If you want to lie well, you need two essential qualities. On the one hand, your own body should be your ally. It’s not good if he suddenly starts to blush, perspire wildly or jump nervously from one foot to the other…On the other hand you should be able to remember things really well. The nasty thing about lies is that you have to be ready to pick up the very first lie at any time, even after five or ten years. That’s what makes lying so incredibly complex and tiring. They are complex constructions that affect trust, responsibility and power in relationships.
Unfortunately, I’m anything but clever at remembering. I forget too quickly and think that what has been said remains at the moment. It’s especially hard to remember things that aren’t true. For example, the first time I opened my very monogamous relationship to other people, I was dishonest to my relationship person. I had met someone and wanted to get completely lost in it. I have not kept to agreements, disguised how often I really write with the person, how much I am interested in them and finally entangled in lies.
But unfortunately I was anything but good at playing the lie, performing it and reminding myself of everything I had said. So you can imagine that sooner or later the scaffolding collapsed. My relationship person was anything but delighted. She was injured, disappointed and her confidence in me was unfortunately also on the ground. We then separated for a short time, after all we got back together and are still in a relationship today. What I decided for myself at that time, a promise to myself so to speak, was the commitment to be as honest as possible.
Unlike the truth, we wouldn’t have found each other again. The lies have taken me away from her and distanced me because I was always afraid to betray myself. I was always on my guard, it was terribly exhausting. After we decided to have a relationship again, I felt it was my job to prove that I was trustworthy. And that was also totally exhausting, because my relationship person had a lot of mistrust in me. I spent a lot of time thinking about whether I really wanted to “only” meet someone for experiences on the physical level or whether I was looking for more emotional closeness. I also had to admit to myself that I had felt hurt and neglected and therefore sought closeness to another person instead of clearly naming those feelings.
I WANTED TO MAKE IT SOMEHOW EASY FOR MYSELF, FLEE INTO A NEW ROMANCE AND LEAVE THE RELATIONSHIP WORK BEHIND ME.
I WAS OFTEN AT A LOSS AND INSECURE BECAUSE HONESTY TOWARDS OTHERS MEANS THAT FIRST AND FOREMOST I HAVE TO BE HONEST WITH MYSELF AND THAT IS ANYTHING BUT EASY.
But what is truth or a lie? And what is a lie in a love affair with another human being? For example, it’s not a lie if a person doesn’t know what they want. How could that be a lie? If I don’t know that I’m going to change my mind, it has nothing to do with not being honest. If I don’t deliberately choose to cover something up, it can’t be a lie because there’s nothing I can cover up. However, this did not prevent me from feeling such situations as lies if I was the person opposite the person who changed their mind. I often had the feeling that people were not honest with themselves and therefore could not be honest with me at all. But it doesn’t have to have anything to do with lies or truth if people don’t know what they want.
CAN A LIE BE JUSTIFIED?
I believe: in order to judge a lie, it is first and foremost important to realize that it makes a difference who you are lying to. When I meet a loose acquaintance at a party and she asks me a question that I find totally inappropriate and much too intimate, then perhaps a lie is the right way to show that I want to distance myself from the person or protect the privacy of others. A lie can draw a line between my privacy and the other person’s inappropriate questions. Likewise it is my good right and completely legitimate, if I e.g. go out and am followed and annoyed by a Cis-man until I give him a wrong mobile number and he leaves me thereupon in peace.
A lie may as well be a signal in intimate interpersonal relationships. It can show that one has distanced oneself from each other, that one no longer trusts the other person or that perhaps he or she is no longer familiar with the other person. And it is precisely this trust that is important for so many relationships. In my opinion, it is the basis for intimacy and closeness.
This leads to a kind of vicious circle, because the lie, which can already stand for lost trust, can call trust even more into question. Of course, as long as the lie is not exposed as a lie, only the person who lied knows that they did not tell the truth. But even if the lie “only” affects the liar, it has consequences. I may begin to question my own statements and needs, to no longer trust myself and perhaps even to distrust my relationship persons. Because if I’m lying, maybe the others will?
In my case, this has actually made me suspicious. I started to question the intentions of my relationship person and to doubt whether they she knows what she want. Maybe there’s more to it? Maybe she’s hiding something from me too. Reinforced by my already existing depression and anxiety disorders, I have since then felt a fundamental mistrust towards my relationship persons. That has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t trust them, I just went out of the above experience doubting. If I am able to build such a framework of lies myself, then so can other people.
GOOD INTENTIONS, EVIL CONSEQUENCES
There are certainly lies that only stand on their own. I don’t need a second, third lie to get the first straight. But most lies are, as already mentioned, much more complicated, they are whole frameworks. It takes a lot of energy to invest in lies. Energy that could just as well be invested in beautiful, creative and enriching things.
Whether the intentions behind a lie are first and foremost good, such as the need to protect someone or to be perceived differently when the truth comes to light, unfortunately that may not matter, because from a power-hierarchy perspective the liar is always above the person being lied to. Lies give the power to influence the outcome of situations or decisions.
