Lies - we’ve all told them, and we’ve all been on the receiving end of them. We lie because we’re afraid of the consequences of being honest, because we’re afraid of what the truth might do to somebody or because we think it’s what the other person wants to hear. It comes easier to some than others, but the reasons behind a lie is complex. We each have a personal story of why we feel the need to lie, what honesty means to us and why we may find it hard to trust. Maybe it seems easier to lie than admit our fears and show vulnerability, not realizing how much it can affect our relationships. I’m not talking about the little white lies. You know, the one where you say “I feel fine” when, actually, you don’t! Or, “Yes honey, I paid that bill!” when you know darn well the late charges are definitely doubled by now! I’m talking about lies - giving half of the truth (or being downright untruthful), giving misinformation, being manipulative – overall, just being deceitful.
What do lies do to a relationship? One of the biggest impacts, I think, a lie can have on your relationship is the breakdown of trust – something that, if lost, can completely damage a relationship. Many women I know will say that, in the end, lying does more to benefit you (at the time of the lie) then the person you are lying to and, basically, it’s just not worth it. Although a cliché, the whole “relationships based on trust” thing really does ring true. I’ll tell the truth about most things - ok, if he really thinks it’s a great idea to buy that new tool he needs to compliment his favorite hobby – I’ll tell him it’s a great idea because I know it will make him feel better about spending the money! But, if I know buying that tool will be damaging to our finances and there are other things that money could be spent on, is it really worth the lie? Maybe this specific lie isn’t much of a damaging lie to most couples (or maybe it is!). How many times does a person have to lie to you to break your trust? The answer is different for everybody. For some, it may be one, some it could be 100 – in the end, lies will be what breaks the relationship. Some will allow the relationship to go on for longer than others without that trust, which could eat away at what has been built between two people and make it impossible to live with.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche Not only does lying break down trust, but it shows a lack of respect for the person being lied to. I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty terrible after I find out I’ve been lied to. Like the person lying is not taking responsibility for their actions, like they are not understanding me as a person and like they have no idea what I actually need, which is to feel like that person and I have an understanding where I feel like we mesh in every way possible, and that there is no love without respect. Love, in fact, is not all you need. Learn to take each other seriously, learn to trust in each other and your relationship, have faith in the others judgement – and you will find it easy to be honest and respect each other. Aside from the breakdown of trust and respect, a person who lies is expected to lie, and lie again. Do you ever really get over a lie – like a damaging lie??...a lie that has corroded your relationship and gotten you to the point where there is no trust and respect. Someone lied to me once in grade school about stealing my pen – you know those pens that had the different colors and you could click down the color you wanted to use. Ok, I don’t know the name of them – but she stole mine, I knew it and she completely denied it! And even though I was very young, I knew I couldn’t trust her. If I was so good at detecting the career liar at such a young age, you would think that detecting those people in my adult years would be a breeze. I must admit, however, that I’ve allowed myself to be lied to in relationships – and I’ve gotten better at picking out those who to expect lies from. You notice the first few lies, then you end up on high alert and your constantly waiting for the dishonesty to reappear!
We're living in a time where there's a sense that lying is becoming widespread. It’s everywhere... not just in relationships, but in peoples lives. Ever notice how someone’s life always looks perfect on Facebook? And if you’re single and venture into online dating, ever notice how society automatically has us fearing that we can’t really trust who we talk to?
Action Steps: Take a moment to think about a lie you told in a relationship and if it negatively affected things. Was that lie worth it and what steps can you to take to ensure you are always as honest as possible with yourself?
Alternatively, think about a lie told to you in a relationship and how it made you feel. Do you tell people how it made you feel or do you unhealthily internalize it? And what can you do to recognize the red flags more easily?
A liar doesn’t just tell one lie - and maybe it’s to look good or get out of a difficult situation! Each couple is different and maybe a liar from the start will continue to be just that. And maybe a little white lie here and there is ok for some. It’s all about balance, and knowing your boundaries with one another. A friend of mine met her husband in the Caribbean 14 years ago. He told her the night he met that he was 3 years older than he was. She didn’t find out until she had gone to visit him in another country what his age really was (and that he was actually only turning 19 at the time, and she was almost 5 years older!). By that time, that lie didn’t matter. She had already fallen for him and it’s something that didn’t damage them at all. In fact, they’re always completely honest with each other and have one of the strongest relationships in know. So, a lie doesn’t always mean a lie... and doesn’t define your whole relationship. But persistent lying leading to lack of trust and respect is not love, and is not something any relationship should ignore or be built upon.
Thank you for reading and remember that you deserve the relationship of your dreams!