Just Be Yourself?
Truth: the Modern Demand
The value of honesty is a value that is held sacred in this age. The body, the mind, the spirit: none of these have been held sacred and all have been minutely examined. All is subjected to scrutiny in this age of inquiry, of freedom, of the Internet, of globalisation. All is naked to our gaze. The consequence of this is that perfection is difficult to expect and maintain therefore not required or demanded but the truthfulness of the image presented is.
We seek honesty as beautiful in and of itself.
Propaganda and its refutation is everywhere. We are confronted with images of products, people, ideas and corporations that are fake. Images that are shown to be fake. There is no luxury to hold illusions. We are confronted with the difficulty of constantly resolving that beliefs we have previously held to be true have been betrayed: this happens many times over our lifetimes.
Small communities which have been invested in the individual and with a relatively unified purpose have evolved to large, faceless sprawls. This means that the onus is on the individual to guarantee his or her interests are being met. Everyone else is attempting to sell them something divergent from their own agenda: the individual must remain suspicious and on their guard.
This is not an age in which we can trust, or approach doing so, with any ease. The worst of humanity is often bared before us, disseminated through our access to information or even our own life experiences. Yet, we are human: we need trust and we need some form of control in order to give that trust. Therefore, we find it in honesty.
If you give a person the openness and acceptance that allows for honesty, then you can regard it as a high betrayal should they violate it by hiding the truth. For what purpose do they hide what they feel, what they say, what they do? Do they not believe in your love? Do they not think of you? Do they not respect you as a human being?
Game as Dishonest
There is a visceral revulsion for the word ‘Game’ applied to the field of romance. It is clinical, superficial, violating the sanctity of love and, more importantly, essentially implying being manipulative and dishonest: playing with people’s feelings. That is the association people have with the word ‘Game’.
This association is also a ridiculous emotional reaction based on little digestion of the actual content of Game and how it is applied. Ladies and gentlemen, love is a Game I take with deadly seriousness. Talking about the Game of Love is akin to talking about the Game of War: we study the rules, the words, the actions. We try to understand how to best express and apply our intents from those that have come and erred before us. We attempt to steer clear of the mistakes others have made, emulate the successes others have had. We try to understand how to be the best lovers, the best warriors. How to recognise then ameliorate our weaknesses and develop our strengths. That you love someone and that your intention is to love them does not necessarily mean you know how to be loveable or, more importantly yet, best demonstrate your love itself; Game encapsulates the study of this.
It is learning the Art of Loving as well as the Art of War. Game on its own is a tool of self-development that essentially tells you this: it is okay to consciously act in order to enhance your sexual attractiveness. It does not do much for you in a vacuum where you do not constantly develop yourself overall: from your intellect to your spirituality to your contentment with and interest in a healthy, interesting, fulfilling and moral life. Critics often address it as such, disregarding the complexity of the human being applying it. Game is one of the tools that allows you to turn the uncut marble into a masterpiece; it does not work well without a solid, inner foundation.
Is Honesty the Best Policy?
Let me continue with my convenient metaphor. I have taken my tool of Game and I have taken this rock. I have then carved out a beautiful statue out of such a rock and you are stirred by it.
This statue is dishonest. This statue is not true to its original nature. This statue is attempting to be what it is not. It is giving the illusion of softness where it is hard. Yet, this statue is beautiful. Yet, you are not offended by this statue. You appreciate it: from your reaction to it to all the hard work, the finesse, the technique and the loving sweat that made it what it is. This statue is the ultimate positive expression of the human self: we see the potential for beauty and — not stopping there — we enact it as best as we can manage.
Honesty as Prophecy
Embracing honesty as a higher, indiscriminately preserved value can be very damaging. This especially applies to human beings. We are made of so many complex properties and interactions: we are a collection of tendencies rather than absolutes. That there is a fixed self of ours is a myth; we have a core of who we are that is only relatively unvaried with many outer aspects that are situational potentials. We often do not know what we are capable of, what our natures are and how life changes us.
There needs to be balance.
