One morning, not long ago, I overheard a conversation between the host of NPR's "Morning Edition" and some distinguished law professor from one prestigious university or another—you know the drill.
The two were bantering back and forth about the meaning of the word "truth." Up until now, the word has always been understood to mean any thing or event that actually happened. Apparently, truth's ratings have been sagging; Donald Trump wants to give the word a sorely-needed makeover.
In the 2003 movie "Something's Gotta Give," Harry (played by Jack Nicholson) and his love interest, Erica (played by Diane Keaton), are struggling to create a meaningful connection with one another. Harry, a long-time womanizer with questionable integrity, explains that he has never lied to Erica. Instead, he has always told her "some version of the truth." In response, Erica snaps back, "The truth does not have versions!” Indeed, until about a month ago, it did not.
If The Administration has its way with us, the definition of "truth" will stretch to include opinions or ideas that, when emphatically stated over and over again, are accepted as fact, regardless of their veracity. If the public buys this new-and-improved rendition of truth, as a psychotherapist, I cannot help but wonder about the impact this will have on our intimate relationships.
I am often enlisted to provide individual and couples counseling for those whose lives have been shattered by dishonesty. People lie or keep secrets about all sorts of things: history, fidelity, spending, addictive behavior and, in extreme cases, even their identities.
Whether big or small, I have found all lies have one thing in common: they forge distance between ourselves and our intimates. A lie is a carefully built wall that neither we nor others can scale.
The basis of meaningful connection is shared reality. If I see a dog and you see a fish, any conversation we have about this animal will be meaningless. A lie renders impossible the shared experience upon which trust and intimacy are predicated.
Why, when given a choice between closeness and distance, do some of us choose the latter? I think it happens for several reasons.
Lies are exponential: we must continue to tell them to keep truth hidden. This can get tricky so most skilled liars tell partial truths to avoid slipping up. Partners may get some of the “who, what, where, how, when, and why" of a story but any detail that threatens to topple the house of cards will be withheld.
No matter how adept any of us are at deception, it is in only the rarest of cases that the truth remains indefinitely hidden. Truth demands to be told. Lying forfeits our jurisdiction over how and when this happens. We may think we've done a sufficient job in covering our tracks but it is only a matter of time before we forget to minimize the screen before our lover enters the room, log out of a secret email account, or are spotted by a co-worker or neighbor doing something we shouldn't be doing.
We avoid the truth to prevent suffering but, in so doing, end up creating far more of it. Instead of grieving only the pain of a difficult truth, the deceived is humiliated over having played the lead role in a story without full access to its script. Additionally, those who have been betrayed suffer tremendous doubt. Doubt of themselves for misplacing their trust and doubt about where the line between fact and fiction existed their relationship.
In the aftermath of betrayal, the two most common questions I hear in therapy are “Will I (we) get past this?” and “How long will it take?” We will explore the answers to these questions in Part Two of this series. So stay tuned.
In the meantime, has deception played a role in any of your past or present relationships? If so, what did you do about it? Feel free to share your thoughts anonymously in the comments section below.
Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, therapist, and counselor. She offers grief therapy, divorce support, and other counseling services in the Phinney Greenwood area of Seattle, WA. Has your relationship been torn apart by betrayal? Schedule a free consultation to find out how couples therapy or counseling can put you on the road to recovery!
Last week, on "Solo Parent Life," Dr. Robbin Rockett released Part One of a two-part series on Dating After Divorce. In that segment, Robbin and I discussed the importance of knowing what you want, what you don't want, and knowing when you are ready to start dating. In Part Two, Robbin and I discuss the finer points of online dating.
Is your "type" no longer working for you? Want to write a killer profile? Interested in finding out how to distinguish a "yes, please" from a "no, thank you?" Tune in to Part Two of Dating After Divorce to learn more!
Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, therapist, and counselor. She offers grief therapy, divorce support, and other counseling services in the Phinney Greenwood area of Seattle, WA.
Want to learn more about to have a richer, more satisfying post-divorce dating experience? Schedule a free consultation now!
As Associate Producer of "Death: the podcast," I am behind the scenes pre-screening prospective guests, writing copy, and basically doing whatever is needed to keep the gears oiled.
Recently, I took a turn in front of the microphone for a great new podcast called "Solo Parent Life." Hosted by psychologist and single parent, Dr. Robbin Rockett (I know--doesn't she have the BEST name ever? I love it!), the podcast provides support for those of us who are courageously traversing the path of the single parenthood.
After a bit of post-divorce dating trial-and-error, I developed a system that helped me land a terrific guy (admittedly after kissing a few frogs). So I leapt at the chance to share some single-parent dating tips with Robbin's listeners. There was so much ground to cover, Robbin decided to split the show into two parts!
How do you know when the time is right to start dating? What is the first step? What's the best frame of mind to adopt as a post-divorce dater? Find out by clicking the link below. And stay tuned for Part Two, due out next week. Enjoy!
Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, therapist, and counselor. She offers grief therapy, divorce support, and other counseling services in the Phinney Greenwood area of Seattle, WA. Want to learn how to date better, post-divorce? Schedule a free consultation now!
Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, grief counselor, and dating coach. Her coaching and therapy practice is located in the Phinney - Greenwood area of North Seattle in Washington.