Honesty and relationships

Schneider et al., (2012) point out that when it comes to relationships, it is recommended to start with honesty. Honesty means to hold to one’s integrity, principles, beliefs, actions, and intentions. Honesty includes clearly communicating needs and goals to your partner (Schneider et al., 2012). Honesty is something most people will agree they look for in a romantic partner. Most people will also admit that they lie. How honest people are with their partners appears to impact the longevity of the relationship. Lackenbauer, Campbell, Rubin, Fletcher, G. J. O., and Troister (2010) demonstrated how important both accuracy and positive bias are to the survival of a romantic relationship. Participants were asked to describe their partner and then this feedback was shown to their partner. The feedback was manipulated by the researcher to either be accurate or inaccurate and positively biased or not positively biased. If the feedback was rated as accurate by the receiving partner, the receiving partner also rated the survival of the relationship more positively than participants who received inaccurate feedback. The highest rating of survival of the relationship was given by participants that received both accurate and positive bias feedback. The lowest rating of survival of the relationship was given by participants that received both inaccurate and non-positively biased feedback. This research suggests the need for accuracy in relationships longevity. There must be a certain level of honesty in a relationship in order to be known accurately, which means that honesty is also an important factor in optimism toward relationship survival. Furthermore, Kaplar and Gordon (2004) also demonstrate support for the impact of honesty in romantic relationships. The results from Kaplar and Gordon’s study showed that the perception of motive for telling lies is much more negative for the receiver than for the lie teller, which consequently lead to a negative impact on the relationship. Participants were instructed to write a narrative from a time that they lied in a relationship and to explain their perspective on the motives for telling the lie. The same participant was also asked to write a narrative from a time they were lied to in a relationship and to explain their perception of the motives of the lie teller. Participants justified their actions when in position of lie teller and felt more resolved about the situation. Participants interpreted the lie teller’s motives as more selfishly motivated and provided less justification when in position of lie receiver. There also tended to be unresolved feelings for the receiver. These results indicate that honesty is an important element in relationship survival. When honesty is absent, the relationship is likely to be disjointed as perspectives will be different for lie teller and receiver, making total resolution difficult.

Security, loyalty, friendship, and family are all byproducts of a long-term, lasting romantic relationship. According to divorcestatistics.org, the divorce rate in America is 45-50% for first marriages, 60-67% for second marriages, and 70-73% for third marriages. With almost half of first time marriages not surviving in the U.S., and marriage being the basic unit of family, it is important to the social and emotional health of our country that we take a look at what building blocks are vital to a lasting relationship. Of course there are circumstances that validate divorce, but with such a high turnover rate, it is obvious there has been a breakdown in important steps that sustain long-term relationships. Lack of commitment, fear, selfishness, anger, bitterness, and broken families are some of the byproducts of divorce. With almost one in every two marriages experiencing these byproducts, the impact on our social fabric is phenomenal. Honesty builds trust, security, acceptance, and change. As a society we would be well advised to beging relationships with honesty.



Divorce Statistics ( n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.divorcestatistics.org/

Kaplar, M. E., & Gordon, A. K. (2004). The enigma of altruistic lying: Perspective differences in what motivates and justifies lie telling within romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 11(4), 489-507.

Lackenbauer, S. D., Campbell, L., Rubin, H., Fletcher, G. J. O., & Troister, T. (2010). The unique and combined benefits of accuracy and positive bias in relationships. Personal Relationships, 17(3), 475-493. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01282.x

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.





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