Okay so if there’s any area I’m an expert in, it’s got to be dealing with liars. I don’t even know how I manage to pick them so well (hah!) but in all of my past relationships – I’ve found out my partner has turned out to be, not just a little white liar, but compulsive liars. It is insane! Genuinely. I will never be able to relate to the mind of a liar, but – luckily, I do now know how to deal with them. So here’s a quick one, blasting through what to do when you notice your partner lying to you.
Why Is My Partner Lying To Me?
So before we can figure out what to do, we need to understand why it’s happening. Some liars use their fabrications to be manipulative – it’s like a dodgy salesman trying to con you into buying a crappy car, yet his lies come out so naturally, because he’s so used to it! Or you might have the classic narcissist, lying to pump up his own image. Or in the case of pathological liars, they do what they do because that is what they do: there’s a personality disorder involved.
In most everyday relationships however, lying is situational. So your partner might be lying to you to try to avoid conflict. It’s kind of weak, and isn’t always necessary, but sometimes their heart is in the right place because they don’t want to cause any problems in the relationship. (Sometimes, it’s just because they don’t want the ‘grief’ they’ll get as a result of you knowing the truth – but we’re all human. We must admit, we’re guilty of this ourselves from time-to-time!)
This is the most common reason for lying in relationships anyhow. The problem is, if your partner lies and gets away with it – he / she thinks, okay, no harm done, great! If they lie and you find out, and therefore blow up about it (after all, from your side, you saw no reason for them to lie in the first place) – it then reconfirms their ‘fears’ of what they were trying to avoid. As a result of this, instead of them then thinking – ‘I better not do that again!’, their brain signals a warning sign so they think the best thing to do is to try to get better at lying to avoid similar conflict in the future.
It creates a cycle like this:
- Something happens. Your partner knows you won’t like it. So instead of telling you about it, they lie or withhold the truth.
- You get hurt and question if you can actually trust them. This makes you angry or frustrated and you lash out at your partner for lying to you. (Not physically of course.)
- This confirms your partners concerns and validates their ‘fears’ around it. The outcome they didn’t want, has happened and so the cycle continues as they lie again to try to avoid it.
What they’re not comprehending however (and this is the part that baffles me!) – is if they’d just told the truth in the first place, you could have worked through things together. They often don’t seem to understand that the thing that actually hurts you the most is the fact that they lied to you in the first place. That also makes you question them and their intentions. So it’s a no-win situation.
What To Do When You Notice Your Partner Lying To You
So what do we do? Well, it takes work from both sides. Yes your partner is in the wrong for lying and they need to – putting it bluntly now – build a bit of a backbone so that they have the courage to speak up and tell the truth, no matter what they think think will happen as a result of it.
You should also have the conversation so that your values align when it comes to honesty and integrity. There should be a mutual understanding that the two of you are meant to be a team. You can work through anything, so long as you work through it together.
How It Works…
If your partner is lying because they’ve done something wrong, they need to face the consequences for that. (But at least by being honest, they’re showing you the respect you deserve. And usually, what they’ve done is usually pretty small.) Sometimes they’ll lie, when they’ve not even strictly done anything wrong themselves, but they know you won’t like it.
For example, let’s say a girl started chatting them up and they didn’t reciprocate, but because you have trust issues anyway, they knew it would make you worry or potentially question them about it. So they kept quiet and then lied about it when the truth came out.
In this situation however, even though they hadn’t actually done anything wrong, they then put themselves in the wrong because of the lie. They also batter away at the trust because you begin to wonder why they lied if there was nothing more to it.
On the flip side, it needs to be communicated and agreed upon, that if they work on telling you the truth from now onwards – if they’re not actually really in the wrong, you can’t blow up and take it out on them. After all, it’s not really fair or fully justified, and if you do this – it puts you in the wrong.
When you do this, you’re both working towards improving the relationship, improving the communication and building the strong foundations to get you through anything.
But What If…
Find this isn’t working? Then it may well be that there are deeper issues in your relationship, or as mentioned at the top of this article – they might be lying for different reasons (reasons that are more difficult to be worked through.) At that point, you might want to assess whether the relationship is really working, whether it might have just turned pretty toxic, or if these issues are bigger than the both of you and you think your partner may actually need some professional help.
What happens then, depends on their willingness to do what they need to do, to become a better, more honest partner. Support them, but don’t let them walk all over you, and certainly don’t start tolerating less than you deserve.
We’ve also been talking best case scenario in this post (always the optimist!) but sometimes partners lie because they’re hiding something bad (like addiction) or doing something bad (like cheating). Hopefully not. But if you’re concerned about that, this post should point you in the right direction on the cheating front… ‘What To Do When You Think Your Partner Is Cheating On You.’
Hope this helps! For more relationship advice, subscribe to my blog via the sign up form below. I’ll then pop you an email once every couple of weeks with relevant content that will help to strengthen your relationships – both with yourself and others. Take care.