Oh, honestly…

How many times have you heard someone say (or have you thought to yourself), “I wish I could just get in the HEAD of…”
Men talk all the time about how women can’t be ‘figured out,’ and women are constantly wondering why men talk/act the way they do.

Wouldn’t the world of dating and relationships be enormously aided if we could all actually be HONEST?  I’m really only asking for grown-ups to DO what we’re taught as children – tell the TRUTH!

But I do mean more than simply, “don’t lie.”
I’m talking about a new, radical, raw version of honesty.
One where people actually say what they’re thinking and feeling, even INITIATE doing so, especially as it relates to significant others and potential significant others.

I’d like to propose that the key to figuring out and working on relationships isn’t “communication” or “compromise,” (don’t freak out if you think those are cornerstones of great partnerships – I do too.  I just think they’re steps 2 and beyond.  Stick with me), but rather – is what you honestly BELIEVE to be true about yourself and about your partner.  It’s your core beliefs that affect the success or failure of a relationship.  Now beliefs aren’t necessarily truth.  And, beliefs are ever-changing, as people get more information.  Also – the more self-aware and reflective a person is, the more those beliefs can be fluid and dynamic as the relationship moves and changes.  But, if our core beliefs about another person shape our reaction to and relationship with that person, then shouldn’t we have the most accurate and best information to base those beliefs on?

Thusly (I love that word), if I can know what a guy is really thinking about me, I can more precisely form my beliefs about who he is and if he’s the kind of man I want.  The same is true in reverse.  I try to give the most honest picture of who I am – (even sometimes to the unfortunate point of coming across pushy or overbearing) – so that a guy will KNOW me.  If he knows the real me, he can decide what he believes about me and about us.

So – radical honesty.  It might not always be initially comfortable or feel safe, but I maintain that it’s good.  And in the end, I think it brings a lot of happiness and peace. (Some of the guys I’ve interacted with online might not agree…but…)

I’ve started doing this sometimes when I tell someone we’re not a good match.  If he presses and ASKS, I’ll tell him exactly WHY I don’t want to date him again.  Now, this gets tricky, because some information is helpful – like asking a potential employer, after an interview and then getting turned down from the job, why you didn’t get the position.  Feedback helps you fix things for the next time, right?  But sometimes it’s things the person can’t change (too short, not physically attractive to me, not smart enough, etc.)…and I’m still trying to figure out what to do when THOSE are the reasons why a relationship won’t work.  Guys, feel free to chime in here – do you WANT to know why it’s a ‘no?’  At all costs?

For MY part, I do.  Even if it’s unchangeable.  Even if it will temporarily hurt – because it’s information about myself, but ALSO it’s information about the guy I presumably like.  So often, the reasons why someone would choose NOT to date me – HE thinks will hurt my feelings, but in actuality, it will help me make the break from him more easily.

An example – a guy who thinks I’m “too religious” (which is kinda a funny way to put that, considering how much I know I struggle/wrestle with my faith and life) because I go to church every weekend and play/sing on the worship team from time to time.  (Ok, ok,…I may also be a teensy bit of a theology nerd…but this doesn’t mean I need to be with someone else who is).  He thinks he’s sparing my feelings by not telling me this is what he didn’t like, but in the end, I’d much rather know that HE is someone who bristles at having a real faith-walk.  That’s GREAT information for me – I can cut my losses, and move on to the next guy with ease, knowing this one wasn’t right for me anyway.  That’s SO much more preferable to wondering if it was a thousand other possibilities…

But it’s more than just being honest with someone about why you wouldn’t go on another date.  It’s also about sharing with someone else your thoughts AS you process how you feel about him/her.  Wouldn’t the dating world be drastically better if we knew what the other person truly thought of us as we explored the connection?

The following are true life scenarios from the experiences of close girlfriends.  Imagine how each of these would be bettered by simply having access to the thoughts of the other person:

1.  “Penny” flirts with a guy at a coffeeshop and gives him her number.  A week or so later they meet up for coffee and it turns into an all-day coffee, wine, amazing conversation, kissing and incredible connection all day and into the evening.  She’s really excited about having met someone she connected with so obviously, but as the next three weeks go by, he calls her almost every day – keeping up with her life, job, etc., but never asks her to hang out again.  Such a mystery.  If he’d just wanted to have the one interaction, he wouldn’t keep calling.  If he wanted a relationship, he would’ve initiated getting together, right?  How much angst could he save Penny by just saying, “Here’s what’s going on…” and telling her.  Instead, she’s left guessing all the possible reasons for his actions (or lack thereof) and remaining in a state of confusion and hurt.

