Lies We Tell Each Other

The following content is credited to Dory Hollander, PhD, author of “101 Lies Men Tell Women – and Why Women Believe Them.”


Women in long-term relationships often let their partners’ lies slide to avoid confrontation and create an argument-free zone. Unfortunately, failing to confront a partner’s dishonesty gives the partner tacit permission to continue the deception.
Among the lies that men in long-term relationships often tell, and how their partners might respond…
“Everything’s fine.” Men tell their partners that “everything’s fine” when they would rather put up with an annoyance or serious issue than upset the relationship’s peace and get roped into a complicated emotional conversation. Unfortunately, partners feel less close when they don’t discuss their problems, leading to détente, not peace, and the relationship suffers.
Response: If you do not believe your partner’s claim that everything is fine, wait a bit or until the next day to raise the issue in a calm manner. Tell him that you’ve been thinking over what he said and have a gut feeling that everything is not fine. If he mentions a small issue that you suspect is not the real problem, deal with that rather than trying to get at the bigger problem right then. Establish a solid baseline for respectful sharing of concerns that clears the way for his disclosing any larger problems later.
“I have our finances under control.” Society judges men by their ability to provide for their families. Men sometimes lie out of shame when they have mismanaged finances or suffered other financial or career setbacks.
Response: Start by getting the financial facts. Check account statements. If you can’t find the statements, contact banks, credit card issuers and investment companies where you have joint accounts. If the accounts are in his name only, ask your partner specifically to share the details of the family finances. If he dismisses your request by saying that you wouldn’t understand, tell him that you want to become more knowledgeable about your finances and ask him to help you understand.
If you find any reason to believe that he’s lying about your financial situation, confront him — but avoid the temptation to get angry. Anger, even justified, shuts down communication. If he is ashamed already, adding to his shame won’t help you get to the truth. If he continues to insist that your financial position is secure, insist that he back this up with documentation.
“I don’t need to see a doctor.” Men lie about health problems because they don’t want to confront their increasing age, mortality and the fact that they cannot solve all of their problems on their own.
Response: Tell him that you are worried about him and want him to get a checkup. Acknowledge his position. “You’re probably right, but I care about you and want us both to stay in good health. I would appreciate it if you would see a doctor, even though you don’t think you need to. I am happy to make the appointment.”
“That dress doesn’t make you look fat.” Men lie when women ask about their appearance because they have learned that honest but unflattering statements such as, “You could stand to lose a little weight,” create disharmony.
Response: When a woman truly wants an honest answer about her appearance, she might phrase the question as an either/or rather than a yes/no choice.
Example: “Which dress do I look better in — the red one or the blue one?” rather than, “Do I look fat in this dress?”
Note to men: This is not the no-win situation that men think it is. There are ways besides lying to protect her feelings without spoiling a perfectly fine dinner or weekend. First, understand that questions about appearance may be double-edged. Sure, she wants the truth, but even more, she wants to know that you think she looks great. While this seems tricky, it’s not hard. A warm and positive response, such as, “You know, I love the sexy way you look in the dress that you wore last weekend,” gets the point across.


Men aren’t the only ones who lie in long-term relationships. Among the lies that women often tell their partners and how their partners might respond…
“Everything’s fine.” Women tell this lie, too — but often for different reasons than men. A woman likely really wants to discuss what’s wrong but feels so disconnected from her partner that she doesn’t believe he will be receptive or that constructive dialog is possible.
Response: If you think that her “everything’s fine” is untrue, you can score big relationship points simply by encouraging a conversation. Say, “I know I don’t always express it well, but I care about you very deeply. I can tell that something’s wrong — and I would like to know more about what’s bothering you.” Most women will respond very positively to this suggestion. Do be prepared to have an honest discussion that takes time and emotional investment.
“I bought it on sale.” Many women lie to their partners about spending. This may sound trivial, but the reasons behind it are not. A woman may say that she got things on sale because she feels embarrassed about spending money on nonessentials for herself. Not feeling entitled to pay full price or self-indulgence, she hides it. She might claim to be staying within a budget when she is not. Or her spending may be addictive and out of control.
Response: First seek understanding about why your partner lies about spending. Then make finances a joint project where you both get a realistic view of your resources. Establish this as a regular yearly or quarterly process. If her spending is in line with your joint resources, assure her that there is no reason to hide her expenditures from you and that you respect her judgment. If more serious spending issues emerge, engage her in a frank but nonaccusatory discussion of the family’s budget. Set limits together. Let her know that if she seriously overspends, that’s something to frankly discuss, not lie about, and that you will do likewise.
“That was great for me.” Women in relationships often claim to be satisfied by sex when they are not. They fear that admitting the truth will hurt their partners’ feelings. Unfortunately, if a woman continues this silent dissatisfaction, the clueless partner will keep doing what he’s doing. Over time, neither will be satisfied and their sex life will become perfunctory, with neither partner understanding what happened or feeling close enough to discuss it. Partners may seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere, leading to more damaging lies about affairs and cover-ups.
Response: Don’t insist that she tell you the truth about her level of satisfaction with sex — that often leads to more lies, hurt feelings or conflict. Instead, have a sexy talk about sex. Ask what would be exciting to try that’s different from what you do now. Watch a sexy movie, then talk about both your responses. Together, make a plan and try it out.
“I’m too tired for sex.” This could be the truth — but if she offers this excuse with increasing regularity, it’s possible that her lack of desire for physical intimacy with you could be a reflection of an increasing distance in the relationship…not feeling attractive… a health issue… or a relationship with someone else.
Response: Seek opportunities to be closer and more loving with her. Have conversations about things other than problems and responsibilities. Find time to do the things that she enjoys. Tell her what you love about her body, her movements, her smile. If a few weeks of this fails to lead to increased physical intimacy, ask her to tell you what needs to change so that you can work together to find a solution. Honest communication goes to the heart of things to create the intimacy that both partners need in all areas of their life together.