One of my sister-friends has been dating a guy for nearly eight months, and last week, he said those three words every woman wants to hear. She called me in a panic because she had replied, “I love you too,” although she doesn’t feel that way. She said she didn’t know what else to say to him in the moment and didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
I actually think her telling him that she loved him when she doesn’t could do more damage than her not saying anything. She explained how exuberantly happy he was once she confirmed for him that she too was in love. It sent him on an emotional journey on which she’s not quite ready to join. And, she is having second thoughts about their relationship in general and whether their personalities match.
Fearing hypocrisy, I couldn’t be too hard on my sister-friend as I have done the same thing. Whether it is telling someone, “I miss you,” when you don’t or that you’re having fun, when you’re not, I’ve told countless emotional lies. We all have and the basis for it is usually not to hurt the other person’s feelings. In fact, had we been honest it might have ultimately saved someone from hurt in the end.
More importantly, it creates an environment of dishonesty in your relationship and undermines the validity of such statements when true. Far too often we allow dishonesty to creep into our relationships and someone’s emotions are not being honored. Your true emotions are not being honored and the other person’s aren’t either because they don’t know what you really feel.
Instead, I encouraged her (and myself) to be more honest about her true feelings in the relationship. We all know how to say something honestly to another person without hurting their feelings. Sure, there might be some disappointment in the discovery that you don’t share the same feelings, but anyone who can’t respect your candor doesn’t really deserve you. Moreover, it allows for increased meaning at the moment you do feel the same, if that comes.
It is so easy to escape the uncomfortable feelings that come after you disclose your true feelings to a partner by telling a “white lie.” But, you’re doing yourself and the other person a disservice by not being honest. In the long run, it’s better for both of you if you keep it “one hundred” and not tell emotional lies.
Wishing you love and ceaseless joy! Follow @NathanHWilliams on Twitter.
Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.