The real reasons we refuse to tell the truth.
If you ask someone about the qualities that they look for in others, honesty is bound to be mentioned among them. Whether we’re dealing with mates, friends, family, colleagues or casual acquaintances, being lied to is one of the betrayals we despise most. While being lied on is incomprehensible. A terrible thing to do in any type of relationship is take away someone’s ability to make an informed decision. “Little white lies” aside, that’s exactly what being dishonest often does.
Yet, plenty of people still lie, repeatedly and without remorse. Worse is trying to come up with justifiable reasons and make the lying seem less self-serving than it is — Such as the declaration of lying to protect someone. Nothing both infuriates and disappoints me more than this one. Lying is not some kind of noble act. Is it possible to actually protect someone with a lie? Yes, on occasion. But not when it involves the ways that we have wronged them. We can’t simultaneously be the guardian and the perpetrator. In these instances, we aren’t protecting them — we’re protecting our image.
We tell ourselves that we’re shielding someone from facing the harsh reality of our actions and the pain that such knowledge would inflict by not telling them. When really, we just don’t want him or her to view us differently. If we cared so deeply about their feelings, we wouldn’t have committed the acts in the first place. But to do what we’ve done, intentionally withhold that information, and then say we’re “protecting” someone by doing so is quite gutless.
Possibly even more pitiful than presenting lies as a method of protection, is blaming the person being lied to for our inability to be truthful. People lie to absolve themselves of responsibility. Rather than own it, we present not only our actions but also our subsequent dishonesty about them as the other person’s fault. We tell them they’re impossible to talk to, that they react irrationally or are emotionally volatile and THAT’S why lying was necessary.
If you’re dealing with someone you truly don’t feel you can be honest with, you may want to reevaluate that relationship. It doesn’t make dishonesty any less of a choice, however.
People lie to manipulate other people and situations for their benefit. For instance, telling someone you’re dating that you aren’t seeing other people, when you are, so that they won’t see other people is manipulation. Telling someone things that are untrue about another person because you don’t want them to be friends is manipulation. As is pretending to be someone you’re not in order to get what you want. Saying and doing certain things to present a false perception of who you are in order to get people to like you, fall for you, sleep with you or otherwise engage you, and then reverting to the opposite once they have is manipulation.
Probably the most common reason that people lie is to avoid facing consequences. This is the first reason we learn to do it. As kids we lie about breaking the vase because we don’t want to get in trouble. While adults lie about things such as cheating to avoid being left by partners. We lie to circumvent being punished for our actions, even if the retribution is warranted.
When you think about it, most motivations for lying involve some form of manipulation — of people, situations and outcomes. Lies often lead to irreparable damage in relationships long-term. It’s just that people aren’t thinking from this perspective when offering untruths. The thought process centers on what can be said right now to obtain or avoid a particular result. It’s an extremely shortsighted solution. Plus, most don’t anticipate ever being caught in a lie.
Honesty, in spite of consequences, ruined reputations and undesirable endings is the noble act. Lying is easy. And while there are many reasons we may have for doing it, none of them are particularly viable.