2.  “Stella” has gone out several times with an amazing guy who genuinely seems to like her, but never initiates get-togethers, and seems to keep some emotional distance by not letting her in on his feelings about her.  He’s still dating multiple people, which is ok with Stella, if she knew where she stood, but all she has to go on is great dates where everything seems to go just right – lots of laughing, similar views, shared interests and good smoochin’ – and no other information.  So, this leaves her hesitant to let herself feel those butterflies/smooshy feelings, lest she find out she’s just kinda being played.  Again – how nice would it be for her to have a glimpse into his thinking?  Maybe he loves her personality, but doesn’t find her physically attractive?  Maybe he’s just not in a season of life where he wants to settle down with one person?  Any of this would be information – which is what all of us women want!

3.  Similar to Penny, “Nina” has gone out with a guy where the chemistry was great (from her perspective), they had awesome conversation, etc., etc. (this story is getting kinda familiar now, huh?), and since then, all she’s gotten is lots of texts, none of which are to make plans in the future.  They’re always things like:  “I’m out with some friends at X bar – come join us!” but never anything like “I’d love to hang out again – what are you doing Friday?”  Ugh… (I’m only ugh-ing in solidarity.  We all know if this was me, I’d just ASK the guy what was up – because that’s what I do.  I stifle men with my honestly curious approach.)

Now – a GOOD example of another friend, Cortney – who turned her guy down for some lovin’ one night because she was kinda grossed out that he came to bed without brushing his teeth.  The next day, he had the guts to ask what the disconnect was the night before.  And then she had the guts to just come clean and answer him honestly, “Well, if you really want to know – I thought it was gross that you didn’t brush your teeth before getting into bed.”  The next time they went out on a date, he put a fresh toothbrush on the table, laughed, and said something about how that won’t ever be a problem again.  He had a great sense of humor about it and – problem solved!

Now, I know that’s a silly example.  It’s much easier to tell your partner that they need to brush their teeth, than it is to talk about some other things.  I think the 2 problems standing in our way of NOT being honest are:

1.  Not wanting to hurt feelings.  But, as I already said, in most cases (of course there are exceptions), many people (me included) would rather know something hurtful (like – “you’re not skinny enough for me,” or – “I don’t like your children” (though, that would NEVER happen.  My children are adorable)), than to know nothing.  Knowing nothing means I try to figure it out myself and when women (and I’m guessing men too) try to ‘figure it out’ themselves, they default to assigning blame in places of deep insecurity and fear.  So – help a sista out and at least put us on the right, albeit hard to hear, path.

2.  Not being honest with yourself.  People who don’t know themselves or don’t take time to examine their own thoughts/hearts – truly don’t know WHY they’re acting a certain way.  And if you don’t know yourself, you can’t REALLY know or love me.  Anyone can be self-aware if you’ll take the TIME to think/reflect on your life and what you want and who you are.  To not do so is lazy, and in the end, it hurts the people around you who just want to know what’s up!

AND…this honesty thing swings both ways – not just telling someone what you DON’T like, but being free enough and bold enough to tell someone that you DO like him/her and why.
How good would it feel to get a text from someone you’re dating, saying how much they like XYZ about you?  Or while you’re spending time together, to step outside the conversation for a moment (enter that meta-commentary we talked about before) and just say how beautiful she is, or how interesting he is to listen to, or how much (if you’re at this point), you LOVE him/her?  Makes my heart swell to think about it…

I’ll end on this bizarre note:  My ex-boyfriend and I did something unorthodox, that I LOVED.  This was born out of some interesting conversations about past relationships and our mutual love of couples/relationship counseling (I have my degree in it and he was pursuing his).  Before we ever met, we e-mailed each other an ‘interview’ of sorts.  We called ’em quizzes, but they were really intended to help us vet each other before we ever even spent time together.  While I wouldn’t do this with all the potential partners I come into contact with now, I admit, I wouldn’t mind getting a guy’s answers to these questions as I’m trying to figure out if he’d be a good fit for me!?  What it DID, though – was open up the field of discussion on lots of sticky-wicket issues and gave us a snapshot of each others’ personalities.  It also softened our fears or hesitations in feeling free to be honest with each other.  It was like, we already knew each other well enough to feel safe asking tricky questions or saying how we really felt about each other.

So – I present to you our “quiz.”  I’ve combined the two interviews into one long one.

Enjoy.  And… yes – the next post will be funny.  🙂

Quiz to End All Quizzes…

What do you think are your top (2 or 3) relational strengths?


Do you smoke?  Ever?

What are your thoughts on drinking?

How often are you: 5-15min late? More than 15min late? Describe a circumstance when it would be acceptable to be more than 15min late:

What things are OK to hide from your spouse?

What is the best quality/memory from your childhood?

What kind of relationship do you have with your parents?

Do you play an instrument or sing?  Well?  In what capacity/venue?

In another life, what would you be, job/career-wise?

What do you think it means to live to honor Christ in your relationship/marriage?  Give concrete examples.

How much time (percentage) each day do you spend in reflection (about yourself, your significant other, etc.)?

