Let’s face it; the dating game is an ethical minefield. Not least amongst the ethical dilemmas that you may be faced with when you are with the woman who makes you feel like the red blooded man that you are is whether you should always be honest. What do we mean by honesty? Here’s a definition from Richard Jarc:
Honesty is more than not telling lies. It’s also about not extending your lunch hour, padding expenses, or picking up after your dog, and speaking up when someone is being treated unfairly.
Well that sets the bar at a ridiculously high level! Let’s just stick with lying; which is more than enough for mere mortals to deal with at any one time.
Honesty is like beauty…
…it lies in the eye of the beholder. I’m going to tell you a story. This is absolutely true. I know because I was there. My friend Pete is a pretty clever bloke. He read philosophy at a university and has written several works on epistemology. You’d be right in what you’re thinking: they’re not exactly page turners so don’t go out of your way to read them. Anyway, one night we (Pete and I and our girlfriends) were dining out. Pete’s girlfriend, Meg, asked him if her new dress suited her. The conversation (in a very loose sense of that word) went something like this:
Pete: It appears to suit you.
Meg: What do you mean appears?
Pete: Given this light, my angle of vision, my state of sobriety and a number of other factors it appears to suit you.
Meg: So if you were sober you’d hate it?
Pete: I can’t say I’m not sober.
Meg: But you must know if you like it?
Pete: That’s a different question. But to attempt to give an answer to…
Meg:…Pete just be honest!
This went on for some considerable time; however let me ask you a question: do you think Pete was being honest? The thing is; he was being honest. Pete’s replies to Meg were exactly how things were in Pete’s world. Pete might be an IQ point short of a genius but he is useless with women.
Honesty Is Not Like Uniqueness
Uniqueness is an absolute quality. Either something is unique or it is not. To say that one thing is more unique than another is nonsense. Honesty is very different. It is not always something that either is or isn’t. So I can’t agree with Lisa Schmidt who finds the:
Vast majority of men avoid uncomfortable conversations… Hurting someone else’s feeling with the truth makes you feel like an asshole…. Dating and honesty should go hand and hand. The brutal truth can be a tough see at times, but as a society, we need more of it.
I can’t agree with Lisa because I don’t think that being honest is always that straightforward. Pete’s way of going about answering what appears on the face of it to be a question requiring a yes no answer may irritate the hell out of most human beings, male or female. But I sort of get his line of reasoning. On the other hand, I can see it from the women’s point of view.
Say you are asked by a woman whether you prefer her red shoes or her pink shoes. To keep things simple you might pick one or the other, but why should it be the case that you have a preference. It may be that you like both, or dislike both equally. It may be that (and this is the sort of reasoning Pete would follow) given the particular circumstances prevailing at the particular moment in time you are asked you would choose one or the other.
But the fact is she wants an answer. By giving an answer and choosing this one or that one you may have to lie. Your true choice may be more complex, perhaps not quite reaching the extent of Pete’s level of complexity. But by choosing you’ve given an answer. It may still hurt her feelings, but probably less so than if you told the truth.