C and I had a lot of conversations about relationships, largely abstract, including the previous post on saying “I love you” and expressing love. One of the things we discussed was honesty and transparency in relationships. I’m a very open person. I pretty much put myself out there as I am to people. I don’t really have many secrets and I’m a terrible liar. So, honesty has always been my go-to. When hubby and I embarked on our adventure with polyamory, we agreed on two rules:
- Safer sex: barriers for penetration
- Honesty and Transparency
Turns out that honesty and transparency mean different things to different people. For C, his style is more “don’t ask, don’t tell”. His girlfriends know about each other, he knows about hubby and his girlfriend, but they don’t give details. I was the one who let out important developments in their relationship to C and this is part of the reason he broke up with me (it was the joke I made when he told me that he and I had to stop talking so much because he was concerned about how our friendship effected hubby and his girlfriend). In the process of our discussions he suggested I should write a blog post about what my views on honesty and transparency are.
For me, what is important is not the details, but intention behind the honesty. I want to know about hubby’s dates, that he talking to new women, and how it’s going. I want to hear about things so that I can support him and enjoy the whole process with him. I get excited about his progress and the new developments in his love life. I tell him about the details of my dates before I go. It’s more of a safety thing, as anyone can say anything and pretend to be anyone in online dating. He gets the name and number of my date, as well as the details of where we are going. I check in with him every hour to two hours during the evening as well. I tell him the details of how the date went when I get home. I tell him my feelings about the guys I’m with. He knew I was going to be intimate with D before it happened. I tell him immediately after I’ve been intimate with someone for the first time. I tell him when I’m talking to new men and when they’ve asked me out on a date. We ask each other how things are going and I volunteer information, but ask him if he’s OK with hearing it. I’d love to hear more details about his relationship, but his girlfriend is very private and doesn’t want any information transfer, so I just hear the things I need to keep the transparency I need.
I don’t think that leaving important information out is acceptable. For example, if my partner had an exclusively online relationship with people, I would expect to hear about it. To know what was happening. If it’s an online sexual relationship, that’s even more important. I told hubby when my relationship with X had reached a sexual level, even though it was long distance and over Skype. I think any omission of information borders on cheating. I also think that X lied by omission about the development of our sexual relationship and that was the catalyst that destroyed our relationship
I like to know what hubby is doing with his girlfriend. If they go out on a date and stay in a hotel overnight, I like to know where and how long they’ll be gone. I tell him when I’m going out on a date. I tell him when I’m spending the night or if D is coming over while he’s at work. I tell him when I meet D for lunch or go and see him just to give him a kiss at work.
What’s important to me is that I know before things happen. I don’t like the idea that he could go out for a date and I not know about it until afterwards. It’s about volunteering information, not waiting until someone asks for it. It’s about respecting and honouring the relationship we have.
With D, I tell him when I have a date. He knows I talk to other men and it doesn’t bother him. I tell him some of the details of my dates, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of it. He knows I love him. He knows that if I develop a relationship with someone new, that it is because it’s an exceptional relationship, because I don’t want to sacrifice my time with him or hubby for someone who isn’t worth it. Recently, I slept with someone new for the first time. I told D and he said “sounds like you had fun”. Hubby was a little more reactive to the news, but I think he dealt with it well.
So, I wrote the first draft of this post last week. In the meantime, a horrible, horrible, horrible game of telephone led to some pretty awful things being said about me. It highlighted that there is a huge difference in the way hubby’s girlfriend communicates and the way I communicate. What this means is that because she is so private and concerned about information transfer, hubby and I can’t be as transparent and honest with each other as we’ve always been. This means that the person hubby has brought into our lives has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with each other. This is a huge realization for me. It’s something that I didn’t foresee and now that it happened, I don’t understand how I didn’t realize it. Hubby is required, by his girlfriend, to not talk to me about things he would normally come directly to me with. We have secrets now. Or he has secrets. I’m still open and honest. This makes me very sad and it’s going to take me some time to deal with the loss.
Honesty and transparency is a great rule. Until someone who doesn’t want to be part of the chain of honesty modifies it to mean something it was never limited to before. So what I cherish about honesty and transparency means something different to other people. Sometimes those other people will change the way you think about honesty and transparency too.