Deceit and lies.

A question was posed on another blog late last night, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since the implied situation resonated so strongly with what I went through. Instead of responding as a comment I decided to write a post of my own, since it could be lengthy and I haven’t really tackled this topic before.

What should be expected when you are already in a deceitful relationship?  Honor among thieves, as it were?

I can only speak from my own experience. As many of you know, when I first embarked on a relationship outside my marriage, it was with my husband’s explicit consent. But while we agreed to an open marriage, it was a total don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. So yes, not quite “open”. But I have no better descriptor for it. I had told him that while he said I could be with others, I didn’t feel the same. Hypocritical? Sure. But at the time of the discussion, I couldn’t really see myself acting on what I had permission to do.

Of course, you know the story of how it happened. If you don’t, you can read it here.

I haven’t written much about the arrangement I had with my faraway lover. I’m working on our story. He too was married. We met through work. From the first day, we were very honest with each other about the situations we were in. We discussed whether there was anyone else we were involved with (there wasn’t, although he was a supreme flirt).

We were extremely open about what we were each going through in our marriages. Not only were we lovers, but we were each other’s therapists – in our situation, there were few people, if any, we could really talk to about everything that was going on. He knew I rarely had sex with my husband. I knew that it was more frequent with his wife, but when it happened, it wasn’t all that satisfying.

Were we deceiving each other about anything? I did suspect there were times that he fooled around with others – and it was very hard for me to let that go. To be perfectly honest, it was always there in the back of my head, bothering me. But we were many hours apart and I had my own issues to deal with. What really mattered to me, was that I knew he didn’t sleep with anyone else, and I certainly didn’t.

But then, what about his relationship with his wife? How did I deal with that? How did it feel for me when he would tell me he was trying to reconcile with her? That they were taking a weekend together to “play family” (his words)? That I knew it meant he was having sex with her? Not great, to be honest. But above all else, I wanted him to be happy. Did he deceive me by occasionally not telling me when he had sex with her? Probably. But really. He was married. What the fuck did I expect? I had to give my head a shake the first time I was pissed off at him for this. But it still stung…I wanted him and his passion all to myself.

The same applied to me. There were a few times that my husband and I had happy moments, and occasional sex. Did I volunteer that information to my lover? No.

Were those lies of omission, when we were both married? I don’t think so. When I engaged with a married man, who also knew I was married, I signed up for knowing that I was not his primarily relationship. Neither was he mine. Despite him being someone I fell in love with, the provider of passion and romance and a fantastic ego boost and a reason to wax my bikini line, he didn’t come first. The moment he did would have put me in a very bad situation.

However. I propose to you that deceit is a VERY different thing when meeting online.

I wrote before about “truths we prefer not to admit“. In dating, regardless of whether you are married, I believe that until you a) actually meet in person, and b) have an open and honest discussion about expectations and behaviours, there is no wrongdoing. Only misaligned expectations.

Here’s the thing. We all like to think we are the only one. We aren’t. Some people are very good at making you think so (I pride myself on this; it’s all about responsiveness in communication). It is a very rare person indeed who stops chatting with others, once they engage with someone with potential. Until you’ve been on a few dates with that person (despite all the texting, phone calls, maybe even phone sex), there is NO reason you should believe it’s exclusive.

Lying by omission is rampant in this online dating world. Perhaps in dating in general.

With NIM, for example, who has explicitly said to me I’m the only one he is seeing and sleeping with, I have said no such thing in return. Does he likely think it’s the same? Yes. Am I therefore lying to him? Yes. There’s no way around it. Would it hurt him if he actually knew about the others, about Johnny? Probably.

I also let P believe I wasn’t sleeping with others. When he asked explicitly about how dating was going, I would answer very carefully about men who I had been seeing – but I didn’t come straight out and say “actually I have about 4 men in rotation. You are one of them. I like sleeping with you but don’t see this really going anywhere. And yes, I’m still online dating and continuing to go on dates”. That would have been the truth.

I was honest with some of the men I was seeing…but they tended to be more openly sexual, asking about threesomes and sexual experiences and how hot it would be to see me with another man. I wouldn’t volunteer my real information until I knew that they actually meant it.

