the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; keep god out of this

Have you ever fantasized about any of your wife’s friends? Is the reason you’ve held off having children because you aren’t sure if your wife is the right one for you? Do you often wonder why you’re in your current relationship? When you’ve been out of town on business, have you ever wished you didn’t have to call your partner? Have you ever had sexual relations with someone of the same sex? Have you ever masturbated at work? Covered for a friend who was having an affair?

Questions like these lead to money and trouble on Fox’s new game show, Moment of Truth, where contestants are asked twenty-one increasingly personal questions before a live audience, and their supposed loved ones, in an effort to win $500,000 by answering honestly. Prior to airing, contestants are hooked to a polygraph, where their answers are recorded and analyzed by specialists to determine the validity of their responses. Loved ones are able to nix one question of the twenty-one if they, themselves, don’t want to hear the answer because sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

When Phil and I watch shows like this, I inevitably repeat the questions, waiting for his answer. “Is there a part of my body you find revolting?” 

“We’re not doing that.”
“Answer me.”
“We’re not going to watch this if you do that.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve turned whatever I’m witnessing into a question within my own world. We’re watching a film about a paraplegic. “Would you still be with me if I became paralyzed?”

“Could we still have sex?”

Or, “Would you still be with me if I lost an arm?” “Which arm?” I never get serious answers, and the truth is, he’s incapable of giving me answers anyway. Because until you’re in that situation, you really don’t know what you’ll do. You can guess, but you don’t know.

Though we’re all quite aware of what’s happened in our pasts. If you were imagining it was your ex kissing your neck as your current did so. If just yesterday you were IMing with someone you promised never to communicate with again. And then, sometimes, it seems, people lie even to themselves.

It’s called denial. Reshape things into an account they’re comfortable living with. I presume the Wasband and his family have done this with his past, shaped his behavior into some shade of acceptable.

Then there’s the whole “Indecent Proposal Factor” to consider. Is the money worth it? Can you really work through it with the knowledge that your partner wants to cheat on you, even has someone picked out, looming over you in your day to day? I’ll say this, for people who aren’t on game shows or hooked into lie detectors, they somehow still half-detective their relationships, hunting for something they don’t even really want to know. It’s indecent of them to be scanning his web history, pilfering through the boxes he keeps beneath his bed. I used to bring that kind of thing on myself, without an option of pushing a button, without a $500,000 prize. I did it for free, to myself. I wanted the truth at all costs, and I still do. I just don’t go digging around for it anymore because I finally feel safe, which is frightening to admit, as if I’ll be jinxing it. Because I was always so afraid of someone pulling something over on me. Being lied to sucks.

I think the show is too easy. “Man, if I were on that show, I’d make a shit pile of money because I’m not afraid to tell the truth to anyone.” And I’m pretty sure I’ve already excavated all the lies I’ve told myself over the years. But none of that’s true, really. There are things I don’t talk about. Reporters ask me that often enough. “Is there anything you won’t write about?” Yes, but I won’t tell them what, obviously. I think we all have secrets best (for everyone) kept where they are.



  1. But it feels soooo good to get secrets off our chests! I'm open and honest and pretty much tell anyone anything, especially "in print" on my blog, but the reality is, we all eventually edit ourselves. I asked people to post their secrets anonymously on my blog and wow, there is a LOT we all keep hidden and won't talk about for fear of who is reading/listening. Big big things. Some of regretted events and moments, others are huge bombs of truth. I believe that which we keep hidden, that is exactly what we should be writing/talking about. If only I could follow my own advice…..

  2. Very thought provoking blog. Can people handle the truth and still maintain a relationship whether dating or married?

  3. There are secrets and then there are things you don't say because they are hurtful and or irrelevant. You share them when neccessary. For example, if you don't want to have kids because you are not sure she's the one. You don't bring that up over a conversaton about breakfast cereal, but if you are having a conversation about having kids, that's when it becomes more hurtful not to share your feelings.

