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Lying For Love?

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  • M©+square's Avatar
    22,843 posts since Nov '02
    • Lying for love

      Is honesty always the best policy when it comes to relationships?
      -Caroline Hwang

      Sometimes it seems as though loving and lying go together -- say, when we tell our partner that of course we don't mind if he skips shaving all weekend, or reassure him that the little bald spot on the top of his head makes him sexier. (Right!) Perhaps that's because when we do lie to someone we care about, it's usually with the best of intentions -- to soothe his insecurities or to avoid a fight. And as long as our heart is in the right place, even experts acknowledge that honesty isn't always mandatory. "You don't have to tell the whole truth if it will hurt your partner or if it's something he can't change," says Marion Solomon, Ph.D., a couples therapist based in Los Angeles and author of "Lean on Me."

      Still, not all lies are harmless -- even little white ones -- and some untruths can unravel a relationship by eroding intimacy and trust. The worst kind of lie: The one that stems from a desire to make ourselves into someone we're not, or one that enables us to gloss over serious problems in a relationship. How to tell the difference? Next, five lies that can undermine your love -- and five that may actually strengthen it.

      The lie: "You deserved that promotion."
      The context: Your significant other is upset because he has just been passed over for a raise -- again.
      Your motivation for lying: You're trying to cheer him up.
      Why the lie could be lethal: Chances are that your partner isn't looking for your evaluation of his job performance but rather for your emotional support. By focusing on the fact that he didn't get the promotion instead of on how he's feeling, you're sending a message that you're not comfortable seeing him vulnerable and upset. "What he'll take away from your comment is that you can't stand to see him down or deal with him being depressed," says Dr. Solomon.
      What to say instead: "I'm sorry. I know how bad you must feel."

      The lie: "You think I was flirting with Bob?! Don't be ridiculous!"
      The context: Bob is a good-looking co-worker with whom you regularly exchange charged sallies. Your partner happened to catch one of these interactions -- and didn't like what he saw.
      Your motivation for lying: Sure you flirt with Bob, but you know your exchanges don't mean anything, so they're not worth discussing.
      Why the lie could be lethal: If your partner brought this up, he must be feeling jealous or insecure. By brushing off his concerns, you're denying his feelings and distancing yourself. "That's damaging," warns Dr. Solomon.
      What to say instead: "Bob and I do flirt sometimes, but it doesn't mean anything. I have no intention of getting involved with him."

      The lie: "Oh, ooh, ooooooooh, baby!"
      The context: Um, duh, you're between the sheets!
      Your motivation for lying: You're going at it, and it's clear that you're not going to have an orgasm. It's time to call it a night.
      Why the lie could be lethal: "You're settling for less than you deserve, sexually," says Marilyn Sorensen, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Portland, Oregon, and author of "Breaking the Chain of Low Self-esteem." "Your love life will never improve if your partner doesn't know he's not satisfying you."
      What to say instead: "Honey, can we try this another way?"

      The lie: "I love spending Thanksgiving with your family."
      The context: You were hoping that the two of you could have an intimate holiday together, for once, but your partner just told you that he already committed to having the two of you spend it with his parents -- and six siblings.
      Your motivation for lying: What's done is done. Why pick a fight?
      Why the lie could be lethal: "If you sweep a conflict under the rug, eventually you're going to trip on it," says Dr. Sorensen. "If a couple tells me they never disagree, I don't conclude that they have a terrific relationship. Rather, I know they don't have good communication."
      What to say instead: "I'll try to have a good time, but next year, please ask me before you make our holiday plans."

      The lie: "Nothing's wrong. Why do you ask?"
      The context: Your partner has just asked what's wrong.
      Your motivation for lying: You're in a rotten mood, but it's not about him and you don't feel like hashing over the details.
      Why the lie could be lethal: This kind of lie can turn a molehill into a mountain, since your honey will wonder what is so wrong that you can't share it with him.
      What to say instead: "I'm upset, but it has nothing to do with you -- and I don't feel like talking about it right now."

      The lie: "Ha, ha, ha -- that's hysterical!"
      The context: Your guy just told a corny joke.
      Your motivation for lying: He's trying to be funny, and you don't want to hurt his feelings by not laughing.
      Why the lie won't hurt: "Different people have different senses of humor, and your response acknowledges that," says Dr. Solomon. "By laughing at your partner's joke, you're shoring up his ego."
      When to go for the truth instead: If you're consistently laughing when you're not amused, or if his jokes offend you.

      The lie: "Thanks for the surprise! I love big, dangly earrings!"
      The context: He was in a store, they caught his eye, and he had them wrapped up to go.
      Your motivation for lying: True --the earrings aren't really your style, but you appreciate his thoughtfulness.
      Why the lie won't hurt: Telling him that you prefer little studs or that you don't wear earrings at all would make him feel like a failure when it comes to giving you presents. "Keep that up and he may stop trying to do spontaneous things to please you," says Dr. Solomon.
      When to go for the truth instead: If you suspect that he spent a lot of money for them.

      The lie: "You're the best lover I've ever had."
      The context: You're next to him, sweaty, panting and post-orgasmic.
      Your motivation for lying: Sure, you're exaggerating a bit, but you're feeling euphoric.
      Why the lie won't hurt: "It's a compliment that's bound to make him feel good," says Dr. Solomon. "There's nothing wrong with that."
      When to go for the truth instead: If he is regularly lousy in bed.

      The lie: "Karen says hello."
      The context: Your friend (Karen) has just spent the past 30 minutes detailing all the reasons she doesn't like your significant other, who, in turn, has inquired who you've been on the phone with.
      Your motivation for lying: You don't want to hurt his feelings.
      Why the lie won't hurt: "There's no reason for you to tell him what she really said," notes Dr. Sorensen. "These lies of omission are kinder than the truth."
      When to go for the truth instead: If he actually did something inexcusable to your friend.

      The lie: "No, I'm not throwing you a surprise birthday party."
      The context: Enough said.

      Edited by M©+square 02 May `04, 11:44PM
  • AdAptAliS's Avatar
    949 posts since Feb '04
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