I’m not one to fall for silly lines. I can’t count the times I’ve been told I was the “first” or the “only true” or the “most bendable” love a man has had, and I have always seen right through his strategy. Men are often confused by what they see as women’s unrelenting commitment to truth. Of course, truth is important to women, as it should be for all right-minded people regardless of the layout of their pubic areas.
But truth is a complicated concept, and a brief explanation of the nuances between the different kinds of truth is warranted.
THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
No one wants this. It’s too ugly. Although witnesses in court cases are threatened with a needle in the eye, neither the prosecuting nor defense table really wants anyone telling the whole truth. The last time you waterboarded someone, you probably asked them to tell you the whole truth. What if their truth was actually “I will say whatever you want me to say to get you to stop doing this”? You’d look a fool. Anyone with a lick of sense can see that this kind of truth isn’t helpful to any situation or military conflict.
Now obviously this route is neither correct nor seemly. We all know this: telling one lie leads to another lie and another and then it’s a pack of them. Not only is it horrible, but it’s also very difficult to keep track of. It’s one of the great lessons of childhood—remember the itsy bitsy spider who weaved the web of lies because she was practicing to deceive the old woman who swallowed the fly? Your grandmother didn’t tell you that story for nothing, you know.
THE FACTS BUT NOT THE DETAILS
Generally this is the appropriate level of truth for almost all situations. Details do one of two things: hurt another person or make you look like a twat. An appropriate fact would be “Yes, I saw the defendant hanging around the office building”; there’s no reason to add “so I invited him in and gave a passkey to the safe.” It’s a subtle balance, and you’ll often be pressed to give as many details as you can, but resist.
Let’s look at a couple typical scenarios men and women find themselves in where the “truth” often plays a key role.
Do I look fat in this?
Don’t say: “Yes, you look fatter than I’ve ever seen you. Take off the offending item immediately and hide your shame. You shall not be attending the ball with me tonight.”
Don’t say: “What on earth are you talking about? You look thinner than Angelina Jolie” (if she actually does, immediately get her to a medical professional).
Do say: “It shows off the real you, and that’s the you I love.”
Did you cheat on me with that woman?
Don’t say: “I did, and it was the most fantastic shag of my life, partly because of the illicit nature of the encounter and partly because she let me do that thing you said you’d die before letting me do again. Therefore I intend to keep seeing her, but I don’t see any reason to let my cheating change our relationship at all, so would you make me a sandwich, please?”
Don’t say: “I don’t know what you are talking about. Someone has clearly Photoshopped that picture of me having sex with her in my dental chair afterhours when I claimed I was away at an orthodontist convention.”
Do say: “I did because I am a small man in more ways than one. If you forgive me, I’ll be forever indebted, but I’ll also understand if you change your Facebook relationship status to single and get new locks on the house.”
Of course, the easiest way to deal with the truth is to take a little care in advance. If you’re about to do something that one day you may need to tell a lie about, the most sensible approach is just not to do it. Don’t take the money from the till. Don’t text a photo of your erection. Don’t marry a fat woman. It isn’t too difficult to understand.
But men are fallible creatures and seem to get themselves into troublesome situations at the drop of a hat. You’re welcome for my helpful advice.