Many of us want deep intimate relationship with others. We long for shared connections and affections involving our whole body, senses and mind because intimacy is part of a good life. Why does such communion seem so elusive? The question invokes ideals built mostly on social influences and our past. To be unaware of how we conceive intimate relationship leads to treating our questionable beliefs as fact. Let’s look at some problems and then solutions.
On one hand, the hope for something better drives human discovery; meaning trial and error. On the other, unrealistic expectations suck the life out of our love. We can’t ignore the valuable experience of the past. But if we mistake our beliefs as evidence about ourselves, then questioning those beliefs becomes a threat. Beliefs affect our expectations. If we destroy good things today trying to achieve something unrealistic in a future, we lose. Expectations involve a future, and we imagine any future. How many good things do we miss while blinded by expectations?
It’s a problem that many of us believe in the usefulness of lies including omissions of truth.
When we lie, we predict the future.
The lie is trying to control an outcome. We cling to an image in our mind that seems to justify our deceit. I recently argued with a woman therapist who counsels people about intimate relationship. I said that commitment provides no security. I used her own divorce to make my point. Regardless, she maintained that ‘the illusion of security allowed her to trust her husband while married and that made some good things possible.’ She trusted something untrue because of how it made her feel.
The people who trust lies may be well-intentioned or purely usurious. The belief that deceit is just easier, expedient, or makes quick gains blinds us to the deferred cost. This problem goes beyond intimate relationship, it involves politics, social beliefs, and even climate change. A war necessitates Machiavellian tactics, but to trust such tactics in any intimate relationship seems dubious. Such deceit makes at least one absurd assumption. That is… ‘When human beings adapt themselves to the world, as the world is NOT, the results are often better than they would otherwise be.
We see the short-term gains of Machiavellian tactics with relationships and oil companies, both lie to achieve a goal, but we anticipate eventual disaster in both. *Facts may demand cash now, give a short or long-term credit but the facts eventually enforce payment with penalties and interest. That’s the price of a lie. We may not pay it but others will. The next generations will pay for our truth neglect about climate change. In any intimate relationship, the cost and anguish due to deceit is difficult to measure. The cost is time of life wasted, that time we never get back. Add the cost of all the palliative diversions used to mitigate the suffering, add therapy, divorce, and moving etc. If children are involved, add their anguish. I say no! Lies are NOT easier.
Oranges are orange, but not everything orange is an orange.
We can conceive of good things about intimate relationship without being bound to the concepts. Remember, many things, good, neutral and bad, exist outside the scope of both our experience and imagination. When we treat the unknown as known, we treat other orange things ‘as if’ they were oranges. We do this in intimate relationship by finding some similarity with our past, and from that, we create for others an identity and begin reasoning from that concept as a fact. This is self-fulfilling prophecy.
The solution to our prejudices must take us beyond the past and that requires an open-mind and the ability to distinguish between something that gives us discomfort like awkwardness in the unknown and something destructive like abuse. Let’s see that other orange things exist besides oranges. We must now speak of principles because the unknown takes us beyond any road map. Each human interaction involves much that is unique.
Why is truthfulness risky in intimate relationship? Because giving the truth to a beloved offers them real choices while surrendering control of the outcome.
We must also value that the life in others does not exist to serve our little plans but rather to blossom on the vine of life. Why not embrace truthfulness and the discovery of good things that actually exist. Let’s free ourselves from the chains of our past. The unknown is awkward but that is not bad. Much happiness depends on our integrity; we correct ourselves when we see a fault, that means we adapt.
Adaptation is a positive relationship between living things and the reality around them. The further we are from the facts, the less we will be able to adapt. That’s why a love of truth is essential. Moreover, without new discovery we’re in a dead routine. Intimate relationship is an art. The truth invites our best adaptation to the world and we let go of imaginary control in any intimate relationship; that takes courage.
Without truth, any relationship lacks intimacy.
Again the truth gives others real choices. Choice itself is not freedom but freedom is meaningless without choices. We see the value in truthfulness, fairness, empathy and a willingness to risk while knowing full well that human fallibility is a part of what we must adapt to in this art of love. We discover our own capacity to be boldly truthful, free-spirited, kind, intelligent and generous lovers.
By Todd Vickers
*Tip of the hat to Robert Briffault, Psyche's Lamp