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Why do we lie?

We have always been taught lying is bad. It is socially unacceptable. It is wrong. Good people don’t lie. But, let’s get real here—everyone does it. 

There are the bad lies. The ones that could be detrimental to the future of your relationships, the ones that could ruin your image and unravel your life as you know it. Then there are the ones that don’t seem as significant—“I was late because I was stuck in traffic” but really you were distracted by your phone or the dishes in the sink. There are a million reasons for someone to choose to tell a lie. 

So why do we do it?

Lying is a means of wanting to keep a relationship but in a conflict-avoidant way. Humans are social animals, we crave love and connections—who wants to spoil that? We lie because we are wanting to remain loved, and avoid rejection. We lie because the truth is painful to others, we lie because we don’t want to start an argument, we lie because it is easier. And, we lie because in our minds we believe the truth would be unacceptable to the person we are lying to. We lie to please others. If you have ever faked an orgasm, you have lied.  

Lying is ingrained in us. It is part of our cognitive evolutionary biology (according to Psychology Today). It has become a tool in our survival kit. It appears in young children when they throw fits to get attention and only grows as we move into adulthood. 

That doesn’t mean it is ok to lie, of course, it isn’t, but it is part of being a human. 

Many times people lie to protect their own egos, making it easy to convince themselves what they are doing is ok. They are ashamed and are afraid of the consequences, like when a friends husband told her he was dieting and she later discovered an arsenal of donuts and cookies in the trunk of his car. It is isn’t that he was dishonest across the board, but he wasn’t mature enough to own up to the fact that he didn’t really want to participate.

It can become a vicious cycle if you let it. If you do find that a spouse is lying to you in a repetitive fashion, the best way to handle it is to talk about it—let them know how you feel but be careful not to throw hurtful things in their face. After all, the reason they didn’t come clean, to begin with, is that they want your acceptance.