Recently I’ve been reflecting on past relationships I have had in virtual worlds. One of the things swirling around in my brain is the subject of honesty. Honesty in relationships is an extremely complicated idea. I’m writing this journal entry mainly for my own sake, to help me get it sorted out in my head.
How many couples say to one another, “Let’s be completely honest”? And how many couples actually are completely honest with each other? Not many, I’m betting.
The truth is that everyone lies. People lie for lots of reasons—some of them good reasons. It would be a mistake to cast all lies in the same light. Some lies are harmless; others are hurtful. Most lies swim in the gray area in between.
Fantasy role-playing could technically be considered a lie. Those of us in virtual worlds adopt an appearance and sometimes a persona that may or may not resemble our “real” selves. We operate under a social contract in which we all agree to suspend our disbelief about this. Some people are better at it than others. Some people look straight past your avatar and only want to know the “real” you. Others easily accept the fantasy avatar you have created. Is fantasy dishonest? Or is it playful?
Beyond fantasy, virtual worlds are a hotbed of deceit. Lying is far too easy. We can cover up where we are, and what we are doing, and with whom. We hide our online status. Knowing that no one can see our location, we feel free to invent stories about where we are. “I’m talking with a friend.” “I’m shopping.” “I’m checking something out.” Or, for total privacy, we just create an alt, and do as we please without detection. I know of at least one person who has a partner, and also a sex alt the partner doesn’t know about. I expect there are thousands of others in exactly the same situation. It almost seems to be the norm in virtual worlds.
Personally, I sometimes lie to preserve my privacy. When writing online profiles I usually say that I live in NYC. I don’t. I live near NYC, and I do spend time there, but I don’t live there. I don’t really want strangers to know where I live. I think that is a fairly smart lie and I doubt many would disagree.
“Privacy lies” happen when someone is pressuring you to reveal something about yourself that is actually none of their business. The response “that’s none of your business” might be counter-productive—it might actually increase your interrogator’s curiosity. Telling them something else may call off their prying. Are “privacy lies” good or bad? Rather than focusing on the morality of the lie, it would be better to examine the thing you are lying about, and decide whether it is hurtful.
That leads me to the “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings” lie. Sometimes this type of lie is actually compassionate, or at least benign, like when he assures her that she doesn’t look fat in those pants. But most of the time it’s bogus. Let’s say he cheats on her, and lies to cover his tracks. She confronts him. He says “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” That’s bogus. The lie is not the issue. Clearly he didn’t mind hurting her feelings, because he cheated on her. That is what hurt her. The lie is extra. Lying about it is the secondary issue that piles hurt onto hurt.
What if he’d had the courage to be honest with her long before? What if he’d had the courage to admit that he wasn’t feeling satisfied? That she wasn’t meeting his needs? That something had changed in their relationship, or in him? That type of honesty is extremely difficult. First it requires being honest with yourself. Most of us would rather placate ourselves with lies. “Things are basically fine.” “I do love her.” “I can control myself.” “I can live without it.” “I should be satisfied.” When we can’t even face the truth about ourselves, how can we hope to be honest with anyone else?
The idea of hurting someone we care about is extremely difficult for most of us. He may find it impossible to imagine saying to her, “I’m not satisfied. This relationship is not giving me what I need.” He pictures her ashen face, the hurt and disappointment he sees there, and he just can’t face it. He can’t bear the burden of having to hurt her with the truth. So he lies.
When there is a truth that would hurt our loved one if they knew about it, it’s natural to want to withhold it, or cover it up. The trouble is that this deception almost never works. Not facing a painful truth does not make the painful truth go away. It just sits there, eating away at the relationship and causing damage to both of you. For the sake of not hurting her, he decides to forego his happiness. Does he think she won’t sense that? Does he think that he won’t eventually be compelled toward something outside the relationship that does meet his needs? Does he think that won’t hurt her even more?
Others may feel differently, but speaking for myself, I would choose a painful truth over a comfortable lie every time. Hurt can be healed, but only when it’s faced. If you need something that you can’t get from me, let’s face that together. Give me some credit. If I love you, I want good things for you. I am not so selfish as to demand that you fake it, just so that I can pretend that everything is fine. I know that relationships are not black and white. I know you care about me, and that, at the same time, it’s also true that I cannot meet all your needs. So tell me the truth. Let’s face the next step.
At least, that’s how I’ve always preferred it.
What do you think?
3 thoughts on “Lies”
I agree, I would rather know the truth even if it hurts. Self-honesty is so elusive, isn’t it? I get so bound up under the tyranny of shoulds and oughts that I have trouble accepting uncomfortable truths about myself. It wasn’t easy to admit it when I was no longer in love with the one I was with, even when I desperately wanted to be in love with him. There is this fantasy about the perfect relationship, and admitting the truth to myself would shatter that fantasy. And when I can’t even be honest with myself how can I be honest with my lover? I had to face this not long ago. It took the impetus of falling in love with someone else before I could honestly face my own true feelings.
Lieing to protect the other persons feelings is often to cover up the “I don t want but I dont want any one else to have you ” syndrome -personal greed can evoke behavior in the other to justify withholding secrets protecting someone that way is insulting thier inteligence, and stagnates further, without considering the other person may be bored as well and even waiting for you to handle multi loving multi level truth without the sky falling or the overwieght ego especially lame if the lover already knows Lyand is quite intact watching you suffer into seperate multiples while doing her thinking, Unless true joy from withholding and seeking pleasure from “”needing to have to justfy need to find it anyplace”” is a delusion with benafits— then i see why ones lover would be have to be kept in emotional check mate protected “”source””expoited – used only to valadate needs not satisfy them was never even an option–thats a total set up—nutz. I am so glad my memory is slipping- and cant maintain lies , grudges or spite. like I used to my feet are on the ground im not falling so i can love what and whoever i want and even when they are monsters –Only the brave and the senile are craz to be a multi loving and be down for it. Its everyone’s right to lie and conveniant safe ifbut the truth is way way more fun–I’d gamble.
pretend the preceeding is a puzzle, fill in the random missing punctuation according to your own answers. Fun!