For “No More Lies.” The Heartbreak of Lying and Love

“Alison ~

I have had my boyfriend lie to me. I do not know what to do; I’ve even caught him in his lies. I can’t bear to take it anymore.

~ J.”

Dear “No More Lies.”

I don’t have enough demographic information about where you are in the world to know how your life and culture looks at lying – I am going to assume a western hemisphere theory and that you’re part of my sisterhood here on the North American continent somewhere; that you’re somewhere in your late teens to twenties; and, that you’re involved in a potential lifelong type of relationship.  If I am way off base, write me again and I will answer you directly.

First, let’s get one thing clear: your life is about you.  We can’t control what the boyfriend does or the choices that he makes – I can’t presume to know anything about his virtues, his family of origin, or his motives with you.  What I can presume is that you’re in pain today.  For that, I am so sorry and send you a big Alison hug.  You want to know what to do – that answer is already inside of you. You have the power right now to change your life and to be the person that you want to be….with or without him.  You have the choice, the right to be yourself.  That is always a good thing.

So does everyone lie? Here are the basics of lying:

  • There are two types of general deceptions or “lies.”  First, there is a deliberate action that is characterized by explicitly saying things which are not true.  This direct version is the psychological decision on a cognitive level to deceive – for any reason, which includes protecting the recipient from a harsh truth.
  • The second type of fallacy is the indirect deception, often characterized by leaving out critical information (part of the “who, what, where, when, why or how”.)  It is often also a cognitive choice of partial truth, and is historically used in very close proximal relationships or for the furtherance of political/social/workplace gain.
  • At its most base level, lying is psychologically designed to protect the self from harm, and occurs with little awareness or thought.  When people repeat the same lies often, they actually begin to believe what they are saying.

So all of this tells us that lying is part of life…what happens when it’s breaking your heart and your relationship wide apart?  Is lying a good reason to end a love relationship? Can it be fixed or changed?

The best answer is. ..that there is no distinct answer about the potential liar: there is only a distinct answer for you, your happiness and your soul.  At the end of the day the question of staying or leaving comes to how your valuation of life, relationship, family and love play out.  For each person it is different.

* * *

Yesterday was one of those strange days that started out raining, then at noon was beautiful and sunny, then as the evening came the wind blew in temperatures thirty degrees lower than lunchtime.  Taking about love and lying was much like the day as well.  It started with a friend needed to talk about her husband and their fractured, failing relationship in my hometown of Rushville; email from several readers caught in the pain of a relationship in “lying crisis”; then, a therapy session that had the theme of a woman in pain over a divorce.  It was the day to ask……

Why do those that we love lie?

The sad truth is that lying is part of the human social fabric.  Studies show that the average person lies about twice a day, not including things like “Hi, I’m fine, thanks” or “No problem.”  By lying, I am referring to the intentional concept of deception – from infidelity to “I left my assignment/report at home/in my office but will email it to you later today/tonight.”   So, if you’re in a relationship today, you might realize that lying is part of the human condition. That is in part because our work scheduling and environment tend to elicit the lie response ~ it’s easier to allow for people stuck in traffic vs. “I overslept” in the American paradigm of acceptability.  Still, I digress.

Like it or not, lying is part of the landscape – but how do you deal when the person is a.) Your love and b.) Deliberately misleading you about something that is vital in your relationship?  It’s then that you need to do two things.  It’s not the lying that is the problem as much as the violation of trust, ethics and acceptable boundaries.  Maybe those are the same for the two people in your relationship – but maybe not.  For the guy who wrote in yesterday about being “the other guy,” the same applies to your situation.  The mindset of the person that is lying to you (or with you) responds to the lying as an acceptable variant of what you expect from him/her.

Here are some relevant truths before those tips that will help ease that crazy aching in the midst of your chest, the uncontrolled thoughts that your heart is breaking:

  1. Love really is blind, and most people are easily misled by someone they trust.  It is a sad fact that we mislead those we love the most; sometimes with good reason, sometimes to save our sorry butts.  It doesn’t make it right, but it is there all the same. People are more susceptible to the lies of someone that they love over than the lies of a stranger. Not pretty: very true.
  2. Hiding in plain sight is a fact of life. Most deception is successful; it never gets detected.
  3. I really like that show “Lie to Me” but the truth is that there are few “reliable nonverbal cues of deception.”  A sociopath, mania in a bipolar or pathological liar actually believes what they are telling you, even if it’s the blue color of the sky during the darkest of night.
  4. We inadvertently choose familiar personalities to populate our lives ~ yes, the family of origin & how you perceive it has an impact on your life. Yes, you already have traits of that person that you never wanted to be. Sometimes when we ask ourselves if we’ve become that person, we lie to ourselves about our own mental faculty.  That father that haunts you, the sibling in jail, and the parent that was erratic?  Yes, you’ve picked up traits from all of them; you are not them.  You do not have to follow in parents footsteps, even if you are terrified that you’re doing so- but also, make your decisions on your own merit, not because you decided that you didn’t want to be so and so.  When you decide how and when you will act, it doesn’t determine the honesty of your mate, boyfriend, best friend, etc.  Because you live your life, you will feel like a unique “the only one” who will put forth the effort to understand or make it work.  When it comes to matters of deception, love and romance, people like to think they are different from everyone else.  Typically, this is not the case.
  5. People are very good at using deception; children start lying around the age of cognitive speech, which happens in “normal” children around the age 3; this is when the denial of inappropriate action leads to deception.  Most people continue using deception throughout their lives.  The person that you lie to the most is yourself; especially about deception.

