With the current controversy over fake news, the issue of what’s true and untrue is very much on our minds these days. Many experts say we’re living in a world of diminishing trust – which may mean that our need for truthfulness in our closest relationships is greater than ever.
Still, we know that there are times we’re not totally honest with each other in love and marriage. How much does a “little white lie” matter? Can a relationship survive a certain level of dishonesty – or is truthfulness always the best policy?
Here are 8 ways that lying can erode our love relationships. How many of these feel familiar to you?
1. LIES UNDERMINE TRUST
Lies and trust can’t live together comfortably. Over time, dishonesty erodes the base of trust that holds our relationships, leaving us wondering if anything we know about the other person is actually true.
Whether they’re like a storm that triggers a landslide, or a constant rain that slowly wears away rock, lies change the landscape of a marriage. And often, they’re the reason for its collapse.
2. LYING SHOWS A LACK OF RESPECT
Being told the truth, even when that’s difficult to do, shows that we are respected. It proves that our partner places real value on our relationship and does not want to jeopardize it by being deceitful.
While some truths clearly put a relationship at risk, lies tend to be even more damaging. Telling your partner the truth, even if you know it will hurt, shows that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions. When supported by a commitment to deal with what comes next, being truthful can be first step in healing the issue at hand.
3. LIES CREATE THE EXPECTATION OF MORE LIES
Once we uncover a lie for the first time, we begin to look for more of the same. Waiting for our partner to slip up and tell another lie means we’re constantly passing his or her words through an internal alarm system, searching for any hint of dishonesty.
Staying on high alert like this puts a real strain on any marriage. Eventually, the mental energy involved will take its toll on your relationship. The weight of suspicion also makes conflict more likely as you start to question your partner: Where have you been? Who were you with?
4. LYING IS SELFISH
When we lie to each other, we’re essentially putting our own self-interest first. We reveal that we are unwilling to live and act truthfully, which is the only way to put the health of our relationship first. Being deceitful is another indicator we’re willing to take risks with the partnership that we’ve spent so much time building.
5. UNCOVERING A LIE MAKES US FEEL FOOLISH
The moment we realize we’ve been lied to is agonizing. When our eyes are opened to the truth, we can’t help but feel foolish and angry for believing what we were told. This only adds to the rage we may feel toward our loved one, even if we can see possible reasons for the lie. The hurt and humiliation we feel in this moment opens a divide in the relationship that can be difficult to bridge.
6. WHEN WE LIE, WE DECEIVE OURSELVES TOO
One consequence of lying that we don’t always think about is the effect on the liar. S/he is being untruthful to himself or herself, too. In attempting to hide the truth from others, the one who’s lying is refusing to share genuine wants and needs, even denying his or her true identity. This is a painful place that not only affects marriage and other committed relationships, but also blocks the path to happiness in countless other ways.
7. LIES CREATE AN IMBALANCE BETWEEN US
For couples to endure the trials of everyday life, both partners must show commitment. Nothing is ever precisely equal in a relationship – but a sense of balance between the two of you creates a feeling of partnership that binds you together and allows you to look for the best in each other.
Lying disrupts this natural equilibrium. The one who’s been lied to feels as if s/he has put heart and soul on the line, only for the other partner to hold back his or her own. Only by dealing with the pattern of lying can the balance between you be restored.
8. LIES TEND TO CREATE MORE LIES
When we’re trying to deceive someone else, one lie almost always leads to another. In this way, lying can become an everyday strategy for dealing with life – and that’s dangerous not only for our marriages, but for our working and community relationships as well.
WITH HELP, YOU CAN REESTABLISH TRUST IN YOUR MARRIAGE
Lying is a serious challenge in any committed relationship. Restoring a sense of honesty and trust isn’t always easy to do. It’s a gradual process – and having the help of an experienced marriage and couples therapist can be crucial to your success.
Janae Munday, LCSW, a skilled therapist in the Phoenix, Arizona area, has years of experience in helping couples rebuild their relationships. She will work with you to establish new ways of communicating based on a shared commitment to truthfulness and trust.
Call Janae now to schedule a convenient time to meet.