The Moment of Truth

Channel hopping tonight I came across “The Moment of Truth” and decided to watch. For those of you who have not seen it, here is the long and short or it:

An individual (or as it was on tonight’s show a couple) is asked 50 questions while connected to a polygraph device and the result of the test is never shared with them. 21 Of those questions are picked by the producers and it’s show time. Mark Wahlberg opens the show with the phrase “Is there any honest person left in America?” In front of a live audience with selected family and friends present, contestants sweat and squirm under the pressure as they go through the questions, their answers measured against the polygraph results. Answer truthfully and you get to go on. Lie and you lose it all. Sounds simple enough right? Guess again.

Tonight’s contestants was a young couple, high school sweethearts who had been married for less than a year. It started out good enough, but it got uncomfortable soon enough. Question 3 goes to the wife: “Do you think your husband has a gamble problem?” Wife answers yes and husband is completely taken aback. “Why would you think that?”
“Because he is known to go gambling when he is supposed to be somewhere else and then lies about.”

Next questions goes to the husband: “Since being married, have you done anything to make your wife not trust you?” (at this point I’m going Duhhh!!!!! Asked and answered your honor, please refer to the previous question). The presenter intervenes at this point before the husband can answer and asks the wife what she thinks the answer would be.
“Well, I have always thought him to be the perfect husband (looks at the husband with puppy eyes while he squirms under the hot lights). I don’t think so. (Slightly less sure of herself this time and hubby squirms some more). I hope not. (She peeks at him and sees that he is visibly sweating at which point he can’t even look her in the eye). Honey? (With a quivering bottom lip she pleads for an answer – the right answer).” Husband answers “yes”…

Now, the dynamics of this scenario is something for a different post altogether, but it got me thinking.

Shouldn’t it be the norm for a couple to be able to walk onto a show like that (for the money or just for the fun of it) and answer all the questions without the accompanying sweat and squirming and quivering bottom lips?

Let’s be honest, not a single one of us – not me, not you, not even your holier-than-thou Monster in Law – is perfect. We all have our skeletons, those little or not so little things that we don’t want others to know about. So what do we do?

You go for a job interview and out comes corporate Joe and forgotten is Joey who was snorting Coke at Saturday’s party.

We meet someone or go on a first date and out comes the charm. We present out best self. The self we want to be. We put up an appearance to make us more like-able. So we fall in love with a false impression / persona if you will.

Six months down the line you get comfortable and realize “wait a sec, it’s fine for me to pass gas or lose my temper ’cause this person really likes me”

And right there is where (more often than not) the proverbial something hits the something and we all end up covered in something nasty.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could live in a world where the concept of lying did not exist? Not even the little white ones we tell because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, like when your wife asks you if her bum looks big in those jeans…

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just say exactly what we want or how we feel without sounding insecure or scared or hurtful or shallow?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just come right out and say “Hey, I like you, I really do, but I am scared out of my wits of getting hurt again so please just tell me if you are for real” and then get a straight forward, no BS “Nah, I’m just having you on ’cause I’m bored and looking for a bit of fun” or “Yes, I am for real and I like you too. I am not perfect, but I will love you as perfectly as I can.” At least then we would know where we stand.

So why do people do this? Why do they pretend and lie?

It all goes back to a need for acceptance, fear of rejection and / or (perhaps even all three of these) insecurities, often unfounded. We want to be liked, to be accepted, to be loved – it’s an integral part of human nature.

Somehow, for reasons that might or might not be known to us, we believe that some part of us will be less likable so we super-inflate other parts of who or what we are to draw the spotlight away from the bits of us that WE don’t like as much about ourselves.

Problem is, however, that we can’t keep up the appearances forever and eventually those little monsters creep out of their dark little corners and take over. For some unfortunately, they get so used to this chameleon act that they forget where the inflated self ends and the true self begins.

So now you meet someone and the chemistry is there and it all seems right but we have been hurt so many times and we sit there knowing beyond anything else that all you want to be is real. You sit there and you are so nervous and scared that you don’t know what to say or do, and it all starts over again.

My conundrum is this:

Is it then really possible to fully know and trust someone or should we just blindly accept that there will always be a part of a person that we will never know?

I’ve always said that if I could pick a super power, it would be the ability to read people’s minds. To know what really goes on in another’s mind when they speak to you.

As I have recently come to learn, some people are masters at looking you in the eye and talk about a future – marriage, kids, white picket fence with all the trimmings; everything you want to hear – just to walk away and tell the same sweet lies to someone else.

So how do we ever know? Do we insist on polygraphs or slip truth serum into everyone’s drinks just so we can know where we stand?

No, we choose to soften out hears and let someone in. We look at our past mistakes, revisit the lessons learned and we choose to choose differently. We choose to trust and hope against hope that that trust will not be broken.