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Honesty is a cruel, Dalmatian coat-wearing bitch. In theory, it should be warm, pretty, and luxurious, but you can't get one without slaughtering three digits' worth of puppies. We all say we want one, because who wouldn't love a coat made out of dog skin? But when presented with it, we're horrified at the audacity. We want it, but not really. Fuckin' Disney, man. Gross.

There are legitimate reasons that we fear honesty. I wish I could tell you that it's something that's easy to get over, but I'm not sure it is -- or even if we should. Because ...

It's Met With Hostility

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Over the last week, a hashtag got really popular on Twitter. It was #YesAllWomen, and it became a massively powerful vehicle for women to voice the abuses, fears, and discrimination they experience in everyday life. It was frightening and eye-opening to many of us who will never have to constantly live in protection mode -- at least not on that level. To others, it was their chance to spark up debates with those women, rationally explaining how their fears were illogical and sexist against men. Because the Internet has no shortage of people who completely miss the fucking point ... and are also firmly lodged up their own asses like a klutzy yoga Jedi.

I'm not going to put screenshots of the responses, because quite frankly, I don't want to give their accounts free traffic (my account, however, is right here ... suck my free plug), but you can see them by searching for that hashtag. You'll find such well thought out rebuttals as "fuck feminism" and "I'm so sick of this anti man bullshit." Just shot after shot of people attacking women for having the gall to be honest about what their lives are like, and twisting that honesty into an attack on their entire gender.

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"I can't believe you'd put yourself in a position like that, Beth!"

You find that reaction everywhere, not just the big picture stuff. How many of you have been in a relationship where you slowly and steadily lose happiness? Most people don't blurt it out at the first warning sign. They silently let it brew until it leaves pitch-black stains on the inside of the pitcher. Then they take a drink and spit-take it all over their unsuspecting partner, leaving them with a "Where the fuck did that come from?" look on their face.

That's why some people immediately turn it around and attack the person who's being honest. "What right do you have to not be happy? After all I do for you! You are such a spoiled, entitled piece of butt poop! Yeah, that's right, butt poop!"

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"Now you get in that room, and don't you come out until you're happy! And I expect a full apology!"

Even if they aren't the cause, it's extremely easy for the other person to slip into defense mode when they hear that unfiltered honesty for the first time. "You're not happy with your job? Well, that's your own damn fault. What do you expect ME to do about it? Get off your fat ass and go find a new one, Mom." So we learn to keep swallowing those truths until we reach a breaking point that's so far beyond a reasonable repair that we damage or completely destroy the relationship. All to avoid the hostile reactions.

We're Taught to Pick and Choose Our Honest Statements

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One of the most important lessons you learn as a child is when to shut your stupid facebeak and keep certain information to yourself. Case in point: Last week I overheard my daughter ask her friend, "Is your house still all dirty and stinky?" It was in her head, so she said it. It was a totally honest and unfiltered question. Of course, as a dad who doesn't want to raise a bunch of assholes, it was my duty to step in and tell her that it's rude to ask questions like that, and then casually ask her friend, "But seriously, is it?"

It starts simple like that. You don't blurt out "Look how fat that guy is!" Then, as you get older, you refine those lessons into more complex social manners. You don't tell people how much money you make. You don't tell your party host that his brisket tastes like shoes. If a woman asks if you think she's pretty, there are 27 levels of acceptable responses. You may need a slide rule for that one.

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You just found the 28th level, my friend.

By the time you're an adult, there are so many complex situations to keep in mind, it's sometimes impossible to figure out which statements are acceptable and which are social grenades, especially in an age where a good part of our personal interaction isn't face to face. It's even worse when the environment of those interactions is a medium where, upon seeing your photograph, people immediately point out the flaw that you're the most self-conscious about -- or start talking about some insignificant bullshit that they spotted in the background.

What's acceptable in that setting isn't tolerated in most others. The way I speak at home isn't appropriate in public. In a professional meeting, I have to consciously stop myself from making fun of dumb ideas because I have no clue if the person who came up with it is in the room. Or maybe it was mine. Who knows? I don't pay attention very often.

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That's all I see, every time. No matter what the setting.

When you start looking at all those different settings and social rules, it can get confusing. Your levels of honesty fluctuate between them because they have to. You just get to the point where anything that could be considered borderline gets quietly tucked away so you don't end up looking like an asshole. Speaking of which ...

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We're Afraid We'll Look Like Assholes

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Let me give you a situation that many people run into in long-term relationships. After a year or two as a couple, your partner starts gaining weight. A lot of it. Emotionally, you're still right on track and perfectly happy as a couple. However, it is starting to affect you sexually. Is that shallow? Some people might say so, but let's get fucking real -- you're not able to modify that primal section of the brain that dictates what does and doesn't turn you on in a visual sense. It's as involuntary as breathing. As second nature as busting out a dance contest to defend your territory.

