Why do people lie? I don’t mean little fibs like: “No, of course I didn’t accidently pee in your beef stew”, or “Yes, I don’t think your fat”; sometimes a little fibbing goes a long way. I’m referring to the more groundbreaking lies, the ones that shock you and re-consider relationships. Why on earth do people do it? And how do we stop ourselves?
In any relationship (friendship, marriage, sexual, etc.), trust mediates and connects both parties to one another. It acts as a catalyst to virtually all the elements and variables of our relationships – but with such a predominant characteristic, the bastardization of such a thing can break down even the strongest of connections. I for one don’t assume this description is unheard of – and yet, such an abomination exists so freely and unchallenged every day. Why still, is it then so saturated within our relationships? Do we suffer from stupidity or sadism – or dare I say, both?
My first assumption about why we lie has to do with cowardice. It’s common for someone, when they feel backed into a corner, to take the easy way out; the gears of one’s flight mechanism begin turning and the result is misinformation. Once the first lie takes root (and here’s the important thing: it was successful), then the often fallacious concept of the snowball characteristic takes hold, but this time, it’s accurate. If the first lie was successful and no one was hurt (yet), then what stops that person from doing it again, and again, and again, until the only remnants of a relationship are the photos from an album on Facebook? And as everyone knows, like the probability rating on birth control, people will more often than not, find out you were lying.
Imagine, for a moment, if that first instance when the desire to lie sprang into your head, was put to rest by honesty? That honesty might result in a painful moment, but the pain of finding out that lies were being spread the entire time is even more painful (no one likes pulling the band-aid off slowly—it makes the pain more excruciating over a longer period of time).
Regardless of the topic, a person might lie to simply save the other person from pain, which kind of sounds depressingly noble in a way. But you’d think that if a person really cared, they’d recognize that this is, unfortunately, a lie within its own right. Even if you want to be spared the pain in that moment, think of it like this: your honesty is respectable; if your friend or partner is hurt by the truth, at least your trust can remain intact – and what better way to rebuild a relationship than with a clean slate and a forgiving attitude.