Do you believe that lying is a choice and not a mistake? A healthy relationship is built on the foundation of love, trust, and respect. When you lie to your partner, you drift away from all three of these key cornerstones of a wholesome partnership. In case you are struggling to decipher how to stop lying in a relationship, you should know you are not alone in this. According to the findings of a deception study, people lie to their romantic partners 5 times a week.
None of us can claim to be completely transparent with our partners. We all have our fair share of white lies, told to maintain peace and avoid uncomfortable conversations. But it’s important to draw that line between an impromptu prosocial lie and a series of carefully fabricated lies and make it a way of life. If you make a habit of it, there is a good chance that you will be left lamenting, “I lied and ruined my relationship.”
Studies claim that the lesser you lie, the better your chances of improving mental and physical health. The negative effects of lying begin to take a toll not just on the person being lied to but also on the perpetrator of these lies. When that happens, you may be left looking for an escape from the weight of your own guilty conscience.
Do you often wonder how to deal with lying in a relationship or how to fix a relationship after lying? And, most importantly, how to stop lying? Then, you are just at the right place. We will walk you through five practical ways to help you stop lying to your partner. Stay tuned to discover the secret to building a better, happier future with your significant other.
Effects Of Lying In A Relationship
We have heard the ‘honesty is the best policy’ adage enough to know that nothing rewarding comes out of lying. When you lie in your intimate relationships, there ought to be repercussions. Depending on the magnitude of the lie, these can range anywhere from a nasty argument to deep-seated trust issues in the relationship.
The tricky thing about lies is that they unravel at the most unexpected moments. Even if they don’t, the negative effects of lying can still take a toll on your relationship as the person who hasn’t been honest may find it hard to connect with their partner in true earnestness or be their true self in the relationship. That’s probably why, often after lying, most people grapple with, “How do I stop lying to my wife/husband/partner?”
Figuring out ways to stop lying or how to tell the truth after lying for so long can be hard. Perhaps understanding some common effects of lying in a relationship will give you a reality check:
1. Breaking the trust
One of the negative effects of lying is the erosion of trust. When you lie, you put at stake your authenticity and dignity. And in the process, you run the risk of single-handedly ruining the truthful bond with your partner. Believe us, trust is not overrated. Once shattered, it’s difficult to glue the pieces back and undo the damage caused to your relationship.
Relationships without trust are akin to a body without a beating heart – lifeless and untenable. You may go on pretending that all is well in your romantic paradise but the web of lies you’ve spun is bound to consume your bond whole at some point. When it does, reinstating trust and rebuilding the relationship from the ground up can be an arduous, long drawn-out process that most couples do not have the strength to see through to the end.
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2. Hurting your significant other
Whether you’re lying out of fear or a compulsive habit, you are hurting your significant other with every lie you tell. Sometimes you may not even be able to fathom the gravity of the wound your lies may cause. What seems like a harmless lie to you may turn out to be a deal-breaker to your partner.
Even if you get away with lying at the moment, there is no certainty that it won’t come back to haunt you. For instance, you may cheat on your partner and get away with infidelity for the time being, but when the truth sees light, it will scar you for life and wreck your relationship.
3. Evident disrespect for your partner
Lying is a choice and every time you make that choice you’re essentially displaying a blatant disregard for your partner’s feelings. That indicates a lack of respect in a relationship. If your partner uncovers your lies and deceit, the hurt it causes them may likely cost you your relationship. This is one of the negative effects of lying that you need to be mindful of, especially if you value your partner and have, for some reason, led yourself to believe that lying to them is a way of protecting them from hurt and pain.
Yes, the truth can be hurtful. But transparency and mutual respect between two partners are non-negotiable. Without these, what is the worth of a partner in a relationship? Once you look at your lack of truthfulness from this prism, you will work harder to discover how to stop lying in a relationship.
4. The weight of guilt and stress
Guilt, shame, unworthiness, stress – it all goes hand in hand with a lie. Let’s face it, we are humans after all. Conscience, morals, and ethics are very much alive in our subconscious. The constant guilt trips are undeniably one of the most adverse effects of lying in a relationship. It will eat you up inside and alter your behavior around the person you’re deceiving.
The emotional baggage stemming from a guilty conscience may turn you into an emotionally distant person. This can, in turn, have two effects – one, your partner will smell a rat and call you out, exposing your dishonesty; second, they may construe it as your lack of interest in them and the relationship and take a step back. Either way, there is a very real chance that you will be left wondering, “I lied and ruined my relationship. What do I do now?”
