Why There's No Such Thing as Too Much Truth When Dating

by Erickka Sy Savané

It’s the first week of an amazing courtship. This day finds me and Mr. Wonderful sipping margaritas at an outside café. There are so many things we have in common: our love of food, long walks, conversation, music, books… The fact that he is one of the sexiest guys I’ve ever seen is just frosting on top of a chocolate cake. I want to say that fate brought us to the same club on a night that neither of us wanted to go out, but I know better than letting my mind race to a point in the future where I’m already trying on his last name. This nugget of wisdom came after enduring months of boot camp therapy with super shrink Carole La Bar. Though I’ve said it before in the past, this time I’m going to take things slow…er.

With the liquor giving us both the freedom to open up, I share that I’m looking for something that can lead to marriage and a family and he reveals that he’s cheated on every girlfriend he’s ever had, but is ready to make a change. I shift in my seat, trying to act as if his statement isn’t equivalent to confessing to murder. As he continues to talk (his lips moving in slow motion), all I can think is, if he cheated on them, why wouldn’t he do the same to me? Did he just kill his chances of getting with me?

I finish the date and decide to walk home because the fresh air will do me good, and I need to speak to someone immediately who can help me figure out my next move. My best friend Lee is the first person I dial because he is male and usually pretty good at giving advice. He claims to be right 99 percent of the time, but that is a whole ‘nother story. He picks up the phone on the first ring and tells me that he is still at work, so I have only five minutes. I spit out the story in two, leaving the remaining three minutes for him to let loose. When I finish, he says matter-of-factly, “I wouldn’t get rid of him, but definitely keep your eyes open.” Damn, that’s really helpful. It’s like saying, ‘date the ex-convict, but hide your credit cards.’ Sensing, perhaps, that he’d gypped me out of at least two minutes, he adds, “Some men use honesty as a way to let you know up front who they are, so if they cheat you can’t act like it was a surprise.” Now, that’s really helpful.

Of course, what was I thinking?! Obviously, this situation needs a female perspective. T’s perfect because she knows me like the back of her hand and she’s as level headed as they come. Think Oprah sans the money and the dogs. First, she tells me that your guy’s confession is nothing compared to the dude she once dated who admitted to having erotic fantasies about his mom. Okay…then she points out that Mr. Wonderful took a really big risk by being honest, so he deserves some credit, and then she reminds me of my own track record: for the past decade I’ve avoided anything that even slightly resembles an intimate relationship; and just like him, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. Urgh! Why does she always have to make everything about me?! Why couldn’t she just tell me to stop seeing him? As she begins to detail how I’ve ruined my last few relationships, my phone beeps, making me instantly grateful to speak to anyone who is not T. Even him.

“How’s it going?”
“Really? Cause you ran away from me like there was a fire. Was it our conversation?”
“Talk to me.”
“Alright…how am I supposed to trust you?”
“Because I was just being honest with you. If I wasn’t serious about you, and all I wanted was to play around and have sex, I would have kept my mouth shut. Look, I’m aware that my past is scary, but I feel like there’s a lot of potential here, which is why I’m laying everything on the line. I’m telling you that I won’t cheat on you. Please, just relax and give me a chance to show you who I am.”

Eight months earlier…
“Let me show you who I am,” I say to Theo, the guy I’d been dating for about three weeks. It was my forth date and the relationship had potential. One of the many things I liked about him was that he shared my desire to have a serious relationship. While most of the guys I’d dated were players, self-absorbed, and immature, he was stable, attentive and open-minded. Certainly, the type of guy that Carole would approve of…well, sort of. There was one problem. Theo constantly questioned my desire to have a long-term relationship with him, since I hadn’t had one in ten years. Granted, I know that ten years was not sexy- some people had been married, divorced and remarried again-but it seemed silly that he couldn’t just get over it and trust me. Jeez, what did he want? It’s not like I wasn’t upfront with him about recently finishing months of therapy, which was instrumental in helping me figure out why I’d spent years dating complete losers, sabotaging any real chance at love, and blaming my father for everything from the sky being blue to my addiction to chocolate. In fact, this was my first attempt at complete honesty with a guy and all it seemed to do was blow up in my face. (Thanks Carole!)

With my hand still clutching the phone, I grab a seat on a bench and start to think about my life and how I’m ready for something different. It’s an opportunity that never came to fruition with Theo because he refused to separate me from my past. After six weeks he dumped me and went back to his ex-girlfriend, saying that she wasn’t perfect, but at least he trusted that she would stay with him. It made me wonder if honesty was the real relationship killer because Theo was a good man, but he definitely couldn’t handle the truth. At least this guy can be commended for being ballsy enough to give it to me straight, even if it meant that I might run far away. Maybe there’s something to be learned from this recovering cheater.

With nothing left to do but break him off some highlights from my own messy past (what harm can it do now that honesty has become the soup du jour?), it feels refreshing when he says that it’s not a big deal. That he looks forward to getting to know me and vice versa. It makes me feel certain that everyone deserves a second chance-even cheaters and the relationship phobic. Of course, there are no guarantees that he won’t cheat, just like I can’t guarantee that I’ll stick this relationship out for the long term, but I can choose to stand by my commitment and take it one day at a time. That’s all anyone can do.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Read more of Erickka's work at The Brew

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