Any time we don’t offer up information openly and honestly, knowing that if the information was shared it would probably injure someone, it’s a lie. We just don’t like to think about it as such. I have all kinds of ways to justify my behaviour – he’s probably doing the same thing, maybe he doesn’t really care about me, I have the right to do whatever I want, etcetera. I do it anyway. I am a liar.

What about when the tables are turned? What gets me, every time, is my expectations. Expectations without clear and honest conversations always lead to hurt feelings. When someone lets you believe that they will ask you out again or that they aren’t seeing anyone else, and you expect something from them? Trouble. But it’s not fair unless you have put all your cards on the table. You can’t assume something just because you haven’t talked about it.

Obviously, if I ask someone “are you sleeping with others” and they say no, then I could believe them. But people do openly lie, especially online.

I contend that until you actually meet someone face to face, go on some dates with them, and ask – and offer – the explicit truth about your circumstances and your expectations, expectations and omissions will only lead you to a bad place. You can’t expect honesty unless you ask for it and you demonstrate it yourself.

I’m challenged now with a real “open relationship” with Johnny Id because it demands I tell the truth. Actively. Not allowing lies of omission. Talking about expectations and hurts and course-correcting as needed. It’s very very very difficult. I want my own freedom but don’t want him being touched by anyone else. Does that make me a hypocrite? Yes. Are we talking about it? Absolutely. Do I need to adjust my attitudes and behaviors to make it work? Since I’m serious about making it work, yes.

I would love your thoughts on my rant.

0 thoughts on “Deceit and lies.

  1. Wow – amazing post….is there room to reply in the comments section? ha! Here goes…

    First, in response to my own situation: I was honest, through and through. Both on my blog and even more so in person. I did not lie by omission. He did. It hurt when the truth came out. However, it was not against an imaginary expectation but a real “it’s all you plus my wife” (oh, just writing that makes even me laugh).

    I had no issue with the wife part. I accepted that, even if it kicked up a bit of jealousy. But really and truly accepted it. We spoke often of our home situations, his with sex, mine without. And he did not lie, or at least I still assume so, that he loved his wife and really wanted to have sex, good sex with her. I only thought “good for him”

    So, am I a liar, still? In his case, no I wasn’t. However, your post brings up great points….expectations, and in my case – his. He was afraid he wouldn’t live up to mine. Although my words said one thing, he seemed convinced I was feeling another. So he responded exactly as you write above, keeping others in the mix, playing around, and still maintaining excellent contact and communication with me. I had said to him, maybe in the first few days of meeting “you are just like any other man online” and he just proved that to be true. As it turns out, losing him as a friend, the voice that has been in my head every single minute of every single day for over a month, is a much bigger loss than the price of paying for the honesty along the way. I believe that men in affairs lie to keep the women around….I guess you are saying you do the same thing (I have to learn this talent, and I am in no way discrediting, but applauding you). He lied by omission, I couldn’t get upset for what I didn’t know.

    Which brings me to another point….why did he tell? I could have sat here oblivious and later very embarrassed if we became public. He told, then he disappeared in order not to have to manage the difficult conversation with me. I think about the telling part all the time – what’s to be gained? Once you tell, people want details…so if you with hold details, their imagination gets the worst of them, creating, perhaps, a bigger gaffe than should have been. This is why I don’t tell my husband. I know what I did/am doing is morally wrong within a marriage, yet I continue. But I also know I plan to end my marriage. I didn’t think my little on line affair was going to end almost faster than it started, but it has. **Poof**

    I asked for honesty, demonstrated honesty and did not receive it – so by your definition above…. I was the offended, not the offender. I think you might even know more than my side of the story, so you will have an opinion of your own of course.

    Did I get it all? Unfortunately, there’s no debate from me, more quite on the wonder side…. this is a vast, virtual world… I get stuck in here the days my real life slows down…and it’s easy to go down this rabbit hole with all of you… I quite like what I’ve found….and part of that is self-discovery….

    Thanks, Ann…for bringing it all up and out.

  2. My first marriage was supposed to be an open relationship. It ended disastrously, because despite having open permission to explore, my ex had to hide and cheat constantly. To this day, I can only guess that the reason why was because it wasn’t the sex that got her off. It was the deceit. It was the thrill of having a secret, the taboo of breaking the rules not because she wanted some strange cock but because she wanted to hurt me. That sound super malicious, maybe more so than I intend it to, but in the end, that’s what it came down to. She had and still has a lot of resentments about our married life (and I was not perfect, I assure you) and she lied because it was her passive aggressive way of attacking me.