In 5 years, where do you want to be:

–       in your job/career?

–       Spiritually?

–       Relationally?

How would your friends describe you?

What are the top 3 qualities you look for in a potential mate?

What are your top 3 dealbreakers?

What are some “non-negotiables” for you?

What are some of your pet peeves?

What is your love language? (words of affirmation, gifts, quality time, physical closeness, acts of service)

How would/will you act/treat your spouse when she’s sick?

Do you have a temper?  What do you do when you get angry?

How do you resolve conflict?

Do you like to snuggle?

What’s an ideal temperature in your home?

Which of these statements best reflects your views on a healthy relationship?

–       Marriage is about communicating well.

–       Good marriage depends on what you truly believe.

–       A successful marriage is full of compromise

Describe a perfect day – money is no object.

Do you think it’s ok to have sex before marriage?  Do you intend to?

Do you think you have the capacity (or the desire?) to put your spouse above yourself?  That is, to consider her needs/wants before your own?

Real or fake Christmas tree?

Early bird or night owl?

How do you like your steak?

Do you think you are a considerate/thoughtful (in the real sense of the words, not polite) lover?

Do you dance?

Who is your best friend?

Do you think you are a sacrificial person?  What does that mean to you?

Who is your oldest friend?

Who is your role model / mentor?

What is your biggest fear?

Do you have any phobias?

If you were to write a book, what would the title be?

Top three books you’ve read?

Top three tv shows you enjoy?

Top three movies of all time?

Top three artists/albums?

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

What did you have for breakfast?

Name your top 2 or 3 vices

What can you not live without?

About what things are you selfish or unyielding?

A perfect dinner would be…

Do you have any bad habits?

List 3 quirky/random or seemingly insignificant details about you or your life that I might not otherwise learn in the first few meetings/conversations?

Tell one funny or embarrassing story about yourself:

Where would you visit if you had the chance?

Do you tend toward optimism or pessimism?

Are you a trusting or distrustful person, generally?

Where would you want to retire?

How do you feel about cursing?

Thoughts on pets:

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

How are you financially?  Saver?  Spender?  Worrier?  Free-spirit?  Do you stick to a budget, or try to?

Do you like your job?

What is your favorite smell?

How do you feel when someone interrupts you?

On a workday, how many times, whether via text or phone, would you like to connect to your guy/girl?

Do you communicate during lovemaking to tell your partner what you’d like, or do you expect him to just know?

How long do you take to forgive if you are justifiably offended or wounded emotionally?

Describe what your future spouse’s relationship to your children would look like:

How important is it to you that your mate understands you deeply? Can you be happy and maintain a healthy relationship even if this doesn’t happen?

Under what circumstances would you consider filing for divorce? This is a difficult question but please elaborate openly.

How often would you like to eat out at restaurants or order food?

Where are you on the neat freak – – slob continuum?

What are your thoughts on your mate’s use of his/her recreational time and energy?
Videogames, TV, Facebook, Watching Sports, Personal Hobbies, etc.

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6 Responses to Oh, honestly…

  1. Mary says:

    Oh my goodness. On the one hand, I think this quiz is SO INSANELY LONG. On the other, I think you must be my daughter, since I regularly spring random questions on your father like “If you could travel all expenses paid to one place outside the country, other than Great Britain, where would it be?” He LOVES that game. (Where is the sarcasm font again?

  2. You know Sarah, between my last boyfriend and when I started dating my now-husband, I came to that realization about being brutally honest. I decided I liked me and being in my skin and I wasn’t going to tread lightly in dating. I decided I’d lay in on the table, be honest, no games and I didn’t care who walked out the door because of it. It kept Mike coming back for more. Much more. And here we are. I realized at one point in our relationship it didn’t feel “datish” and then I realized it was because it lacked the drama of I wonder what he’s thinking. We just were honest. Imagine that. I’m so glad I realized that men who didn’t want this from me were a waste of time. Because I found a man who liked me being me. No game. I’m going to use some of these questions for our next date. Maybe you could generate some more questions for those of us on the other side to use on our dates….:)

  3. Dale says:

    Always enjoy your vantage point. I’m half-and-half on your take here. The honesty part is right on, and I love it. But I’d find this quiz overbearing and intrusive early in a relationship. Especially before date numero uno. Honesty is good, but that doesn’t necessitate bearing my soul in an uber-intimate and detailed quiz. I think this quiz would send even great guys (not that I’m arrogantly numbering myself among them) running for the hills.

    • Oh Dale, I totally agree. This wasn’ ‘prescriptive,’ only ‘descriptive.’
      This was not my suggestion to new couples at all. It was just something unique that I’d done that helped pave the way to a very authentic relationship.
      Still, the IDEA of it (or maybe a condensed version) could prove helpful…
      Thanks for the comments!

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