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What it Really Means to be True to Someone You Love

by David Truman

An ego-based rule

A spirit-based rule

Why, in ego-speak, true means UNtrue

What are friends for

Insights from psychology's conclusions on co-dependence

Collusive is abusive

The demand for Stepford wives

The desire not to know or be known

Who's your daddy?

Untrue relationships cannot fulfill

The truth will set you free

NOTE: This article deals with marriages, and being true to one's mate. But in reality, a close friendship is like a marriage. So anything that's said about marriages here can be applied to any close relationship.

What does it mean to be true to someone? Well, that depends on how you define "true." And, that definition depends on who you ask.

There are two different sets of rules out there: one set is the accepted, ego-based rules of society, which shape conventional associations and intimacies of all kinds, including friendships, marriages, families, etc. The other set is the spirit-based rules of Heaven, which are, essentially, the rules and standards of heart and soul. The rules of heart make for heavenly relationships, while the rules of society tend to lead into a hell of disappointment, self-suppression, and dysfunction.

The rules of heart and the rules of society are, in many ways, opposite, and therefore tend to come into conflict.

An ego-based rule

Make your marriage "succeed," no matter what the cost.

For example, here's a very simple rule of conventional society: make your marriage succeed. And, not only are we supposed to make it succeed, but we're supposed to be committed to making it succeed regardless of the cost to ourselves and our mate. Many people take that rule very seriously, not just because it's a rule, but because they really want their marriage to succeed; and they're attached to it in many ways. So they're determined to make their marriage work -- essentially, at all costs.

But what if a marriage is terribly unsupportive of the soul and heart values of the individuals involved -- which, as you know, is so common it is practically "normal." Even then, we are supposed to "make it work" -- that is, make it last. And if we don't make it last, then of course, we've "failed." So, even as our intimacies grind their way downhill, we keep up appearances, hoping for miraculous improvement.

Meanwhile, in the context of their conventional marriages, many people are spiritually-emotionally deprived, starving to death. And therefore, they are emotionally, psychologically, spiritually depressed, and socially edgy. So, as time goes on, part of making an ego-styled marriage "work" is to dance around the sore spots, avoiding the grievances and disappointments more and more carefully as they pile up.

The good husband is expected to walk on eggs around his touchy wife. He must collude with her by joining her in ignoring, avoiding, and denying whatever her ego is trying to protect. If he fails to do so, her ego will feel threatened -- and she will lash out. Retaliate. Make him regret trying to bring consciousness to the touchy subject.

The good wife must likewise accommodate her prideful husband. If he doesn't, he will make her regret it.

So, here are some more rules:

DO NOT mention matters that are avoided and denied.

DO NOT bring consciousness to your mate's delusions.

DO NOT bring consciousness to the state of the marriage.

DO NOT call attention to the folly of trying to make an unloving, unconstructive marriage "work."

By obeying those rules, a couple can live in the concept that their marriage is happy, instead of acknowledging its reality. They would rather exist and persist in illusions about how okay they are: "We're fine! We're great! We're crazy about each other!" The partners will justify and overlook many things just to keep the game in play; for example, they will abuse one another frequently, and say, "It's because I love you."

And, needless to say, to point these things out is a no-no. It threatens two things: one, the marriage's very existence, as shaky as it is; and two, the partners' egos (egos that are selfish, unloving, and unyielding) that are making the marriage so unhealthy in the first place. So, when honesty threatens, and truthful insight seems to jeopardize the stability of their love, they will rise to defend their arrangement against the "enemy": truth.

A spirit-based rule

Seek to know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Under the rules of spirit, one respects the truth as a friend, not as an enemy. One respects it, even when it's undoing something that's an enemy to oneself, and to one's true happiness. In that case, if you ask, "Doctor, what's wrong with my life?" and the good doctor tells you what's wrong with it, you feel gratitude. You're grateful because, "Know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Now you can remove from your life what's hurting you -- or fix it.

It's like this:

"You have an allergy to this food."

"Great, thank you for telling me. Now I can stay away from that, and I'll be healthy."

Clearly, the most auspicious day in your life is the day when a truthful voice says, "This is what's wrong with your life. Your marriage is sick -- and it's killing you and your spouse, both. And, your overall way of living is hurting you in these ways." Great to know that! -- if you're willing to do something about it.