    The thing is, I enjoy the idea of a non-monogamous marriage. Not for the ability to go out and woo strange women, though…while I do enjoy flirting, I find my libido is generally tied pretty exclusively to the participation of my wife. But…I want to play with her. I want to explore with her. I want to see her coo and moan and feel the touch of other lovers, and to see me do the same. That sounds extraordinarily appealing to me…

    But the fear comes in, that things will follow the path of my last marriage. That deceit and lies, even small, white ones, will taint and crack and destroy what we have. And right now, what we have is a pretty good thing. Is it as sexually adventurous as I would like? No…but I have not hid this from her. She knows how I feel. But it is happy, and honest. Perhaps I should be content with that.

      • We have an open-to-fantasy marriage, with some toying with the ideas of going further. I was open with her from the very beginning, though, that I am not really the type wired for vanilla when it comes to sexual relations, and that one of my primary kinks was play with other people. A lot of the hesitation to pursue that comes from fears, mostly on her part, of how that could affect our normal lives. We don’t live in a large town, and being deep in the religious south, it could endanger not just our reputations, but custody and legal issues with either of our ex’s.

        And yet, it remains our favorite fantasy. I love the thought of watching her being filled with another man’s meat, and she loves the idea of watching me sink deep into another woman’s body. We even get off on the idea of playing separately, each returning to the other to relive our illicit rendezvous. We discuss it in the throws of passion, use the idea to drive our selves to the height of climactic bliss. But in the aftermath, we draw away from the subject (she more than I), due to her fears and insecurities.

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  4. It just seems to me you are being way overly black and white on this issue. You seem to equate omission with deliberate deceit and outright lying. Do I “owe” everyone I come into contact with an open and utterly transparent view of my private affairs? Even if they directly ask? I think not. I deem certain answers given have to based upon mutual understanding of each other, and ultimately, trust. All those things will or should develop as the relationship works or doesn’t work. Am I condoning outright lying? No, just the opposite. It’s my belief that omission, deferral, and distraction prevent lying. As mature adults in a socially active environment we understand the “language” of this interaction. If we are cognizant of how the interaction is played out, then apart from outright lies, we needn’t feel we are being deceived.

    • Depending on the relationship though, omissions can be a slippery slope. Where’s the line between “not saying something” and “hiding something”? If it’s a casual relationship, then both people are probably “not saying” a lot to the other, but where are the relationship lines between what’s casual, friendly and semi-serious to serious? Or what happens when something casual becomes serious but has a history of omissions?

      It’s definitely a gray area, which means it’s entirely dependent on the people and the relationship. Though it’s a gray area that personally I try and avoid.

    • I am not talking about everyone we come into contact, Moe. I don’t have hyper honesty right away with everyone I meet. And I would strongly argue that many adults do not “understand the language of this interaction” as you state. If we did, then there would be 5 dating blogs out there. Not thousands. People feel they are deceived all the time.

  5. You’re human, Ann.. ANYTHING you’re feeling or will feel is perfectly acceptable! We think, therefore we are… confused – all the time!
    Follow your heart and never disrespect yourself and you’ll be fine. Period.

  6. Ah. Another woman with very clear double standards. Hi. Welcome to the club. Good luck reconciling that. I’m not being a brat. It’s just that I have been trying for years. With no success. So if you do figure it out, be a friend and let me know the secret please. 🙂 hugs.

    • Recognizing it as a double standard has forced me to really evaluate what I believe. Why would it bother me so much if a lover did the same thing I’m doing? It’s tricky, to be sure. Johnny is very good for me in that regard 🙂

      • A good friend of mine posed the same question to me. And in some cases, I’m okay with everyone doing whatever. It’s when I really care that the double standard kicks in. 🙂

  7. It is an unreasonable expectation for anyone to expect that you will pour out every piece of information, relevant or not, and no matter how personal, simply because they asked — every answer has a thousand other pieces of information that must also be disgested, in order to be properly understood. So I totally get where you are on this, and totally agree. Nicely put.

What do you think?