Continuing on our Pandora’s Box discussion from last week, there is an idiom that is used often in everyday life: “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” The theory behind this is that if someone won’t be affected by not knowing something, what is the point of saying anything? The problem is, when that statement is used to justify something, the something often times WOULD hurt them tremendously.
For example, I would love to have known that my ex-boyfriend couldn’t get it up because he was in love with someone else. Instead, I thought he couldn’t get it up because he was impotent, or much worse, because I was ugly. He chose not to tell me justifying it with, “What I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me,” and he would at some point get over his lingering feelings for his ex. In that case, what I didn’t know hurt me deeply, because after multiple agonizing times in the bedroom, I began to blame myself. Yep, could have used a head’s up. No pun intended.
In friendships, I always thought it better to keep little things to myself rather than stir the pot. Does my friend need to know that another friend of ours really doesn’t think much of her? Nah, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Does she need to know that I left her party to go to another one and I wasn’t really tired? Probably not. Does she need to know if I see her husband out with another woman? That’s one that I struggle with. Because as a woman, I think absolutely, 100% yes, she needs to know. I just don’t want to be the one to break the news.
In relationships, I tend to think the practice of “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” to be a really bad decision. But now that I’m with The New Guy and he’s so communicative, it’s sometimes a struggle to divulge every detail of my day because we live so far away from each other. I still delete my Facebook posts and web history. I don’t have anything to hide, I’m just not used to sharing my activities every hour on the hour. But, I’m learning. Like the other night when my ex-boyfriend wanted me to come over for dinner to discuss a project. I certainly wasn’t going to say yes, but I told TNG about it anyway. When we discussed the subject of how much information is too much information, he said, “If I was bothered or threatened by things you do, we would have a deeper problem.” Where did this guy come from? It’s funny, he’d probably be a perfect candidate for the “What they don’t know” theory, yet I tell him everything anyway.
Well, almost everything.
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There are no secrets in life. It doesn’t matter who we tell, when we tell, why we tell or what we tell. Sooner or later, every secret is revealed. It’s the nature of the beast. Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, right? Well, there ought to be a law about secrets, based on the fact that they are all eventually discovered. I don’t know what we should call this law, so for now we’ll call this law, “He Said’s Law.”
He Said’s Law applies to everyone and everything – myself included. In fact, He Said’s Law bit me in the ass just last week. Remember my own dalliance with Pandora’s Box the last time we spoke? I truly felt beyond reproach when it all took place. I felt I’d conducted myself well above and beyond nobility after being contacted online by an enthusiastic old girlfriend. So secure I was of my virtue in this situation that I chose not to share it with my girl. Why would I? All was good. I had shown no disrespect. Why bring up something that would require further explanation? Once again, as is often the case with secrets and lies, this was a big mistake. By NOT hiding, I was hiding. By NOT disclosing, I was lying.
Once my girl stumbled upon my foolish choice to “manage” the truth instead of sharing it, all hell broke loose. “No big deal” had morphed into online sex with an out-of-town squeeze from deep in my past that was one plane ticket away from my bedroom. I had no intention of even seeing this woman, much less exploring her nether regions, but once my girlfriend found out she even existed, I became a hockey goalie.
Defense, explanation, excuse… defense, explanation, excuse. What was nothing turned into more than something, simply because I figured what she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her.
On the other hand, what was I supposed to do? “Hey Honey, I just wanted you to know that an old girlfriend got in touch with me out of the blue. No big deal, I just thought you should know.” Maybe so, but old habits die hard. I have nothing to hide from her, or anyone for that matter. I have no Facebook page to double check and any text messages or e-mails I receive are strictly G-rated. Still, I tend to operate on a need-to-know basis… If there is nothing to be gained by sharing what I’m thinking, feeling or doing, than nobody needs to know. In real life, this approach is no problem. In a relationship, this approach can be a BIG problem.
The truth is, what they don’t know truly won’t hurt them. That is, until they find out anyway.
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