After a while, it's going to be hard for your partner to not notice that your genitals have not been touching much lately. Or that you're making the same face during sex that you made the first time you tried plain, unsweetened yogurt. So even if you don't have the heart to bring it up, eventually he or she is going to ask what the problem is.

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"What? You can't tell me that you don't want some of this, baby."

How do you talk about that without looking like the most shallow asshole in the world? How do you tell a friend that their deodorant isn't doing the job, and their funk is making you nauseous to the point of puking and then leaving the country forever?

If you're like most of us, you don't. You keep that shit locked up in your facehead, because talking about it makes you an intolerable dick. It's one of the reasons couples who hate each other can stay together, even though it's obvious to everyone else that they need to break up and have their memories wiped like a goddamn droid from Star Wars. Even if one of them knows that her partner is a douche, she will go out of her way to make sure that she's not.

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"Wait, baby, who's going to make my lunch?"

Of course, there's a flip side to that ...

The Truth Hurts ... No, Seriously

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Unless you're a sociopath, one of the main reasons you'd feel like an asshole is because your actions and words directly lead to the other person being hurt. Even if the conversation is initiated by the other party and they're specifically asking for that information, it's still incredibly insulting to hear. Especially if you're using terms like "disgusting" and "food sinner."

The unavoidable problem, though, is that big situations like this do eventually need to be addressed because they directly affect your relationship. Your kid is being rambly and annoying to your guests. He's just excited to have company, but he's imposing and completely dominating the conversation -- that's totally normal, in case you were wondering. But you can't just tell a child, "You're being an annoying twat. Fuck off."

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They'll just retaliate.

Is it honest? Yes. But it's also sending that kid away feeling like an unwanted burden. If you're the type of parent who does wield that level of blunt honesty, you are a fuckup and need some severe counseling. And possibly an ass beating.

Conversations like that require surgical precision, handing out the truth in small, digestible doses. Not just to children, but to anyone who hears honesty on that level ... something that is so potentially hurtful, it's been held back from conversations until it was forced out by a crowbar. And since normal people don't enjoy making others feel bad, that's pretty much what it takes to get it out of us.

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"I think it's time we had a heart-to-heart conversation."

But one of the biggest reasons we fear honesty is because of something not many people like to hear ...

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The "True You" Isn't Good Enough

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I'm not a people person, but I'm sure as hell not going to say that in a job interview. I won't just hold that information back; I'll flat-out lie to them and say, "I love working with others. In my last job, they called me Johnny 'People Lover' Cheese because of my high level of enthusiasm and excitement when communicating with my team." Then I'll sing a song I wrote about how much I love people. It's called "I Sho Does Loves Me Some Peoples (I Ain't Lyin' Reprise)."

Imagine being totally honest in that interview situation. "What's my biggest weakness? Great question. I'd say it's probably that I hate all managers, and I'd rather wipe my ass with a wood file than speak to customers." Think of all the crazy shit you hold back on a first date. Or how much of your boring side you keep hidden in the bushes. Why do you cover it up? Because knowing the undiluted truth about you would likely lose you a job or a potential relationship. Not necessarily because you're worth any less than other people, but because everyone else has learned to paint over the ugly spots.

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"Mr. Daughterdad, I'd like permission to propose to Sarah."

So you get used to filtering your responses to keep from looking like a person who gets off work and then plays nine hours of video games until he passes out in bed, clutching a half-empty bottle of scotch, even if that's what you actually do. After a while, that process leaks out into your everyday life, and that's when you find yourself "putting on masks." Not just in an attempt to gain ground in a relationship or a job, but to edit out parts of yourself that you don't want other people in general to see.

Am I saying that's a bad thing? No, that's totally normal and sometimes necessary. It's only bad when it continually builds until you're hiding virtually every aspect of yourself. Because that's when you've cut yourself off from any social connection at all. We're just not creatures that are built for isolation, even if it's only a mental one. But the fear that "If I'm honest with people on any level, I won't be good enough for them" keeps us firmly locked into the position of an emotional goalie.

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"Not today, asshole."

It's not realistic or even feasible to be totally honest all the time. That's a fairy tale fantasy made up by people who have seen too many romantic comedies, and it would make you the most hated person of all time. But that's why a lot of us fear it. Or at least I hope ... because if it's just me, I need to start looking for a reputable psychiatrist.

John is an editor and columnist right here at Cracked, with a new article every Thursday. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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