Lying can quite easily and quickly erode the trust within a relationship – which ends up hurting both parties in the process. Whether it is keeping secrets or telling white lies, it can and most commonly will destroy one of the fundamental pillars of a healthy relationship — trust.
Also lies not only grow but they tend to become addictive, especially if you have gotten away with a few already Lying can be cognitively depleting, it can increase the risk that people will be punished, it can threaten people’s self-worth by preventing them from seeing themselves as “good” people, and it can generally erode trust in society too.
White lies also aren’t serious deceptions and deceptions are damaging to the relationship. A serious deception is about protecting yourself, not your partner. They’re even beneficial — if they’re about being sensitive to your partner. Trust is fragile. Secrets and lies jeopardise trust and can damage us and our relationships — sometimes irreparably.
We all tell “white lies.” We say, “I’m fine,” when we’re not, compliment unwanted gifts, or even fib that “The check is in the mail.” Don’t stress, this isn’t always a problem you’re thinking before acting in some cases; But in an intimate relationship, emotional honesty includes allowing our partner to know who we are. Honesty is more than simply not lying.
Deception includes making ambiguous or vague statements, telling half-truths, manipulating information through emphasis, exaggeration, or minimisation, and withholding feelings or information that is important to someone who has a right to know, because it affects the relationship and deprives that person of freedom of choice and informed action. Although we may consider ourselves honest, few of us reveal all our negative thoughts and feelings about the people we are close to. It requires courage to be vulnerable and authentic.
What can be jeopardised throughout lying in a relationship?
Most people who lie worry about the risks of being honest, but give little thought to the risks of dishonesty, sounds strange right? Some of the ways in which lies and secrets cause harm are not thought about at the present or even at all – which can really effect the person that is being lied too.
People that seem to lie will:
- Block real intimacy with a partner. Intimacy is based on trust and authenticity — the ability to be vulnerable or “naked,” not only physically, but also emotionally and if you are lying to your loved one, how can you share this real intimacy?
- They lead to cover-up lies and omissions that can be hard to remember. These mount up, and if the truth comes out, it may be more hurtful than the original secret. The longer the truth is hidden, the greater becomes the hurdle of revelation, for it would bring into question every instance of cover-up and all times the innocent partner relied upon and trusted the betrayer.
- The secret holder feels guilty, or at least uncomfortable, during intimate moments with the deceived person. Closeness and certain topics tend to be avoided. Avoidance may not even be conscious and can include things like being preoccupied with work, friends, hobbies, or addictive behavior, and doing activities that leave little opportunity for private conversations. The deceiver might even provoke an argument to create distance.
- Honesty is valued as a moral norm, although the context and specifics may differ among cultures. When we violate religious or cultural norms by hiding the truth, we experience anxiety generated by guilt. Despite our best efforts at hiding, our physiological reaction is the basis for electronic lie detectors.
- This violation of our values not only leads to guilt; it also affects our self-concept. Over a long period, deception can eat away at our self-esteem. Ordinary guilt that could be reversed with honesty now becomes shame and undermines our fundamental sense of dignity and worthiness as a person. The gap between the self we show others and how we feel inside widens.
- Our ways of managing guilt and shame create more problems. We hide not only the secret, but more of who we are. We might build resentments to justify our actions, withdraw, or become critical, irritable, or aggressive. We rationalise our lie or secret to avoid the inner conflict and the danger we imagine awaits us if we come clean. Some people become obsessed with their lie, to the point that they have difficulty concentrating on anything else. Other people are able to compartmentalise their feelings or rationalise their actions to better manage dishonesty. Compartmentalisation and denying, rationalising (“What my partner don’t know won’t hurt him/her”), or minimising (“I only did it once”) are psychological defences that help us deal with inner conflict and an undesirable reality. They can be so effective that the liar is convinced that lying supports the relationship. He or she may not want to face the hurt or choices that the truth could precipitate.
- Not surprisingly, beyond mental distress, research reveals that lying leads to health complaints.
- The victim of deception may begin to react to the avoidant behaviour by feeling confused, anxious, angry, suspicious, abandoned, or needy. They may begin to doubt themselves, and their self-esteem may suffer. Often, victims of betrayal need counselling to recover from the loss of trust and to raise their self-esteem.
What should your partner know and when are you lying about something that will affect the other party?
In a sexual relationship, we have a right to know our partner’s intentions and fidelity for emotional as well as medical reasons. Often, faithful partners rationalise or deny this need and their vulnerability to their emotional detriment. By not asking questions or expressing their needs, they enable and collude in deception for the same reason that the betrayer is dishonest or secretive — to not rock the boat and jeopardise the relationship. When there’s been betrayal, even if the couple stays together, seeds of distrust linger and sometimes poison the relationship.
It’s believed that partners should and do share most information, as it’s normal for a partner to ask how your day went and for them to just openly exploit their day. This is the way of a relationship, and normally if you start to feel guilty, delete things, stop seeing people etc. you are lying about something.
If you feel like you’re lying, it’s probably best to tell your partner to see if you can overcome the lie or not. Not always will you be a lair, you have to work on being a better person today then you were yesterday.
How lying can be overcome with successful couples counselling?
People who lie compulsively are encouraged to seek the help of a qualified therapist. A therapist can help habitual liars understand their condition and the way it affects other people. They may also reveal underlying diagnoses such as bipolar or ADHD. Admitting that you have a problem with is the first, courageous step in overcoming your lying problem. Pathological liar treatment is the second.
Psychotherapy, counselling or hypnotherapy services can help you identify and address the underlying causes of your lying addiction, and, before too long, stop lying altogether.
As you begin to overcome the causes and resultant habits of compulsive or pathological lying, you may notice an improvement in your relationships and a significant increase in your self-confidence. Not the fake kind of confidence that lying temporarily provides, but an authentic feeling of self-worth.
Psychotherapy involves deep, honest self-enquiry leading to transformation of the inner conflicts that give rise to excessive lying in the first place.
If you would like some help with that you can call me on 0418 720 176 for a free confidential chat about your lying habits today.