If you are truthful in a relationship, nothing hurts more than hearing a lie from your partner; sometimes knowing the truth may hurt even more, yet still, in the longer run, a lie causes more damage than the truth. You may want to read – The Secret of Healthy Relationships.
Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Lying is not as simple as telling the truth versus falsifying it. It is deeper than that. It is not always about distortion or nondisclosure of facts, it may well be about creating a whole new set of truths that only the liar knows of. Today, I reflect on an interesting topic: why do people lie?
The story of a lie
It appears some lie for no reason at all, while many lie with great reasoning, some lie for a cause, and many build a cause to lie. It is not always about the flip side of the truth. Sometimes, a lie stands on its own two feet. Upon deep examination, you will find that lying is a complex act, a complicated aspect of one’s personality, it is more than a habit, almost a natural human trait.
Here are the three primary causes of telling lies, they are not mutually exclusive:
1. To hide information
Anything or any relationship that can be labeled comes with a set of expectations. Whether you are a teacher, student, husband, wife, CEO, manager, son, daughter, friend, and so forth, anyone at all, living in society, you are expected to behave in a certain manner. When you traverse the boundaries, you are suddenly out there in the open, unprotected and vulnerable. You have to protect yourself now, you have to safeguard the expectations and save your relationship.
If you hide information, and if no one gets to know you crossed the line, if you are perceived to be within the bounds, treading only the thoroughfare, you continue to be a functional artifact of the social apparatus. It leads to a temporary sense of peace, a sense of matching, of fitting in with society.
You just bought yourself time, you did not have to put up with the arguments that might have taken place had you shared the truth. You did not have to hurt the sentiments or trust of the other person by covering up your truth. This is the foremost cause of lying.
People lie because they want to avoid confrontation and conflict.
Lying becomes the easier route.
2. A matter of habit
Often while pursuing the first one, that is, hiding information, one gets into the habit of lying. When you repeatedly do the same thing over and over again, it becomes your habit. Perfection, carelessness, a lack of detail or attention to detail etcetera are all habits, as are telling the truth and lying.
The habit of lying is formed, like many other habits, right from childhood. Why? It must trace back to certain incidents during the early years or the atmosphere at home where speaking the truth mostly ended up in an unpleasant conflict and undue scolding.
When parents start to behave like kids too, it gives their children a strong reason to lie. By lying, they feel safe. However, this becomes their habit, their coping mechanism, their strategy to put up with all undesirable situations later on in their own lives. Unfortunate. It is incredibly hard to break the habit of lying.
Like many other habits of smoking, drinking, punctuality, and so on, children also pick up lying from their parents, other elders, and peers. If you lie frequently, do not be harsh on your children expecting them to tell the truth. They will not follow what you tell them to do, they will follow what you do yourself. In other words, they do not learn from your instructions but your actions. If this is how they see you living, it is but natural that they will follow suit.
When lying becomes a habit, it leads to one of the two outcomes, and both are not mutually exclusive: the liar becomes fidgety with a wavering mind, or, they become aggressive with a depressed mind. Constant lying puts a tremendous burden on them to remember, to protect information, to bear the load of false information, and to live a false identity.
Over time, impatience, aggression, withdrawal, artificiality, depression, self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and the rest find a permanent home in the mind of a liar.
3. To gain attention
This third reason comes with a powerful revelation. It can help one gain attention, respect, and power. When someone lies to you about an incident where he was the only witness, he now has access to information that no one else does. He has just created a new truth. Exclusive information naturally leads to greater power and more attention.
It was not just greed that triggered the greatest corporate scandals in the world, it was also about an inherent, innate, and obtuse sense of gaining more power and control.
I remember reading stories of a certain hunter during my childhood. This hunter would come to the village and make up stories about how he gallantly killed a lion with his fists alone, or courageously wasted a bear with just a small knife, and so forth. All the villagers would gather around him to listen to his fascinating, if not fantastical, accounts of valor and bravery. He got attention and respect. If this formula works for the liar, he continues to lie for eternity.
There are some who live a life of lies, there are many who justify their lies, it is even possible for some to protect their lies, however, it comes at the cost of their inner peace. They may not lose relationships or respect, they will, sooner or later, be robbed of their inner peace, however.
So, if you want your partner, your child, or your friend to tell you the truth, if that is important to you, you had better encourage an atmosphere conducive to truth. If you are going to pounce upon hearing a confession, that may well be the last time you will ever hear a truthful version.
It is for this reason, forgiveness is considered a divine virtue. Because by forgiving not only are you strengthening yourself and your relationship but also making a difference to the life of the other person and subsequent generations.
