Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?

10 02 2014
Photo: thescoutmasterminute.net

Photo: thescoutmasterminute.net

Last year I found myself in a situation that I’m sure many people who have dated more than one person can attest to — I’d gone on a few dates with a guy who was really nice, really sweet, clearly liked me and explicitly said he wanted to court me, and damn it, I felt absolutely no connection with him.

And I tried to — trust me.

Every time we went out and I had no desire to kiss him, I chided myself when I got home. “Hello,” I would say. “THIS is what you’ve been saying you wanted! A guy who’s respectful, who treats you nicely, who lives in your city, who has drive and ambition, and who even loves music as much as you do. What is the problem?”

The problem, I determined, was that as much as he checked off my criteria list, I just didn’t feel anything between us other than friendship. So after three dates, I decided I could no longer put off the inevitable. I needed to end things with him.

Now, I could have done this in several different ways. Some of my girls offered the suggestion of simply no longer responding to his calls and texts, making it clear through the process of Fading Out (or going ghost) that I was no longer interested. We’d only been on 3 dates, they said. So I didn’t really owe him anything. (And before you get on them for offering that suggestion, please note that both men and women engage in this practice.)

Still others suggested that I tell him something to the effect of “you know I’m just not in a place to date right now” or “I’m not really looking for anything serious right now.”

I could have even continued texting him but never making good on any plans, thus letting him know without ever saying it, that I wasn’t all that interested in seeing him again.

In the end, I chose to do neither of those. I picked up the phone and engaged in what I like to call a “hard conversation” — one of those uncomfortable talks no one really wants to have with someone else. I chose to tell him the truth. That as much as I wanted to like him because of how great of a guy he seemed to be, I wasn’t nearly as interested in him as I felt I should be for someone I was dating.

To his immense credit, he took the conversation in stride, and by the end of the call, we found ourselves laughing about something silly. But when I relayed the story to some of my friends, many of them felt that I was being mean or rude by saying what I said.

In fact some of them called me things like “bold” and “cold-hearted.”

I was caught off-guard by their responses, mostly because I’d grown up believing that most women felt like honesty was always the best policy. “Sure the truth may hurt now,” we’d say. “But I’d rather know the truth now than to become invested only to know it was based off a lie later.”

And so, if we expected honesty from others, then I assumed that meant we always engaged in the truth ourselves.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wasn’t all that different from my friends in my past approaches to dating. Hadn’t I given the excuse of “not having time to date” before when really I meant “I just don’t want to date you”? Hadn’t I excused myself out of relationships with people rather than ask the hard questions that I was afraid to get truthful responses to? Hadn’t I chosen to let a guy down “nicely” in the past as opposed to telling him that I just had no interest in being with him?

Heck, I still have a hard time telling the nice, but not cute guy on the street that I’m not interested in giving him my phone number — so instead, I say that I have a boyfriend. A lie.

I choose on a consistent basis to lie to someone when I walk down U Street as opposed to saying, actually sir — I’m not attracted to you. And I do that because I’m concerned about the same thing my friends chided me on about my conversation with the guy last year — that I will come off as rude or mean. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Which begs the question — while we say that honesty is the best policy, do we actually believe it? Or is it more accurate to say that honesty is the best policy unless it will make either of us uncomfortable?

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4 responses

10 02 2014
29tolife

I’m going through this. There is a guy who is really nice, and I actually wouldn’t mind being friends with him, but I get the feeling he wants more. I’ve been on like three dates with him and I’m not sparking with him like that. We haven’t kissed. I blow off phone calls and I’m just terrible.

Maybe I should gather up some courage and just tell him the truth. I’ve been leaning more towards the fade out. It also doesn’t help that I may be way more interested in someone else… so he kind of doesn’t have a chance. Ugh.

10 02 2014
dbaham

It’s hard, right? Because the last thing you want to do is hurt someone’s feelings who did nothing wrong except not be the person you are really into. But I don’t know — I think I’m leaning towards always going the honest route these days. It just seems like the more upstanding thing to do. And plus, you know, relationship karma freaks me out.

It’s also because I know how much the fade out sucks on the other end, so I’ve been really trying to look at the way I deal with people from the other side these days. So if I wouldn’t want the guy to fade out on me, then why would I do it to him? Or if I would want him to just be honest with me and say, “you know what – you’re a great girl, but I’m just not feeling this.” Then I think I owe that to next the person.

Now the tricky part comes in if you’re not that person who wants the honest response lol. And not everyone does, so that’s certainly no judgment. Some folks would rather not deal with the uncomfortable conversation on either end and just take the social queue that it’s over.

Good luck deciding what to do! But I definitely think you already know that you’re not feeling dude as much as you would like, and definitely not as much as the other guy. So whatever you decide, there’s probably not much need to drag it out any further.

10 02 2014
brenda

I thought your conversation with the guy showed maturity. Why drag it out? I’ve had a few uncomfortable conversations with guys and one ended where the guy started crying on the phone. I wasn’t mean, I just told him that I didn’t reciprocate his feelings. I mean, it sucks but sometimes beating around the bush makes the situation worse. I am in a weird situation with a family member now because I tried to beat around the bush when I should have just told her straight up, “No.”
However I do agree with you telling Dude on the street, you have a man because people are crazy. And you don’t want to find yourself in a situation with someone who can’t understand that just because you are single does not mean you want him.

10 02 2014
dbaham

Thanks Brenda! Let me tell you though, it’s a struggle to do that with everyone. I had another one of those potentially hard conversations the other day with a guy (albeit not the same conversation), but I’m learning that it’s best to just get everything out in the open and let the cards fall where they may.

I do agree with you that beating around the bush tends to make things worse. But shoot, if a dude started crying on the phone with me, I can’t promise I’d be ready to have that same conversation with anyone else any time soon! I hope your family situation works out though. They can be the hardest people to say no to, sadly.

lmao! Glad you feel me on the random dude on the street. I mean, I live in DC. You never know with these folks! haha

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