Can honesty ever be bad for a relationship?
Yes, there are some risks to being honest in a relationship. Your partner may not like what they hear. Their reaction may be intense enough that it costs you the relationship. We understand that at times being honest seems too risky. Especially if it is something you have been lying about for a while.
Do you have secrets? Were there small lies that you told early on that now you’re unsure how to correct? You may have behaviors you are engaged in that you have been keeping hidden. Perhaps you have already been denying your behaviors, how do you now come clean?
As clinician’s, we often encourage people to consider the worst case scenario that could occur with telling the truth. It is true that in some situations, being honest will destroy the relationship. In other situations, it can destroy livelihoods and lifestyles. We would be remiss if we didn’t encourage anyone to consider the grave impact honesty could have.
Still, we and other relationship experts would encourage you to consider what you are actually gaining if you choose to be dishonest about something in your relationship.
When you are dishonest in your relationship, you are not truly engaged in a deep and meaningful relationship. Your partner has been denied the chance to fully know the true you. When you are dishonest in your relationship, it becomes less deep and meaningful to you. It keeps you at a distance. Unconsciously the relationship has less value to you than it did before you were dishonest. Being dishonest is the act of not being in a relationship.
So, yes honesty could sometimes be bad for a relationship, but dishonesty is always bad for relationships.
An affair or cheating is a common challenging lie. You can explore more about the ways that deceiving a partner doesn’t lead to a better relationship. Read a great summary at psychalive.org about Deception and the Destruction of Your Relationship.