Honne and Tatemae

Two Japanese words that describe the difference in a person’s feelings from what they have on the inside (honne) or the truth, and what they show on the outside (tatemae) or the facade. All of us, at some level, live with these two worlds, but some people have a more dramatic difference than others. 

I’m sure you know people who live their lives right out on their shirt sleeves. For those people there isn’t much of a difference between their truth and their facade. They do not keep much hidden. Especially from their spouses. Wife is like this. She will share nearly anything with anyone. Nothing is held private. This strategy works very well for her because her sincerity, openness and honesty draws people to her in wonderful ways.

Then there are those of us who keep a large gap between our truth and our facade. I know that many introverted intuitives fall squarely in this camp. We keep a very interesting inner life that is shared with almost no one. A spouse will be lucky to learn about it, and it will be a lot of work for them to do so. It is necessary work. Over time if that gap does not become known to your spouse then it becomes a source of consternation.

This concept of honne and tatemae really speak to me. I’ve written before about the fact that I feel Wife does not  know me. What I’m really saying is that she knows my honne, but not my tatemae. She knows who I project to be, but not who I am. I wish that it were easy to just bridge that gap for her and tell her who I really am underneath, but it’s not that simple. To know someone deeply you have to be ready to know them. You have to be willing to know the good and the bad, and then go seek it.

For those of us with deep private lives we do not just go around sharing them easily. We’ve spent a lifetime perfecting how to keep up the facade for everyone. It is a subconscious act. A person must want to know the truth, and then put in the time to go search for it. I must tell you though when you find the truth then you really know that person. Possibly better than they know themselves.


There is another side to this honne and tatemae. In the realm of affairs it is the separation of the truth of the affair from the facade of living life as normal. It is the deception to your spouse and family. It is living your life as if nothing has changed, when underneath everything has changed. Often you find yourself lying to yourself in order to make the facade work. It’s mentally very tiring. I’m tired of keeping up the facade. I don’t want to do this much longer.

Now that I know there is someone who knows my tatemae and is skilled at searching for it, it is hard to want to stay where I am. Wife will always be with the facade. She will never have the skills to explore. She will never know my truth. 


4 thoughts on “Honne and Tatemae

  1. Once you found and know your true self it is hear impossible to go back… it can be done but you have to kill that part of you and live for others.

    I, for one, am not that selfless… 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, right? Once you know, you know. Sometimes I think back to the cowboy days or Victorian era when people would do things just to be honorable. Such as staying married to the wrong person their whole life. They did it completely to live for others. Now don’t get me wrong, I will be selfless for my kids, but not just for society as a whole.


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