I’m not sure why but I’ve been thinking a lot about lying lately. I’m wondering if we all lie. I know there are different kinds of lies. I guess I’m in the “white lies” as to not hurt someones feelings camp. The kind of lie that you don’t want to tell Aunt Ruth her new dress is ugly. It doesn’t really serve a purpose to say it’s ugly. Right???
I am a terrible liar though. I really can’t do it. I talk to fast, I feel like my face is getting red and I have a hard time because I feel like something is almost out of the bag and so I get very nervous. My oldest son is really good at lying and as a child, he could look me right in the face and lie and I believed him. My youngest on the other hand, I feel is like I am and he gets a funny look if he lies. He can’t do it either. If I’m not seeing the person, on the phone or something, it’s easier for me to lie but face to face, I just can’t.
I’m wondering though about some kinds of people and why they lie about the things they do. I was sitting one day with a friend and we were watching a golf tournament. The phone rang and she answered and I only heard her end of the conversation but I could tell the general, “what are you doing” kind of thing. She said “watching a movie.” Then I heard her say “Funny Girl” and I thought to myself, “what the hell!” She hung up and I asked her why she lied and she said the movie sounded better. What??? I still think of that often and still wonder, why would you lie about what you were watching?? Who cares?
So this is my question to you dear readers today. Do you lie and why? Do you feel white lies are okay? Just under what circumstances do you feel lying is okay?????
Well, now, I’d be lying if I said I “never” lie. But it is very much against my principles. There have been only a few times in my adult life when I’ve felt afraid of another person’s reaction enough to lie.
Honesty is an important part of who I am, so I have given this matter a lot of thought. I feel that I should always be able to stand up for what I did. Meaning, if it was a mistake, I am big enough to admit it and take the consequences; and if it’s just something someone else won’t agree with, I’m brave enough to stand up for my beliefs. If it’s a matter of me not measuring up, oh well, that’s me – take me as I am or carry on. Just saying something is true can’t make it true, so we may as well focus on the reality.
One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain: “when in doubt, tell the truth; it will astound your friends and confound your enemies.” So far, I haven’t regretted any missed opportunities to lie.
There is truth and there is politeness. It takes some maturity to always say something both kind and honest. A dying art, I fear.
Then again, there is truth and there is rationalization. I admit to some of that. I may say something that is techically true, but isn’t the “whole truth.” Like, if I’m late to a social event, I might say “there was an accident on the freeway” even if the accident wasn’t the only reason I was late. I would say that’s not the same as lying, as long as I’m not misleading or hurting anyone. But I don’t feel great about doing it – it’s not totally honest.
I have friends who think I’m a freak for being so hard-nosed about telling the truth. They say: no harm, no foul. Watching them, I can’t imagine how they remember which lie they told to which person. Personally, I don’t think I’d have the skills to be a “good liar” anyway, so it’s really a no-brainer for me.
I try really hard not to lie. I have a lot of friends who will take me shopping with them just because if I don’t like something, I’ll tell them. If I don’t care for a hairstyle or outfit, I just say it’s not what I would have gotten but we’re all different.
I find if I tell one lie, I have to keep remembering that I told that lie and it’s so hard. I can’t keep things straight so I pretty much always try to tell the truth.
I’m also very afraid of “jinx’s.” I have co-workers who call in sick and say “my grandma’s sick.” I would feel if I said that, my grandma would get sick and then I’d feel guilty.
The only time I will lie for sure is when someone calls and asks for me and I know it’s someone trying to get money out of me, I say I’m not home!!!
Oh, and I’m one of those pesky people who remember what I’ve been told before, in great detail. I’m constantly catching other people in lies. Maybe that’s why I have no confidence that I could successfully maintain my own portfolio of lies.
I read your comment SKL and sat here and thought WOW!!! I catch people in lies too. How come I can remember their lies but not my own????
Do you notice who lies more to you, men or women? I have noticed men (in my life) tend to “make up excuses” for things instead of saying “I forgot.” So that’s a lie right???
Do you think a lie’s a lie? If your mom got a brand new haircut and she really liked it, would you tell her you didn’t just because you won’t lie? It’s not really a serious lie. Do you think that’s the same as what Ali talked about like lying that your grandma is sick and you couldn’t go to work??
As far as telling people what I “really” think about their fashion choices – that depends on a lot of things. Is it too late to do anything about it? Do they really want my honest opinion, or do they need reassurance? How did they act the last time I told the “truth”? How much do I care how this person looks in public?
I wouldn’t “lie,” but there are honest ways to make a person feel good (or at least not horrible) even if I personally wouldn’t have made the choice they made. It took some time for me to develop this skill. I might say something like “that is a good color for you,” “are you going to [do this or that adjustment / enhancement],” “my friend has one like that and she loves it,” etc. If really pressed by someone who could be hurt by my personal opinion, I might say “well, it’s not what I would choose, but it’s just your style” or “I’m not sure that’s your color, do they have any other colors” or something like that. If it’s someone who really wants my opinion and can take it, I will be brutally honest, as in “that makes you look twice as fat as you actually are.” But actually I can only think of one friend who would appreciate such a comment. Generally people don’t want to know what I think, and I certainly don’t feel dishonest keeping it to myself in those cases.
To your direct question, no way would I say, “Mom, that haircut sucks.” If it was horrific, I’d still try to say something positive or take a positive tone when saying “oh, you had your hair done.” (Then quickly change the subject.) Aside from not wanting to hurt, I remind myself that it could be “me” who has lousy tastes, so “my” dislike for a particular style doesn’t mean it actually sucks. And my mom isn’t the type to do anything really crazy, so I’m safe there. (Yeah, that’s a cop-out.)
