Relationship Advice

7 January 2011

Is it ever okay to lie in a relationship?

by eHarmony

Does the occasional fib help keep the peace or spell relationship doom?

Little white lies might sound harmless but in a relationship no lie is ever little. There are two types of fibs in the world of romance – those told to avoid uncomfortable emotions in others, which the liar could be held responsible for, and those wielded to manipulate others to get ahead or get away with something. Either way, the motivation is selfish.

The issue might seem minor, for example, you could be tempted to lie if she asks “do I look fat in this skirt?” But choosing fiction over fact to avoid discomfort is to short-change the bond of trust you share with the one you love. Instead, tactfully embrace the truth by replying, “that skirt’s okay but this dress really makes you look great.”

Telling the truth can cause temporary discomfort, but this could signal that there are bigger issues that need to be discussed. For instance, if the topic concerns your finances as a couple and your partner is indulging in a little too much retail therapy to the detriment of your shared bank balance, this is something you need to address. Letting seemingly small issues fester because you can’t bring yourself to tell the truth can create an ongoing problem.

Why honesty is the best policy
When we need guidance, we want the truth. Close friends can provide advice and emotional support but the bond with your partner is more intense. In a healthy relationship, a partner should be a confidante and a trusted sounding board who knows his or her partner on a much more intimate level than their friends. The love and acceptance of each other should be unconditional.

While truth can bring pain, honesty is the cornerstone of a successful long-term relationship. It allows the best possible communication, which will help a couple get through the good times and the bad. By contrast, dishonesty is a weapon of separation in a relationship. Lying only creates distance.

Even the tiniest of fibs can generalise into larger ones over time. It is easy to make excuses to justify dishonest behaviour with statements like “I’m only trying to protect him” or “I don’t want to hurt her”, but these are cop-outs that serve the liar more than their partner. Lies are toxic to a relationship and show a huge lack of respect. Guilt and shame might also be damaging, but if brought out into the open, a couple can work through and overcome their problems.

Ultimately, choosing to be honest or dishonest depends on what you want from your relationship. Temporary emotional comfort in a potentially volatile situation might seem tempting, but for the sake of a healthy long-term relationship, lying spells doom. It’s vital that both people know they can trust each other to be upfront and honest.

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Mike D

28 September 2012 14:15

I definitely agree that lies are toxic in a relationship. I hold myself up as being an honest and trustworthy person, perhaps moreso than most. Yet, in my past relationship I found “more honest ways” of concealing the truth. For example
- I occassionally told little ‘white lies,’ or;
- Creatively avoided telling the truth, or;
- Either lead, or left unchallenged, untrue implied beliefs (or as I call them ‘assisted non-truths’).
These were almost exclusively for the wellbeing and happiness of my pertner, or at least that’s what I told myself.
Some things never came up again, and I guess in that sense they perhaps attract the phrase “no harm; no foul.” However, a small number of these half-truths/white lies/assisted non-truths came back to bite me. They became far more damaging than they ever should have been, because they affected her trust in me. That in turn hurt me a lot, as trust is one of the most important things in a meaningful relationship, and it’s something I look to avoid in future relationships. Although, I do maintain that some things really are best left unknown… The challenge is to make sure that you’re not doing it just for your own good.

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