It is so easy to see the dark sides of each other: must we name it, comment on it, return with attention to it? Do we not realise that by calling the flaws in us ‘the truth’ we are stagnating in that flawed self? Do we not realise that by naming a quality a flaw, that is what it becomes? Do we not realise that each word we say is ‘the truth’ is often a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Honesty as Needed and Required
In a relationship, honesty is both called for and very healthy. The overarching principles that make it so helpful to relationships are easy to understand. It leads to less misunderstandings, less differing in mutual agendas and a stronger bond. Radiating honesty also sets you apart quite decidely.
The requirements for it vary. For me, I prefer a fairly high level of honesty because, without that level of emotional trust, I withdraw and find it difficult to express affection to the person in question, with eventual dissolution of that affection if it becomes a continuous problem. Conversely, I’m not sure what level of honesty I want or expect in return. That is a much more complex issue. I do know, however, that I don’t want the transfer of responsibility for someone else’s emotions or suffering that honesty can excuse. I do know that sometimes temporary illusions or exaggerations that perpetual, exacting and accurate honesty would destroy. Sometimes I want to speak in poetry, not cold and hard facts.
I do know that honesty in general — outside of intimate relationships — can be very socially inappropriate. I do know that I can’t be emotionally honest on demand; I need to be able to feel that it is safe to do so and that I am feeling intimate enough to be so revealing.
The Honest Ideal
The ideal is that you work so that there is nothing you should lie about or wish to hide. This ideal is impossible: we are not saints.
The question of when honesty is called for is very difficult. This is really dependent on both you, your partner and the nature of your relationship. The more clearly demarcated and segregated your gender roles, the less revealing you might be to each other. That is the way some men want it to be; they want the presentation of your most positive self to them. In return, you may conversely receive this as well.
Honesty as Fidelity
One aspect that I do think that is important in terms of honesty is this: being honest about being attracted to other people. While it may give a partner a twinge** of short-term pain, insecurity or anger, it is a very good preventative measure against your — initially minuscule — feelings for anyone else growing into anything that threatens your relationship.
(** it should only be a twinge if all is well.)
Honesty as Rationalisation
Being honest can be a shorthand for excusing behaviours that are hurtful or selfish in their nature. It can be used to insult or shame. It can be used to nag or fight. It can be used to express thinly disguised contempt. It can be used to provoke a reaction and to seek attention. It can be used to remain angry when it is not needed.
Think before you speak. Sometimes you do need to forget your immediate feeling and your immediate honest impulse. Sometimes you do need to overcome your own shortcomings and choose which of the complicated mesh of feelings you are going to express or, at least, choose which priority where your actions will originate from. If a loved one is in pain and acts reflexively to it, you need to be the one who remembers what is more important (your relationship) and despite your own honest feelings at the same time: fake it.
Janus of the Two Faces
Honestly? We women do it all the time. We can be boiling with anger. Yet, there is a smile and an attempt to coax peace or lightly dismissing the situation, because that is the winning strategy for us. It is the more important thing to do at the time. The angry feelings can be sorted through later, when it is safe and there is distance from them, when thoughtless things can be said and done. Conversely, we can even be amused or irritated at a bout of passive-aggressiveness. Yet, we can suppress that amusement to allow the passive-aggressor to be taken seriously which allows room for honestly and lovingly dealing with the issues behind it.
Women are often accused of back biting. What often happens is that we say the same thing but in different ways.
A woman without Game reacts without thinking or consideration, without long-term planning, without recalling her priorities.
So is your “honesty” reinforcing a cycle of bad behaviour and lack of self development? Are you using it to excuse statements which are designed to hurt?
On the other hand, are you hiding too much? Is it time to re-evaluate how fast and freely you play with the truth? Are you hiding things that are very important — to either one or both of you? This means the relationship is traversing troubled waters.
Be a person who is self-aware. Understand that the most entrenched liars have the following qualities. They do not:
- know the truth, often because they lie to themselves.
- realise or reflect on why they do what they do or say what they say.
- stop to think of the eventual consequences.
- Classifications of honesty developed by the Naive’s Guide to Everything in the World: Bitchy Honesty (don’t do it, girls), Martyred Honesty (please, girls, tone it down) and John Wayne honesty (I readily admit to my clueless youth; I have no clue what this one means. Clearly, more TV for me and less books.)
- The bible can be so romantic.
- An odd little collection of honesty-related phrases. Some make no sense. My favourite: “There are only two ways of telling the complete truth ~~ anonymously and posthumously.”
- Buddhist speculations on the nature of honesty and visualising its power.