Relationship Navigation: The Truth and Nothing but the Truth?

A young woman and man embracing while outdoors.
A young woman and man embracing while outdoors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I regularly have people asking me intimate questions about how to make their relationship work. Others want to know what a healthy relationship looks and feel like. While an additional group of individuals simply feel lost…clueless…unequipped to navigate the potential mine field of their relationship. As a writer, a blogger and an intimacy coach…I personally find it very challenging to simply say “this is what a healthy relationship looks like.” Or, “if you use these techniques in your relationship, you will experience bliss.”

If there’s one thing I have learned through my personal and professional experiences with and research of relationship dynamics…it’s that each and every single relationship is 100% unique. From my experience, I have developed a fairly strong belief that there is no magic solution or advice that will work for every relationship. There are simply too many variables and influencing factors. There are, most certainly, general relationship skills that will benefit any relationship…we all know the ones I am talking about: Honesty, Faithfulness, Compassion, Open Communication, Self Reflection

However, if I tell everyone in every relationship to be honest…there could be some serious repercussions. For instance, what if a woman visited home for the weekend. While away, she ran into a past lover. When she first saw him, her heart fluttered in response to the nostalgic love vibes of times long gone. However, she managed to safely navigate the exchange, keeping the conversation short and keeping her surprising feelings to herself. Throughout the weekend, she managed to discuss her unexpected feelings with her sister. Her sister was able to remind her that her feelings were natural…over the course of a couple of days, she reminded herself how well established her current partnership is. She focused on the loving connection she has with her husband and began reminding herself of all the reasons that she ended the original relationship with her long ago lover.

When she came home from the weekend, she not only felt a deeper connection with her husband, she also felt a new spark. If I or another person were to give this woman “general relationship advice“, they might say that she must always be 100% honest. She might go home and tell her loving, doting husband what she felt when she first saw her past lover…it might be very hard for her then to convince her husband of all the layers she went through over the weekend and to stress the fact that she did not do anything wrong. I am in no way, giving advice…I am not recommending any level of dishonesty…I am just illustrating how each and every scenario requires the person involved to use their intuition to navigate the situation. We must trust ourselves.

I had a situation a few years ago where a client broke the boundaries of our session. He had some serious challenges in his relationship and was trying to work through them while his wife was out of town. He booked three consecutive sessions with me. The incident happened during our third session. I had held him while he cried, talked him through emotional issues, and even sat silently, listening to him while he told me some heavy things that he had never, ever told another soul. He was lying on my table and I was implementing some energy techniques to help him work through the emotions connected to what he was sharing. I had my hands on his feet and my eyes were closed.

Without any notice whatsoever, he sat up, leaned forward and kissed me on the lips. My eyes were closed, I did not see it coming and I was not on any level a willing participant. However, when his lips connected with mine, there was a rush of energy (the energy created through the session, not necessarily energy between he and I). I immediately pulled back and ended our session. We discussed what had happened in a professional manner. I was compassionate, but very firm in my boundaries. To be clear, in now almost 13 years of having a monogamous relationship with Mountain, neither he nor I have ever once even felt the desire to break the boundaries of our relationship.

I realize that there are advocates of open or poly relationships who may feel that I am denying some inner desire to explore outside of my relationship. I assure you that is not the case. I had no desire on any level for this man. However, I developed some guilt around the fact that I felt this intense energy when he connected with me. After contemplating for a few days, I decided that I could not have any secrets between Mountain and I. Without breaching the confidentiality of my client, I told Mountain what happened. At first, he was totally fine with it. Very understanding, in fact. However, I chose brutal honesty as my path.

I told him about my initial reaction to the energy…which devastated him. Gosh, I will never forget the look of hurt in his eyes. Luckily, he and I have a strong foundation built on trust, open communication, deep connection and understanding Within a few days of discussing the situation on and off, things were sorted out and we were fine once again. What came from this experience was a mutual understanding; Mountain and I both fully understand what our relationship boundaries are…we also each would clearly know if we had crossed them. In this particular example, both Mountain and I agreed that I had not crossed any boundaries and that I had done nothing wrong. However, when I shared the most innocent reaction to this incident, it cause unnecessary hurt for Mountain. Afterwards, Mountain out right told me that it was a mistake to share my personal feelings, considering the fact that I immediately drew my boundary and I did not actively participate in the kiss or ask for it to happen.

I learned a lot from this situation. I learned that, as adults, even adults in a monogamous relationship, it is sometimes okay to not be 100% transparent. Especially when being fully transparent may cause our lover unnecessary hurt. Once again, I want to clarify that I am simply sharing a piece of my experience and the lesson I learned from it…I am not advising anyone to either tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Nor am I saying that it is okay to withhold information from your lover, or for them to withhold information from you. I am simply sharing my perspective and experience. I think the lesson hidden in this moment of my life is that each situation we face must be navigated with compassion for both ourselves and our partners.

We must take each moment as it comes, trust our intuition and navigate it the best we can. We are bound to make mistakes…some that we hold direct responsibility for and others that come up out of nowhere and catch us off guard. This was a hard story to tell, but I have realized that the stories that are harder to share…the ones that make our hearts beat faster as we write them…are the ones we must release. For letting go is powerful…it provides opportunities for forgiveness, healing and growth. From my heart to yours, Joy

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