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5. Lies provoke more lies
Do you remember Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory weaving a full-fledged storyline to get away with one lie? His roommate Leonard lied to their neighbor Penny about attending a symposium on molecular positronium to avoid her showcase. But Sheldon planned an imaginary drug intervention for his non-existent cousin Leopold because he thought Leonard’s lie was “laughably transparent”.
While hyperbolic, the story does drive home the “lies beget lies” reality. If you lie to your partner to cover up your tracks once, there is a good chance that you will have to resort to more lies to cover it up. One day, you will find yourself in a web of dishonesty and hypocrisy if you don’t figure out how to stop lying right away. If and when the truth comes to light, your partner may end up feeling as if your entire relationship was a lie.
Understand Why You Lie To Your Partner
Lying to a partner to wriggle out of an uncomfortable situation or a potential confrontation can seem like the easier choice in the spur of the moment, however, the weight of your dishonesty will catch up with you sooner or later. And when it does, you will wonder how to stop lying in a relationship.
Finding a way out of that internal struggle can become a whole lot easier if you have some understanding of why you lie to your partner. The reasons can vary from underlying emotional issues or unresolved trauma of the past to being in a toxic relationship where lying has become your go-to defense mechanism.
So whether you’re wondering how to stop lying compulsively or lying out of fear, a close examination of the triggers can be the first step toward healing. Here are some of the possible reasons why you lie to your partner:
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1. Lying out of fear of disappointing or upsetting your partner
If you’ve taken to lying out of fear because you cannot handle your partner’s reaction if they’re disappointed or upset with you, these lies may be your way of dealing with your partner’s anger issues. Perhaps, you’re scared of your partner’s angry outbursts and have started resorting to lying to steer clear of triggering their temper.
If that’s the case, the question you need to ask yourself is not “how to stop lying to your partner” but “why am I in this relationship”. This is clearly an unhealthy relationship dynamic that will do you more harm than good and it may be time you reevaluate your choices.
2. Lying is second nature to you
If the question you’re asking is how to stop lying compulsively, then some introspection and a deep exploration of your childhood experiences and how they may have shaped your adult personality may be in order. It’s possible that you may have grown up in a high-pressure environment around parents and siblings who set exacting standards and got into a habit of lying to avoid the repercussions of not living up to their expectations.
In case lying is a habit that can be traced to your formative years, it may well become second nature to you and perhaps you no longer recognize how often and effortlessly you lie in order to get away with something you suspect someone may disapprove of.
3. Wanting two conflicting things
One of the reasons why you may be lying to your partner is that you have started attaching a lot of importance to something you don’t want to give up but know that your partner will disapprove of. This is the most common reason behind a partner lying about cheating to the other.
If you’re lying to hide an affair, it’s because you’re neither prepared to end your relationship with your primary partner nor the other person. It’s a classic case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. Likewise, if you have any habits that your partner disapproves of – drinking, smoking, gambling, for example – lying to your partner can seem like an easier choice than having to give up one for the other.
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4. You may be lying to protect your partner
Lying does not always mean that the person resorting to it is heartless, cold, and calculating. Often, people lie because they think they’re protecting their loved ones by doing so. When there is a possibility that something you’ve done may hurt your significant other, you may choose to lie about it to “protect” your partner because causing them pain also means dealing with the shame and guilt that stems from it.
Thus “spare their feelings” becomes the perfect justification to sweep the truth under the rug. If you look closely, this is one of the glaring signs of bad communication in a relationship. Besides, no matter where you’re coming from, lying behavior will lead you to the “I lied and ruined my relationship” more often than not.
5. You lie because you can get away with it
As they say, the simplest explanation is often the correct one. That’s exactly the case here. Sometimes, people lie because they get a kick out of knowing that they can get away with it. Lying to someone’s face and not getting caught can give such people a rush, making them come back for more, with total disregard for how being in a relationship with a compulsive liar may affect your partner’s mental health.
Needless to say, such behavior is deeply toxic and unhealthy. If you can relate to it, you need help to work through the issues that may be triggering this behavior pattern. It may be a long road to figuring out how to tell the truth after lying for so long but it begins with understanding why lying in your most intimate relationship gives you a kick.
How To Stop Lying In A Relationship?
Still reading? That suggests you are aware of your habitual lies and ready to put an end to them. Congratulations! Recognizing the problem is a huge step in the right direction. You are willing to fix your strained relationship and build a strong foundation based on honesty and truth.
But old habits die hard, right? You cannot expect to wake up one fine morning and magically smudge off the damage that’s been done. Smith, an artist in his 20s, confesses, “I lied and ruined my relationship. To be honest, I didn’t have to lie in many of these circumstances. But I guess the thrill of getting away with a lie is very intoxicating. Now that I have gone too far and my partner lost faith in me, I don’t know how to tell the truth after lying for so long.”
