People lie for many reasons, but they can be broadly summed up by two motives:
- To avoid punishment or a painful situation or
- To get a reward or something they desire.
When you’re on the receiving end of a relationship lie, often the first question you want answered is Why? Why did you lie to me? Not, Why did you do [that]; but Why did you lie?
They may have lied because if you knew the truth, they would risk losing you and/or they wanted to keep doing what they were doing.
Sometimes you may get a response of, “Because I didn’t want to hurt you,” which also falls under the first reason, to avoid a painful situation.
Cake and Eat It Too
Protecting someone’s feelings is different than not wanting to hurt someone. Telling your girlfriend that the dress she is wearing makes her butt look big isn’t going to help if she’s not in a position to change clothes. This is an example of protecting her feelings.
Not telling your spouse that you have a side chick because you know it’ll hurt her, is really saying you want to keep the peace at home and you want to continue with your extracurricular activities. This is an example of you wanting to avoid punishment.
Advice for Liars
Most people who are on the receiving end of a relationship lie would rather you come clean, even though it’ll likely hurt them. If you are currently lying to someone you claim to care about, you might as well get it over with and fess up now.
When they learn they’ve been lied to they’re going to be hurt for two reasons: For what you did (or are doing) and also because you lied. Frequently, the fact that you lied will sting more than the actual issue that caused you to feel you needed to lie.
Could Have Been Avoided with Communication
A common response from those who are finally made aware they’ve been lied to is that it wasn’t necessary to lie. “If you had only been up front and told me ….” “If I had known that you were feeling that way, this could have been avoided.”
If you’re waiting for a good time to put an end to the lie you’ve been continuing, do it today.
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As Managing Director of Concealed Statements, and author of Drive Thru Deception, I work with men and women who want to increase their deception awareness to avoid wasting time or money and avoid making poor decisions based on inaccurate information.