A very wise man said to me recently – “There are two secrets to a successful relationship. You have to work very hard and you have to lie very well.”
Well. Now you know.
And if you’ve read my book “Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How to Cheat, Eat and be Happy”, you already know I am an accomplished liar. Expert. A pro. Olympic gold-medal quality.
I know. Not my greatest source of pride. Which is why when I got honest, I GOT HONEST. I mean, I tried to get honest. I tried to conduct myself with honour. I tried to make choices that did not lead to lying or keeping secrets. I tried to negate all the damage I had done with a newfound zeal for truth.
But does truth equal full disclosure? Is it a secret if we do not divulge information which might be pertinent but wasn’t asked for? Is a lack of transparency as good as a lie?
My friend L thinks so. She recently found some weird and unusual evidence that suggested her husband was perhaps hiding something. And so she naturally confronted him. His full answer was (and I quote) “I don’t know”. L was incredulous. How could he not know? The evidence was right there. He made a few lame attempts to twist it around like a pretzel and then, after days of dialogue and pain and fear, reiterated his initial defense. “I don’t know.”
So L countered, “Can we at least try to find out? Can I look at your phone?”
His answer was a resounding NO. His phone was personal, he said. We all have a right to our privacy, he said. He would never dream to scroll through her phone, he said.
L reminded him that she never used to keep her phone locked and now that she did, he knew her passcode. Why was it that in their entire relationship HE always kept his passcode secret?
Because of privacy, he reminded her.
At least he didn’t say, “I don’t know.”
And so I put the question out to a panel of experts (Facebook). Do we have the right to keep our phones and passcodes secret from our partners? I’m no mathematician but I would say the answer NO galloped in at a resounding 85%. “Unacceptable!” someone clamoured. “What do they have to hide?” “There should be no need!” someone exclaimed. “No secrets!” someone bellowed. “It all boils down to trust!” someone argued.
But then K chimed in: “Nowadays your phone contains almost everything. It’s like a diary. So I believe it’s acceptable to keep it private.” Fair point. But K is 18 and not married. That said, S is much older than 18 and married. And she echoed that sentiment. Without permission, she said, it would be a violation of ethics to scrutinize your partner’s phone.
Which brings us back to L. Because she asked for permission. And she was denied. So does L have something to worry about?
As that wise man also said: “The only time I don’t want my wife to see my phone is when there is something on my phone I don’t want my wife to see.”
Let’s hope it’s a new diamond surprise. Unlikely, right?
According to my Facebook poll, yes, L most certainly does have something to worry about. And the concern is twofold. Number 1 – the mere fact that she feels compelled to peruse hubby’s phone indicates a bigger problem in the relationship ( a trust issue, obviously). The mere fact that she is so desperate for reassurance that she feels the need to do something she has never done before (ask to see his phone) … well, that is a rather large concern. She never needed to ask before and she never cared that his passcode was private. The Number 2 concern is that HE is apparently not able to assuage her current fears with logical and reasoned explanation and this just might indicate that her fears are grounded in some truth.
I almost thought the jury had reached a verdict.
And then, as G so eloquently stated (by the way, G is a dude) – “If the relationship dynamic is good then yes, we can all maintain an element of privacy. It’s something we all need to own. However, if the dynamic is flawed then secret passcodes will definitely cause trust issues. The bottom line is this: both parties have to decide if they can trust their own decision-making process. Obviously if they are struggling, the relationship is not on solid ground.”
Nothing is ever simple, is it?
I think I’m going to run with B. B stated that in a committed relationship, trust and transparency are paramount. She also offered that if you really want to go digging around in your partner’s phone, “let the buyer beware!” Whatever you may find is knowledge you must then find a way to live with.
I have always maintained that “I’d rather suffer with the knowing than with the wondering.”
But I also can admit that there are “things” on my phone I’d rather my partner not see. Private conversations ABOUT him (and us). Somewhat flirty texts from old flames (which make me feel good and are completely innocent but who knows how he would react?). Old emails that have nothing to do with us that I have saved, nonetheless.
I guess my conclusion is this: if there is something on your phone that might break your relationship, your relationship is already broken. If there is something (or nothing) on your phone that can solve a dilemma, then by all means share it. If you are entirely unwilling to give up your “privacy” TO YOUR SPOUSE perhaps consider becoming a monk. Or at the very least a swinging single.
And if you want a truly successful relationship, only lie when asked, “Does this dress make me look fat?”
THAT (to me) is “lying well”.
Everything else smacks of selfish dishonesty. Dishonesty designed to save your ass from accountability. Dishonesty designed to help you get away with something. Whatever that something is.
Given my history, I strongly counsel you to try anything but. Because truth (and transparency) are SO MUCH EASIER than lies.
And you will sleep so much better too.