The Whole Truth - Is It Ever OK to Lie to Your Partner?

The Whole TruthAsk anyone if it's better to tell the truth than lie and they'll inevitably say "Yes!" Ask them if they have ever lied and they'll most likely say "Yes!" But if you ask "Would you lie if you knew it would end a lot of pain and suffering?" they might also say "Yes." The difference is not whether the truth and lie is good or bad. It's about the effect of the truth on the situation.

Dan Ariely wrote a book called "The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves"  and says that we really lie all of the time, mostly to ourselves. We are very capable of deceiving ourselves into believing that we don't tell lies. Because most of us grew up learning that telling the truth is good; telling lies is bad.

You're at the office and it's been a terrible day. Your partner calls and asks when you will be home. You tell them that you have to work a little late today. The truth is you want to stop at your favorite bar on the way home and decompress for an hour.

Are you a bad person for telling a lie? Or are you a compassionate partner who knows that after a little breathing time, you'll be better company when you get home? Telling the truth may have prompted a long conversation on the phone that you didn't really want to have right then.

There is a time and place for the truth. You're in a car accident with your partner, who is seriously injured. You're sitting on the edge of the emergency room gurney with your partner when they ask "Am I going to be OK?" You'll probably say "Yes, you're going to be fine." Right then is not the time to read the laundry list of things wrong then tell them they have a 25 percent chance of living. They need some assurance right then. They need a little lie.

Which brings us to the point where many times, people know they are being lied to. And they know that the lie is the best possible choice at the time. So they tolerate it until it's time to hear the truth. Sometimes a person will say later "I knew I was in bad shape but it was nice to hear from you that I was going to be OK."

Beware of hiding behind truth to use it as a weapon. Your partner calls you at work and asks "Are you having sex with my friend Bob?" It might be the truth, but if you say "Yes, and it's great!", that truth becomes a knife inflicting more pain into the situation. Maybe the truth is not the best thing to use right now. Discussing this "offline" might be the best course of action. Even if you have to tell a little lie to get your partner off of the phone.

The most important thing in a relationship is communication. There are times when telling a lie allows for better communication. If a mess is created because of the lie, then good communication can clean it up later. It's not always black and white, which is hard for people to digest.

When the time comes to make that decision to hold back the truth, ask yourself if it is to help the situation or to hurt it even further. If the intention is to help, then things will be fine with some more communication later. If the truth will just cause more harm, then it will be like throwing gasoline on a fire. Which is something you'll have to decide in that moment.

Just be careful with that gasoline that you don't get yourself burned even worse than your partner.

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