I do my best not to lie. Well, to clarify, I’m not perfect. I have lied. Maybe yesterday even.(mostly about why I’m late. Lie: traffic; Truth: Internet) And often to my kids. But I try to be honest as much as I can. Almost to a fault, so I’m told. When I’ve insulted someone. Isn’t there a name for that?
Sometimes I wonder why I don’t like to lie (besides a general aversion to dishonesty, of course). After all, making up stories that will please the listener and make the teller’s life run much more smoothly is definitely easier than telling the truth. I was talking to my therapist the other day about lying and why I don’t like it, and we figured it out: while lying may be convenient, it’s also a lot of work. Manufacturing deceit can get very complicated. You have to remember all the lies you’ve told, to whom, and then which version of the fabricated truth that you have shared with each person.
It’s exhausting. Ask the character’s in Netflix’s Original series Bloodline. They’re FULL of lies. Not good ones. Sneaky, deceitful, dark ones. They spins webs of all their lies.
What I have noticed is that lying seems to have gotten more and more acceptable. I think it’s part of the general decline of society, such as how people don’t RSVP to parties anymore. But regardless of the reason, there’s a lot more lyin’ going on. All rationalized with a list of excuses:
Oh, it would hurt his feelings if I told him the real story.
I don’t want to upset her. So what she won’t know won’t hurt her.
He wouldn’t like the real story. This one is much easier to handle.
If I told the truth there would be too many questions.
I’m not really lying. I’m just not saying anything at all. She’ll never find out anyways.
You don’t need to tell him unless he specifically asks.
The key to being a good liar, which people don’t realize, is to not be stupid. Most lies are really dumb. If you want to tell lies, they must be UNVERIFIABLE. Which takes thought. Most lies are spur of the moment. And therefore are TOTALLY VERIFIABLE. Am I making sense?
NOTE FOR THE UNINITIATED: A lie of omission is still a lie.
That’s why this happens:
He finds out you lied and his feelings are hurt double trouble.
She finds out anything at all and she’s upset and angry.
He gets the real story, and now he has to process it AND the fact that you lied.
The real story comes out and she has WAY more questions than you bargained for.
All defeating the whole claim that lying is easier and less complicated. And eliminating the reason for doing it in the first place.
Very dramatic, right? And uncomfortable. The little respite you got when you made the thing up quickly disappears when you’re sweating under cross-examination.
I’ve always encouraged my kids to tell the whole truth, even it they think they’ll get in trouble or the conversation might turn awkward. Consequences be damned, it’s a good idea to be upfront about your monkey business. In all honesty (see what I did there), if the urge to lie rears it’s head maybe you shouldn’t have done or said the thing in the first place. Kids, Be warned: wiggling out of a difficult situation by making up a tall tale is not going to smooth the path, that’s for sure. Because I’m a mother and I can ALWAYS sniff out a lie.
Anyways, is it ever ok to fudge the truth?
Hang on. I have to get down off my holier-than-thou pedestal before I can say yes. There definitely are situations where I think it’s mean to be completely truthful. While I don’t advocate lying per se, in these cases I think it’s kinder to tell truth-ishes. These versions of the situation are soft enough to be nice, but transparent enough so the receiver knows what you really mean.
Got it? Here are some examples:
Outright lie: Sorry. There was tons of traffic.
The real story: You were reading Buzzfeed on the toilet.
Truth-ish: Ha! Sorry, there was traffic. But really, I’m always late. I need to leave earlier. Please forgive me.
The how to I look in this?
Outright lie: Those look awesome on you. Get them!
The real story: she looks fat in those pants. They are unflattering.
Truth-ish: Those are really nice pants, but I think you’d like THESE ONES better.
The lie: Wow! That was awesome. Oh baby, you’re so sexy.
The real story: Really? That’s all you got?
Truth-ish: I love cuddling with you. Maybe next time we could try ______.
The leaving out.
The lie: Oh, sorry. The plans were last minute. It just all came together and we tried to call you…
The real story: We made those plans 3 weeks ago.
The truth-ish: We thought you told us you’d be out of town. So sorry. Redo next Saturday?
The lie: Wow. This is deee-licious. or I’m sorry, I can’t eat that, I’m allergic or I feel so bad. I just ate.
The real story: that is DISGUSTING
The truth-ish: Mmmm.. I haven’t had a dish like this before. I’m glad I tried it. I don’t think it’s my favourite though.
The email mishap
The lie: Oh my god. Damn technology. I sent that to you last week when it was due. Here, let me send it again. or Shoot. That was a draft of an email I didn’t mean to send that or Didn’t you get my email?
The real story: you missed your deadline and you sent that rude email to the wrong person and you never sent any email to anyone ever.
The truth-ish: Sorry. I got nothing. You screwed up. Own it.
If you like to watch movies about people who lie, you know, to get tips, check out these picks from Netflix. PS It never turns out. Trust me. Cheaters NEVER prosper.
So, when do you think it’s ok to lie? Have you noticed people lying more often recently? What do you think of anything I’ve said?