Well, Really but Not Really – What is a Lie in a Relationship?

QUESTION: “What really is a lie? Does omitting certain facts constitute as a lie?”


We call them many things: “A little white lie”, “ A bold face lie”,  “A flat out lie”, “A fib”, “A tale”, “Telling stories”, and one of my favorites “I didn’t lie, I just didn’t tell the whole truth”.  It does not matter what you call it, if you said it or did not say it with the intention to deceive the listener – you lied.

There are two important traits to consider when discussing a lie: the first is the intention of the speaker; the second is what does the speaker believe.  For example, as a clinician I work with many clients who hear and see things that I do not.  So if a client tells me they see little green people walking around and I do not, as well as no one else, they are not lying.  They are only communicating their reality.  They are not trying to deceive me and they believe what they are saying is true.  So for the purpose of this article we will not be considering these types of people.

Nevertheless, if you are making a statement and intentionally leaving out information to mislead or deceive the listener, you are lying.  While you clearly are not “saying” a lie, your actions are just as misleading as saying a lie - aka an untruthful statement.  

Regardless, of what you say or what you fail to mention, you must consider the repercussions for lying.  You should ask yourself, “Why am I saying or not saying this?”  Your lying to your spouse probably stems from a deeper issue of miscommunication or a lack of trust.  Since change begins with oneself, you can start by asking yourself “Do I lie unnecessarily? Why do I lie? How much do I lie?  Has lying interfered in my past relationships?”

Now, that you have taken a look at yourself, examine your relationship.  Are you constantly lying because your mate is jealous or insecure? If this is the case then you need to determine if this is really the type of relationship you want.  Sometimes your mate’s issues are bigger and deeper than your relationship.  If this is the case with you then it is important to determine what are your issues and what are his issues.

Even if the reasons you lie is because of your mate’s insecurities; one should always first consider their own integrity.  Remember that it can take years to gain someone’s trust and only moments to break it.  In fact many people say “Once a liar always a liar”, even if you are only omitting information.  You can only control your behavior and no one else.  So if your relationship frequently puts you in the position where you feel you have to lie, it is probably not a healthy relationship.  Take time to evaluate yourself, your relationship and him.  Some people are in our lives for a season, a reason or a lifetime and there are very few lifetimers.

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