Beginning in childhood we hope to have a best friend, a person we can open our hearts to and who will value us enough to risk equal self-disclosure. We imagine we’ll have enough in common to make our time together joyful, and enough affection to tolerate one another’s differences. When we’re ready to marry, we carry this friendship idea forward, throw in sex and money, and there you have it—the dream of perfect intimacy, the perfect spouse.

Couples tend to keep some secrets that are really just a pure expression of love. She tells him he’s a great cook because this lie makes him happy; he tells her she doesn’t look fat because she needs the confidence boost. Neither tells the other about the weeks of sexual fantasy they may have about that other man or woman in the back of their mind but only about the beauty and attraction they feel for one another. She thinks his belly has gotten a little out of shape but tells him he’s the sexiest in her eyes. He doubts she’ll get the job but cheers her on never revealing his uncertainty. She feels he made a total ass of himself but merely mentions he was out of line.

The one thing we must remember though is that each little lie will chip away at trust and it puts a slight distance between you and your partner. As psychiatrist Frank Pittman famously stated, infidelity is not “whom you lie with. It’s whom you lie to.” However trivial the distortion, every time you mask yourself to avoid conflict, you take a small step away from your partner. Emotional distance does not foster great love.

So is your partner your “best friend”, the one you can be yourself with, be completely honest with and talk to about everything or do you find yourself withholding?