Maybe I’m just naive, overly trusting, or look at the Lifestyle through rose-colored glasses, but I didn’t think that in my unicorn chronicles, I’d have to deal with too much dishonesty in the LS. I mean, we are all adults, and ones who have, for whatever reason, decided to participate in activities and join a community that is built on open communication and honesty with your partners, lovers, and significant (or even not-so-significant) others.That was one of the hallmarks of the LS, and one of the reasons (I thought) that many, if not most of us, decided to go down this road.
Unfortunately, it seems as though not everyone holds honesty in such high regard. I get it, to an extent- sometimes there are uncomfortable conversations, where your partner may exercise their veto power, but lately, it seemed as though people (mostly men) were lying over the silliest things. As I’d written before (see “Intertwining Circles”), the LS really is rather small, so the chances of being caught in a lie if one stayed within the community seemed pretty high, at least to me.
The latest situation, at least from my perspective, wasn’t even worth telling a lie over. A married LS guy contacted me a few months ago via Facebook message. At first, the conversation was pretty benign, all pleasantries and hellos, and a discussion of mutual friends. Although we knew many of the same people, we’d never met, since we lived across the country from each other. He suggested that I add his wife as a Facebook friend. I thought this was a great idea, and a sign of his being upfront and honest, which I appreciated. I sent her a friend request and she accepted it. He continued to send me messages periodically, graduating from casual conversation to ask about my sexual preferences. I asked about theirs, making sure to frame the question about what they enjoyed as a couple.
Eventually, he asked if we could start exchanging pictures and have a few dirty-talk message exchanges. I specifically asked if this would be okay with his wife. He replied quickly and easily, “oh, no worries, she’s totally fine with that kind of thing!” I took his word for it, not even imagining that he was lying or that I needed to double-check his assertion with her. Why would he lie about something so seemingly trivial? He occasionally sent me messages to tell me about dreams or fantasies he had about me. Sometimes he’d send dick pics. I’d send pictures upon request, but aside from responses like, “ooh, that sounds hot,” I wasn’t really able to reciprocate on the dirty talk, as I was usually busy when he initiated conversation. Regardless, it wasn’t anything I thought about very much.
One morning, he sent a message with a picture of his dick attached, saying he’d dreamt of me the night before. He proceeded to describe the dream, and I gave the appropriate “oohs” and “ahhs,” before saying that I needed to go to my Zumba class, but would chat with him later. When I got out of class, there was a group chat in my inbox with him and his wife. “Hello Ms. Devin,” she said. “My husband has something he needs to say to you.” I immediately knew what it was all about, and he confirmed my suspicions. “I have been a bad boy. My wife wasn’t aware of me contacting you from time to time and I want to apologize to both of you.”
Insert Big.Heavy.Sigh. I immediately piped up to let her know that I’d asked about her from the start. She said that she had no knowledge that I was chatting with her husband, and sent me a separate message asking if I’d be willing to forward all of the conversations I’d had with him to her. I did, and she and I ended up having a long chat afterward. Luckily, she did not blame me and was actually very nice and appreciative of how respectful and upfront I was about the whole situation.
Throughout the conversation, and even afterward, I started thinking about honesty and the LS. Was it all an illusion? This was not the first time a similar situation had arisen, and while I always remained unscathed (thank goodness I tend to save messages), it was a bit troubling (and slightly irritating). I really didn’t want to have to always double check people and police adults. Usually, I take people at their word, especially in these scenarios. Hell, you need to be able to trust people in the LS, in particular, as you’re sharing your bodies with them. But speaking to others, they said that they usually erred on the side of caution and spoke with the wife or significant other to verify the validity of any and everything. This particular situation seemed rather ridiculous to check- we weren’t planning on meeting (at least, that had never been discussed), but obviously it was a big deal to the wife. I understood her point, even if it weren’t technically “cheating,” he’d been dishonest to me and deceptive to her. She said that she would have been fine with our conversations, she just wanted to know about them and be included.
Is dishonesty a human trait, though? Maybe the thought that LS people are more honest than vanilla ones isn’t really accurate. Although perhaps we discuss more in the LS and like to consider ourselves to be on a higher level in terms of honest communication, we are all humans, with the same fears, worries, and sensitivities. I know that if I looked back at things I’d said, done, or omitted, both as a part of a couple and as a single woman, I could certainly find both small and big lies alike in my history. Telling a couple that I wasn’t interested in that I hadn’t shaved, was on my period, had to do something really quickly and then I’d be back—all lies. Lies told to prevent hurt feelings or an awkward discussion but lies nonetheless. Not disclosing a flirtation to my partner- an omission. Asking for permission after the fact- a deception. And I know that I’m not the only one. Time and again, I’d seen LS friends (both male and female), keep things from their partners, even asking me not to mention certain things because they didn’t want to rock the boat at home or have to deal with the discomfort of a conversation. Sometimes I’d even participated in these duplicitous events… So, I’m no saint, and I’m no better. My internal justification, “Well, it is their relationship, not mine, so I don’t owe anyone anything,” rang hollow.
As for the guy, I will never know what his motivations were. Perhaps he thought his wife wouldn’t have actually been okay with the conversations and didn’t want to have that discussion. Perhaps he got a thrill from doing something behind her back. Maybe he just wanted to have something for himself without having her involved and thought this was just a harmless flirtation.
Regardless of the motivations, I do think that we should aspire to be as honest as possible, even if it is uncomfortable, even if we risk hearing something we don’t want to, even if it may hurt. I don’t think that brutal honesty is admirable- I always try to avoid hurting others, but allowing people to know what they are getting into upfront, allowing them the freedom to voice their opinion and choose- that’s what honesty means to me, and that’s a goal to strive for. Being honest allows me to face my fears of what “could” happen if I just spoke up- asked for what I wanted, said what I didn’t. That vulnerability is scary, but most of the time, I find that the reality is less fearful and much easier than whatever scenario I’ve built in my mind. And even if I don’t necessarily agree or like hearing what others’ have said (yes, sometimes honesty hurts), I usually appreciate that they valued and respected me enough to tell the truth. So, while we may not be able to be 100% honest, 100% of the time, I think it is a worthwhile goal. And that’s the honest truth.