For all of us who’ve been down the road of dating, heartbreak is a common feeling and being ghosted is a common experience, leaving us wondering where the entire thing went astray. In the midst of all of this is deception and the yearning for truth. As we trudge along, we find ourselves as players in a boobytrapped island, trying to navigate our way to safety. We go through the courses, reading each signal, while hoping to find answers to seemingly unanswerable questions. We wonder if we’re attractive and if we’re liked, we wonder if we’re witty and engaging, and if we’re as captivating as we hope to appear. We search for those signals to answer our questions in the hope of comforting ourselves with a sense of security; but, all too often we find that that safety is merely an illusion, and nothing more than a mirage presented to our yearning minds.
When we were children, we were taught to say what we meant and to mean what we said; we were taught that honesty was a virtue which was necessary for a functioning society, and that it was required for a good and moral life. Yet, somewhere along the way that notion of honesty was forgotten as we learned how to utilize our words for selfish gains: for power or sex, if not some combination of the two. We learned how significant flattery was, and how far it could take us. And with that knowledge, the value of our relationships fell, taking with it the possibility of intimacy.
The hardest part of dating is cutting through the bullshit, and finding someone who’d be real with you, despite the risk that carries; someone who won’t bullshit and bail for the sake of getting laid, and won’t delude themselves of the merits of their actions. I find that most people prefer to be told the truth about another’s intentions, instead of being and flattered and feeling used. As difficult as honesty may be, and as humane as one may believe himself or herself to be, that individual isn’t doing another a favor by ghosting him or her after making them feel as though they were the most fascinating person that individual had ever met. Countless times, I’ve been ghosted, and countless times, I was left wondering where I had gone astray, and why that person tried to build me up in order to bring me down. In those cases, I would have much preferred the honesty of being told I wasn’t enough for them, which would have been okay with me. Under the guise of protection, we continually harm others to protect ourselves from the uncomfortable feeling of witnessing another’s pain: another way we evade responsibility.
Honesty, in itself, seems to be a rare commodity in any relationship, but even rarer in dating, which is why I’ve focused on its manifestation, or lack thereof, in that domain. Sometimes, to be honest equates with being hurtful; but, in my opinion, hurtful can be divided into the forms of intentionally and unintentionally induced sorrow, with the latter being outside of one’s realm of control. To be honest and forthright is a lost art; one which existed much too long ago. I’m not an expert in relationships nor dating; but, I am an expert in my own wishes, and I can attest to my desire for honesty, instead of being made to feel like a fool for believing someone’s purported connection and attraction to me. For to love oneself is to accept oneself, and to disavow the need for flattery. To love another is to accept another, and to disavow the use of insincerity. Honesty is an indicator of love for another, and it’s a sign of respect. For to truly respect another is to tell them how you really feel. And to truly respect another is to respect their feelings about you.
Somewhere along the way, we learned that it was okay to lie and to take advantage of others’ vulnerabilities for our own gain; somewhere along the way, we stopped treating people as people. To lie and to deceive isn’t to protect; to lie and to deceive is to patronize and minimize. In friendships, as in dating, respect entails honesty, as a virtuous relationship is comprised of it. Each of us can’t be the smartest, the most beautiful, or the most desirable, but we can be caring and warm and truthful to others. We can value them enough to say that, even in the absence of romantic feelings, they’re still worthy of our concern, and more importantly, of our honesty. We can, despite our environment, live virtuously.