Does the Truth Really Set Us Free?

It is wise not to seek a secret and honest not to reveal it.
— Ben Franklin

The other day, I had the distinctly disturbing honor of learning (now long after-the-fact) that an ex of mine was apparently unfaithful to me multiple times over the course of our relationship. I’ll spare you (and frankly myself from replaying) the sordid details, but his transgressions involved some pretty unsavory characters - the kind you *really* don’t want your partner to be cheating on you with.  

And even though this ex and I ended things years ago, hearing the news still stung. Actually, sorry, no - fuck that. It didn’t “sting” in the way that a pesky bug bite might. More accurately, learning what he’d done made me feel full-on fucking nauseous.

It made me think less of him than I knew possible.   

And truthfully? It terrified me.

Because it’s petrifying to discover that someone you spent years of your life with, someone whom you thought you knew inside and out, and someone you trusted more than anyone else in the world, could have hidden something of this magnitude from you.  

So all of this begs the question, how did I discover his indiscretions? -especially so much later?

Well, I certainly didn’t seek them out. (I didn’t know that there was anything to seek out). Rather, the information was fed to me by a third party - an individual who seemingly felt they were doing me a favor by letting me know the truth about my ex.

It was a “gift” that I didn’t ask for. And as I read their message, it felt as if I was unwrapping a big package that had landed on my doorstep only to find all of my worst nightmares crammed inside of it.


Upon learning that our partner has been unfaithful to us, we commonly find ourselves scrambling to uncover all of the information we’re lacking - all of the scattered pieces of the puzzle - so we can put everything together and see it for ourselves.

What exactly happened? Where? With whom? For how long? And why?

We seem to have this hardwired urge to collect and compile each painful detail - to learn the extent of our partner’s betrayal and the implications of their infidelity. As if maybe then we’ll be able to understand it - this thing that’s so utterly incomprehensible to us.

But if you think about it and are really honest with yourself, does engaging in that sort of behavior really make you feel better? Or, in actuality, does it serve to make you feel worse?

Is learning the whole truth and nothing but the truth always best? And why is learning the full story generally presumed to be a good thing? Does knowing the truth somehow inherently render us better-off?

At the end of the day, does the truth really set us free?

I’d love to hear your own perspective on this, but upon learning the truth about my ex, I personally found myself wondering exactly how my resulting feelings could possibly align with any I’ve historically associated with “freedom.”

If anything, I felt like the truth that I now possessed was serving to trap me by pulling me back inside memories of the past and of my relationship with my ex. I wanted to let go. But, try as I might, I couldn’t stop replaying that reel and thinking about it all.

Instead of providing me with any kind of closure or absolution, learning the truth only served to ignite more questions within me.

Was there more I didn’t know? Were there signs I should’ve seen? Could I have done something differently to prevent his indiscretions from happening?

And I realized this would be an endless, torturesome cycle as long as I allowed it to be.


Personally, I think our society over-celebrates the truth. We raise it up and put it on a pedestal. And yet the truth can, at times, hurt us more than it helps us. If we aren’t careful and we let it direct us, the very truth that we seek can sometimes become our prison - trapping us in negative thought patterns and stripping away our happiness.

So rather than looking to the truth to set us free, I feel that it’s our responsibility to set ourselves free - to mindfully focus on the things that serve us so we can move forward and live our lives.

In other words, maybe being true to ourselves is the only truth we ever truly need.