If you think he isn’t telling you the truth, I bet he isn’t. I am far from sure, but that is the direction I am betting.
I bet he is lying to you because he feels that if you knew the truth you would punish him or would not give him what he needs.
I am talking about good men here, telling good lies. This is not an article about scoundrels.
THIS IS NOT AN ARTICLE FOR WOMEN OR MEN WHO ARE IN A HEAVILY CONFLICTED RELATIONSHIP WITH A MAN. TALKING ABOUT HONESTY WITH A MAN CAN BE DANGEROUS, VERY DANGEROUS. THIS IS AN ARTICLE FOR WOMEN AND MEN WHO ARE IN A GOOD, COMPASSIONATE, LOVING RELATIONSHIP WHO ARE INTERESTED IN INCREASING THEIR ALREADY EXCELLENT LEVEL OF INTIMACY. IF YOU FEEL THAT TALKING ABOUT HONESTY WITH YOUR MAN IS NOT A GOOD IDEA, THIS TIME, DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME READING FURTHER.
I worked for fifteen years counseling men with substance use disorders. Men who are having problems related to drug abuse often have a good deal of practice in lying. They lie about not being intoxicated, not being intoxicated at the time something bad happened, about where the money actually went, what was the real cause of the accident, about what drugs they are using, how much and how often and why the drug screen lab test results came back the way they did.
Every day I went to work, I got lied to. One way to respond to a lying liar is to raise the volume of your voice and give your honest opinion about their version of the truth. In counseling it’s called “confrontation.” This counseling technique has been used a lot in the past. Today it is just used too much.
When a man is called out on his lying he may get angry and double down on his claims that his lies are the truth. He may become afraid as to how he can’t live with the truth and shut down, go deeper into numb denial because it is better than being afraid. He may confess to lies to escape the situation, only to return to lying later. I am not saying that loud confrontation never penetrates the armor of some lying men leading to confessions, expression of remorse, positive behavioral change and the sincere making of amends. I am only suggesting it usually doesn’t work that way.
I used to lead lecture and discussion groups with men on the topic of honesty. If a man could only have attributes that could be described in the English language with the letter “H” and was limited to four such attributes, he might chosen Heroic, Humble, Humorous and Honest. Many men focus on the attributes of Hard Working, Hard Body and the ability to get a Hard-on. Most potential partners prefer the first four “H’s.” Of these, Honesty might be the most important.
In these discussion groups we would examine the training that most men receive in the importance of lying well. Men, as boys, learn that lying is a great life hack in getting what you want and avoiding punishment. Boy culture often includes permission to discipline boys by hitting them harder and more often than girls. A boy can take a beating better than a girl and needs to learn how to take them better, often goes the reasoning. Boys often learn the value of lying to avoid punishment.
Boys learn if they are hurting physically or emotionally, the most appropriate response to the question of how they are feeling is “fine.” The most appropriate response to “Do you need some help?” Is “No.” “Do you want to fight?” “Bring it on.” Anything but the truth.
Girls, even in these enlightened times, get messages that they can earn praise by just being there. Boys have to do something. One effective way to get rewarded for doing something is to claim that you did it, when you didn’t. This is the flip side of avoiding punishment for what a boy did—by denying it was done.
A very common circumstance is a boy fearing that something he did well, will go unrewarded, because of some unrelated thing that he did or didn’t do. In these situations lies of omission can work very well.
Women of course, have their own lie school training. Many girls start out being smiled at a lot because of their smile. All too quickly, they come to learn that their natural appearance is far from being good enough. The right look takes great effort and sacrifice,which occurs throughout a female human being’s life span. Many looks for women seem to be a disguise over what is naturally there. Many more looks seem to shout out, “Don’t look at me, look at my taste in cosmetics; look at my dress and accessories.” For many women, “I am confident being myself,” is a lie hidden behind the masks of fashion.
Girls are wise to learn quickly and well the power of lies spun into gossip and gossip spun into sickening webs of social isolation. Such webs are often constructed from strands of secrets shared in supposed confidence. Sometimes the more a girl struggles the more she is caught-up.
Boys learn about the lying arts of advertising, politics, the legal system and salesmanship in due time.
They learn that the arguments they have about who broke the rules when playing games, to get to the truth, can be more dramatic than the game itself. Will the friend who is prone to argue their perspective with punches prevail? Or will it be the rich kid, who threatens to walk away with the only available ball, who will end up being right? Sometimes it is the boy who fesses up who wins.
In short order, boys learn the advantage of having a referee. If the referee didn’t see it, even after reviewing the instant replay video, then it didn’t happen. Seldom seen is a stadium erupting into wild applause to cheer the man who informs the officials that the rule violation that went undetected did occur and he knows, because he did it.
Referees come in the form of judges and lawyers, too. In the legal system few “Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” because if you aren’t convicted you might as well never have done it.
Your man lies to you because he has been vigorously trained to lie. He has been punished for not lying. He has been rewarded for lying.
Want to test if you have a good man? Ask him if he thinks that a man should have a lie-free zone. How does he feel about having people in his life that he has a comfort level being honest with? How does he feel about having other men in his life he can be honest with?
Talk about how you were taught about lying and how you were taught about being honest. Talk about how scary it is to think about the possibly negative consequences being honest in a relationship can bring.
I suggest you DO NOT play “Truth or Dare” with your partner. That is, do not probe, even in a playful way, the limits of your partner’s ability to be honest with you.
Do seek out psychotherapeutic counseling if thinking about your distrust in you partner is causing you any sort of potentially long-lasting pain.
DO NOT DRAW YOUR PARTNER’S ATTENTION TO THIS POST. IF HE FINDS IT ON HIS OWN THAT WOULD BE BETTER OR NOT AT ALL. DO NOT TAKE ANY ADVICE THAT I HAVE WRITTEN. LET THIS ARTICLE INSPIRE YOU OWN THINKING. LET IT INSPIRE OR CALL IN TO DOUBT THE ROLE HONESTY PLAYS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP.
Relationships are complex. I haven’t a clue as to what, if anything, I’ve written here will help increase the intimacy you desire with your man. I hope something does.
Contemplate if you’ve ever noticed yourself punishing your male partner for being honest. Do you ever contribute to his sense that any vulnerable feeling he shares can and will be used against him, in certain situations? If your man has, or might develop relationships with male friends, female friends, therapists, clergy, 12-Step Sponsors, Men’s Group peers, (such things do exist here and there), where he can be more honest about certain things, how might such relationships threaten you? How might they help you?
WARNING, HONESTY IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY. Being more aware of how your man has been conditioned to lie can be interesting.
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