Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lying in Adult Loving, Romantic Relationships Revisited

In a Comment to my December 8, 2006 Post, Lying in Adult Loving, Romantic Relationships, it was suggested that sometimes in relationships a person will lie “to keep their partner from being angry” or “to keep them happy.” I would not disagree with this poignant observation; in fact, there are many reasons why people in relationships lie.

An important consideration regarding lying and deceit is discussed in my self-help book, Adult Loving Relationships (, that being: Is the lying and deceit the problem, or is it hiding, masking, concealing or moderating the problem? For example, consider the following four statements and for the moment assume they are not true.

* “I only had two beers with the guys before we left the golf course.”

* “I’m meeting my girlfriend at the mall and then we’re going to catch a late movie. So to make it easier, I’ll just spend the night at her place.”

* “I’m so sorry, honey, I had a rough day at the office and was just still upset by what my boss said to me. Here, put some ice on it. And don’t worry, I’ll never do it again.”

* “No, you just watch the rest of the ballgame – I’ll be right back. I’ll run back to the store and get the white pepper; it’s my fault – I forgot that you don’t like black pepper with Chinese food.”

Are these examples of blatant lying and deceit, or are they hiding, masking, concealing or moderating the real problems – such as: alcoholism, an affair, physical abuse or an anger control problem?

In addition to getting some professional help, such as from a licensed counselor or psychologist, there also are some excellent books on the subject. For example, Lying and Deception in Everyday Life is a good hardcover book by Michael Lewis and Carolyn Saarni ( Moreover, if you go to this site you will find 19 other self-help books that specifically address lying and deceit in relationships (

One last thing – these above four examples are statements. However, in my recently published book, Mom and Dad’s Pearls of Wisdom… You Gotta Love ‘Em (, on page 56 you will find an apropos pearl of wisdom:

Lying is done with words

and also with silence.

Trust me – that’s the truth, Bill


Anonymous said...

I was thinking of the smaller? lies. The ones to questions like "Do I look old" or "Do I look fat in this"..
A couple of thoughts on lying.
- We tend to judge our family to a different standard than our friends. We laugh at a friends tale of getting drunk and are furious at a spouse doing the same thing.
So it creates an atmosphere of lying to protect ourselves.
-When someone cheats and finally comes clean about it they feel relieved and almost happy and the person cheated on feels angry and ill about it. I wasn't the cheater in my marriage but I clearly remember the relief on my ex's face when she talked about her new love..

Being judged creates lying. Or at least encourages it..

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello again Happy and Blue 2,
Okay, I hear you regarding the "smaller" lies. And I am sorry for your having been cheated on (I can imagine the pain involved in that). And I would add, if I may, that "fear of being judged" also can facilitate lying.

Anonymous said...

It's slightly off topic, in my opinion women should NEVER ask questions they don't want truthful answers to, like "Do I look fat?" -Barb

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Barb,
I tend to agree with you (and for the record, I don't think that that's necessarily a gender issue -- it could be true for men as well). However, let's also remember that your a priori assumption may not always true for everyone; there may be times when a person actually is wanting an honest answer (e.g., they may be seeking a motivator that might get them to do something about their concern, like, "Well okay then -- that's what I needed to hear -- I'll start dieting and working out.")