But what if, as an ego-driven being, you are clinging to an illusion, and trying to perpetuate it? In that case, you would simply reject the truthful voice, along with the truth itself, as being threatening and unkind. And you would tighten your grip on your collusive relationship. And call that "being true" -- conventionally true -- to your mate (which is to say, being untrue, dishonest).

Under the conventional rules, we pride ourselves on being faithful -- faithful to the dishonesty upon which we and our mate depend. And on being consistent -- consistent in quickly returning to the principle of dishonesty.

Why, in ego-speak, true means UNtrue

To be true to someone, as ego understands it, and as convention requires it, is the opposite of being true to someone, as spirit understands it. Heaven is fine with truth. Spirit loves truth. But conventional society, ruled by ego as it is, is not fine with truth.

In ego-speak . . .

To be true to a friend is to be compassionate in the sense of not telling them what they (as egos) do not want to hear.

To be constant is to consistently support a friend in wrongful beliefs and illusions.

To be loyal is persisting in a relationship, even if that relationship is destructive to the well-being of everyone involved; to be loyal to the person's ego, even as it pushes their soul deeper and deeper into depression.

And in the ego's way of thinking, to be "true" is to play ego's games under ego's rules -- yes, even if the game damages the players. Even if it kills them.

To be "true" and "loyal" in ego-speak, you march on to the beat of the ego drummer -- by maintaining and ignoring whatever needs to be maintained and ignored for the relationship to exist, and for false security to persist. Such is rightness as defined by conventional culture, and as defined by the ego that spawned it.

To put it simply, here's another way of explaining the ego-speak concepts of true, constant, loyal:

To be UNtrue. To be dishonest.

That's right. In ego-speak, to be "true" to your mate or friend is to be true to his or her ego, and untrue to his or her soul -- because everyone knows that the soul of any person is hurt by avoidance, denial, and collusion.


To be spiritually true to them is to be the opposite: to be honest with the person about things that matter, even if they resist being honest about those things; to bring up things they need to hear, even if they don't want to hear them; to be conscious around a person who very much wants unconscious companionship.

Note: It's not always appropriate to bring truth to a person who doesn't want to hear it. If they have made it clear that they really don't want to hear it, and certainly won't do anything about it; if they have shown that they will react in ways that will hurt themselves and others, then it may be best not to tell them the truth. But just because you can't tell them the truth doesn't mean you have to be dishonest in your own choices. If there is no way to be constructive in a relationship, at least be honest with yourself, and disengage.

What are friends for

I said earlier that what it means to be true to someone depends on how you define true. Another way to look at it is, what it means to be true to someone depends on how you define them.

Specifically, you can relate to any person as an ego or as a spirit. To be true to an ego, as we've seen, is to be true to the egoic whims and values that may be espoused by the person, but which may be -- and generally are -- very destructive to their spirit and their well-being. Or, you could look at the person as a spirit, who is suffering under the burden of egoic values and habits, and even under the burden of egoic self-identification. In other words: "I think I am an ego. I think I am the person who wants junk, and who is identified with getting and having junk; and who is inclined to defend and offend in the good name of protecting junk. That's who I think I am." To be true to a spirit would be to help them throw off the burdens of their bad habits and wrong thinking.

Now, I'm not saying anyone can force a person to believe they're spirit if they believe otherwise. But I am saying, a good friend will keep the larger spiritual and psychological interests of their friend in mind -- even when that means not colluding with them, even when that means recommending patterns that are different than the hurtful patterns they're attached to at the present time.

A good example would be: You have a friend who is in an extremely abusive and destructive marriage. And she's getting the worse end of the battle, most of the time. Now, to be a true friend of hers would probably mean encouraging her to leave her marriage, even though she may be afraid of change, and she may even be attached to her husband for various reasons. Or, you may recommend that a person give up alcohol or drugs, even though they are attached to alcohol or drugs, because it is hurting them and perhaps destroying their life, their relationships, and so forth.

Usually the real requirements of true love and support are quite opposite from those that the ego would consider supportive. Ego would assert, "If you really loved me, you would support me in my alcoholism. If you really loved me, you would support me staying in my marriage, even though I'm being abused and losing my self-esteem day by day." Honestly, would a real friend do something like that?