Actually, if you saw how I look, you’d know why very few people put any stock in my fashion sense anyhow. I am extremely low-maintenance (read: cheap and lazy) and have permanently bad hair.
As far as whether men or women lie more . . . I am not sure. My gut tells me men do, but it’s hard to say, because who knows how many “really good liars” of each gender are out there?
Each of the men I’ve seriously dated have lied to or misled me about many if not most important things (like, are you dating anyone else?). Most of my employers (male) lied and cheated me without batting an eyelash. On the other hand, a former female business partner would cook up lies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner whenever she thought it would benefit her. I caught my mom in a white lie or two, but never caught my dad in one. I have one SIL and one BIL, one sister and one brother who are known for their tendency to “embellish.” So, I’m not sure if it’s gender based. Maybe I just feel like it is because most of the people with the power to hurt me with lies have been men. Or maybe my female friends were quicker at figuring out I could smell a lie from a mile away. Or were less interested in cheating me.
I think it’s sad that there are some situations where outright lying is considered totally acceptable. Politics comes to mind. You know that some percentage of what each candidate says is a lie; you just can’t tell which part – unless you’re like me and have an elephant’s memory for what the person has said and done in the past, and for the historical “facts” they are twisting. Either way, if they are all liars, none of them can earn my total respect. Someday I wish someone would.
Oh, Joy, rereading your recent comment just made me think of something about memory.
Why is it that we can remember who told us what, but can’t remember equally well what we told to whom?
How much of what you “say” do you remember, versus what you “hear”? Is our memory cache for “things I said” a lot smaller, or does it get flushed out as we continue to talk? Is it because I’m “all about me” or too nervous to really think when my jaw is flapping? Does the talking part of our brain lack an efficient path to the memory banks, while the listening part has a well-developed one? Why, and is there anything we can do about it? Does it matter? Ugh. This is what my brain does to me all day long.
I’m the oldest son and it’s true. I’ve still got it. I just don’t want to hurt some peoples feelings. Other than that, it’s my way of not doing stuff I don’t want to do.
What a great question! Why do people lie? I guess I understand the little white lie as to not hurt someones feelings but some lie for absolutely no reason. My son can be a little manipulator : )
He says if you state everything as an opinion, then it’s not a lie!
They say if you suspect someone is lying and they give you a very detailed answer the more likely it is a lie. Also there is obvious body language. For example looking away…my son knows this so he always looks me squarely in the eyes…then I know he’s fibbing : )
I personally don’t feel this is a man/woman thing. I think we all tell lies of one kind or another. It’s been my experience that men make up excuses and women tend to exaggerate things. I can ask my husband to pick something up on the way home and he’ll forget and tell me I didn’t remind him. I asked him that morning so when am I supposed to remind him? Why can’t he say he forgot? I wouldn’t get irritated with that, we all forget but he feels the need to make something up.
That’s an interesting thought SKL. I do feel when my mouth gets flapping, it’s nervousness. IF I’ve told a lie and I’m with people who “are in on the lie” and the people that “we’ve lied to.” For example: recently I lied to avoid doing something and the person I didn’t want to do something with was there and the person I said I had to do something with, was there so I was nervous that something was going to get said to contradict me. I hate it and don’t know why at 50 years old, I can’t just say “I don’t feel like doing—–.”
Given that said, I couldn’t possibly lie about anything that was important or ongoing. It would be to hard for me to keep it together.
Christine, sometimes body language is KEY. With my youngest son, he’d get this grin and look down towards his feet. Only for a second mind you but I KNEW. Had I not been looking at him, I may have believed him.
But my oldest, completely different story. Not only could he look me IN THE EYE and lie, he could make up a novel on the lie and never miss a beat. I could NOT tell when he was lying to me (I can tell now though Jason, just so you know???) I found when he was young, the little lies weren’t as bad as when he got older and was driving and not actually with me, then I did worry because I never really knew if where he said he was going, he really was there.
Heh heh, I remember when I was a kid (under 10) with my three like-age siblings and we’d be on our way home from someplace we shouldn’t have been or past our curfew, and my oldest brother would say “OK, let’s get our story straight” and we’d vet all the possible ways that our parents might find holes in our story and what each of our answers would be. And my youngest sister was instructed to simply keep quiet, because it was too obvious when she lied. Her lower lip would jut out like anything. Mom and Dad, were you on to us?
Years later, when reminescing in front of our parents, my mom would sigh like people do after avoiding a major accident, and say “I’m so glad I didn’t know that at the time.” So I guess, no harm, no foul?
Of course, that was before I converted my brutally honest self.
My cousin lies to her partner in the same way that you noticed that your girlfriend did. I have questioned her about this. Her response was “He doesn’t need to know my business”. I thought this was odd since it was general questions about where we had lunch etc. What we did with our day.
Personally, I don’t get it… but hey it must work for her.
I have found in my own life that lies just lead to more lies. Then you have to keep track of them. It puts you into a constant state of imbalance. Is it really worth it?
Now when asked if someone dear’s dress is nice… I reply with something like.. Its sooo you! Or, that is such an interesting color. I would have never chosen it for myself. Still the truth, no lies. Then I don’t hurt them, or me.
Sometimes, if it is someone that I know deeply, then I just come out and say… hey… that really doesn’t flatter you. I would rather see you in X.. because you have such beautiful (insert compliment or outstanding feature here) and I really think you should show that off more. This way too they aren’t so offended. I compliment them while trying to help their choices.