So, you’ve been telling lies and suddenly someone caught you in it. Now don’t you wish you hadn’t started down that path to begin with?

For the sake of clarity, lying is not simply telling an untruth. Lying is telling an untruth, with the foreknowledge that it is not true.

The embarrassment, shame, and horror you feel come (some say) more from the fact that you were caught than that you lied in the first place. I disagree. The pain of being caught in a lie comes from the fact that you’ve lost the trust of the person you lied to and often your reputation with everyone you deal with suffers the same hit.

Granted, that people will grant some slack for a lie to someone in poor health about someone or something they care intensely about, if telling the truth (or not) might be a life or death situation. People are not generally so forgiving in other situations. How can people trust you if you are willing and able to lie to them? Generally, the more senseless the lie, the less trustworthy the liar. Lying when the truth would have served the situation better is the most senseless lie is often committed by pathological or compulsive liars (this is a psychological issue). The type of liar who commits this type of lie is most often a pathological or compulsive liar.

Lies grow and change, getting bigger and harder to remember over time. Liars sometimes do not even realize when their stories have become too fantastic to be believed. Have you ever heard of someone being trusted… to meet an expectation? I would far rather someone have an expectation of me that I am reliable and even a little ruthless in telling the truth, than as a person expected to lie.

For all that, the biggest problem with telling lies is that if you tell a lie often enough, you will no longer recognize it as a lie. Lying to yourself is a deadly dangerous game, which leads to madness. Especially when you are finally caught in the lie and doubly so if someone you care(d) about was hurt because of the lie or as the cause of the lie.

Granted, that some truths cannot be said without some serious repercussions. Example: Honey, does this look good on me? No dear, it doesn’t hide the bulges well enough. (There’s brutally honest and then there is plain stupid.) A far better answer would be: No dear, it just isn’t right for you. The cut is all wrong.

You don’t have to be brutal to tell the truth and the truth does not have to always directly answer the question. It isn’t always a lie to tell someone something nice from a different perspective than the question asked for. It isn’t nice, however, to let poor fat me go on thinking I’m not fat, because it isn’t healthy to be overweight for long periods of time. A better place, time, and approach to the subject can provide a whole different outlook for both parties.  Example: Honey, I love you dearly. You are my beautiful rose and would hate to be parted from you. I am worried for your health (this works better if you can include yourself using “our health”) and I think we need to start walking (running, going to the gym, etc.) and cut a few bad things from our diet.

Anyway, back on topic.

I will admit, people lie. They will lie out of fear, concern for another, to impress someone, for ambition, for personal gain, and for many more reasons (that usually sound good to the individual at the time). I know of no one who has never lied, accidentally or otherwise.

Examples:

Truth by answering a different question –

  • Daughter – Dad, can I go out with some friends?
  • Dad – Are you going to a party? (If the answer is yes, dad’s answer is NO and daughter knows it.)
  • Daughter – (Who knows the definition of a party is generally ‘a social gathering, with eating, drinking, and entertainment,’ but also knows dad won’t object to a small party of her friends.) Dad, it’s just me and (names off invited guests). We’re going to watch a movie at X’s house. There will be no alcohol involved.
  • Recommended  alternate questions for this situation:
    • What are your plans? (If that doesn’t elicit a satisfactory answer.)
      • Where will you be, who will be there, will there be drugs or alcohol (alcohol is a drug, by the way) involved, what is a good alternate contact phone number for someone who will be there, and when do you plan to return?

Lying by Omission (purposely leaving out pertinent facts, that would more honestly answer a question):

  • Same question from dad, but daughter’s answer is: Jana and I are going to watch a movie at her house. (Completely failing to mention that several other or a large number of people are attending and alcohol will be involved.)
    • Why is this still a lie? Because it doesn’t even attempt to address dad’s real concern.

Lying by Commission:

  • Daughter – Dad, can I go out with some friends?
  • Dad – Are you going to a party? (If the answer is yes, dad’s answer is NO and daughter knows it.)
  • Daughter – (Who knows very well that her plans include her dad’s definition of a party.) No Dad, it’s just me and (names off three or four people). We’re going to watch a movie at X’s house. There will be no alcohol involved. (When alcohol is involved and there will be over 100 people have been invited.)

 

Lying by misdirection:

  • A truth: Politicians who tell the truth about their plans in a platform is considered a novelty.
  • A lie: A politician who told a truth on their platform is a reliable breath of fresh air.
    • The misrepresentation: Politicians who tell the truth about their plans in a platform have told the whole truth and can be relied upon to continue to tell the truth.

Lying by truth re-patterning, obfuscation, and/or insinuating a falsehood onto the truth (hiding or obscuring the reality). This is often used in books for plot twists and is often a lie of omission too, but not always. Truth re-patterning without omission is not easy, but quite possible.

  • Truth: John – I saw Jim at the bar last night, talking to Amber.
  • The Lie: The implication that Jim was having relations with Amber, when John knew very well that John only went to the bar to pick up a friend to make sure he got home and only briefly spoke to Amber to find out where his friend was within the bar. Most of this lie is accomplished with body language and tone of voice.

It is better, by far, to never lie at all, than to have to explain or try to excuse a lie. When you cannot answer a truth directly (such as when you have a legal or job-related obligation to not divulge information), I recommend that you answer with the truths you can say, answer a different question, or don’t answer at all.

This is not (in any way) to be taken as permission to take truths and twist them to your whimsy, so that the resultant pattern is a lie or to lie at all. If you make a decision to lie, on your own honor be it.