Dishonesty and Trust

“I often catch John in little ‘white lies.’  His lies are often about stupid things and really amount to nothing, but it really bothers me that he would feel the need to lie to me rather than tell the truth,” writes a woman from Aurora, Colorado.

“He is not an accomplished liar, and eventually the truth always slips out.  As a result of these little lies, I have a hard time trusting things he says to me.  My mind tells me that if he is going to lie about petty stuff, what is going to stop him from lying about important stuff?  We have discussed the issue of ‘trust’ on a few occasions.  Our opinions on the matter seem to vary.  His bottom line is:  if a woman can’t trust him, then she needs to let him go so he can be with a woman who can.  My response to this is:  if you want to be trusted, then you need to be trustworthy.”

“How can a person be trusted when [he] finds it easier to lie about something than to tell the truth about it?  I love this man dearly and don’t want to jeopardize our relationship in any way.  Could you address the effects of lying in a relationship?”

Lying is one way of protecting yourself from getting too close to someone, of creating distance between the two of you, of feeling unlovable and insecure about your partner’s love, of being on guard and putting another person on guard, and of insulating and distancing yourself from the relationship in case things don’t work out.

Dishonesty and deception damages our ability to trust, and trust is a prerequisite for intimacy.  This is about protecting yourself from being intimate, because of your fears of getting hurt.

Your boyfriend may be interpreting you accusing him of lying as an assault on his character and integrity.  His reaction is to defend himself, blame and counterattack, rather than acknowledge that he feels vulnerable around you.  He needs to examine the consequences of his behavior and the fears and vulnerabilities that his protective behaviors are covering up.

He might explore questions that are recommended by Margaret and Jordan Paul in their workbook Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?

  • Some of the fears I have about being in a relationship are . . .
  • Some of the fears I have about being in a relationship with you are . . .
  • Do I fear being seen as inadequate, unacceptable or wrong?
  • Do I believe I am unlovable, unworthy or incompetent?  What do I believe isn’t good enough about me?
  • Are these beliefs causing me pain?  What am I afraid would happen if I let go of these beliefs?
  • How might I let go of such beliefs?

Some people cannot handle very much intimacy.  Nothing will substitute him being willing to honestly look at what fears of his are getting triggered.

In the meantime, you might examine how you could stay open, loving and trusting of him while he is given time to examine his defensive protections and reactions.  You are not expected to trust him regardless of how untrustworthy he may act; that is blind and foolish.

If you catch him in a lie, gently confront the lie.  Then ask him what fears of his are getting triggered in the relationship, where he feels the need to distance or protect himself.

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