I am taking a course right now in Psychotherapy, and there are some great recordings I've been able to listen to. The most recent one is an interview with Dr. Ellen Bader, co-author of Tell Me No Lies. There is some incredibly rich and enlightening information in this recording and in this book regarding relationships, lies, and how to self-reflect in our own partnerships.
A study was done in which it was discovered that more men than women wish for more honesty within their relationships. This has surprised some, given the recent occurence with the Ashley Madison site. The Ashley Madison site was hacked, and it was discovered that the vast majority of members were men, and that a large amount of the female profiles were fake. The founder of the company itself is noted as having said, "People are more willing to cheat than to be honest". Key points from today's lecture:
There are four main types of lies we see in relationships. In the early stages, partners tell "Loving Lies". These are used to create bonds with each other. They are also used to build up the others' self esteem, or to promote the illusion of similarity. People are generally very mute about topics that they feel may get their partner riled up. We tend to see people very positively in the beginning, and it isn't always based in a solid reality.
Some people may be addicted to the illusion, and they just move on continuously from one partner to another. In order to sustain a healthy relationship, it is common to experience a bit of a grieving process in which we learn to accept our partner as they really are. We take them off of their pedestal and learn to be with them as they are.
The second stage of lies is "The Dark Side of the Honeymoon". Couple start building up conflict-avoiding lies. This includes saying something you don't really mean, or agreeing with something you don't really agree with. We tend to ward off rejection, or we may not have role models or experience in knowing how to bring things up that need to be addressed.
There is differentiation, while partners sit still and really listen to the wants, needs, and desires of their partner. Many people often say to their partner, "You're not the same person I married". Well, none of us are. Passive-aggressive lies can begin to dig us a deep pit, for example, one partner says things like "Sure, I'll clean the garage", while having no true intent to do it.
There is also something called Felony Lies, where a partner may challenge the sanity of the other - particularly when that partner is caught at being dishonest. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners is also considered a Felony Lie, or having an affair in which lots of money is given to the affair partner, or an attachment with the children is made to the affair partner without the children realizing who it is they're getting attached to.
There are times where a felony liar has told loads and loads of lies, but the partner has also discouraged any real truth telling. This is where the real intricacies of clinical work come into play. Partners really need to ask themselves, how much honesty and authenticity do they really want? And if they really want a truly honest relationship then they need to be willing to look at the sorts of defenses they use that get in the way of them having the type of relationship they really want to have.
None of us when we come into a committed relationship have the emotional muscle that it really takes to have an honest relationship. We have to learn a lot about being able to tell the truth, but we also have to learn a lot of being able to hear the truth. A person really has to be willing to internally self-reflect. It is a trial and error process, because very few of us learned these skills in our families of origin.
Truth telling takes personal self revelation, and it takes courage. It is inevitable that you are going to hear things that you don't want to hear. Will you be able to hold still, and ask high caliber questions? It takes a lot of skill to handle ambiguity, and to let your partner know that you can handle the truth. Women tend to say, "I want an honest relationship". Yet, when the husband is honest with something even as simple as saying "I'd rather watch the football game", they get clobbered. Most people with lie invoking behavior are completely unaware of it. When you have classic lie inviting behavior, it really inhibits honesty.
In our society, it has somehow become normal and expected for the partner being lied to, to leave the marriage. It is common to be harsh and blame the spouse for being weak, or a doormat. How is it that it is more acceptable to bring children into a broken situation, rather than to give something time to heal and see where it can go? There are many variables in a situation like this of course. We need to recognize the impact we are having on other people.
The key is to stay conscious of being a positive way that you say you want to be. Be aware of where you may be falling short, but also put reshaping into practice. Confronting lies is also key, but there are skills with which this can be done in a healthy fashion. Some examples of these are:
Phew! Well, I won't give away all of the good stuff here, but here is the link to the book again.
If you are interested in checking this course out for yourself, please do so by going here.
Much love and many blessings on your journey!
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