By Anthony Carter
Most of us lie all the time.
My friends and acquaintances who were brought up outside of the United States have a very different approach to love, relationships and friendships.
It is their approach to communicating and commitment that I model when examining and making attempts to deepen and enrich my interactions with others.
While they are not perfect nor without fault regarding some of their choices, there is an understanding of what a friendship looks like and what it entails.
I wrote an essay recently with the title:
When Friends Attack.
I wanted to have a look at our collective inability to tell the truth to friends and the problems this causes.
When I was in my twenties, it was important that I know and socialize with as many people as possible.
It was not uncommon for me to spend most of the night dancing away in a club and then meet the same folks for a meal a few hours later.
Nor was it uncommon to twirl the evening away then met a different click of folks a few hours later who had nothing to do with the previous night’s shenanigans.
It wasn’t so much about living a double life.
It was more about coloring the truth a number of varying shades depending on my present company.
I had a need for unmitigated wiggling and six hours stretches of time reading in my favorite bookstores.
I was not willing to give up any of my worlds and enjoyed darting in and out of all of them often deriving a sense of power from being the conduit to people who ordinarily would have never met.
What I refused to do was tell the truth about what I wanted or required at any given moment.
My understanding of friendships for a very long time was warped and limited.
There was no speaking up unless you were pissed off then things that were said could cause irreparable damage.
Until I turned twenty five, it never occurred to me that a good course of honesty is what all relationships need.
Truth telling, based on my experience, was a weapon used to crush the enemy, get the upper hand and shut down conversation.
This flawed thinking kept me around people I didn’t like or respect and allowed me to simply plod along in my life with no serious ride or die commitment to anything.
Truth telling in friendships and human interaction of any kind often has unpredictable results.
When a friend gets brutally honest about a feeling and refuses to remain silent, it is uncomfortable and scary.
Will the relationship end?
Will there be a reassignment of friendship duties?
A confrontation basically means: I’m right; you’re wrong.
There is one result that you can usually count on:somebody is gonna get mad.
This is the usual response along with a healthy dose of denial and justification and a dollop of blame just to keep it interesting.
As a result of so much of the shaming that goes along with being honest is it any wonder that people freak out when there is an opportunity to be honest thereby deepening the bond with another?
We are taught that being honest is cute for young children and downright entertaining and well earned by older folks.
Allowing this myth oriented and limited thinking to guide our interactions keeps us all afraid to speak or even think honestly.
If we follow this philosophy, we limit the types of powerful relationships we can create.
We learn to settle.
We learn to manipulate, withhold and lace each interaction with subterfuge and veiled, purposely misleading opinions and insights.
Truth telling in relationships is not easy and will cost you some relationships.
I am often amused when people allow you to regale them with your brilliance and insight regarding the world’s problems then wince when you honestly mention your shortcomings and places where you have made mistakes.
When people have told me that I am being rude or brash or have upset them as a result of pointing out what is or is not working, I think of the times when I am being honest about a shortcoming of my own which no one minds hearing.
When we boldly move out of secret keeping and emotional dishonesty, we will upset more than a few of our so called “friends”.
True friends require from themselves and whomever they are in relationship with to fully “show up”.
Truth telling in our most intimate relations forces us to determine the type of communication we allow and then offers us the opportunity to change it or simply wallow and say this is enough for me.
When I declared that my club hopping days were over, folks got mad.
When I announced I was leaving Detroit, folks got mad.
When I moved to Japan and then New York and then to California, those who were acquaintances shut me out.
Those who had built honest relationships with me encouraged my guts and commitment to personal growth.
They knew our friendship could grow not diminish.
About Anthony Carter
Anthony Carter is a writer, actor and a teacher.
Take a look at his blog here and you won’t regret it.
This post first appeared on Anthony Carter’s blog