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Lies And Love

Synopsis: This mini love lesson covers Lying for Us-ness; Lies and Breakups; How to Get Yourself Lied to A Lot (A Baker’s Dozen Ways); Sabotaging Truth-Sharing Sabotages Love; How Lies Limit Love; When Love with Truth Is Not Allowed; and What to Do.


Lying For “Us-ness”

“I lie to save my marriage.  I’m pretty sure sooner or later I will get caught and our marriage will be over.  Until then, lies are the only way to keep my marriage going.”  So said Benson who was working hard at trying to learn how to live authentically.

He freely admitted that his career and personal life was saturated with falsehood but he vehemently testified that, nevertheless, he did love his wife.

Jolene stated, “I lie a lot to my husband just like my mother and grandmother did to their husbands and so taught me.  I really don’t know any other way that could possibly have a chance of working with my husband. Truth be told, I don’t know how any spouse can not lie a lot if they want to make their marriage work.”  Ginny and Josh in couples counseling were trying to figure out if their relationship could survive if both of them told each other several difficult truths. They had confessed that to keep their marriage going smoothly there had been a lot of deceit, both by the commission of out-and-out lies and even more by omissions of the full truth about a lot of things.

What is to be done about the lies, deceptions, half-truths, distortions, concoctions, perjury, beguilements, exaggerations, misrepresentations, evasions and out-and-out fraudulent deceit which occurs in a great many love relationships.  Some answer “nothing can be done” because all the lies are protective, softening, palliative and in one way or another useful in keeping a love relationship going.  Others say love needs the truth and without the truth real love will die.  Still others recommended that it’s okay to lie about some smaller things but not the big stuff.  However, people can vary on what they call ‘big stuff’.

There are those who comment that our culture and our love mythology especially teaches everybody to tell a lot of lies in love relationships.  “Don’t risk your relationships by telling the truth about anything that would hurt someone’s feelings” is something I once over heard an aging, Southern Bell tell her granddaughter. Of course there are those who want to know all the truth from others but they aren’t about to give anyone their own full truth.

Then there are the people who lie about love itself.  Tatiana said, “I admit I live a very two-faced life.  One face is for my husband and that face lies to him that I love him.  Another face is for my lover and that face tells the same lie but in different ways.  Since I don’t really believe love exists everything I say about love to men is a lie.  But they say it too.  They tell you they love you but all they want is sex.  But men are easily fooled.  They want to believe women are all about love.  I’m about wealthy pleasure and men are very useful for attaining that”.

So, what do you think?  How do you operate when it comes to telling lies, small, medium and large lies in a love relationship?  Do you want the truth no matter what it is?  Can you handle the truth no matter what it might be?  Before you decide for sure let’s look at some different things.

Lies And Breakups

“If he just hadn’t lied to me we might have made it”.  “She was just too deceitful. I never knew what to believe.”  “I thought I didn’t want to know the truth but in the end it was all the deceptions that destroyed us.” “Now I know I really did lie by what I didn’t tell and that is definitely what sank our ship.  I kept telling myself a lie, that omitting the truth wasn’t really lying.  If only I had admitted to myself that that was complete bullshit then I might not have lost the love of my life.”  “I really did not expect she would stop seeing me or even talking to me just because I told another lie”.  “We lied to each other a lot and in doing so we never faced our real issues.”

Every week I hear things like the above quotes when doing post-divorce and breakup recovery counseling.  The truth, at least as I see it, is that lying usually is more dangerous, or just as dangerous, to love relationships as is telling difficult truths.  At least for the strong of heart, truth (even very tough truth) is likely to give you the healthiest, long-range outcome.

It is true that some people cannot or will not work with certain truths that may arise in a love relationship.  It also is true that some love relationships are not strong enough and the love not healthy enough to enable the people to deal with certain truths.  In those cases breaking up or divorce may be painful but best in the long run.

These things not only are true for couples but also are true for all other kinds of love relationship also.  Time and again I have heard someone scream at a family member in family counseling “you lied to me”.  Often the “because” of why the lie was told doesn’t seem to matter.  Usually the wound caused by the lie and whatever the lie is about can be healed with enough love, and with the guidance of good family therapy.  Friendships, even deep and long-lasting friendships, may be killed by the telling of lies.  It seems that every type of love relationship can be endangered by lies.

How to Get Yourself Lied to A Lot

How do you help get yourself lied to?  Notice in this question I did not use the word cause’ but instead the word ‘help’.  As I see it, the person who tells the lie causes it.  However, we all can set things up so people will frequently choose to avoid telling us the truth if they can.  Here are a ‘baker’s dozen’ ways you can be pretty sure to assist yourself not getting told the truth or certainly not told the whole truth.  Each of these ways also can be quite destructive to the development of a healthy, real, love relationship.

1.  Be very condemning and judgmental when you hear a truth you don’t like, so people learn that telling you the truth is far too costly emotionally, and in energy and time consumed.

