Why Honesty Is Still The Best Policy In Dating
Although it is one of the great clichés of the English language, “honesty is the best policy” rings true when it comes to dating. As a man, you have every encouragement to mislead or lie to a woman. You are urged to do so not only by friends, but by the woman herself—because of her way of asking you questions designed to test you and her many machinations to gain the upper hand in the relationship. If you really like her and want to keep things going smoothly, you will be tempted to lie: not the little white lies that we all tell from time to time, but the kind of untruths that give her a thoroughly false idea of who you are and what you want.
No man—apart from sociopaths—sets out to mislead the woman they’re dating about their character, their values, and their goals in life. Such deception happens haphazardly, in the heat of the moment, without any intention of malice or forethought. You may be sitting in a nice, quiet wine bar, with an open window that allows a warm evening breeze to pass between you. You feel calm and relaxed, at peace with yourself and the world as you look into her pretty, perfectly shaped face. You can mind nothing but the many carnal joys you’ll enjoy with her later on in the evening. Then she asks you a question such as: “Where do you see us in 5 years?” or “Do you ever want to have kids?”
The answer that you give to these questions is likely to determine both the course of the evening and the direction of the relationship in general. You will want to hedge. Even if you have no intention of settling down with her or anyone else for a while, you will want to make it seem as though the two of you have a definite future together. Even if you have vowed never to have children, you will want to make it seem as though you can’t wait to be a father. It is the adrenaline of the moment that will push you to take such an attitude.
But what could you possibly gain from it? You will eventually be found out, and then you will be put in an even more embarrassing, and potentially heartbreaking, situation. It is best to be honest about such matters up front.
Of course, there are ways of saying things that get across your meaning without making you over-commit or look like an ass. One of the best question-response scenarios I ever heard was told to me by the pastor of my church when I was a young man. He himself was quite young—in his late 20s—bright, well-educated, and seen as a rising star in the larger national organization to which the church we went to belonged. He told me a story of an incident that happened when he was dating the woman who eventually became his wife. At one point she asked him: “Do you love me?” He was still in college at the time, and he neither wanted to commit to anything serious nor lose her as a girlfriend, so he responded: “I want to love you.” That’s one of the best come-backs to such a question that I’ve ever heard, and the best thing about it is that it worked; for he was able to finish undergrad and manage the relationship on his own terms and timeline.
The real life example above gives an idea of what I mean by honesty in a relationship. You ought to aim for language that is truthful and at the same time gentle and optimistic. If you receive the kind of questions posed in the hypotheticals I created, you might say something like this to the first of them: “I see us happy, however we end up.” And to the second: “At present I don’t; but age and the right woman might change my mind.” In both, you declare your present state of mind. But you leave open possibilities—and that is more than enough to keep the relationship going as you like it.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.