The truth may save or destroy a relationship. Read on to see if it's ever okay to fib a little.
Opinions about family and friends
There's a reason that mother-in-law jokes exist: Because so many women take issue with the women who raised their men. Does that mean you should be honest about what you think of his mom, his father, his best friend or anyone else in his life? "Absolutely," says relationship coach Christy Little Jones.
"Authenticity is one of the most important principles to obtaining a healthy and whole relationship.” Think about why people lie: Usually it’s to avoid an uncomfortable situation. But when you're comfortable, you can communicate without offending him, Jones says. There is a caveat, however: "It's not what you say, it's how you say it. Tell the truth with kindness and sensitivity." If he takes offense, explain to him that you're not trying to be hurtful, just honest with him.
The ex question
What should you say when your beau asks how many men you've slept with? "Sexual history questions are a trap," says Mira Kirshenbaum, author of I Love You But I Don't Trust You. "Just say, 'I don't to go into that. My life is with you now.' Details will just open doors that lead to bad places." Where you should be forthright and open is when an ex makes contact with you, even if it's a harmless email. "Always disclose this. Keeping it hidden is what gives it a heap of meaning," says Kirshenbaum.
Do I look fat? It's not just women who seek reassurances about their appearance. If your man asks how he looks when he's on his way out the door to something important, "Don't ever say anything negative, especially about things he can't change," says Kirshenbaum.
If he has on the wrong shoes or would look better in a different tie, offer that advice. If a growing gut is the issue, wait for a quiet time to have a frank discussion. It's all about how you word things: If he needs to lose weight, suggest doing more physical activities together. If his thinning hair is turning into a comb-over, tell him how trendy a bald head is these days. "And be sure to let him know you still love and desire him," adds Kirshenbaum.
Interactions with other men
It might be a flirtatious exchange at a friend's barbecue, an emotional connection with a co-worker or maybe there's a drunken kiss at the company party. How much should you share when it comes to interactions with other men?
When it comes to harmless flirting, Jones says: "Assess your intention in divulging this information: Is it to make him jealous? Do you need more pursuit from him?" If that’s the case, instead of sharing information that could ignite insecurities, be honest with him about what you need from the relationship.
“While being honest may seem scary at first, I have not met a man who doesn't like knowing what his woman needs and desires. It's innate for him to want to provide it," Jones says. If it's a more serious physical or emotional interaction, you should also take the honesty route, which will build a stronger relationship in the long-term.
Most of us have overdone it while shopping, whether it's buying unnecessary shoes when we're supposed to be saving for a new house or splurging on spa visits when your man wants to focus on putting away for retirement. When it comes to shared expenses/money do you need to disclose your spending habits to maintain a healthy relationship? "Don't ever lie about this,” says Kirschenbaum.
“You will be found out and you will be thought of as a petty, habitual liar.” If you're concerned about the price of something, talk about it first. Explaining your desire for it and see what he thinks. You'd want him to do the same if he wanted to make a large purchase, and most likely you'll come to a mutual agreement.
How you spend your time
If you want to grab a quick drink with a friend after work, does your man need to know? "Always tell," says Jones. "What if something happens to you? He might think you're somewhere you're not, which is a safety issue. Tell him what you're doing and where you plan to be and compromise on a time that you will return home.” This isn’t about asking for permission, it’s about respecting the fact that you’re in a relationship and someone cares where you are and what you’re doing.
What you eat, drink, read and watch
Whether it's reading Fifty Shades of Grey for the third time, watching a Kardashian marathon, having a second bowl of ice cream, third latte or fourth glass of pinot noir, sometimes women feel insecure about their behavior and try to hide what they deem as shameful activities.
"In a relationship, there is a secret pressure to measure up to the standard that we think our significant other desires in us," says Jones. If he loves you, even behaviors that he doesn't find as attractive won't matter, which works both ways. Be yourself and he'll be more comfortable doing the same. And if he doesn't love you the way you are, or vice-versa, it's probably time to move on.
Your true color
If you spend a pretty penny to maintain a Christina Hendricks red, a beachy Gisele Bundchen blonde or a chocolaty Angelina Jolie brunette, you may hesitate confessing that it's not your natural color. This is especially true if your boyfriend tells you how beautiful he thinks it is or that he hopes your kids have that hair color.
Does it hurt to let him believe that it could be a possibility? After all, who can figure out how those dominant and recessive genes work when it comes to hair color? "Yes, you've got to tell him the truth," says Kirshenbaum.
What do you say when he asks you to go for a hike in the rain or a football game in sub-zero degree weather, when you'd much rather be curled on the couch with a magazine and cup of hot cocoa? "By sacrificing what you want to do to spend time doing what he wants to do, it tells him 'You are important to me and I value you,'" says Jones.
While it may be difficult to leave the cozy comfort of the couch, doing so shows him your love. Deeper intimacy often follows. So go ahead and tell him that it's probably not your number one activity for the day, but that you'd love to spend time with him so you're game for whatever. Besides, he'll be more open to doing your preferred activities in the future.
He asks if it was good. It wasn't. He asks if you orgasmed. You faked it. He asks if you've had better than him. You say no. Are these lies, usually told to protect his ego, serving a good purpose? No. But this subject requires a gentle and loving approach, says Jones, because it's where men are most vulnerable.
"Be courageous enough to set the standard of what you want by communicating and exploring each other in a safe environment without judging,” says Jones. “You will have an amazing sex life without having to lie or compromise each other's needs and desires." And stop faking it. You’re not doing him – or yourself -- any favors. And that, in itself, is a lie.
Not top chef
His idea of cooking rarely extends beyond a microwave and a can or box, but he's insisted on making you dinner. As you take your first bite of the appalling looking meal, he looks to you for a reaction. "Make a big deal about how much you appreciate his effort," says Kirshenbaum. Remember, the male ego can be fragile, so if you want him to try and do sweet things for you, they need to be well appreciated. If he asks for cooking advice later, however, feel free to offer it.
Does he need to know you had a yeast infection in 10th grade? Probably not. But anything that you currently have, such as a sexually transmitted disease, that could potentially affect him, physically or emotionally, needs to be disclosed "as soon as possible," says Kirshenbaum.
If you're unsure of how to tell him, seek advice from a professional who can give you tips on sharing information about a health condition and how it affects him. With any information you consider withholding, always remember the golden rule: Would you want him to lie to you?