When asked on a date if I am in a relationship and I deny – with the intention that the other person finds me great regardless of my polyamorous relationship status – then it may not be fair to the other person. Some people do not want to live polyamor and also not date polyamorous people. This should be left to each person. Besides, I would disrespectfully deny my relationships. In this situation, I find it fair that the other person should learn the truth when asked. I do not want to manipulate and influence the outcome of a situation in such a way that it corresponds to my wishes and needs.
POLYAMORE RELATIONSHIPS ARE SPECIAL FOR ME. I HAVE NEVER SPOKEN SO MUCH, SO HONESTLY AND SO OPENLY ABOUT MY NEEDS AS IN MY POLYAMOROUS RELATIONSHIPS.
Sure, not everything I want can be implemented immediately. Sometimes I have to adapt my needs to the situation or have a little patience, because not everything can always be implemented immediately. But in polyamorous relationships it’s just easier for me to tell the truth without prejudice. I know that there are also many people in monogamous relationships who are very honest with each other, I will not deny or deny that.
I only know that polyamorous relationships mean less pressure for me, because at no time do they expect to desire only one person in the world forever. It is easier to tell the truth because it does not immediately break with the idea of “the one true love”.
LIE AND POWER GAP
Conducting a conversation at eye level means that it is not one person who takes control of the outcome of the conversation, but all those involved. The thing that scares me the most is when people think they know how I will react and therefore want to protect myself or want to anticipate my reaction with a lie. I can’t do anything. I’m completely helpless. That makes me angry. I want to be able to decide for myself whether I find it somewhat bad, good, hurtful, pleasing or saddening.
I experience the worst of being lied to in being robbed of my reaction. For me it is less about the lie itself and its context than simply about the fact that a reaction was imputed to me that I could not even carry out. I wasn’t even allowed to react – only in the imagination of the other person. I wasn’t even allowed to react – only in the imagination of the other person. That’s why it’s usually the case for me that the fact that I was lied to is only half as bad as the lie itself. But the lie makes the fact seem twice as great. She’s making a big deal out of her, which it doesn’t have to be.
I do not believe that lies are always bad in themselves, but I believe that they almost always lead to more harm than positive effects in a social and perhaps intimate interpersonal context. I also don’t want to swing the moral leg and condemn all people who decide for a lie, it is only important to me to point out the consequences in order to disclose the effects of lies.
BECAUSE IT IS USUALLY THE CASE THAT ONE DECIDES FOR A LIE OUT OF EMOTION, FEAR OR OVERSTRAIN.
But the moment does not remain self-contained, the story continues. And that’s where all the possible chaos starts.Of course, all lies have different effects and not all of them have the same effect on relationships as in my case. I have realised, however, that honesty is the basis for a polyamorous relationship. I have to be kind of honest to get what I really want and of course to be able to communicate when something doesn’t feel good. In polyamorous constellations, new challenges and problems can arise time and again, which is not uncommon. When many people try to share relationships and lives, it’s complicated. Without trust and honesty this would quickly collapse.
THE TRUTH IS A GIFT
That doesn’t mean I’m always able to tell the truth. Especially since I never learned that telling the truth is a positive thing. As a child I was more likely to be punished if I confessed that I broke the vase or smoked secretly. Nobody was happy about that kind of truth. I also can’t remember any situation in my life where someone told me that they found my birthday present impractical, useless or just ugly. And it goes on and on.
UNLIKE A WHITE LIE, A POLITE LIE OR EVEN A PROTECTION LIE, TRUTH IS LESS APPRECIATED. HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO LEARN TO TELL THE TRUTH?
I think there are two perspectives. On the one hand from the person who is telling the truth and on the other hand from the person who is experiencing the truth. Telling the truth is anything but easy – at least for most people, including me – because it often resonates with the fear of hurting the other person. And that’s not unlikely. At the same time, from a lot of respect, love and trust in the other person, it pays that you can tell each other the truth and trust that the other person will not immediately run away.
To experience the truth has two dimensions in my eyes. On the one hand the sobering moment when you hear something you may not want to hear and on the other hand the moment when you change perspective and realize that it must have cost the other person a lot of effort to say it. Both are totally important. Learning to appreciate the truth is not easy, I admit. I’d rather be angry, turn red, spread wild accusations around the room. I can do everything, all my feelings have their raison d’être and yet I also want to meet the other person with gratitude – at least as good as I can;)
One last important thing is the context in which the conversation takes place. For example, if you decide to expose the lie as a lie, it often won’t be a nice conversation. Who’s happy to have been lied to? I like places that are quiet and moments when I and the other person(s) have enough time. I don’t like meeting at home for such conversations either, because then the atmosphere and the possibly bad feeling remains within one’s own four walls.
Even though it’s not an easy conversation, I think it’s better to have told the truth than to hide it forever. What may seem simple and self-evident to some people is a difficult challenge to others.
AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES THE TRUTH NO LESS COMPLICATED, COMPLEX AND TIRING THAN THE LIE.
First published on “Kleinerdrei” on 20.02.18: http://kleinerdrei.org/2018/02/luegen-fressen-kraft-oder-warum-polyamorie-ehrlichkeit-in-beziehungen-erleichtert/
Credits for the drawing go to my great friend Lena. Contact under: firstname.lastname@example.org