Is honesty always the best policy when it comes to relationships?
What about little white lies? What about when your partner asks you if this dress makes her look fat. What do you think? Is it OK to lie to a person we care about for a kind reason, like to make him feel better and more secure, or to avoid a fight. As long as our heart is in the right place, even experts say that honesty isn't always required. You don't have to tell the whole truth if it will hurt your partner or if it's something he can't change."
At the same time, not all lies are harmless -- even little white ones -- and some untruths can tear apart a relationship by damaging intimacy and trust. The worst kinds of lies result from trying to change who we really are or to minimize a serious problem in a relationship.
Following are some lies that can hurt your relationship.
"You deserved that promotion."
Your significant other is upset because he has just been passed over for a raise -- again. You're trying to cheer him up. This is not a good lie because chances are that your partner wants your emotional support rather than your opinion of his job skills and performance. When you focus on his not getting the promotion instead of his feelings, you are saying that can't stand to see him down or deal with him being depressed. The better answer would be something like "I'm sorry. I know how bad you must feel."
"You think I was flirting with Stan! Don't be silly!"
Stan a good-looking colleague with whom you regularly do flirt. Your partner happened to catch one of these interactions 'and didn't like what he saw.
You actually do flirt with Bob, but you know your exchanges don't mean anything, so they're not worth discussing. Still, if your partner brought this up, he must be feeling jealous or insecure. By minimizing feelings, you are distancing yourself and damaging the relationship. It's better to say that you sometimes do flirt with Stan but it doesn't mean anything because you have no intention of getting involved with him.
Lying about sexual satisfaction is not a good idea because your love life will never improve if your partner doesn't know he or she isn't satisfying you. It's better to say something like "Honey, can we try this another way?"
"I love spending Christmas with your family."
You were hoping that the two of you could have an intimate holiday together, for once, but your partner just told you that he already committed to having the two of you spend it with his family. Your thinking is that you will hate this but it's done now so why fight about it? The problem is that holidays will come up every year, and if you don't say something about it you'll be annoyed every year. It's better to say something like 'I'll try to have a good time, but next year, let's talk about our holiday plans together before committing.'
You're in a rotten mood, but it's not about your partner and don't feel like going into it until you have sorted out the details.
This kind of lie can turn something small into a great big deal because your mate will wonder what is so wrong that you can't share it with him. It's better to say "I'm upset, but it has nothing to do with you -- and I don't feel like talking about it right now."
"Thanks for the surprise! I love these earrings!"
He was in a store, they caught his eye, and he had them wrapped up to go. The earrings aren't really your style, but you appreciate his thoughtfulness, and being critical about those earrings may stop him from trying to do spontaneous things to please you. It's probably better to tell the truth about your taste if you suspect that he spent a lot of money for them.
"You're the best lover I've ever had."
You're next to him, sweaty, panting and post-orgasmic.
Sure, you're exaggerating a bit, but you're feeling euphoric.
This lie won't hurt because it's a compliment that will make him feel good.
"Susan says hello."
Your friend hates your mate, who wants to know who you've been speaking with on the phone. You don't want to hurt his feelings, and so this is a good lie because it's kinder than the truth.
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About the Author
Jeffrey Broobin is a free-lance writer on family and finance issues; his main goal is to help people during their complicated period of life.
Website: Legal Helper Corp.