This bears upon the age-old question people love to ask: "What are friends for, anyway?" Is the answer: to try to make oneself popular with one's friend, even if that means colluding with them in patterns that are self-destructive? Or is the answer: friends are for doing the opposite of that? True friends, good friends are for the deeper and long-term well-being of their friends, and not just for trying to be popular by supporting the person in wrongdoing at the expense of their well-being.

Sometimes your friend wants you to buy the idea that they're a desperate wretch who absolutely needs their drug to get by for another day. But you don't need to buy that, and it wouldn't be a good idea to buy that. So you might want to directly contradict that and say, "You are not the person who you say you are. You don't need drugs. You do not need to stick with that abusive husband. You do not need to drink irresponsibly. You do not need this, okay?"

Sometimes it's hard to know how best to support a person, and what they really need. Again, the answer to the question, "What is support?" depends on who you think your friend is -- and who you think you are. Are they a person who absolutely needs collusion to exist and to be okay? And are you a person who needs to be a people-pleaser to be okay? Are you a person who is so weak that you won't take a position that's unpopular, or confront anybody, even if it means being destructively collusive? Collusive love is not really love at all -- it is the willingness to sell your friend down the river in order to maintain your own popularity and to avoid conflict. In many cases, the tough love that would tell the truth is the real love.

And people know this. You hear people say, "Ya know, he's a real friend. He'll let me know when I'm out of line. He calls me on my shit. I'm really glad I've got a good straight-talkin' friend in him. Because if it wasn't for that, I don't know where I'd be." Everyone knows, that's what a good friend is.

Insights from psychology's conclusions on co-dependence

Fortunately, everyone also knows how harmful avoidance, denial, and collusion are, thanks to the widespread popular understanding of unhealthy co-dependence.

As a culture, we've had to face the difficult subject of co-dependence because alcoholism proved such a huge social and personal problem, it had to be handled. People had to face the music or die. It was that simple.

So, psychologists studied the intricacies of co-dependence in great detail. And they drew some very sane and solid conclusions:

Denial stands at the root of the problem.

Denial is unhealthy.

Relationships that support people in denying unhealthy behaviors -- which they called co-dependent relationships -- are unhealthy.

Collusion is unhealthy. Enabling is destructive. The kind of compassion that protects a person from the truth is destructive. These were the findings of addiction/dysfunction research.

Having identified these sick patterns, the psychology community has done a lot of hard work for us. To have broadly promoted the understanding of exactly how destructive those patterns are is a great, great stepping stone for us to build on. Now we are simply extending these same observations further into the domain of dysfunctional relationships, by saying: any relationship, to the extent that it depends on avoidance and denial, is unhealthy, dysfunctional, and destructive.

What are people gonna say? "No, those sick patterns are only destructive when it comes to alcohol. In so-called 'normal' intimacy, denial is healthy. And so is collusion, and so is enabling. And chronic patterns of avoidance based on coercive intimidation and retaliation are healthy." No, people won't say that. It's far too obvious, by now, that the principles of co-dependency don't just apply to alcohol -- they apply to life and love in every form. Co-dependence isn't about alcoholism; it's about avoidance and denial.

Every form of co-dependence was built on avoidance and denial. Look, for example, at the classic case of an alcoholic family unit:

Dad is an alcoholic. Most likely, he's ruining his health, wrecking his cars, jeopardizing his job, destroying the family. Ruining everything, practically. But as a dysfunctional family, we are all in denial about Dad's alcohol problem. We are all colluding with Dad. We are enabling. We bring him his liquor, we make up lies for him when his boss calls because he didn't come to work -- we do the things that are done in unhealthy co-dependent relationships of all kinds.

In a dysfunctional family, we deny the fact that if Dad keeps on the alcoholic path, he's going to destroy himself and our family. We avoid facing the effects of his drinking. And we lie to ourselves and others about the severity of the problem, and what it means to us.

The same pattern characterizes "normal"/dysfunctional intimacies: they too are built on deception and deceit, avoidance and denial. Many such relationships are so deep in denial, they depend on denial for their very existence.

This we have seen: In the dysfunctional family of an alcoholic, nobody tells Dad he's an alcoholic, because if they try to tell him, he'll make their lives miserable. If confronted, he'll deny his problem flat out. And by the same token, nobody tells Mom she's the wife of an alcoholic. She'll deny that.

