As a ’70s child born on Long Island, I grew up high on Billy Joel, fantasizing for the longest time about one day becoming the “uptown girl” he’d be singing about. At bedtime, my mother told me tales of having been his groupie of sorts—she and her Catholic high school girlfriends drooling at private performances in his garage before he became a musical god among men. With reverence for “Billy” in her voice, I could do nothing but accept each lyric he uttered as truth. So when my portable red tape deck blasted, “Honesty is such a lonely word,” I took note.
In those elementary years, it was the foreboding combination of my mother’s scolding pointer finger and the gleam of my father’s silver belt buckle that first exposed me to the adage “honesty is the best policy.” Thus I also internalized this lesson: it’s important to be honest—not because it actually feels good to be honest, but through honesty I might or might not escape from unspeakable pain. And so this childhood fear deprived me the experience of learning how indescribably good it feels to be honest with people—no matter how much the truth might sting.
In adulthood, I’ve come to realize that when human beings feel “stung” by a certain truth, it’s just an emotional reaction. And when we really look into the nature of that emotion, the anger elicited is just an energy field moving through our awareness and it always passes. Yet if as children we faced dire consequences as a result of some innocent action—when our word on “what happened” would determine to belt or not to belt, and the honest answer would lead to a beating but a lie would liberate us—is it any wonder human beings learn to lie and that lying can serve their highest good?
Behavioral conditioning of this caliber is carried forward into all aspects of our lives—yet in no other area does this root habituation resurface so fiercely for conscious review as in our intimate relationships. All human beings possess an innate sensitivity to know when we’re being lied to, though over the course of our lives, this sensitivity may have been dulled through substance abuse, work addiction, too much television, fluorescent lights, and computer use, etc. Yet this sensitivity is present and as long as a person has the intention to live from truth, their truth sensors are destined to be reawakened.
When you reach a critical mass, where you become sick of lies and consciously choose to live a harmonious existence, whether in an intimate relationship or not—you will notice the dynamics of your relationships immediately shifting as divine grace deals you an opportunity to become honest with people in areas you previously were not. If not in partnership when this surrender occurs, you will no doubt attract clear-cut opportunities to be truthful and otherwise vulnerable in ways you never dreamed of. And no matter which category you fall into, you’ll discover that only your completely honest relationships last, or at the very least yield happiness.
Pertaining to honest relationships and in my experience as a Tantra teacher, the most frequent question I receive from couples regarding monogamy is about suspicion of a partner’s attraction to or affairs with other men or women. The most common response of a partner is the anger of rejection, deception, and/or “I’m not special enough to be the only one you want.” Yet this ego-driven response repertoire—like all emotional reactions—is just a thought. While discussing these topics, thought-emotions may be visceral in your body and seemingly tangible in the energetic field between you and your partner, yet if the intention of your relationship is truth, then you’ve arrived at a shining moment in your shared path where you both can be together, loving and supporting each other as you feel and look directly at this anger while it dissolves into something no less divine yet more sublime. A stillness arises and you are truly together, one beyond the illusion of human drama.
I write on this topic from my personal experience. And though I have established a loving, monogamous relationship, I have experienced attraction to other men and the desire to be looked at by them, both of which my partner sensed and asked me about one night, after he watched me flirt with another man at the Cheesecake Factory. And can I just tell you? We stayed up until 4 a.m. as I ruthlessly lied and denied it—of course, to spare my partner’s feelings, as well as to eliminate the risk of him leaving me on the spot.
And guess what? Once I had the courage to say, “Yes, I flirted with the guy”—all of the tension in the space between me and my lover dropped away. Sitting quietly in presence and watching the emotions for nearly an hour, we had reached a new depth of intimacy. We knew at that point that if one of us wanted to be with other people, we could. It was the intention for truth that revealed a commitment to the relationship we truly desired. From that point forward, the social taboo of attraction to others, seen for what it was, held no power over us.
Nearly five years later, I remember that sacred night with profound reverence for truth. One moment of being honest, even with so much on the line, released me from a lifetime of fear-based lying to myself and my lovers. If my partner’s innate truth detector had not ignited mine, I might never have written this today. The most exhilarating relationship journeys may begin with some fear, but believe you me: honesty is not a lonely word.