Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire or Beneficial Buffering? The Difference Can Make or Break Relationships

If you sometimes hesitate to tell your spouse the whole truth, that could be a good thing. Protective buffering can make our relationships run more smoothly. However, if buffering is misused, it can pose a barrier to deeper connections. These are some guidelines for using buffering wisely.

Situations Where You May Want To Use Buffering

1.To be considerate of others. Ask yourself if you’re focusing on your own convenience or sparing the other person’s feelings. There’s a difference between covering up your own misconduct or holding back your true opinion about your friend’s haircut. 

2.To get along with acquaintances. As a general rule, the more superficial your contact is, the less you need to explain. Let the bus driver think you’re having a nice day.

3.To hold onto your job. Unless you’re a talk show host, you probably put some limits on your conversations in the workplace. Avoiding controversial subjects like politics and religion is sensible.

4.To wait for the right moment. Some topics are so sensitive you want to postpone them until you’re in a setting that’s conducive to such a conversation. Wait until you get home. Ensure that you have adequate privacy and that you’re both feeling in the mood to have a constructive exchange.

5.To seek expert help. Similarly, you may need to consult an outside party first. Therapists and other professionals help people become more skillful at communicating.

6.To avoid useless arguments. A happy marriage is more valuable than rooting for the same baseball team. You can talk about something else at breakfast.

7.To take accountability for yourself. If you look closely, you’ll realize that your irritations are caused by your own thoughts. When you deal with your feelings directly, you make fewer comments to others that you later regret.

Situations Where You May Be Better Off Using Strategies Other Than Buffering

1.When considering long term consequences. Things build up over the years. It’s easier to be truthful from the start than to keep track of your evasions.

2.When avoiding outright lies. Similarly, small deceptions can become significant. Your partner probably cares less about whether you ate all the ice cream than whether you level with them.

3.When resolving important issues. Finances and medical conditions require direct communication. The long term benefits far outweigh any temporary discomfort or anxiety.

4.When freeing yourself from secrets. Secrets weigh heavily on us. Get rid of them if you can.

5.When giving your partner room to grow. Being overprotective interferes with positive changes. You may be surprised by how well your partner can handle finding out you dented the new car.

6.When increasing your own abilities. Anytime you take a risk, you give yourself a chance to grow more confident and strong. As long as you believe you’re being respectful and responsible, go ahead and speak your mind.

7.When providing mutual support. Open communications give loved ones more opportunities to encourage each other. We all need reinforcement sometimes.

8.When dealing with existing doubts. Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing that we’re keeping a secret when it’s really common knowledge. There’s little point claiming that the department store made a billing error if your partner sees all your new clothes. Coming clean is the first step to making things better.

9.When developing real intimacy. Most of all, restricting our communications creates anxiety and interferes with our ability to connect with each other. Weigh your decisions carefully. Feeling closer to your family and friends may give you far more happiness than sidestepping a delicate conversation.

The bottom line is that your well-being and relationships depend on your ability to address serious issues honestly. Otherwise, it may be okay to shade the truth a little, especially when you sincerely have the other person’s best interests at heart.

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