Likewise, in a dysfunctional, denial-based relationship...

Nobody dares to acknowledge the fact that, by unspoken agreement, the truth is unwelcome in the relationship. People hesitate to admit, even to themselves, that their partner will go ballistic if confronted about his or her chronic egotism. But people know, at least subconsciously, that truth is taboo. Collusion is required.

Their unhealthy co-dependent relationship is built on the unspoken agreement that they will avoid and deny the crucial problems of their intimacy, their ways of thinking, and their lives. They will "protect" their partner from the truth of their partner's ego fears. They will support their shaky love with the lies it depends on.

But friends, you coddle your mate's ego and their illusions at the expense of their soul and their sanity. Enabling a person to live egotistically is the furthest thing from compassion. It is destructive. In relationships, supporting and maintaining patterns of denial for any reason -- and the usual reason is self-protection -- is the most destructive course of action. So, denial and collusion may be "business as usual" in today's world, but beware! It's truth or (unfortunate) consequences: dysfunction, addiction, uncorrected negative patterns, etc.

Collusive is abusive

The fact remains: In being conventionally "true" to your spouse or friend, you are being untrue to him or her. Hurting them, not helping them. So, if you want to help them, and not hurt them, you may have to break the unwritten rules of your dysfunctional relationship, as well as the accepted patterns of society as a whole.

DO NOT be abusive by being collusive.

DO NOT do the avoid dance with your mate.

DO NOT walk on eggs when it comes to crucial issues.

DO NOT join the conspiracy of silence, and forfeit your right to speak up through non-use.

DO NOT sell your intimate down the river of self-delusion, confusion, collusion, enabling, and dishonesty.

DO NOT become . . .

• a "loyal" enabler

• a collusive co-dependent.

• a "faithful" defender of dysfunction

• a co-conspirator in a conspiracy against truth and rightness

• a friend of denial

The demand for Stepford wives

You notice that a person who is weak and immoral will depend on the fact that they can easily gain the love of another weak and immoral individual -- all they have to do is be untrue. Collude, deny, and you're in -- a fine Stepford wife! She's absolutely "loyal" to her husband, right or wrong. She has gained his "respect," his "love," by being dishonest; she has secured his "commitment" by joining him in denial.

Such a person would destroy your soul to gain your favor. Why would anyone really want that?

Dishonest people need dishonest wives and husbands in order to have anyone at all. They have no tolerance for truthful companionship. They would not have an honest person in their bed. They would not call an honest person a friend. They would view any close, honest intimacy as threatening. They would make an end run around that, and seek comfort, love, sympathy in dishonesty. They would require of their companions co-avoidance, co-dependence.

The ego maintains its way and perpetuates its attachments and its system of comfort by systematically avoiding truth -- and systematically denying the problems of doing that. And also, at the same time, by denying the powerfully uplifting and beneficial tendencies of conscious, truthful relationships. A true relationship is as beneficial as an untrue relationship is destructive.

The desire not to know or be known

You can only have a true relationship with a person who can see you -- and not otherwise. Isn't it often said that if a person does not know you, how can they say they love you?

The usual complaint in marriages by both husbands and wives is the fact that they are not truly seen, not truly known. Of course, they chose not to be understood, but they complain about it anyway, because it is heartbreaking even if you choose it -- unavoidably so. So they complain about not being understood even while hiding, choosing insensitive companions, and parrying off truthful observations with denial and lies.

You see, everybody wants to be seen in their soul nature. But the same eyes that would see you in your soul nature would also see exactly how you are deviating from it, and doing things that are incompatible with your own soul nature -- in principle and in heart. So, while it is ecstatic to be seen in one's true soul nature, it is daunting to be expected to live in harmonious accord with one's nature.

For example: "I'm glad for everyone to see I am a loving person at heart. But I'm sad for people to see that I am not living a life of love in a manner and degree consistent with my good, loving nature."

People hate the obligation to live in a manner consistent with what is known to be true. So people have a love/hate relationship with consciousness.

The hate side of the coin comes from ego. The ego doesn't want to be seen, because its lifestyle is shameful, and shame wants to hide. And, it doesn't want to see. Not only does my husband not know me, he doesn't want to know me. Not only does my wife not know me, she doesn't want to know me. And as a result of not wanting to know me, guess what? My spouse doesn't know me.

