Relationship: Honesty with a partner is key

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When you know you can totally trust your mate, it removes a large potential for worry. It also builds your internal security so that you not only feel good about your partner, but you also feel better about life. Having an honest relationship creates a kind of buffer between you and the difficulties of the world. Having a mate you can trust and rely on also makes it easier to take those risks that help us grow.

Many people feel that little white lies, which may spare a partner some grief, are OK, and in some cases that's true. But you can't have a culture of honesty in a relationship just some of the time. If you tend to omit or color the truth so things look better, it could actually damage your relationship at a core level. Trying to "protect" a partner or just trying to avoid looking bad can create more trouble than it's worth. It is best to be above board in all your dealings.

When asked about what qualities they want in a partner, most people will list "honesty" among them. Unfortunately, most of us have had the experience of being lied to. When you have a relationship and a family, you need to know that everyone is on the same page, and this is hard to do unless both of you are being honest.

What honesty gives you is a great deal of comfort. Knowing you can implicitly trust your mate allows you to be your best self, and your relationship will continue to thrive because you are able to give each other the positive energy you need to navigate life's ups and downs.

Honesty is not just about telling the truth, either. It is also about telling the truth in a way that your partner will hear it and benefit from it. We all want to hear how great we are, of course, but we can also benefit from making some slight adjustments in how we do things. This is where a little honesty from someone you love and trust will help you make the small changes that can make your world a better place.

In this case, honesty needs to be tender. If you have to say something to your loved one that may be unsettling to him or her, I suggest you do it as gently as possible. "Brutal honesty" has gotten a lot of press lately, but I have seen it do more damage than good. You need to present your issues with some degree of kindness. If not, your message may be buried in an avalanche of hurt feelings. You will both be much more able to communicate if your hearts are not wounded in the process.

Honesty is a way of life, not just a behavior. Keeping it paramount in your relationship will bring in more good and keep the bad stuff at bay. Knowing you can totally trust one another helps a relationship work in the best way possible.

(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com .)
 

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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