(This article is Part Two of a 3-part Trust Trilogy.)
In Part One of the Trust Trilogy, The 3 Elements of Trust: How Do You and Your Partner Stack Up?, did you examine the level of trustworthiness you demand in a partner? Where did you end up on the topic of white lies?
Most everyone will bend the truth when our perceived survival or reputation is at stake. If deception can save us—we will likely fib. Pamela Meyer, fraud investigator and author of “Lie Spotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception,” says, “We are all liars.” Ouch!
And get this, we are also willing to be lied to if we get what we want—lies can connect us to our fantasies. Beauty, wealth, status, peace of mind, fame, love, and romance are all deep desires and therefore areas where one might be vulnerable and get seduced.
Consider these scenarios as they relate to one’s vulnerable areas in life:
- There is a commercial that promises to ERASE the puffiness under the eyes—instantly!
- There is a pill whose manufacturer swears you will not need exercise, just one pill, and the extra pounds will disappear.
- Shampoos, conditioners, and potions that promise to keep your hair from falling out.
And these when developing relationships:
- There is a person notorious for never following through but promises “this time you can count on me.”
- Your spouse has an affair but promises it will never happen again.
- Money disappears from your bank account, but the culprit swears it was just a loan.
Consider the Netflix series based on real events, “Dirty John.” Debra goes on a blind date with a man she met on the Internet. The lies he tells are evident to the viewer and her family, but there is something she yearns for, and John is a master at fulfilling that yearning, so she chooses to believe him.
Do not overlook the warning signs:
If your friends and family have concerns about the person you are with, it pays to look twice—you may be seeing what you want to see.
Though it might be fair to say that we all value honesty and want to be honest, we sometimes value other qualities more, and even at the same time—qualities like loyalty, kindness, and sensitivity. When these become at odds with honesty, we will almost always resort to a white lie—white lie being defined here as dishonesty for another person’s sake. The real questions we should ask ourselves when preparing to lie to the one we love: Who does this lie protect? Does it protect my partner or is it protecting me?
That might be a slippery slope. Lying, when habitual, makes the liar unable to be vulnerable in the relationship. When we lie, we are putting a wall between us and the person we are lying to. There are consequences for this dishonesty. Even if we are lied to for our own good, we struggle to feel all right about it. It disrupts our belief that we are on a level playing field, and studies show that a level playing field is universally important to all of us.
“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on, I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
I wonder, then, if both parties are dishonest in the same way, does that foster trust?
- If both agree on what’s gossip and what’s just fun talk at another’s expense, does that foster trust?
- Or, taking it to an extreme, if both agree that taking what does not belong to them is okay, will that foster trust?
Studies seem to indicate YES, provided the couple maintains a higher standard with one another; that is, you can be dishonest for us, just do not be dishonest with me. A Couple’s Code of Honor—honor among thieves, means that even corrupt or criminal individuals can follow some form or code of honor, morality, justice, or ethics, for the benefit of everyone involved. Trust, then, is a direct parallel to one’s perception of trustworthiness and the couple’s own unique moral code. A good place to begin building trust with your partner is to determine your moral code as individuals and as a couple and where you draw the line. (And do not lie about it!)
Thomas Kuster started his coaching career in 1995. He has trained inside the work of Peter K. Gerlach Parts and the internal family, Patricia McDade Consulting Alliance, and is certified through HeartMath Institute and the Awakening Coaching Alliance. His systematic approach The Heart Path along with his unique point of view helps couples and individuals see new possibilities for their relationships. A regular contributor to All Ageless and Thrive Global. (www.thestagesoflove.com)