If you can relate to Smith even a little bit, there must be a million questions rushing through your mind right now. Why do I keep lying to my partner? What are the negative effects of lying? How to stop lying in a relationship? Well, to answer in short, you have to accept that the growth is supposed to be organic.
Instead of focusing on the colossal impact of your actions or being bogged down by daunting questions like how to tell the truth after lying for so long, commit to changing your patterns, one day at a time. Simultaneously, gather the courage to face both the positives and negatives that come along your way. Here are five tips to help you in your journey of figuring out how to stop lying in a relationship:
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1. How to stop lying in a relationship? Trace the root
To solve something, you have to first get to the root of it. Try to analyze the frequency, the circumstances, and the people around you who act as a catalyst. Watch closely when you are on the verge of another lapse. Are you ashamed to admit the truth? Do you get a kick out of getting away with your mischievous secret?
Do you believe you are protecting your partner from a major breakdown by hiding the real facts? And most importantly, is it necessary to lie? Is it at all justifiable? A research paper by Bella DePaulo, one of the world’s leading experts in the psychology of deception, records 5 categories of lies: (1) Their feelings and opinions, (2) Their actions, plans, and whereabouts, (3) Their knowledge, achievements, and failings, (4) Explanations for their behaviors, and (5) Facts and personal possessions.
Once you identify the triggers, you can mold your narrative into a more honest and acceptable one. For instance, a wife making more money than her husband can become a classic trigger for marital discord. That doesn’t mean you have to tiptoe around your husband about a big fat job offer. Communicate honestly and openly. Make him see how you can make both your lives more secure and convenient by accepting a better-paying job. If you are not sure how to stop lying, why don’t you begin this journey by giving the truth a fair shot?
2. Do not hesitate to say no
“Yes honey, I absolutely love this vase”, “I would love to go shopping with you and Rachel”, “You were right! This vegan cheese is delicious.” Did you really like that vase or was it too tacky for your taste? Did you want to spend your Saturday night holding a purse in the store? Was going vegan your choice or agreeing with your partner seemed a lot easier than admitting you enjoy dairy and meat?
There are times when uttering a small lie seems more convenient for the sake of harmony and peace rather than confessing the truth. Slowly, one lie adds to another. And before you know it, you are tucked under a pile of lies, wondering, “How do I stop lying to my wife or my husband?”, but there is no going back. All you may have left is the “I lied and ruined my relationship” lament.
This is how things go south, my friend! These compromises in a relationship may not look like a big deal at the moment but if you keep using lies as a crutch to avoid confrontations over small matters, ten years into the marriage or relationship, you will find it difficult to recognize yourself. Well, then how to stop lying in a relationship? You have to voice your preferences equally. No, it will not hurt your partner if you rationalize your argument and do not belittle their opinions.
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3. Learn to deal with the consequences
Candor may bring out unpleasant reactions. If you do want to know how to stop lying to your partner, you have to understand it will always not be a smooth sail. There are possibilities of shouting, crying, and breaking things, depending on the intensity of your truth. Worse, you may lose your partner in the process.
Lisa, one of our readers from Seattle, shares her story, “I was cheating in a long-distance relationship. My partner lived in a different state and we hardly met. After I fell for a coworker and started dating, I didn’t have the guts to come clean to them. The day my partner decided to move back to Seattle, the prospect of us living together sent a shiver down my spine. I kept wondering, how to tell the truth after lying for so long?”
Trust us, Lisa, coming clean to both the men you’re dating is a wiser choice as opposed to living a double life. Yes, the odds are stacked against you, and either one or both men in your life might flip and walk out that door. It may also happen that a soothing candle-light dinner would be enough to toss over the negativity and move on with the partner you truly want to be with. You have to be mentally prepared to face whatever comes and deal with it like a mature adult. Life has a tinge of both bitter and sweet, doesn’t it?
4. Quit justifying a lie
Although it’s apples and oranges, I can’t resist dragging in Joe Goldberg from You. He had the delusional idea that it is up to him to protect the girl he is obsessed with. He was convinced that every eerie thing he did, including killing the girls, was a favor to them. I am not comparing lying to serial killing here but the perception of self-justification is quite similar in both situations.
Your altruistic lies are not safeguarding your partner from reality, but simply manipulating their feelings and emotions. Be compassionate enough to think from your partner’s point of view. How would you feel if you were the victim of constant lying in a relationship? Won’t you have chosen the truth over manipulation? Perhaps you don’t realize the negative effects of lying just yet. Once your partner does, they may not want to share an intimate bond with a compulsive liar and it will invite more bad news for the relationship.
