Clear the air with honesty

I have been seeing a man who had lost his wife after a 37-year happy marriage. From this casual encounter a deep friendship evolved. During the first three months Ben often talked about his relationship with his late wife, sharing with me the sadness that was in him.

As the months went by and his spirit slowly changed, he became more optimistic, more desirous of exploring how to build a new life. Ben began to ask me for advice on everything from managing a home to learning the current rules of dating. I felt kind of funny explaining to him that being more cautious in exploring sexuality was mandatory nowadays, especially since he had no clue about sexually transmitted diseases or the necessity of discussing HIV or herpes with a potential sexual partner.

I assumed that Ben saw other women since our relationship never ventured into romantic territories. We enjoyed movies, musical events and weekly dinners and talks together. One evening, out of the blue, Ben suggested taking our relationship to a new, intimate level. I was truly taken aback. Having enjoyed our liaison as it was, I had not really anticipated becoming intimate partners. I didn’t know what to say. Ben was sensitive to my silence, not trying to push me for an immediate decision.

Some weeks later while having dinner, Ben seemed especially wistful. He said he really wasn’t happy living alone. “I want to be with the woman I love every day. That’s what makes me happy!” His words hit me like a ton of bricks. Had I denied him the opportunity to meet someone else? I heard his message clearly.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I examined the complex feelings I had for him. I clearly cared for Ben and liked him profoundly. I respected him and appreciated his values and many talents. I understood there were differences in our lifestyles but realized they could be overcome. Why couldn’t I see myself involved with him sexually?

The truth was that that drive and desire simply wasn’t there. My feelings for him were of profound friendship but not love. I was both saddened and frightened at my recognition. I knew I owed him total honesty, so I was pained by the thought that admitting how I felt may hurt him. I also was frightened of losing our connection.

The next morning I wrote him a letter in which I stated the truth and assured him that my deep commitment of friendship would never be broken. What I know is this: honesty between partners, even partners in friendship or partners in love, is fundamental to feeling right and doing right: feeling right about our own being and doing right by the people that count in our lives.

Be honest. It can profoundly affect your life. Offering truth to one another can reverse long festering wrongs. It can diffuse the curtain of doubt and bring back trust. It can help estranged partners become close again and release the joy of life and love. It can make you feel really good about yourself. All it takes is the courage to look inward, deeply, and recognize the truth and own up to it. Understanding our true feelings can liberate us from emotional shackles and free our hearts to feel the happiness we deserve.

Do you have a question for Jacqui? Write us at and we’ll pass it along.

3 books that can help

  • The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships, by John Gottman
  • Why Can’t You Read My Mind? Overcoming the 9 Toxic Thought Patterns that Get in the Way of a Loving Relationship, by Jeffrey Bernstein and Susan Magee
  • How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving, by David Richo

Jacqueline Brandwynne has worked in the health and beauty industry for more than 25 years and is creator of the Very Private line of products. Visit her at