    I guess I am in favor of thoughtful honesty. Seems to me that in that show they are paying people to use the truth in an unthoughtful manner. It might be okay for a parlor game or a game show, but not particularly applicable to real life.

  4. I was watching this last night and wondering the same thing… I think shows like that are appealing to me b/c as I am sitting there (and I will admit it) judging others, it makes me focus on my own truths I have been hiding or trying to overcome. I immediately put my self in her situation… and in no way would I be able to tell my Mother or Family members some of the things that she was admitting to on national television. Ignorance is definately bliss when it comes to certain things that other people may not want to hear… but in some cases usually know anyway… none of the things I heard her admit to were earth shattering (yet), the truths were just things that you never really say outloud… well except to some best friends!

  5. I once asked my boyfriend if he would remain with me if I developed breast cancer and had a masectomy (My mother had cancer, so I'm at risk.) He told me that no, he wouldn't. That a breast-less me "wouldn't be the woman he fell in love with." I'm glad I asked. We are no longer together.

    On the other hand, I have learned to be careful about what I ask. It's that old "If you are afraid of what the answer might be, don't ask."

  6. "Because I was always so afraid of someone pulling something over on me."

    I feel the same way and still haven't lost that lurking fear. The fiance' refuses to understand that my biggest fear isn't that he'll cheat. It's that I will look stupid for not knowing about it.

    And of course, because I am nosy, I am dying to know what you won't write about. I'm the same way, some topics/ events are better left unsaid.

  7. I once had a boyfriend who told me, "Don't ask questions you don't want to hear the answer to".
    In retrospect, it was helpful advice, only not what I wanted to hear when I'd just asked him if he still loved me.
    Painful, yes, but it did teach me a valuable lesson.
    My question is, why on earth would these people line up to ask these questions and then hear the answers they'd really rather not know? On national television?!
    $500,000 and public humiliation just isn't worth it.
    I liken this show to those nature shows where the sweet little antelope is getting a drink by a lake and you just know the alligator is going to snap up and kill it.
    It's just my opinion, but this is reality TV at it's worst.
    Imagine what damage the 'play at home' version would do.

  8. Everyone's been lied to at one time or another. It does suck. BUT- I think it's in a person's nature to be suspicious or not. I had a similar situation to yours with the Wasband, but while I am older, wiser, and more apt to see clues, I'm just not that suspicious a person.

    I'm also married to someone else now, and we watched this Moment of Truth show and I didn't feel any need to ask him those questions. It isn't that I'm perfect, stupid, or blind. I just don't have it in me to think that way. If something bad happened from him lying or cheating, I'd be devastated, humiliated, and hurt, but unless it was for a huge jackpot, I just don't see the point of those conversations.

    If Phil gave you a "satisfactory" answer to all those questions, would that even be enough to make you feel better/safer/more secure??

    FROM SK: I don't think I ask because I worry he doesn't love me enough. I actually know deep down that he'd be with me no matter what. I think I ask because it's something I can ask. It's something I have fun with. Really, I just enjoy seeing how he'll even answer. With him, I'm never afraid of the answer because deep down, I think I already know it.

  9. There are many different kinds of secrets. Some are just of the "embarrassing, best kept to yourself" variety, while others are the kind that can impact your life and your relationships. While I believe in honesty in relationships, I also believe in a healthy dose of "mums the word." For example, when my babe gained a few a couple years ago – we talked about it and he eventually lost the weight. But, there was absolutely no need for me to tell him that I noticed he had gained weight because I could feel his belly flopping on me now during sex! ;)

  10. This was a great post for me today. My boyfriend and I decided to go our separate ways because he claims that I can't "trust" him and I of course can't; which is due to his prior history of CHEATING. But of course I've become the crazy stalker girlfriend for asking any questions and not taking his cookie cutter answers. He's moving out; I'm crushed but fuck it; greater later.