“I can’t take this anymore.”

So how does a broken heart get back together when it’s broken apart?  First, it gets to the point that it makes this one decision.  Goes something like this….”loving you is costing me my life.  I can’t carry this love any more.  I am done.”  From there, the hard work begins.

  1. Make a decision in a calm, orderly fashion to talk about “the lie.”  Attacking a person that is lying to you results in an expected product: they will lie in self defense. Have a conversation about...not a confrontation with. You want to know that you’re thinking. Evaluate what you’re saying when you confront your love with the lie.  Listen to what they say and also to that body language that tells you they’re listening as well.
  2. It’s not really about the lie – a major relationship breaker comes from a much deeper root.  Fidelity is the big one that is brought to THM.  Here is the fact: the lying party doesn’t value themselves within their relationship with you enough to be honest when you ask a question, and maybe with themselves.


You: “I feel very conflicted today…and as though we’re not the only people in our relationship. Are you sleeping/having a relationship with your friend Jill?” 
Answer. “No, I am not. or “I did before you and I got together.” 
~~Reality fact: you saw him with Jill in compromising situation. 
Your Response. “I need to talk to you about our relationship and what I expect out of my life, and my love.  Jill is obviously not the problem here; that you and I can’t honestly communicate really bothers me.  Can I ask you to tell me what you’re thinking right now?”

Remember…the first one who loses temper and yells?  They lose. Talk from your own internal peace…be willing to take your time.

You're in the most important relationship of your life 24/7 - the one that you carry on inside yourself. With the companion of faith, how you view yourself underscores what you think of your own humanity.

It’s time to break it off when you know that you’ve done everything that you can, and you know in your heart it’s not long term what you honestly need in life. That could mean the difference between a relationship that fulfills and one that makes you miserable. One reader writes that her love has fathered a child with another woman.  As much as it hurts, there is a chance that this match of his, outside of your relationship, may actually be the viable one….but regardless, the future now includes an innocent child. You may choose to forgive; you may choose to separate. The choice has to be made not just with emotion, but with you intellect. Does this relationship encourage you to bloom and grow? Accept healthy boundaries? Challenge, encourage, bring passion and life? That is love.

The decisions that we face in love relationships can be daunting, I realize. I have been fortunate enough to honestly and deeply love two men in my life – the man that I am happily married to, and my former “flame.” I know how hard life can be when love changes the course of joined lives. The pain is overwhelming. Past that pain there is also peace.

I can attest that Brian, my husband, is one of the most forthright people I know, steady and realistic.  He supports all that I do, and I love him without any exception.  My former flame is one of those crazy loves that you never fully heal from; in those moments of realizing that letting go was best for me, there was heartbreak, too. Doesn’t mean that I don’t or didn’t love him – I do, but not in the same way that we once shared.  Brian is that consistent love that builds and encourages, the ying to my yang, the one I trust with my passion, my mind and my heart.  That discovery came from the same type of hard decision that may face you today.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been together for the whole of your life, or the last month.  Leaving before you know that you know that you’re done breeds a lot of questions. Knowing you’re your done is found in ideas like “I can’t do this anymore,” or “I can’t bear one more hurt.  I have to choose me.”  Your self defense will kick in, telling you that you’re in that emotionally abusive relationship that defies the mind – the one that you love is simply bad for you.


If you’re in danger of abuse, physical, mental or emotional, it’s time to go.  Find a safe haven and call it a day.

If you doubt your own sanity, self worth and esteem – if you feel like dirt – you’re in the wrong relationship.  Love builds, it doesn’t break.  Codependency isn’t love, nor is excessive need.  Those have mental illness codes for a reason. Love is freedom to be.

If you’re longing for a factious person that looks a lot like the guy or girl you’re dating – you’re not really in a relationship.

If you can’t be honest, or you’re in love with someone else.  Time to come clean and either work on it together, or go find that person and tell them the truth.

Breaking things off requires letting go…which is never fun for any of us.  From living through it myself, I can only tell you that it will get better in time, as will forgiveness and growing past.  Whatever you decide, may it be blessed with peace and grace.

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