The Need to Be Honest at the Start of Relationships – Free Ebook

A powerful instinct when we meet someone we’re
attracted to is to try to please them – and

we can naturally assume that the best way
we might do this is to signal just how much

we agree with their views and choices on all
matters great and small.

On an early date, when they happen to mention
that they love dancing, we will reveal that

of course we love dancing too. Or when they
explain how boring they find museums, we will

hide that on a trip to Berlin last year, we
spent a whole fascinating day in the galleries

of the Altes Museum.

We may not state direct falsehoods but we
stretch and bend the truth to its limits so

as to create an impression of near-total alignment.

Along the way, it rarely occurs to us that
they might be performing some of the same

rigmarole for us, that they might also be
adjusting their self-presentation in subtle

but powerful ways to fit in with what they
take to be our preferences and values. There’s

a tragi-comic aspect to our deepening mutual
attraction. Two decent people are trying to

be as nice as they can. No one is setting
out to deceive and yet, gradually, a set of

hugely misleading and dangerous ideas about
who each person really is, are getting established.

The apparent success of our will-to-please
can inspire us to move in together and later

to marry. And then – inevitably – the prolonged,
intimate scrutiny that coupledom brings reveals

the scale of our mistaken expectations. In
a sequence of disillusioning stages, we are

each saddened, disappointed and shocked to
discover who we have ended up with. There

are recriminations, rows and fragile reconciliations
until finally one or other of us comes to

the grim, but still surprising conclusion
that we were never compatible.

Or we may stick at it with growing misery.
We face a life-time of holidays that never

involve the museum visits we crave. We have
to resign ourselves to never having had the

kind of sex we want. Or, even more grievously,
we eventually embark on a furtive life; we

seek out the moments when they’re away to
pursue needs we’ve pretended not to have.

Until one day our double-life is exposed – and
we drown in bitterness, fury and sorrow.

Yet the origin of such nightmares is only
ever a hugely touching, but painfully flawed

and risky, devotion to being an easy match.
We want to be simple; and yet we end up in

a very complicated mess.

A genuinely simpler approach would involve
daring to be a bit more complex from the start.

There is no need to be brazen or demanding
just as there is no requirement that our date

agree or even stick around beyond dessert
(or the main course). Some will run away – and

should. It will save everyone a lot of time.

In order to be honest in seduction, we need
a basic sense of acceptability, we must know

that we are not perfect but that we are not
for that matter wholly abject or shameful.

Our inner conviction that our oddities are
essentially reasonable allows us to present

ourselves to another person without fear or
defensiveness.

Our candour then arms us with the right to
ask our date to reveal – with similar honesty

  • what may be individual and difficult about
    their own characters. If they insist that

they are really very simple and ‘easy’,
we are allowed to be gently but firmly sceptical.

They are a human being, and to be human is
to be complicated. It cannot possibly be true

that they exist without significant quirks.

Being straightforward on dates is in the end
a mechanism for two people to fast-forward

time – and to spare themselves agony. We should
know that a polished surface can’t be a

true picture of who anyone can be. Only once
our mutual complexities have been outlined

should we sense that we are safe in the presence
of a fellow mature and pleasingly direct individual.

We will have the simpler relationships we
desire, when we can dare to share and accommodate

the actual complexities of human nature.

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