  11. I like Phil more and more. The answer "Which arm?", too perfect. I get the idea that this is a part of him that frustrates you, you want a real answer. But the tongue in cheek one seems more revealing of how much he really does love you. It's like the original question you posed is just too silly to begin with, of course he'd still be with you if you lost a flipper…

  12. I get it now…the "what if" game, just a little more intense. It's more something my husband would ask me to play than me asking him. But, he thinks more like you do(I gather from reading your stuff)- he's more suspicious of people in general.

    I never thought I'd be able to trust someone after my ex cheated, then left me for his co-worker & married her…Of course, I did trust again, so I realized, that's just my thing. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt immediately until they prove me wrong. Some people make everyone EARN trust first. I think people are hardwired one way or the other- not necessarily by their experiences.

  13. regarding that tv show you mentioned, i think that is gross. people are literally prostituting their privacy for money. i can't help but wonder…are we not showing enough of ourselves? has the media become so base, has our culture become so depraved, that we simply haven't had ENOUGH yet?

    when i hear about things like this, it makes me so glad and proud to not own a television.

  14. Amen! Keep them secrets. I often want to write about my life, blog or memoir, whatever. But I really don't want others to know what I really think about them. I would have no friends and my family would disown me. Hell I don't want others to know what I think about myself. Too much for me. So, I always assumed there were things you didn't write about. For all my secrets in life, there's at least one person who knows. Bits and pieces of me scattered amoung my friends and family, and a few strangers from some of my writing classes. They swore they wouldn't tell what I wrote!

  15. That show is freaking disgusting. You'll only tell a loved one the truth if there's money in it for you? You only want to hear a truth from someone you love if you'll get money for hearing it? Then maybe you don't deserve their love. THIS is what reality television has come to? Networks are really THIS pathetically desperate? They are scraping the bottom of the barrel here.

    Gross. The people who go on this show should have their heads examined.

  16. I could tell that reality TV has gone too far when the teenagers revolted and wouldn't allow that show in the house. I was all willing to watch it and everything – and they protested so vehemently I was stunned. And then we watched I Love Lucy instead – good, old fashioned TV. The few minutes I snuck watching were quite horrifying and made me feel, somehow, like I should shower. I can't believe people would actually go on that show.

  17. "has the media become so base, has our culture become so depraved, that we simply haven't had ENOUGH yet?" Posted by: Green

    It doesn't have to be the fault of our culture!! This show is disgusting just like mostly everything else on television. Don't blame it on the people! "They" want us all to watch this trash to desensitize us and distract us away to what is really going on. Don't be numb to this. Stay awake!!

  18. I also watched Moment of Truth last night. I would have a very hard time admitting to my sister that I feel as though i am prettier (as one girl did.) I certainly have a new appreciation for such honesty. My current boyfriend is the most honest man I know and will lie about nothing. There's comfort in that. However, he often makes light of the more serious questions I ask him- not to ignore them I don't think, but just to make me laugh. And I always do.

    I consider myself an "over-sharer" and am very honest about who I am (although I do have a tendency to exaggerate- which is something I'm working on) and I really didn't think I had any secrets… from myself or my best friends. That is until a friend introduced me to "Post Secret" (people anonymously send postcards with their deepest secrets which they've told no one, as a form of artwork.) I can't believe some of the secrets people keep. Which of course got me thinking about my own. In realizing my own deepest secrets (practically subconscious before- at least because I hadn't admitted them to myself,) there's something cool about feeling at least slightly mysterious, even if they are messed up secrets.

    Loved the post (obviously,) Stephanie.

  19. The only person I keep secrets from is my father (and I guess by extension my mother because she'll never keep anything from him, even if I ask her not to tell). He's the one person I can't bear to disappoint. Deep down, I know he'll love me no matter what, but I wish I could actually be the person he sees in me.

    When reading your book, I was amazed (and a little jealous) that you had such faith in your relationship with your dad that you could turn to him at your darkest moment and know that he would support any decision you made – even bring you to the clinic himself. I don't think I would have been brave enough to go to my father with something like that.

  20. Human beings need a narrative of their lives which enables them to live with themselves, you can call it denial if you like, but it is psychologically fundamental to our mental health! Just imagine if you were still torturing yourself about the last thing you really cringed about, or regretted, ouch.

