Honesty: A Pillar of Strong Relationships

Honesty is a core pillar in my philosophy of life. This is because the ability to think and speak freely is extremely important to me. When I say ‘speak freely’, what I’m really referring to is the ability to be completely authentic and honest. If I’m constantly worrying about having to censor myself, it’s much more difficult to have rich and meaningful conversations. Naval describes this as a sort of fragmentation of the mind where different threads of consciousness have to run in parallel. Trying to balance my authentic self while: remembering that one person can’t stand politics, another person has daddy issues, and another has a whole different set of triggers. It’s exhausting. 

This is why I try to spend time with people who also value honesty. When I’m talking with my friends, I don’t have to avoid certain topics or worry about offending them. This is because we’ve built a friendship around trust and honesty, so by default we give each other the benefit of the doubt. Even if I say something that they vehemently disagree with or vise-versa, our friendship will remain strong because there is a level of maturity and understanding. This allows me to think and speak freely. It’s so much better. Consequently, in my relationships, if my ability to speak freely feels compromised, I will likely distance myself. 

Now I’m not advocating for us to go out and be 100 percent honest with everyone at all times and use radical honesty as an excuse to have no filter. That’s also not ideal. You obviously don’t want to act socially inept. So there will be a certain level of sugarcoating or with-holding of truths, but those exist in any relationship. 

As with everything else in life, there is a balance to strive for in relationships.

And I think it is heavily weighted in favor of honesty.

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5 comments

  1. I often think about a disagreement we had in one of our more recent conversations. I think it stays on my mind because I value your opinions and I really want to see your side but am unable to put myself in your shoes.

  2. This is a delicate one. A few of my closest relationships were built on a foundation of dishonesty. In some cases, the fear of an emotional reaction (from the other person) forced me to censor myself beyond what was reasonable. I suspect many people struggle with this relationship flaw, especially with family members.

    What I learned is that spontaneous combustion is inevitable in those relationships. Some day, the graceful eggshell dance you perform will falter. You’ll have enough, and share your truth, possibly in a harsh way. Or you’ll be too tired, too emotionally and mentally exhausted to perform mental acrobats around their issues. Conflict is inevitable. The question is, what kind of foundation was built prior to the conflict arising?

    As your title suggests, honesty is a pillar of strong relationships. Honesty builds trust, security, safety, and warmth. A relationship built upon that kind of foundation is able to withstand the inevitable storms that come with human interaction. I would also comment that sharing your thoughts and feelings is a deeply intimate act – no one is entitled to your honesty. Honesty, like trust, can be earned.

    1. Hi Atlas!

      I certainly agree with your first two points. Family dynamics tend to be especially complex.

      Your third point is interesting though. I agree that sharing your thoughts and feelings can be an intimate act. However, “no one is entitled to your honesty.”

      I’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to understand this one. Maybe it’s because I see honesty as more of a personal value. I’m honest with other people for their sake (I like to think anyway), but it’s even more so for me.

      “Don’t do things that you know are morally wrong. Not because someone is watching, but because you are. Self-esteem is just the reputation that you have with yourself.” -Naval Ravikant

      I see honesty in a similar light. If I want to be aligned with my values, being honest with myself and others is important for me

      Or maybe you meant that if someone isn’t honest with you, you’re not going to honest with them.
      .
      Either way, I appreciate your perspective and thoughtful comment! Hope you have a great day. 🙂

      1. Oh! Well, on one hand I’m glad to provide something to think on. On the other hand, honesty is something I think about a lot so I may have opened a can of worms with that comment, haha.

        I suppose I should start by clarifying the context of the comment. “…sharing your thoughts and feelings is a deeply intimate act – no one is entitled to your honesty.” By this, I do NOT mean the opposition term, dishonesty (or deception). Rather, something in between the two. Reservation, maybe?

        I believe that sharing your deeper thoughts and feelings is an act of intimacy. And humans are generally cautious when they share intimacy with other people. I think most people would feel uncomfortable being naked in front of a complete stranger. Of course this is different for things like nudist communities, but I’m making sweeping statements here to prove a general point. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing, but it requires a feeling of trust in order to fully bloom.

        I do agree with your assessment in terms of daily conversation and interaction with others. I guess what I meant with that particular comment is that it takes work to cultivate an environment where honesty is encouraged. I consider authenticity to be a gift we share with those who show they are willing to appreciate that kind of gift. If someone is abrasive or rude, then you don’t have to spend your energy being authentic for the sake of being authentic. No one is entitled to knowing you or your authentic self if you don’t feel comfortable sharing it with them.

        On the other hand, I do know what you mean about it being a personal value. It’s important to be true to who we are, regardless of what other people do. There is a strength in that, to be truly grounded and constant.

        Well, I’m not sure if this clarified anything or made it worse, hahaha. I wouldn’t say that my philosophy on the subject is “right”. It’s certainly rooted in self-preservation and practical, though not necessarily “healthy”. But that’s a whole other discussion.

      2. Okay, yea that’s where I thought you were going with it. I think reservation is the perfect word.

        I hadn’t really thought about the vulnerability aspect of it, but you’re right – it’s critically important.

        And I see being your authentic self as a 2 sided coin. True honest intimate emotions are the potential positives and abrasive, disagreeable, and disomcomfort is on the other side.

        You definitely clarified things for me and I agree with you!

        By the way, your comment is very clear, thought out, and well written. I appreciate you taking the time and sharing these thoughts with me.

        Thanks again and I hope you have a wonderful day 🙂

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