Honesty, Truth, and Consent
Something that seems to come up often is the struggle some have with being honest about their intentions. Whether for just play or long-term relationships, be it exclusive or poly, this theme comes up time and time again. The purpose of this post is to explore the reason why Honesty and Truth is a requirement in a Consent oriented culture such as in BDSM and other alternative lifestyles.
Honesty Equals Respect
Let’s start with the actual definition of “respect”. In general, we can say that respect towards another is:
- A feeling of appreciative regard
- Polite expressions of consideration
- The state of being regarded with honor or esteem
- Willingness to show consideration or appreciation
- An expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship
- A sense of the worth or excellence of a person, quality or ability
Notice the key words in the above: Regard, Honor, Esteem, Consideration, Appreciation, Friendship, and Worth.
Upholding the Light
When we are honest with another, we are considering their needs, and honoring their own ability to make decisions as an individual. We show appreciation for their humanity and friendship, by holding their worth in esteem. Or, to put it another way, we are acknowledging the other as equals in the human condition. We acknowledge that they are also thinking and feeling beings who are facing their own struggles (compassion) and attempting to satisfy their own goals and happiness (consideration).
When we deny honesty, we undercut the other’s ability to make decisions. We are, essentially, controlling them by denying information which may factor into a decision that isn’t our desired outcome. Through such, we manipulate the outcome by placing our own goals or desires above theirs. This is the crime of arrogance and narcissism – others don’t matter as much as ourselves. This is the crux of the rationale where the means are justified by the ends (outcomes). There is a false sense of exclusive liberty in satisfying our own needs at the expense of others because the “I” must always come first.
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” -Abraham Lincoln
This is what it means to “take the high road” or uphold the light – to be honest and truthful is to choose to uphold one’s personal integrity over achieving one’s objectives.
I have tried to make a convincing argument as to why Honesty is so integral to a consensual value system. But let us also consider the right to individual privacy. Does the above mean you need to divulge ANY and ALL details to a stranger you are considering as a partner? No, of course not! Common sense would clearly advise personal details as to your address, job, family names, etc., should be held closely until such time as there is enough mutual trust in place – not to mention the relevancy of such details.
There is a difference in saying “yes, I am married” versus “my husband’s name is George and here are his vital details about identity, job, and health…” One is being honest about one’s marital status, which is important where a long-term relationship is being sought. It WILL come out, and you might as well start from a position of respect by being honest about it. However, there’s no need in sharing all the details – the rule of Too Much Information applies.
Similarly, you don’t need to divulge your exact birthday, social security numbers, etc., but you should be honest about your age. Again, it WILL come out at some point anyway, and if you are afraid of being rejected because you are too old (or too young) then your deceit is more about your Fear than it is about anyone else. Can manipulation and lying to another really be justified by your own insecurities – especially when it undermines the image and reputation you are trying to build?
I know several that have been bitten by this in the end – where a relationship was destroyed not because of the weight of the truth, but because it was a matter of deception or betrayal of trust.
Let’s say you are looking for something part-time, or short term, but are afraid that if you say so, you won’t get that date with the person you desire. Tough luck. If you aren’t being honest about the type of relationship or activity you are seeking, then you ARE deceiving the other and using them to meet your needs. Deception of this sort is either conveniently ignoring the others feelings and value as a Person. You are misleading, manipulating, and distorting – none of which leads the other to any conclusion that is consensual because the premise is false from the start.
If you aren’t being honest with ALL partners about seeing or having relationships with others, you are NOT poly – you are lying and cheating. Being poly is a consensual relationship model where ALL parties are consenting to sharing the love, affection, and time of other relationship members. To balance and maintain these relationships, a lot of communication, honesty, and consideration is required. If it sounds like work, it is, but there are many that feel the benefit outweighs the effort. Then again, if everyone is on the same page and being honest, it shouldn’t be too hard. Complexity = difficulty.
You like your partner; no, you Love your partner – but only if they would… (fill-in the blank here). There is the old adage that women expect men to change, and men expect women to never change; and how both are unhappy because of this. The truth of this in something very fundamental – neither is coming from a place of honesty. One that insists on making the change has not accepted their partner, and isn’t being honest with themselves or their partners about it. The other assumes time and events have no consequence, and isn’t being honest about their responsibility or the impact of the others experiences. Both are living in a fantasy land, lying to themselves, and forcing the other to conform to their distortions despite reality. They are not being honest with themselves, and they’re not being honest with their partners about how they feel about them.
Here are some simple rules, to make this easy.
- Own your choices, be they good, bad, or indifferent; do not however try to cover or rationalize them
- Embrace your own vulnerabilities and doubts so you can be honest with yourself AND others
- Start from a position of respect for the other by being honest about your intentions
- Everything impacts, there is always cause and effect – especially a partners actions
- Accept the Whole Package that comes with a prospective partner, or not
- When you lie to yourself, you lie to everyone else