Managing Relationships: Lies Are Lies No Matter the Reasons

You have undoubtedly heard about the ‘little white lie’. Perhaps you’ve told one or two in your lifetime. At any rate, how do you feel about this sort of lie? Maybe you believe little white lies are okay; that it’s just the big lies that have to be avoided. Well, when it comes to managing relationships, lies are lies no matter the reason behind them.

Modern culture promotes being truthful in our relationships. We read about truthfulness in blog posts and advice columns. Psychologists and therapists talk about it all the time. So do teachers, religious leaders, and even politicians. But when push comes to shove, most of us lie more often that we care to admit.

The reality is that lying is never a good thing. When it comes to relationships, making excuses for those little white lies can lead to a pattern of deception that eventually blows things up. There is no room for either big lies or the little white ones we so easily tell.

Lying About Pastries

The Gottman Institute’s Laura Silverstein wrote a post in October 2021 discussing how lying affects relationships. She began the post relaying a story about an experience she had when she first started dating her now husband. As the story goes, she lied about liking pastries in order to be polite on one of their early dates.

For the record, Silverstein is not a big pastry fan. She doesn’t like cakes and fruit tarts. She doesn’t like cheesecake. As amazing as that sounds, it’s true. But she didn’t have the heart to tell her new love when they first started dating. So when he took her to a fancy French pastry shop, she chowed down and pretended to love every bite.

Sometime later, after they were married, her husband brought home another box of expensive pastries. Silverstein had a choice to make. She could lie about pastries again, or she could tell the truth. Thank goodness she chose to come clean. Otherwise, according to her own words, she would have spent the rest of her life pretending to like food she despised.

One Lie Leads to Another

The point of telling Silverstein’s story is to illustrate the fact that lies tend to escalate. If you tell a little white lie once, you’ll find yourself having to tell the same lie again. Then you will have to compound matters by telling another lie on top of that one. Where does it all end?

The big problem with lies, above and beyond their questionable nature, is that they lead to a betrayal of trust once they are finally discovered. According to the experts at Relationships & More, a marriage and couples counseling center in Rye, New York, it can be very difficult to regain trust once lost.

Lying from the Start

Here is a sobering thought to consider as this post closes: does our culture promote lying by doing it right from the start? In other words, we lie to our children from the minute they are old enough to believe what we say. We convince them to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy. We tell them mommy and daddy are not really fighting, they are just practicing their outdoor voices.

We teach our children to lie and act surprised when they do it. And then when they become adults and keep lying, we worry that their lack of honesty will forever tarnish their relationships. If that thought bothers you, remember that a lie is a lie no matter the reason for telling it.