Lying by omission. I've been thinking about that a bit since octopusgrrl mentioned it in the 'honesty vs openness' post. I've had this happen to me lately in a situation where the person didn't give me information because they thought the information might hurt me. I can understand this reasoning. What the person failed to consider in their judgement of the situation was that:
- I could tell they were keeping something from me.
Knowing they were keeping something from me made me think there was something bad happening.
Knowing that there may be something bad happening and that they didn't want me to know about it made me think that they didn't trust me, ie they thought I would have some kind of inappropriate reaction. Also, it made me wonder what had been going on that the person wanted to hide from me. Could I indeed trust them?
Knowing that they felt this way made me question quite seriously the friendship of the person in question.
So, in this situation, I pushed the issue until the person got angry and blurted out the thing that they were hiding from me. The thing itself was small and silly and nothing for me to get upset about. The fact that they hid it from me upset me a great deal. Why? I'm still not sure I can articulate it. I think it's because of the knowing, and the trust thing. Um. Very hard to explain because it's one of those pesky grey areas that probably varies between individuals. Your friends are not obliged to share every detail of their lives with you, Tats. This is true. However, if they are doing things that they think will upset you and then trying to hide it from you because they think it will upset you, are they truly your friend? These are the kind of questions that run through my head when I know someone's trying to avoid telling me something.
I think the big thing, for me, is that when information is withheld, I have no base from which to choose appropriate behaviour, or deal with things. I just have this yucky feeling that someone's hiding something from me but I don't know what it is therefore (thanks Mum!) it must be bad, and I stew on it but am impotent to actually do anything. It's almost manipulation. I'd much rather people came out and just told me stuff and let me decide how I'm going to react. I'd rather be hurt and empowered than kept in the dark, ignorant and powerless. I've spent a lot of my life feeling powerless and manipulated, and now I have a (probably out of proportion) negative reaction to feeling that way.
So my conclusion was, nope. Lying by omission is also Not OK. More and more I'm thinking total honesty is the way to go. It may mean pain sometimes, but I'd rather choose how I feel about something based on complete information, than just feel bad but not know why. And, thinking in this way, I owe it to the people I care about to allow them the same courtesy.
So, am I right or wrong or somewhere in between? And, am I missing something glaringly obvious that would give me a different conclusion?