Next time you feel like reacting to someone’s lie, just take a moment and look within you. A realization may dawn and you may find it easy to forgive the other person.
On the other hand, if you are the one telling lies, just remember the price is paid in peace and bliss. Truth is bold by nature, and lies, arrogant. The former instills courage, the latter, fear. Truth stems from inner strength, and lies, from the inability to gain such strength.
Discover your own truth; it will set you free.
Open your mouth.
The classic nursery rhyme on lies.
Liar, liar, pants on fire!
The classic idiom on lies.
Why do people lie even when it breaks their loved ones’ hearts? Why do people lie even when it causes their lives to fall apart?
Why do people lie even though they know sugar is bad for them?
Have you ever been called a big fat liar? Perhaps. We’ve all been there – lying even when we don’t mean to. It just slips out.
What else, apart from what you’ve read above, propels this world of lies that people create? We create a web around ourselves so tangled that we become people who believe their own lies.
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The following FAQs plunge into the deep dark world of lies and offer a way out, into the light where truth alone triumphs.
Eventually, the only existence is truth.
1. Why do people lie in relationships?
Have you ever been cheated on? Cheating is one of the worst kinds of lying.
Why do people, especially men, cheat in a relationship? Cheating is an abuse of trust, it means you have been taken for granted, for a ride. Like many other artifacts of one’s personality, cheating is a habit too. It is a conscious act.
You can be the best partner in the world, you may be most caring, giving, loving, and faithful, that still does not guarantee any loyalty from the other side.
There is never a reason for cheating, only an excuse. So, here are the top three:
- Opportunity overrides obligation
- Lust defeats love
- Habits die hard
The ones who can lie comfortably can cheat easily too.
Find out more about Why People Cheat so that you know what to do if you’ve ever been cheated on.
2. How do I get over a lying partner?
Forgive those who have wronged you. If they haven’t admitted that they hurt you, speak to them gently or write to them and let them know that their actions hurt you but that you forgive them. You will be filled with light.
If you keep putting it off, the anger and hate will continue to build up in your inner world. Life becomes unbearable then.
You owe it to yourself. Allow your scarred soul to heal. Let the mind calm down. Don’t let the past keep scraping your wounds.
Redeem yourself, my friend. It’s a very short life. This is your chance to live it.
Don’t let anything or anyone come in the way of your emancipation. Forgive, forgive, forgive, especially people who believe their own lies. They need it the most.
3. Why is the truth better than a lie?
Living in our world, where thorns of lies seem to flourish while flowers of truth wither away, it’s a common dilemma.
Five years ago, at the dawn of 2011, I vowed that I would only speak the truth. It hasn’t been easy. No, not because I wish to hide anything from you. It’s been challenging because the truth is not always comforting for the listener.
Perhaps, it is the reason why people lie all the time. It’s so easy to please the other person with a lie. Even as a child, you are reprimanded and pulled up for telling the truth but you tell a lie and you can avoid stress and conflict (at least for a short while).
Having said that, it’s a no-brainer that a liar can’t be at peace.
Of all the things I’ve ever tried in my life, nothing has been more rewarding than leading a truthful life. Where all else fails, truth works. When nothing helps, truth does.
Truth is the only long-term anchor of a good life. It redeems you.
In fact, The Path of Truth is the only path to salvation. For, truth is liberation. It is the only end. The rest are merely the means.
4. Is it okay to lie sometimes?
Is it wrong to lie?
The first answer of most people is, yes, of course, it is wrong. Give them a moment or two and many say, well, it depends. Some say it’s okay to lie if it saves someone’s life and all. Even those who declare it prophetically that one must never lie find themselves lying all the time.
The troubling thing about lying is that big or small, a lie forever remains a lie. The consequences may vary but the effect is the same. That is, through our lies we made the other person believe something that was not true. We knew it was not true but we chose to keep them in the dark.
The only saving grace is that every lie gets caught eventually. Sooner or later. It doesn’t matter how fast a lie travels, truth always catches up. A.l.w.a.y.s.
Lies = Manipulation. And there are no two ways about it.
5. What is the price of a lie?
It’s hard to figure out why people lie when we are on the receiving end. At that moment, the hurt and betrayal are too much for logic to play a role.
There is, however, a price to pay for every lie. Nobody is above the law of karma, not even if you’ve been instructed to lie by God.
There is a price for every lie.
- 0:08: Yudhishthira and Ashwatthama
- 2:24: A lie is of three types
- 3:47: Krishna’s Wisdom
- 8:38: The Pandavas in Hell