Saturday, July 9, 2011

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I am thinking a lot about lying today. Well, I am not actually thinking of telling a lie nor committing a particularly deceitful act myself today, but rather, am thinking today about why people lie and what trouble it causes.

The New York Times had an article about lying via modern technology, and how easy it is to lie via text. I was recently in a relationship where so much of the conversation was via text (perhaps a red flag in itself) and the texting included sweet nothings as well as lack of full disclosure, and/or avoidance ( "sorry, I have to go take a nap " rather than "sorry, I have other plans"). Needless to say, the article hit a nerve.

Why do we lie? I think it's pretty simple, because it is so much easier than dealing with the consequences of the truth. Early in my former marriage, I lied every day, saying that I was leaving work when I was really staying later, blaming my late arrival home on traffic rather than owning up to my lie, owning up to the fact that I wanted to stay at work, owning up to the fact that my husband's insistence on my coming home at a specific time felt suffocating. But really, did any of those lies do any good? I was still home later than he wanted, I was still frustrated with the dynamic, and a pattern that would ultimately strangle the marriage was forming through lies to myself and gentle lies to my husband.

But now, as I am dating and hoping that eventually I will form a new long term relationship, I am working hard on practicing truthfulness, both to me and to prospective partners, and I have no tolerance for these lies. Certainly, it seems that one should be able to hit midlife and be able to deal with the consequences of truth, albeit the sometimes messy, ugly truth.

Texting is convenient when a small amount of information needs to be conveyed and no conversation is necessary. But using texting to exclude the truth is cowardly at best, maddening and hurtful at worst. How can you know what to believe once you know someone has lied to you?


  1. Yes. Yes. We're in the midst of raising children and the concept of having the courage to tell the truth and live with the consequences is an almost daily conversation at our house.
    Will it stick?

  2. Absolutely, Laurie. A wise friend of mine told me that learning early that you could trust your kids' word and they could trust yours was one of the most critical lessons. Trying to learn that in the teenage years is too hard, and it is when you need to be able to rely on that earlier learning.