Are you afraid to be open with your partner? Are you afraid of the reaction or being shut down ? If so, you may feel tempted not to divulge as much as you might do. You might also hold information back to avoid conflict. This leads to a situation we can call emotional dishonesty. It often starts in childhood.
Children are born with their feelings completely intact. They do not hold back and are not afraid to reveal their genuine emotions. However, the training to be emotionally dishonest starts at a young age and continues throughout life. Parents and teachers frequently urge or even demand that children speak or act in ways that are inconsistent with the child`s genuine sentiments. This can include encouraging the child to speak or act in ways that are inconsistent with the child’s true feelings. When the youngster appears to be upset, the adults tell her to put on a happy face.
She is instructed to apologise, despite the fact that she does not feel any regret. She is instructed to say “thank you” despite the fact that she does not feel any appreciation. When she expresses frustration at the way she is treated, she is advised to “stop moaning.” It is possible that she will kiss people good night, even if she would never do so on her own initiative. If she protests about being forced to behave in ways that are in conflict with her beliefs and values, people may label her as “rude” and “selfish.” In addition, adults frequently forbid children from expressing themselves with particular phrases. For instance, I have witnessed multiple parents instructing their children not to use the term “hate” in any context.
The use of obscene language as a means of expressing one’s emotions, on the other hand, is frequently frowned upon and even severely penalised. There are also instances in which the parent does not give the kid permission to ever explain why they feel so strongly about something. Children eventually develop into adolescents, at which point they start to think more independently. If the adults around them feel threatened, they are inclined to defend themselves by dismissing the adolescent’s thoughts and views. They begin to speak out more, “talk back” more, and confront the adults in their environment. There is also the pressure from peers to comply to the expectations set by the group. The youngster and the teenager learns that they cannot be truthful about how they are feeling as a result of all of this. They eventually stop being emotionally honest with their parents, teachers, friends, and even themselves, and it’s a downward spiral from there. They learn the hard way that it is never worthwhile to talk about how one really feels.
Emotionally dishonesty can affect a relationship greatly to the extent that trust is broken. When feelings are repressed, tension and resentment will fester, slowly eroding away at the foundation of a relationship. Though speaking your emotional truth may lead to temporary moments of discomfort, the tension is ultimately released when you are able to work through conflict with loved ones and clear the air. Being emotionally truthful requires not only emotional awareness but also self-confidence and perhaps courage. This is due to the fact that society encourages us, in many different ways, to disregard, suppress, deny, and lie about our feelings. For instance, the majority of us will say that we are “fine” or “good” when asked how we are feeling, even if this is not the case. People frequently argue that they are neither furious nor defensive, despite the fact that it is clear that they are in both of these states.
It is commonly believed that healthy relationships are built on a foundation of honesty and open communication between the parties involved. However, the reality of the situation is that most of the time, even when it comes to the relationships that we value the most, we tend to censor ourselves and our genuine feelings.
It can be difficult for some people to voice their disapproval. Perhaps they are worried that their answer will be taken as critical. On the other hand, people may feel guilty about their feelings and try to convince themselves they are wrong. It’s possible that they want their partners to accept them no matter what, and that any negative responses they receive imply that they themselves aren’t capable of such love and acceptance. Many married people, for whatever reason, try to stifle their bad emotions.
Even though it’s far simpler to convey positive responses, many couples still struggle with doing so. Not only does this waste a golden opportunity to become closer, but it also misses a chance to appropriately convey fundamental emotions. If you let your partner know how appreciative you are whenever they do anything that makes you happy, they will know that they have succeeded in making the necessary adjustments to make your life more enjoyable. Your partner will appreciate that and feel appreciated by you.
One key to overcoming issues and tending to each other’s emotional needs is being open about how you feel about each other. A happy marriage is the result of two people learning to understand and respect one another’s perspectives and needs. And without knowledge of the truth behind those emotions, a once-happy couple may find themselves very miserable as circumstances in their lives shift.
For a variety of reasons, the vast majority of people are emotionally dishonest. Possibly a controversial claim, but one that holds true in my experience. Just have a look at this citation:
We all tend to believe that those around us cannot handle our raw emotions. We choose to justify our dishonesty on the grounds that it could prevent harm to others, and then, having elevated our hypocrisy to the level of a virtue, we settle for shallow friendships and romantic partnerships.Why I Refuse to Reveal My Identity to You and John Powell
As a therapist specialising in relationships, I see this as a big roadblock for couples trying to heal. By bottling up our feelings, we cut ourselves off from others and from ourselves. When we suppress our true emotions and pretend they don’t exist, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to live a full and meaningful life. For couples, this can be devastating, since it destroys trust and breeds resentment, which in turn fuels fights and argues.
Trust, honesty, respect, and mutual gain all stand or fall on the foundation of emotional honesty. Being vulnerable and open with another person is a necessary ingredient for a fulfilling relationship. Nevertheless, we normally try to stay away from it.
First, we must be emotionally honest with ourselves before we can be authentic with others. It all begins here and grows through interaction with others. There are a few main reasons why we never do this. First, it’s easy to avoid facing other people’s judgement and criticism. The second is that we have gotten quite good at controlling the reactions of others around us by suppressing and masking our emotions. This is particularly true of the condition known as codependency. The cost of this is that our interactions become one-dimensional and empty. When we are vulnerable, we show them the real us. This implies you’ll have to face the possibility of people judging your motives or character for being so transparent. On the other hand, if we’re with someone who can cope with stress well, things will get easier over time. If not, or if they promote emotional dishonesty, it’s time to reevaluate your connection with this person.
To be emotionally honest, one must be able to recognise and accept one’s own defensiveness and other times when one may be concealing one’s true feelings or intentions. You need to develop emotional intelligence and self-awareness first. With the help of our EQ, we can weigh the pros and cons of revealing our true emotions and act accordingly. It’s not always wise or safe to show how we really feel. Overall though, I think we’d all benefit from being more open and honest about our feelings. That’s when you’ll be able to protect yourself and others from harm with reasonable limits. Being open and vulnerable about your feelings can really inspire others to do the same.
In his writing, Nathaniel Branden says
If we want to be understood and loved, if our relationships are going to last, we have to stop fooling ourselves into thinking that dishonesty is heroic and that it helps us stand out. Heroism and strength, if they mean anything at all, are the willingness to face reality, face truth, respect facts, and accept that that which is, is.
Subscribe to Dr Jenner's Blog via Email
Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner’s approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients’ internal “parts,” or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.