The kinds of lies men tell in this war we call dating, and the reasons they tell them.
I was asked recently by a friend why men lie. It’s an interesting question, one I had to think about. Not because I don’t think men lie, but because I didn’t particularly think it was gendered. We all lie, society would crumble in a heap if we didn’t, but some people lie more than others and I certainly haven’t found women to lie less than men. Yet men do tend to lie in different ways than women. Now I don’t know a lot about my friend’s relationship history, specifically how men lied to her, I didn’t follow up but I can probably make a few educated guesses about the sort of guys she may have encountered so I thought I would list a few of them.
The Snake Oil Salesman: This guy is all marketing and no product. This guy has one of two problems, either he really does have no product and he is a fairly lame excuse for human being, or alternatively, and more commonly, he believes there is nothing about him worth loving. We all have areas in our lives where we wish we were better, or wish we were as good as someone else but this guy takes it deep into his heart. The only way he feels he can get ahead is to peddle a story about his curative properties because this is the only way he thinks someone can fall for him, he believes if he markets himself just right someone will fall for buying him.
Oceans 11: This guy wants something from you; probably sex, but he could be an emotional vampire. These guys at some point lost their faith that most women are decent people, they were burnt and now their views on women are decidedly negative. Add a touch of superiority complex and charm and these guys will only stick around while they are getting what they want. They aren’t interested in what you want, nor do they care. Women don’t have any redeeming features in their eyes and they will pull any trick or con into getting whatever it is they are after and disappear once they are finished.
The Maze Runner: These guys are scared you will discover that they aren’t a good person. A deep sense of shame has been instilled in them and they desperately don’t want you to stumble across the Minotaur at the heart of the maze. They won’t outright lie but often they will misdirect you on how they feel and what they think. They will run you around their maze as you try connecting with them, they will hope to keep you trapped and yet they will be terrified to the core you will reach the center. These men probably aren’t bad people but it will take forever to reach them and it may not be worth the effort. They are lost and only they know the way out of their own maze.
Mars, God of War: These men aren’t really liars but you will encounter them anyway. They either haven’t worked out how to regulate anger or they have a warped view on masculinity. For those with anger issues any time they don’t get their own way it will be taken as a personal attack. Yes it is the equivalent of a two year olds tantrum. For those with a warped view on what being a man is they will assume that a man must always be in control, always in the driver’s seat, and any loss of that control again is an attack on their masculinity. They will always try and control their partner because that is what they believe men should do.
Snow White: Ah the nice guy (not the good guy though), a guy who is like the magic mirror in Snow White and tells you what you want to hear. This guy gets a bad rap but mostly he is just lying to himself. He is after approval and validation, which aren’t necessarily bad things, but he does them at the cost of his own self-worth. He puts the value of his partner’s happiness and well being ahead of his own. He has been known to lash out but this is his own fault, instead of putting up a small boundary early on he backs himself into a corner later, having all his values completely trampled because of his inability to say no. Just be aware that the good guy can share some traits with this guy, and it isn’t always obvious which is which. Snow White will go to a (insert an activity he doesn’t like) to seek your approval, “aren’t I a nice guy because I did this with you”. A good guy will go because he values your company and wants an insight into your life, but he probably won’t go a second time unless he enjoyed himself.
Teflon Man: This guy is the classic avoider; no matter how hard you try he will just not let you see into his head. He learnt long ago that feelings and thoughts could be used as weapons against him and now he is terrified that if someone sees the real him they will tear him apart. To a certain extent most men learn this lesson which is why we get the stereo-type of being stoic, but this guy won’t let you in no matter what. Questions about his feelings, thoughts or past will be actively deflected, subjects changed or he will give an outright lie. For most men trust will bridge this gap but for the true Teflon man you will never stick.
The Puppet Master: This is the hardest one for me to work out. I don’t really understand full blown manipulators; it doesn’t make sense to me. These guys have their empathy turned down so low it simply doesn’t occur to them that other people get hurt by their actions, and even if it does it’s just another tool to manipulate them with. Other people to them are simply pieces to be moved around and they don’t give anymore thought to it than they would to move a pawn on a chess board. Sadly I can’t tell you why they became like this but my advice on these guys is run, run as fast as you can.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, most people have various reasons for lying based on shame, guilt, fear, distrust and a negative world view and we will all fall into one or more of those patterns on occasion. The trick isn’t to get hung up on a one off lie if it isn’t a deal breaker; the trick is to look for repeating patterns of behavior. They say truth will set you free but nothing will tell you more about a person’s character then the lies they tell. The things they hide reveal the things they are scared of or have been hurt by. The lies they tell reveal the strengths and weaknesses of their character and reveal the things they care about the most. You can’t be hurt by things you don’t care about and you don’t expend energy protecting the things you don’t feel anything for.
I thought I would bring up one last point that’s occurred to me while writing this. OK Cupid and a few other groups have run studies which in round numbers show 20% of men get 80% of the dates. I’m not trying to suggest you lower your standards here but I’d like to point something out. Guys who are good at relationships are in relationships, especially if they are in that top 20%. They will be better at picking decent partners and better at maintaining a long term relationships so stay out of the dating market a lot longer. If you are dating in the top 20% of guys and you keep dating people from the list above the reason is quite simple. The guys who are good at relationships really are taken. The ones left are mostly made up of people who aren’t good at relationships or don’t want serious relationships. As a suggestion next time you are looking at Mr 70%, the guy who isn’t quite perfect, maybe you aren’t lowering your standards by dating him. It might be worth looking at whether the qualities that go into maintaining a long term relationship made it on to your criteria of things to look for in a guy, and if they didn’t would that bump him up to Mr 80%.
*A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. The Modern Minstrel observes the world around him and shares it with us as lyrical story. This series was inspired by Luke Davis, whose eye for story and ear for lyrical prose are featured here.
Also by Luke Davis
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