A person who doesn't want to see or be seen is only nominally in relationship. Closer to the truth, they are in avoidance within what they call relationship. And therefore, the husband spends his evenings tinkering in his garage, alone. He is terrified of consciousness, and therefore avoids relationship and honest exchange by pursuing his hobbies. The wife goes shopping, or spends her evening on the phone to her friends. They both leave each other alone.

That's why you chose them, right? Because they don't bother you like those conscious people bother you. They don't invade your space like those conscious people invade your space. They leave you alone -- like they should.

And so...

You're alone in your intimacies. You're alone in your marriage. You're alone in bed. You're alone in just about everything. Good job! You wanted to be alone, didn't you? At least your ego did, your false persona did. Well, now you are. How do you like it?

But the problem is, the soul wants to be known. The heart needs to be known. And if you are fortunate enough to meet a person who knows you -- a spiritual elder, mentor, or teacher, a true "anam cara" (soul friend) -- you're ecstatic. Even though ego hates the truth, that's not who you really are. You are happy with the truth. You're happy with consciousness. You're happy being seen and known. You're happy not being alone. That's who you are. You respond that way.

But then what? When someone who can and does see you comes along, are you going to be able to accept the answer to your prayers? What if you're in a marriage in which part of the deal is the exclusion of truth? What if you've made an unspoken agreement to not be involved in consciousness, to not bring consciousness home to your mate or friend, and destabilize your relationship with it, or threaten their ego with it?

Then, you find out that to be true to yourself -- your true self, and its needs and desires -- and to be true to the true, conscious relationship with this new person who does see you, you may have to break free of your conventional, ego-based associations, and the set of rules that govern them.

Who's your daddy?

You have to decide, who's your source? You have to either choose delusion, avoidance, and denial, or you have to choose truth. The two are incompatible, so you do have to choose. And you will choose, consciously or unconsciously. Which will it be? Who's your daddy?

The path always comes to the crossroads. It always diverges. You always either go back to your most dishonest friend, or your truest. It's not actually a choice between your mate and your more conscious friend; it's a choice between ego and spirit. To which standard will you be true?

You end up having to be true to one or the other. True, meaning to destroy everything -- by the ego definition of true; or, to help everything -- by the spirit definition. Because to really be true to your spouse is to not collude with them, and not let them die that way.

To be true to your spouse, tell them the truth. To be true to yourself, be the truth; be truthful. To be true to yourself is to be an honest person, not a liar, a deceiver, a colluder, a misleader, an avoider. That's being true to your real Self, your honest heart, your actual knowing. And to be true to your soul friend is to do all of that, and to be true about that friend, and with your friend. To have the real relationship that you really have with that person, from soul to soul. That's true.

There's only one true, and there's only one false. There's false to all: your spouse, your soul friend, yourself. And then there's true to all: your spouse, your soul friend, your self. All true, or all false. Which will it be?

Untrue relationships cannot fulfill

Only an open and honest relationship can fulfill anyone. Every time a person, or a couple, puts a lid on truth, or compromises truthfulness, fulfillment itself is compromised and limited by that. An untruthful relationship is not fulfilling.

The further a person goes from truth, the further they go from the possibility of their own heart and soul fulfillment, because those depend upon openness, honesty, reality, sincerity.

So the conspiracy against truth is also a conspiracy against happiness, however unconsciously. And that's why a soul friend is important -- for bringing truthfulness back, so that happiness and fulfillment can be real possibilities for you. And to help you shake off the burden of hiding and dishonesty in relationship, of ships passing in the dark, of not being known, of not being seen, of walking on eggs, all of which is extremely painful and absolutely unfulfilling to both heart and soul.

The truth will set you free

The truth will set you free. The truth will set your spouse free from the prison of mutually limiting conspiracy. And the truth will set your soul friend free of the pain of your dishonesty.

Know the truth, and the truth will set even God free! It will set God free of trying to free what refuses to be free; trying to uplift what refuses to be uplifted; trying to shed light on what wants the darkness, and depends on the darkness for the existence and persistence of its meager creations.

So, which will it be? True, or untrue? You, or the ego-self you've designed? Which will it be?

by David Truman

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