  21. "…I finally feel safe, which is frightening to admit, as if I’ll be jinxing it."

    I identify with this line a great deal. In my own way and for my own reasons, of course, but thanks for writing it just the same. Reading your blog is a great exercise for me in remembering how consistently similar the human experience can be from one person to the next, even though we are all completely different.

  22. I've always been honest to a fault. Though I'm working on that. And I have also always wanted to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but… However, I finally realized as curious as I am to know everything, like "who was the best sex you ever had." I am not able to handle the whole truth. Finally after too many honest questions getting honest answers I realized this and quit asking. Or at least I think about it a little more before I ask, just in case, I can't handle the truth.

  23. the subconscious is a stupid thing to monitor. all people think certain things, regardless of their intent. minds compare and analyze beyond our own knowledge, even. so, if someone was asked "have you ever thought about cheating on your wife?" then yes, he has – and if he says yes, it doesn't mean with intention. but somehow, in our minds, there is always a moment when we might imagine "what would happen if i cheated?" or the question in your mind was actually "if i ever cheated, how could i forgive myself?" or some question that doesn't have any foul attachment to it.

    i'm with you, SK – i'd want to go on that show because anything that seems to america like foul play is more than likely an honest answer to a question that can have many answers – most of which in my case, would be harmless.

    i am addicted to honesty, too. i've learned to stop hunting it down as much. because, as you've said – some thing don't need to be said. even if they could be explained, they couldn't be unsaid.

    that scrapbook made me want to have babies just so i could make a cute scrapbook. if i send you pics and a check for $_______, will you do one for moi?

  24. Absolutely. I watched this show last night, too. At first, I thought it wouldn't be any good. Only people with nothing to hide would come on. Right?

    And then I put myself in that chair. There is so much I don't think about… much less, talk about. What if someone asked me directly? On TV? In front of my parents?

    No, thanks.

  25. That was the reason why my boyfriend didn't want to watch Sex and the City with me – halfway through the episode I'd turn to him and ask him: "would you do that to me too" or "did you ever do that?" types of questions.

    Playing the "What if" game nearly cost me my relationship. The question I asked my then-boyfriend was: "If you had to move abroad for your dreamjob, and I couldn't/wouldn't come with you, would you leave me?" Him answering "yes" confirmed what I already knew: that his career was the most important thing in the world for him. Not me. So I considered leaving him. Until I decided that it was a bit silly to leave him for something that may never happen. (Seeing him cry his eyes out begging me not to leave him did help too… sometimes what we say and do is a contradiction)

    That said – In some cases I'll make an exception. Linda O., what a jerk your ex is! His true colours came out in his answer. You did the right thing.

  26. This is for Beth
    Maybe you ARE the person your dad sees in you; and
    try it – be brave enough to ask him anything – you may be really, really surprised.

  27. I really need to TIVO this show…I think my truths would definitely fuck my relationships up, even though I never lie, truth can be scary, cause even if YOU arent lying or in denial, other people like to be in denial for thei own protection.

  28. regarding sk's idea/fear that:

    "Because I was always so afraid of someone pulling something over on me."

    i'm with you eleanor!!! it's not the slip up/cheating that's so terrible (well, that does suck) it's the lying and sneaking around that REALLY stays with you. being played as "the fool", eh? gets in your skin and turns you into a perpetual detective (i'm saying, once you've been betrayed…).

    ANY THERAPISTS/PSYCHOLOGISTS reading this blog who can translate what this fear of being "made a fool of" REALLY means?

  29. Do you think that the contestants might lie about "secrets"? I mean, so much of what's on television is fake, even the reality shows. What would stop people from making all of it up in the first place?

    I feel like there's a certain amount of risk that that's going on, because the same personalities that would go on these shows and bare all at the risk of their personal lives would also make stuff up to try to win.

    Also, I found myself asking my boyfriend the other night if he would still love me if I didn't have a face. He wouldn't answer me. It must be universal.

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