Relationship Fitness

S8: Integrity E10: Five Steps to Align Integrity

In “Relationship Workout for Men” Season 8 Episode 10, titled “Five Steps to Align Integrity,” Vince outlines a practical guide for couples to ensure they share the same understanding and expectations of integrity within their relationship. He emphasizes the importance of aligning on the stage of the dating process, openly discussing and agreeing on what integrity means in terms of honesty, reliability, and faithfulness, and setting clear expectations around these concepts. Vince also advises paying close attention to red flags that may indicate a partner’s struggle with integrity and stresses the significance of addressing any concerns immediately to maintain trust.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 8, Episode 10: Five Steps to Align Integrity

In summary, integrity is not always completely black and white. For instance: 

  • Two people may have different ideas on where the integrity boundary lies. A classic difference of opinion is on whether it’s okay to tell a white lie.
  • Two people may not be on the same page about where they are in the dating process: open dating, exclusive dating, or partners. If you’re not aligned on this, then this can also mean you have very different ideas of what integrity obligations each owes to the other at this point in time.

It’s important to remember that ambiguity doesn’t mean there’s weak integrity at play. Rather, it may mean you two have to get on the same page and get expectations set accordingly.

On the other hand, there certainly can be weak integrity. Therefore, it’s extremely important to clear through any ambiguity, so you can observe if there is real weak integrity happening. 

All that said, here are five steps you two can take to get on the same page and observe each other’s real integrity behavior. At their core, these five steps are really around communicating with each other and paying attention to each other’s behaviors.

Step 1: Align Dating to Dating Step

Regardless of how long each of you have been on the singles scene, there are a few stages to go through before graduating to partners. Therefore, it’s best to make sure you’re both on the same page about what dating stage you’re in, otherwise expectations on integrity obligations may be way out of whack. Recall, I discussed Dating as a Process in Season 1 Episode 6. 

So, to help align integrity to the dating stage, consider doing the following:

  • Talk about and agree on what step you two are in right now. Are you in the Open dating, exclusive dating or partners stage? And don’t lie about your agreement to be exclusive.
  • Agree on what the integrity obligations are for each you while in this dating step. These obligations were discussed in Episode 6 of this season.
  • Don’t forget to make sure you re-align if and when you two move to the dating step.

Step 2: Put Integrity on the Table

Don’t assume you both have the same integrity values or even have the same ideas of what reliability, honesty and faithfulness really mean. We all grew up differently, which can reflect in differing ideas around integrity. 

In addition, sometimes it can feel uncomfortable early on in dating to talk about integrity. Get past this and make sure you have the same mindset on this:

  • Talk about the three Integrity Strategies: honesty, reliability and faithfulness. What do they mean to each of you?
  • And make it as comfortable as possible to have this conversation.

Step 3: Set Integrity Expectations

If you both agree there are acceptable situations when it’s okay to cross over into the weak integrity space, then you two need to set expectations appropriately. Agree on these situations, removing ambiguity. Ask the following questions:

  • When is it okay not to follow through with what you say you’ll do?
  •  When is it okay to tell a lie (for instance, a white lie)?
  • When is it okay to keep secrets?
  • When is it okay to have sex with someone else?

The key message here is to make sure you’re both aligned. This way, if one person feels the other is acting with weak integrity, you two will have an agreed-upon framework in which to have this conversation.

It’s also important to recognize that different opinions of integrity don’t make one person good or bad. Just different. Again, we’ve all had our own unique paths through life (i.e., unique past conditioning, which was discussed in season 1), which can reflect in differing ideas of integrity. 

And if you can’t agree upon integrity expectations, then you may want to have an honest conversation with yourself: Can you live with this difference put into practice within a long-term relationship?

Step 4: Pay Attention to the Red Flags

Most people can’t be perfect actors forever; therefore, weak integrity will eventually show itself. You definitely want to be paying attention to any red flags when it comes to integrity.

In other words, don’t let great chemistry, mind-blowing sex, and a strong desire for a relationship blind you to what’s happening right in front of your eyes.

And Step 5: What to do If there might be Weak Integrity

If you discover potential weak integrity, then discuss it immediately.

  •  Is there a misunderstanding around any ambiguity?
  • Is there a pattern of weak integrity, or was it an isolated case?
  • Does the environment feel unsafe to share openly?
  • Where there is weak integrity, does the person take ownership (discussed further in the next season, Season 9: Ownership)? Is the person willing to strengthen this weakness? Perhaps help will be required through therapy. Remember to pay attention, as a hallmark of someone with weak integrity is an inability to keep promises.

If the person can’t change the weak behavior, and especially if you’re not yet in a committed relationship, then you need to have an honest conversation with yourself: Can you live with this weak integrity long-term?

So this completes Season 7 discussing Relationship Workout core #6 Integrity, where we addressed foundational question: “Do you trust each other?”

Remember, you can get a better idea on how you both feel around how integrity is going for the two of you by completing the Relationship Workout Program on RelationshipWorkout.com.

In the next season, season 8, we’ll discuss Relationship Workout core #7 Ownership, asking the foundational relationship question: “Do you both take responsibility for your contributions to issues in the relationship?”

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