2.  Be so sure you’re right that no other view could possibly have validity, so your loved ones learn there is no use in even trying to tell you there truth.

3.  Come across very weak, fragile and delicate, so no one dares telling you a tough truth for fear you will break or be crushed.

4.  Play ‘overt victim /covert persecutor’ by showing that you feel supremely agonized at being blamed, or full of suffering martyr guilt, or you feel excessively at fault every time there’s a possibility of an unpleasant truth to be dealt with, so everyone will either dodge dealing with you or do anything to placate you, instead of just working at dealing with unpleasant truths.

5.  Become quickly and strongly upset, hysterical, incoherent, irrational and emotionally overwhelmed, so loved ones are busy trying to sooth you and their truth telling gets postponed, perhaps indefinitely.

6.  Demand and then deny evidence, insist your version of historical events is the only accurate one, and try to overwhelm with logic and oratory much like an aggressive lawyer in court, so that unpleasant truths get bulldozed and lost in the fray.

7.  Lash out with rage, personal attacks, putdowns, criticisms and personal negations of loved ones without mercy, and as you do so clutter the discussion with angrily stated irrelevant, unconnected to the original topic accusations, and miscellaneous material, so there isn’t a chance for a person’s truth to get a real hearing.

8.  Subtly, or overtly by your behavior, threaten loved ones who tell you uncomfortable truths, helping them fear that your vengeance will fall upon them and consequently cause them to protect themselves by hiding truth from you.

9.  Become unlovingly cold, distant and uncaring with elements of silent dismissal and attitudinal demeaning or condescension which is covertly obvious and, thereby, making yourself be seen as pretty much unapproachable.  If that doesn’t work withdraw and go into mysteriously hiding, so truth can not reach you.

10.  ‘Awfulize’ (make it far worse than it is) everything a loved one says, jump to all sorts of awful conclusions, and prove that telling you the truth blows everything out of proportion, so truth telling will always be a long ordeal to be avoided.

11.  Act indifferent by not listening carefully or showing any emotional care or concern, and project that you regard what you’re being told as irrelevant and unimportant. (This is particularly good for getting deceptions of omission to come your way).

12.  Use the truth a loved one shares with you against them later on, thus, punishing them for sharing their truth with you, and teaching them to avoid the risk from now on.

13. Ignoring the truth being shared and firing back or countering with something negative about the person telling you their truth, thus, devaluing their truth and deflecting dealing with it.

Sabotaging Truth-Sharing Sabotages Love

Each of the above 13 ways and a number of others act to sabotage both the telling of truth and the growth of love.  Lots of people do not realize that they get lied to partly because they make telling the truth have really bad outcomes.  Yes, it’s true we all should have the courage to tell the truth anyway, but that often is not the case.  Yes, we all should have sufficient love to be dedicated to giving our loved ones nothing but the truth, but that too is often not the case.

If you can lovingly hear the truth people are ever so much more likely to tell you there truth.  That often takes a good amount of healthy, self-love and the ability to do what is called ‘owning your okayness’ and ‘not giving away your power’.  See the entry “Healthy Self-Love and Not Giving Your Power Away”.

How Lies Limit Love

If I lie to you I do not present you with the real me.  If you send love to that false me it does not reach the real me.  I either know or doubt you would send your love if you knew the truth I am withholding.  Therefore, I am not reached and I’m not nourished by your love.  My lie may help me, or you, or both of us escape a painful conflict but by lying I also escape the chance of the real me being loved by the real you.  Thus, I cause us to elude the chance of sharing and experiencing intimate, real and perhaps healing love together.

When Love with Truth Is Not Allowed

She said, “If I ever find out you even think of having sex with another woman I will divorce you!”  He secretly and silently interpreted this as “I can never share with you the truth of my real sexuality. Therefore, I had best begin to look for someone else I can be real with”.

He said, “You know I’m right and I refuse to hear you say another word about this subject!  So, eventually she was in the arms of another who could and would listen to anything and everything she had to say.

If you cannot accept my truth how can I feel you accept me?  If you cannot accept me, flaws and all, how can I believe you truly can love the real me?  Please do not condemn or deny my messages of myself, and do not falsely agree with me either.  Please be willing to hear the real me as best as I can present it today.  Then tomorrow I may grow to have a better message and certainly a greater love for you!

What To Do

If you lie a lot, or perhaps you help yourself get lied to a lot, or if you are living some big lie, I like to suggest this.  By small, exact steps you can get to where you live authentically, without lies, or without being much lied to, and in the process you do no harm to anyone.

I like to suggest that for your own health and well-being, as well as for those you care about, cautiously working your way into a life of truth almost always is achievable and by far is preferable.  One reason for that is lies usually cause a lot of psycho-physiological stress, not to mention relational diminishment and danger.  Coaching by a good counselor often is just about invaluable whenever love is being sabotaged by lies.  Finally consider an old teaching question.  Can you build something real out of something false?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question Is your self-love sometimes too-weak for you to be able to hear the truth?


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