courage for them to open up the vulnerable parts of their life; it is our responsibility to honour it despite what emotions it triggers within us.
If we allow ourselves to come out of the idea of who we are supposed to be, and embrace who we truly are – at least in our intimate relationships – we will discover the power of being authentic. It gives us the courage to offer ourselves completely to our partner rather than having to cover our imperfections. After all, intimacy is not a function of perfection, but of honesty and courage.
If we can dare to be honest to our partners – despite all our fears screaming at us - we will taste a rare flavour of intimacy we have been long craving for. Being honest or authentic doesn’t make our relationship easy, but it will definitely make it more raw, intimate and meaningful.