When I was a little girl, my dad (a very wise man who was passionate about justice) told me I should always look people in the eyes and tell them the truth. I imagine many of you have been told the same.
Relationships should be based on honesty. By being truthful and managing the inevitable conflicts that exist between two people, the outcome can create extraordinary relationships.
The question remains: Is it ever okay to lie to your partner?
Why Do We Lie To Our Partner?
Most of us agree it is not a good practice to lie to our partner. But, how many of us are completely up front with them? Do we always share what we really think?
If we agree that honesty is essential in a partnership, why do we lie? The following are some of the reasons we might be deceptive with our partner:
- We don’t want to create tension in the relationship by hurting or disappointing our partner.
- We feel embarrassed or foolish about an aspect of ourselves.
- We don’t want to hear the truth, or we believe our partner does not want to hear the truth.
- We are human.
- We fear being misunderstood.
Truth Or Consequence?
Can you identify with the following situations that commonly arise between partners?
- Maria asks her husband if he likes the dress she bought for their anniversary dinner. Knowing her sensitivity about her weight, he is conflicted about whether to tell her she looks overweight in it, or to minimize the truth.
- Certain that his wife will not know the difference, or may object to the cost, Sam decides to secretly buy himself something that he has wanted, rather than discuss it with his wife.
- Fearful of being criticized by his partner, Mark decides not to share the fact that he received a low performance rating and has been put on probation.
- Feeling foolish about her sexual needs, Sara hides them from her partner.
- Concerned her partner might object to her having a drink after work with some colleagues, Samantha tells him she is working late.
Are they avoiding a potential drama by telling a lie, small or big? Are they convincing themselves that the issue is not important enough to discuss? What happens when lying becomes second nature? What would you do if you realized that you were on the receiving end of the lies?
Of course you can identify with the above examples! Although no one wants to think of oneself as a liar, we all stretch the truth at some point(s) during our relationship.
To Lie Or Not To Lie
I am convinced most people want to be honest with their partner. However, the complex emotional attachments that exist between couples, combined with our individual tendencies toward self-deception, pretty much guarantee we will undermine our relationship with lies at different times.
Does this mean we should blindly continue to perpetuate the little white lies and withheld truths? Surely not! We must become conscious of those lies, as insight about why we lie can contribute to strengthening our partnership and developing the courage to be truthful.
I can best answer the quest of ‘to lie or not to lie’ by saying that intimate relationships are difficult, and if we want them to grow and thrive, we must develop the ability to voice the truth. Without the truth, there can be no trust, and trust should always be the top priority in your relationship.