by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
You subscribe, as I did, to the ideal that courting and love is best when honest and transparent. That's quaint, but that's not real. Everyone needs small freedoms, even from their partner, and most have to lie for it. You quoted Savage on hiding porn, but he has been even more on point than that, as in this video. Watch the whole thing for context, but the part worth transcribing is:
"'The One' is a lie, but it's a lie you can tell yourself. A long-term relationship that's successful is really a myth that two people create together. Every successful long-term relationship is a myth, and myths are built of lies... You meet someone for the first time, and they're not presenting their warts-and-all self to you. They're presenting their idealized self; they're leading with their best. And then eventually you're farting in front of each other; eventually you get to see the person who was behind that facade, and they get to see the person behind... your 'lie self...' What's beautiful about a long-term relationship, and what can be transformative about it, is that I pretend every day that my boyfriend is the lie that I met... and he does the same favor to me.. And we, then, are obligated to live up to the lies we told each other about who we are. We are forced to be better people than we actually are."
Of course, to be a thoughtful, considerate and successful lover you have to decide on the acceptable vs. unacceptable lies - in my relationship, sneaking a cigar every 6 months or so is acceptable, whereas staying out all night without calling is not. There's no line-in-the-sand. It's dependent on the people and insecurities involved, and that's what one's brain is for!
As an aside, I credit introducing my girlfriend to Dan Savage with a several-fold improvement in my relationship with her, so you might say I'm a big fan. He's a fantastic ambassador for realism and maturity in sexuality, love, and social politics.