The truth about lying

No one likes to be lied to. From the time our children are very young, we emphasize the importance of always telling the truth. Most parents feel strongly about this and find it distressing when their child is lying to them.
In recent years, especially in the political realm, lying, sadly, has become commonplace, It even is seen as a “strategy” to undermine opponents. Lying, or misrepresenting the facts, has lead so many in our world left not knowing who to trust. To my mind it is a form of brainwashing.
There is also a lot of lying in personal relationships. Often when confronted with a mistruth, the listener says, “Why did you lie?”
People lie for many reasons. Generally, it is because they feel someone would be mad or upset with them if they knew the truth. What this means is that they betray the trust of another to protect themselves from the consequences of their behavior.
The minute one does this, the relationship with the other is compromised. The one who lied now has to pretend. They have to pretend that what they said was really true. They have to pretend they have been honest.
The one who lied also has to carry guilt. They must carry the knowledge that they have been dishonest to someone they care about, and who has complete trust in them. If this happens in a love relationship, it can be very dangerous.
Dangerous is a strong word, but I use it because I have seen relationships irreparably damaged when the lie is discovered. Once one has shown he or she is capable of lying, his or her word can never again be trusted as it once was. Albert Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with that truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
Furthermore, the partner agonizes over how many other lies there may have been in the past. The lie has thus contaminated both the past and the future. The entire relationship has tilted on its axis, and while work can be done to regain trust, things will never again be quite as they were.
What is the bottom line? Obviously, it would be to not do things you will have to lie about. If you are doing something of which your partner would disapprove, he or she has the right to know, and to make decisions accordingly.
Honesty and openness are the cornerstones of trust. Trust, in turn, creates security.
In adult relationships, a lie can leave the other always feeling they are walking on thin ice.
You may fear that telling the truth would jeopardize the relationship. However, accountability is about not doing the things that would jeopardize the relationship in the first place. I leave you with this thought, expressed by Bo Bennett: “For every good to tell a lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.”
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.