“I’m not calling you a liar,
Just don’t lie to me.
I’m not calling you a thief,
Just don’t steal from me.
I’m not calling you a ghost
Just stop haunting me.
I love you so much,
I’m gonna let you kill me…”
–Florence & the Machine
I will make an educated conjecture that everyone has lied at some point in his or her life. Maybe to get out of trouble with your parents you have emphatically stated “I didn’t do it, I swear,” to spare your friend’s feeling when asked if an outfit makes her look fat you have said “No honey you look great,” or to end a relationship that you did not want to be in you have pulled an “it’s not you, it’s me.” However, just because it seems commonplace and socially acceptable, can help you avoid trouble in the present, and may appear to assuage one’s own feelings of guilt or spare someone of heartache—pretending something didn’t happen or isn’t true doesn’t make it so. Lies catch up to you and like money in a bank account growing interest, they fester and metastasize into cancerous plagues. They eventually surface and have a far more detrimental impact at a later date than they would have at the initial moment you chose to fabricate reality for your own benefit. For example, telling your girlfriend that you didn’t sleep with someone before you were official may seem to spare her feelings but when she learns later that you covered up a meaningless hookup that took place before your involvement with her it will now have far more weight and significance. The gravity of learning that hidden truth could pull a relationship apart and render it un-repairable. Oftentimes it is not the facts of the betrayal, a mistake, or failed connection that truly upset us to the point of no forgiveness but rather one’s dishonesty and perfidy surrounding the events in question that we can never pardon.
I am certainly not suggesting that people be open and honest about things no one asked for an opinion on but I am saying that whenever given the opportunity to be truthful, take it. The consequences of coming forward when directly asked are negligible compared to those when confronted with exposure of your lie. We may tell tall tales to seem more important than we really are or give false reasons when dumping someone to avoid conflict but like the tell tale heart beating under the floorboards, we are our own worst enemies. With the exception of sociopaths and pathological liars, we cannot help but give ourselves away in time because while truths are absolved, lies linger, burning beneath the surface and eventually force their way out. Whether we come clean ourselves, others involved narc us out, or the facts come to light despite our best attempts to keep them buried there is no undoing the past. When dumping someone, it is inevitable that he/she will be hurt but when the dust settles, honesty is appreciated. When you’ve stolen from a friend, apologizing and repaying him/her can result in forgiveness with time, but lying when confronted and never admitting to any wrongdoing will assuredly destroy a friendship.
Of course there are certain instances where a white lie can do some good, like telling your friend “no that outfit doesn’t make you look fat, but I think this black dress would be more flattering.” However, it is typically bad sexiquette to tell untruths. When you have done something wrong like cheated, stolen, smoked after promising to quit, etc., want to end a relationship with as little heartache as possible, or when you feel a certain way but hide your emotional upset, being honest tends to seem too frightening to bear and we instinctively concoct an alternate chain of events. Yet, whether this is to protect ourselves or to protect others it is never a wise idea. When being dumped, no matter what the reason, we will be hurt and upset, rack our brains wondering what we did wrong, and will shed a few tears. This is virtually unavoidable. However, if the dumper is honest with the dumpee and gives a factual reason for ending the relationship (e.g. I met someone else, I got back with my ex, you are too histrionic for me, I don’t want to be obligated to hang out with you or anyone because I’m not looking for anything serious and I’m sorry I gave you that impression) we will appreciate it when the initial emotional distress has subsided. Personally I appreciate brutal honesty and would rather hear “you’re terrible in bed” than “I’m moving to Maryland” if the former were true and the latter were a lie because at least I’m walking away with constructive criticism. In that instance you may think you are being kind and sparing one’s feelings but when the girl who is bad at sex has several failed relationships over the course of a lifetime, that hurts far more than hearing what was really wrong and being empowered to fix it.
Honesty is imperative in all relationships at any stage of the game but it is expected as a given once sex enters the equation. So many of us rush into the physical far before the emotional has time to develop and while I’m not saying this is always a mistake, it often results in misunderstanding and bad sexiquette by one or both parties. When we allow the emotional component to grow first and develop a mutual trust we are justified in expecting honest communication, however if we rush into the physicality we may still expect that same sincerity and openness while the other partner feels that it was never established. Lying is never really justified and whether or not it is excusable can only be determined by the one who was lied to.
Sure, in an ideal world, no one would lie. We would all be happy, honest, and blissful but the reality is that while human beings may be a highly evolved species, we are still quite primitive in nature. We opt for the path of least resistance and self preservation over doing the right thing and taking the high road 9 times out of 10. While it is bad sexiquette and all around unethical to lie, it still happens. So while I can say not to do it and that it is a violation of dating code, I must also say to expect it and not beat yourself up should you become a victim of dishonesty. Whether you are lied to for you own protection or for the benefit of the liar is irrelevant because in either instance the untruth was never really about you. Lying is ultimately a selfish act, even if we are trying to not hurt the person we are deceiving it is not really about sparing them the pain but rather about saving ourselves from seeing someone else hurt due to our words and actions. Lying is, in my opinion, one of the worst non-criminal acts you can commit and only causes you undue stress and others confusion, upset, and anguish in the long term even if appears to do the opposite in the short term. Yet, it is also an innate reaction fundamental to human nature. It is wrong, it is cruel, and it is unnecessary but it is also a sad reality of modern times. So, all that we can really do is be honest and hope that others reciprocate, make our needs and expectations clear to those around us, and remove people from our lives who do not assent with our moral scruples.