Honesty's the best policy, except when it's not

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"Hey, want to go for a ride this weekend?" I asked Christine, calling her on my lunch break.

"I can do it Saturday as long as we're back before 3."

"Sure. Big date?"

"Yeah. Dave and I are going to the city to celebrate. We've been seeing each other six months."

"Wow, has it been that long already? That's huge."

"I know. He's such a great guy; I've never been this honest with anyone before."

"I'd never be with anyone who I couldn't be honest with either. Hey, you never mentioned how he took it when he told him about your affair."

"Oh, I didn't tell him about that."

"You didn't?"

"No, why should I? I'd never cheat again, so what's past is past, right?"

Christine's right -- what's past is past. But I have to wonder, what should we tell our partners and what should we keep secret, especially if we're seeking a relationship built on honesty and trust?

When we're falling in love, we start talking about our childhood, our past loves, our hurts, our joys, our darkest fears. We want to tell our new love everything about us so he'll know the "real" us, and we'll know him. It's kind of like playing an emotional version of Jenga; share the wrong thing or the "right" thing at the wrong time, and it all falls apart.

But, should we really tell all?

I'm all for honesty and openness, but does a new partner need to know how many people you've slept with?

Don't think so.

Same with where he rates on the "best sex I ever had" meter; if he's not gold medal material, is he really going to be happy with just a bronze?

He doesn't need to know about your dieting history, either. There's nothing sexy about a woman talking about how "fat" she feels, but as bad as that is, it's a hell of a lot worse if he agrees with you.

Ditto on what's involved in our moisturizing-exfoliating-plucking-waxing-dying beauty regimen.

Or just how many pairs of shoes we have.

Or that you've been, uh, faking it (although, if you're doing that a lot, you have a bigger problem than being truthful) or what you do with the shower head when you're alone.

Some things, even if they're shared with the person we love most of all, end up seeming like TMI.

You're not going to want to tell someone about your struggles with depression, your Internet porn addiction, or the fact that you're $50,000 in debt or that you have as many STDs as the Octomom has baby car seats on a first date, but sooner or later you're going to have to tell all -- and be prepared to be dumped. Not everyone will want to go there with you, and you're better off knowing that early on.

The hard part is what to do with all the gray areas. It's dicey telling your lover your fantasies, especially if they involve his friends or your coworkers. But even the other kinds, ones that involve whips, a cross-dressing bartender or entire football teams, just may not translate well.

Same with your history with strip clubs, escorts and hookers.

And then there's the question of how honest you should be about infidelity, as in yours. "Once a cheater, always a cheater" is a hard belief to shake. Does he really need to know that you did the horizontal boogie with your boyfriend's hunky roomie back in grad school?

For Christine, the answer is no way.

Even in the most honest relationships, we all tend to keep some things secret.

Is that lying? As George Costanza says, "It's not a lie if you believe it."

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