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5. Confess and communicate
Finally, it’s time for a clean slate. If you want a genuine relationship and solve the how to stop lying conundrum, lay all your secrets on the table. There are no easy answers to questions like how to tell the truth after lying for so long. You’ve just got to rip the bandaid and deal with the pain that follows – and pain will follow, you cannot wish it away.
If you genuinely want to know how to stop lying in a relationship, start by being more truthful. This means not only breaking free from the pattern of lying but also coming clean about the lies you’ve told in the past. Tell them your side of the story, and why you did what you did. Apologize sincerely for the hurt you’ve caused your partner. Value your partner’s response and offer them space and time to deal with the facts.
There is no one right answer to how to stop lying in a relationship. On your part, you could be patient and explain your thought process. Make them realize how you are putting your relationship first and making an honest effort. We wish you a happily-ever-after!
How to Get Back to the Truth after lying in a relationship
My cousin James called me up last week and asked, “Why do I keep lying to my partner? I think this time I lied and ruined my relationship. They won’t trust me ever again.” Let me share with you the same suggestions I gave James, a few pearls of wisdom to help you get back to the truth after a string of lies.
So, how to stop lying compulsively? First things first, let it all out of your chest before your partner gets a chance to catch your lies. Otherwise, the consequences might be fatal. But for James, it was too late. Because his partner was already aware of his deceit, I suggested he not utter one more word that is not the truth. He also earnestly tried out some activities to rebuild trust and these were of great help to reconnect with his partner.
When you are making a case for yourself, remember that you have to own up to your actions if you are willing to keep this relationship alive. So, your narrative should be in ‘I’ statements rather than dragging your partner to be a reason behind these lies. For instance, you should say, “I lied about getting that job because I was embarrassed to accept my failure” instead of, “I lied about getting that job because you would have been disappointed if I said the interview didn’t go well.”
It will be a long state of affairs for your partner to accept the deception and decide if they want to stay in this relationship or not. Meanwhile, you could do everything in your power to come out as a reliable partner – show up when you make a promise and stay away from committing to empty promises that you can’t keep.
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Dealing With Lying In A Relationship
When we say honesty and transparency in a relationship are paramount, we’re not saying that you share every thought you have with your partner. Personal space should be respected. But the importance of improving communication in relationships can’t be stressed enough. The effects of lying in a relationship could be long-lasting. Couples therapy is a good option in case you are wondering how to fix a relationship after lying.
Sometimes the triggers behind your tendency to lie may be hard to identify on your own. For instance, mythomania or pathological lying is a compulsive behavior where it’s hard to control lying. There are multiple theories to trace the reasons for such disorders including childhood abuse, low self-esteem, depression, and genetic issues.
If you find yourself lying for no apparent reason or motive and wondering how to stop lying compulsively, it can be helpful to talk to a professional. If you’re looking for help, skilled and licensed counselors on Bonobology’s panel of experts are here for you.
So, we hope this article threw some light on how to stop lying in a relationship. It’s not a walk in the park to deal with lying in a relationship. In case you are having a hard time figuring out how to stop lying, don’t shy out from getting the necessary help even if it’s from the people in your life. Whatever the consequences, you will emerge stronger on the other side, experienced and wise.
Strong bonding between two partners can survive a little white lie here and there as long as they are harmless. Covering up for forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning is acceptable. But it’s advisable not to stretch the truth to hide an affair in the name of an office party. Truth somehow manages to be unveiled and you will not like the grim aftermath once it does.
Constant lying will make your partner suspicious of your every move. And honestly, can you blame them? They will try to find falsity in your truths. It will be difficult for them to ever trust you completely. Your intimacy with your partner, both mental and physical, will be affected. If you want to keep this lying game on, you will always have to stay on your toes. Chances of getting caught are high because remembering every made-up story you have shared is no joke. Think about it, is it worth putting all the effort into?
It depends on a lot of factors and varies from person to person because our narratives and perspectives are unique. The short answer is if the lie causes your partner pain, hurts their self-respect, and tampers their self-image, it’s not forgivable. At least, it should not be. But factors like financial independence, societal pressure, family issues, and a child’s future play major roles in a relationship. Not to mention, love and affection can lead people to forgive their partners even after a major setback.
No, lying is not necessarily cheating. But it is cheating if your partner is lying about an affair. Using you for financial benefits or secrecy over financial matters borders on cheating as well. White lies are harmless as long as they are not very frequent and don’t bug your mental peace.
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