Poly challenge: "I’m 90 percent honest with my boyfriend. The 10 percent lying is why we work."
Buried by the Washington Post's Trumpcare coverage yesterday was this provocative piece on their website, the latest offering by bi & poly writer Zachary Zane.
A poly mantra has always been "total honesty especially when it's hard." In real life, does that actually make sense? What do you think in this case?
I’m 90 percent honest with my boyfriend. The 10 percent lying is why we work.
By Zachary Zane
...But how honest should we be with our partners? What is the truth, really? And how destructive — or benign — is a lie once in a while?
...Is purposefully not bringing up a topic, because you know is would upset your partner, lying?
...I’m about 90 percent honest with my partner, and it’s the most forthcoming relationship I’ve ever had. Part of this has to do with the fact that we are polyamorous, meaning we carry on multiple close romantic relationships simultaneously. For a polyamorous relationship to thrive, you need to be upfront and honest as much as possible. Bottling up your jealousies and insecurities simply does not work. Lies end up becoming compounded the more people that are involved.
But the other reason I’ve been so honest with my partner is because Jason really does a good job at not only encouraging honest communication, but not being upset when I am brutally honest. I think this is in large part why our 14-month relationship has been so successful and why I’m still so happy to be with him. Nevertheless....
I think the 10 percent lying... is a large part of what keeps us together. I never tell any big lies. I don’t lie when I’ve had unprotected sex with another person. That’s a matter of his physical safety. I do, however, lie about little things when the truth conflicts with other qualities that I value, such as compassion or loyalty.
For example, Jason doesn’t need to know when I’m imagining my ex because I’m having trouble finishing during sex. I think it’s okay to lie when he asks: “What were you thinking about when your eyes were closed?” I will say, though, that when this happened repeatedly, I told him I wanted to spice up our sex life. ... I attacked the root of the issue: sexual satisfaction, in this case. I told him we needed to change how we’re having sex.
Nevertheless, I sometimes do lie to him repeatedly about an issue. I lie when I have fun going out dancing without him. ... I lie about the good times because I know that he has serious fear of missing out. I don’t want to encourage him to go out more when he’s getting sick all the time. If I have to lie to get him to stay home and rest, because I know that’s what he needs, then I’m going to do just that. ... This isn’t something that has to do with the dynamics of our relationship. This has to do with him and only him. His struggles with FOMO. His inability to rest when that’s what his body needs. Since this doesn’t have to do with us, I feel comfortable lying more consistently about it.
Then there’s what my friends and family members think of him. Of course, I don’t tell him their thoughts exactly. I bring up only the insights that affect us both....
...Ironically, this type of lying is founded more on trust than deception. While I know [he] lies to me about certain things, I do, however, trust that Jason knows when it’s appropriate and when he should tell me the truth.
...I trust that he’s lying for me, and not for him. Just as I’m doing for him.
Read the whole article (March 24, 2017).
I honestly can't disagree with this — other than to wonder what he's not telling us readers either, perhaps for our own good but more likely to make a tidy story and make his relationship look a certain way.
Reddit/r/polyamory commenters were often harsh. There you'll find,
"I'm against directly lying to people when they ask you a question. (Which is touted in the article). If you want to know what I'm thinking, ask and I'll tell you. Don't want to know, then don't ask."
"I have real problems with white lies, half truths, and minimizing honesty to save my feelings."
"I find this sort of lying to be a little bit condescending. 'You can't take care of yourself in the real world, so let me reshape it a little bit for you.' "
"Maybe it's just because I've had a lot of bad experiences with situations where someone told 'white' lies, but this would be a huge red flag for me."
"White lies... tend to cause drama in the long term while avoiding pain in the short term, in my experience."
In my own case, my close metamour (he tells people I'm his "boyfriend-in-law") is a bit neuro-atypical and wired for Radical Honesty. When the four of us are together he'll sometimes burst out with "Alan, you're babbling again! Stop babbling!" or "You talk really well when you don't know what you're talking about." He's called me his best friend. Many people would drop him; many have. I find his blurt-it-out honesty only slightly bruising and actually refreshing — because I always know where things stand. I know that if he's not expressing annoyance, I don't have to worry about any hidden lurking problems.
Update two weeks later: Well, he and Jason just broke up. It was a nice, amicable dropback to friendship (he says), but still a breakup. He writes about it at the end of another autobiographical piece on the Washington Post blogsite: After cheating on my partner, I wondered: Was monogamy right for me? (April 10, 2017).