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Open and Honest

April 20, 2009

One of the things that I’m really big on is open and honest communication. I’m sure a lot of people who know me have heard me use this phrase, or something sounding similar, quite often. I realized I’m not so sure that I’ve ever made a blanket statement regarding what this means to me. So today, instead of writing about what is really ailing me, I am gonna take a stab at clarifying my outlook.

I believe in communication. And when I say that, I’m not trying to allude to the general thought that “good communication makes a healthy relationship”- as true as it might be. I mean that communication is a driving force in my life. I competed in and coached competitive public speaking for the better part of seven years. In that time I learned how to EFFECTIVELY communicate as well as how to bring out effective communication in others. It is too much to delve into here, and I’m not sure that I can even put it down into written words. Regardless, communication has been a big part of my life. I believe that a vast majority of issues that people have with one another are exacerbated by poor communication- not being precise with how they say things, not listening and looking at the reactions of their intended audience to ensure their message has been interpreted correctly, and in case it hasn’t adjusting how you present your thought to correct any misunderstanding. I see it all the time, especially in relationships in the scene. Unfortunately, I also see it being the root of a lot of the Drama as well.

I, in fact, am an over-communicator. But the difference with how I try to communicate is that I don’t just tell people things.. and I don’t try to get what I want. In fact, I often find myself telling people things that work against what I would *LIKE* to see happening. Why? Well for one, I see that as a tactic used by the types of people who I ::insert moral judgment here:: find disgusting. And most importantly, because telling half truths or bending the truth to attain a desired outcome is NOT open and honest communication. It does NOT foster trust and a healthy relationship (whether friendship or romantic) in any way.. EVER.

So that begs for the question to be asked- Is complete open and honest communication ever possible in a relationship?

YES.

I am going to use my friendship with Vie as an example. We have a few rules that we have set up for our friendship and abide by:

1. We do not lie to each other. If I am mad at him and he asks me such, I usually tell him, “yes but I’m not going to talk about it right now” instead of telling him “no” just so he gets off my case. When I call up and say, “hey wanna rock out to some guitar hero tonight?!” and he’s busy with someone or something else, he doesn’t come up with some vague excuse to tell me so that I don’t feel slighted or jealous.. he straight up tells me- “i’m hanging with X tonight.. sorry can’t” or “I gotta go to this thing.. sorry.”

2. Anything we say to each other isn’t going to be judged or held against us. It is much easier to be honest when you don’t have to fear that you’re going to be judged. As such, I know that I fess up a lot to the “bad” things that I do. I’m not punished, but rather we then look back at things and say, ok HOW do we go about things so that I don’t feel like i need to do X or feel X or what not as to prevent the “bad” behavior. I don’t think there has ever been anything I’ve fessed up to that he’s gotten mad at me for, and I’ve fessed up to quite a bit of BIG stuff. The same goes in reverse. I might get passionately upset with him, but he knows that in the end it doesn’t affect the quality of our friendship and that when I calm down again I’ll talk to him and we’ll be back to normal! 🙂

I also have a few checks and balances I’ve set up to help me determine when I’m not following the rules:

– The second I feel that hesitation and need to pull back, it’s usually something important that if I didn’t tell him, would just be a lie of omission. Such details need to be told.

– I don’t make exceptions EVER. There are often times people tell me, “… just don’t tell Vie!” Ya, that’s not going to happen. In fact, statements like that just incite me to call him and tell him whatever it is I’m supposed to be hiding instead of just mentioning it the next time I see him. There ARE a few sensitive situations where people tell me private information they don’t wish to share with him and those are the cases in which the trust in our friendship comes into play. He knows there are somethings people have told me and I can’t tell him. If entirely necessary, and he asks in the way we have previously discussed I will tell him anything.. all promises to other people put aside. However, he knows he has this power and has yet to use it because I believe he understands the seriousness it holds to me.

– I, like anyone, am subject to the things I speak so adamantly against. Yes, there are times in which I would very much like to use my communication skills to achieve a desired outcome. There are times, for instance, I see him hurt by a situation as well as seeing an easy solution to fix the problem that I could *manipulate* to happen if I so desired. THESE are generally one of the times I tell him I need to process. I refuse to speak to him about serious issues and have a real conversation when I am being emotional. I advise anyone looking to make real improvements to do the same. When you communicate while under the influence of emotions, responsibility and accountability go out the window. BAD TIMES. BAD BAD TIMES.

The last thing I want to touch on is the value I have begun to experience of communication with dealing with poly situations. It is essential. There are too many emotions flying around to not communicate with your partner and perhaps even their partners. I have found it ineffective to NOT communicate with the other people involved with the person I am for several reasons (which I won’t get into now.. but if you’re curious am definitely willing to talk about). In the last month, I have set up a few rule for myself in light of events.

1- Full disclosure of the nature of each relationship. If not, assumptions begin to form.. and they can be CRAZY destructive.

2- Consent. I refuse to be involved with people who are not honest. I believe everyone involved must consent to sharing. Those who SAY they do but are just lying to not lose something or are trying to be something they aren’t are in effect turning the consensual relationship into a non consentual one. Not because THEY don’t consent, but because I do not consent to poly with people who lie about their feelings.

3- Full disclosure of the expectations and limitations of the relationship. Not all relationships are equal. You have to tell people your limits with them. Set up expectations. That way people are left wondering and thinking, “maybe this could be more.. maybe?”

So there ya go. End rant on communication. I started this last week wanting to explain my views and how I incorporate them into my life… I think I’ve achieved that. With some good old fashioned rants and judgments thrown in for good measure!

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