I am observing a relatively new romance. One partner has a lot of long-time friends of the opposite sex, the other partner is unhappy about that, most likely because of jealousy, insecurity or trust issues — or all three. Although the partner with friends is committed to the relationship, this situation has created a dilemma with a few options; in order to spend time with his/her friends, the partner has to:
- always include the other partner whenever he/she is going to be with/contact those friends
- tell the unhappy partner whenever he/she is going to be with/contact those friends and face an argument each time
- lie about seeing/contacting those friends
- end the friendships
- end the relationship
Obviously, a truly healthy relationship wouldn’t present this kind of problem — you’d trust your partner enough to know that his/friends are just that, friends, and not a threat. But, it again brings up the male-female friendship dilemma — can men and women truly be friends? — and it also brings up the “dilemma” of telling the truth.
Sometimes when we tell the truth, we get in trouble for it. That’s when we learn to lie.
The pattern is set when we’re kids — we do something wrong, we get busted by our parents and when we own up to it, we get punished. So being dishonest to various degrees becomes part of our fabric, a topic behavioral economics expert and professor at Duke University Dan Ariely discusses at length in his latest book, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves).
When I’ve looked back at various relationships in my past, I can see how my youthful insecurities may have set the stage for problems. We don’t have much experience in romantic relationships when we’re young; we learn as we go along, assuming we actually learn about the issues we ourselves bring to the romantic table.
But getting back to the newly in love couple, what’s the best advice we could offer?
Here’s what I’d say (assuming I was asked, that is):
I would advise the partner with the opposite-sex friends to be as transparent as possible, include the other partner whenever appropriate, to be worthy of his/her partner’s trust in real ways, and to communicate lovingly about what his/her needs are. Once you bring dishonesty into your relationship — even on such a seemingly small thing (not that trust is a “small” thing) — it has a ripple effect. It’s easy to lie; it’s much harder to be honest, which is weird but true.
That’s the kind of relationship/dating/marriage/divorce/cohabitation advice I’ll be dishing out on Wizpert, a new website that connects people with questions with people who may be able to help guide them to answers, and that is getting a lot of buzz. Stop by and check it out; maybe someone can help you solve a problem.
What advice would you give to whom and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.