When it comes to relationships, lying doesn’t usually come highly recommended. It can turn into a nasty, out-of-control habit that not only ruins the liar’s reputation but it can also exact significant physical and emotional tolls. This is demonstrated by research that shows lying is linked to increased cancer risks, depression, and low relationship satisfaction.
The 2 main types of lies people tell
- Big lies: these are lies told with selfish or bad intentions that can result in serious consequences for those concerned. Rule breakers will usually resort to these types of lies in order to reap the “benefits” of their violations and escape the consequences (punishments) that their actions usually bring.
- Little (white) lies: these, on the other hand, are usually harmless fibs we tell for no selfish ends other than for the benefit of the targets of the lies. Like those, we tell to be polite and show good manners instead of creating awkward social situations by being brutally honest.
3 general situations it can be acceptable for people to lie
- To protect themselves or people they care about from physical or emotional harm: Lies told out of a genuine desire to protect ourselves and others, or to ease their pain are generally considered acceptable lies. In such situations, it doesn’t matter if the lie is a big whopper or a little stretch of the truth as the aim here is to ward off harm to those under threat. For instance, telling your friend’s abusive partner you have no idea where your friend is, is a good example here.
- To escape awkward situations: whether it is to get out of a potentially awkward social situation or to cover up embarrassments, people find it easier to resort to a lie (big or little) to take care of the situation and with good reason. There is little need to subject oneself or others to situations of anxiety, tension, or stress if it is totally avoidable or unnecessary. One may also wish to avoid a confrontation about privacy issues with someone you would rather not even if it is only because you don’t want to hurt their feelings by indicating you see them as snoopy.
- Other times the situation demands it: in polite society, there are usually times when the target of your declarations will only appreciate certain statements regardless of how you really feel. In such instances, “thank you for a lovely dinner,” to your host, or “you looked lovely tonight,” to your companion are just some of the polite expressions of gratitude or compliments that are the only ones expected.
“When someone lies out of altruism to protect others or ease their pain, these lies are considered acceptable white lies. White lies usually benefit the person listening.” – Barbra Field
3 times when your lie to her can actually be good
Now we come to the little lies we tell for her benefit and not for our selfish ends. Here, pure motives and the absence of negative, long-term consequences are two factors that can make your actions excusable, or better yet, appreciated.
- When you practice a little “deceptive affection”: according to relationship advice writer, Chelsea Stone, proclamations like, “I love you more than anyone in the whole world!” even though that no. 1 spot is actually taken by your mom is just one of the types of lies that the partners’’ feeling close and the relationship running smoothly.
- When you have her best interests at heart: remember it is those self-serving fibs that are the worst. However when you are bending the truth a little solely for her benefit, it can, according to research, actually help build trust between you two. “People care about whether you have good intentions a lot more than whether the person is being honest per se,” says Emma E. Levine, assistant professor of behavioral science at The University of Chicago.
- When there is nothing she can do with the truth: she is, therefore, better off not knowing but this is a judgment call and one you need to make based on the circumstances and your pure motives.In such a situation Dr. Levine says a little lie can actually benefit her because there is truly nothing she can do with truth even if you tell it. For instance, should she ask you how she looks a second before she steps to a podium to give a talk, telling her at that point that she has a little stain on her outfit, with obviously no time to react and take control of the situation, will not be very helpful.
“In such situations, it doesn’t matter if the lie is a big whopper or a little stretch of the truth as the aim here is to ward off harm to those under threat.”
A final note about those good intentions
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Being in a relationship where you are confident that she knows you always have her best interest at heart is essential. It is essential because should she eventually learn the truth, it is this trust in you that will make her most likely to accept any justifications you may offer for bending the truth.
“Individuals with altruistic intentions are perceived to be more moral, more benevolent, and more honest, even when they lie.” (Source)
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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