Why we hurt the ones we love the most … Lies

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Why we hurt the ones we love most… Lies

Why do we lie?

To some extent, we can be proud of our lies. Lying is considered a sign of intelligence and cognitive skill, because it takes some aptitude to recognize the way things are and then create and present an alternative to that reality.

The ability to lie and not realize it is a gift unique to humans. Not only do we deceive others, we can trick ourselves into believing something that’s not true is. That’s because motivation for lying is usually tied up in self-esteem and self-preservation. We lie in an effort to create the best possible version of ourselves, and we lie so that we don’t have to face the consequences that our other, less-perfect self incurs. That means we may lie about our accomplishments or skills so that others respect us more, or to cover up mistakes so that we don’t lose that respect. We’ll also lie about mistakes and misdeeds to avoid punishment. Sometimes we do it to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings, which has the bonus effect of ensuring the other person maintains their good opinion of us — and doesn’t become consumed with a desire to break our nose.

We lie because it works, and because it has benefits. We avoid punishment by fibbing about who scribbled on the walls with permanent marker, we get higher raises by taking credit for work tasks we didn’t complete, and we get love by assuring a potential mate that he or she doesn’t look fat in those jeans. When lying ceases to work (when the lie is discovered) and has more drawbacks than perks (your spouse won’t look at you after discovering your extramarital affairs) — only then do some people tell the truth. http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/evolution/why-do-we-lie.htm

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(Image: Steven Depolo, cc2)


I repeatedly asked my wife if she was cheating. I wanted the truth. but the truth would hurt, so she lied. The moral question that has plagued so many, do we rid ourselves of the guilt for not remaining faithful or do we lie to preserve the relationship founded upon lies?  Did I want her to tell me the truth so I could stop my lie of pretending that everything in our relationship was fine? Society has said that it is the lies that hurt most.

It wasn’t until I took responsibility for the relationship that I could understand how someone who clearly loved me could be in love with another. What had I done that might cause someone who I loved to find love in the arms of another? When I started to answer honestly I could feel empathy.

Recently a friend asked me to help his brother who seemed destined for divorce. Upon entering the home the brother informed me that he didn’t want a divorce and that he was Catholic. We discussed his great love for his wife, children and family, we also discussed his great disappointment in the decisions she was making. I asked the obvious question, “do you love your wife?”, to which he obviously replied “yes”. Do you love her enough to let her go?

When you watch a movie or television show or when a friend asks you to listen to the story of a scorned brother the temptation is to fall into the social trap of, “what a bitch”. “How could she do this to you?” “You seem like such a nice guy”. There are not only two sides to this story but there are humans, families, friends and lovers on both sides. The parents who while watching a scene on TV might judge harshly as infidelity is played out but when their own son or daughter is the infidel and has stories, rationalizations and excuses, all is forgiven.

Why do we lie about the little things? Self Preservation

“Does this dress make my backside look big?” Honest Abe squirms and shifts, then hesitates and, while holding his thumb and forefinger an inch apart, finally mutters, “Perhaps a bit,” causing his wife to spin on her heels and exit in a huff.

The humor works because we recognize the question as a disguised request for a compliment or as a test of our love and loyalty. According to neuroscientist Sam Harris in his 2013 book Lying (Four Elephants Press), however, even in such a scenario we should always tell the truth: “By lying, we deny our friends access to reality—and their resulting ignorance often harms them in ways we did not anticipate. Our friends may act on our falsehoods, or fail to solve problems that could have been solved only on the basis of good information.” Maybe Mary’s dressmaker is incompetent, or maybe Mary actually could stand to lose some weight, which would make her healthier and happier. Moreover, Harris says, little white lies often lead to big black lies: “Very soon, you may find yourself behaving as most people do quite effortlessly: shading the truth, or even lying outright, without thinking about it. The price is too high.” A practical solution is to think of a way to tell the truth with tact. As Harris notes, research shows that “all forms of lying—including white lies meant to spare the feelings of others—are associated with poorer-quality relationships.”

Is a lie of self preservation actually killing YOU?

Society teaches us to lie… Aren’t we supposed to lie when our partner asks us if their outfit makes them look good? What is the consequence if you lie?

Studies have shown that human children begin practicing deception as early as six months of age through such attention-getting gambits as fake crying or laughter. But we tend to only get really good at lying – that is, at lying convincingly – after another four years of studious practice. Lots goes on in those four years. Outrageous, unbelievable lies gradually go by the wayside as children learn what kinds of lies work and when. Observation and practice are required. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-dolphin-divide/201309/why-do-we-lie

According to psychologist, Dan Ariely there are not “big” cheaters we are all cheating a little bit. Lies small enough that we can still look at ourselves in the mirror and live with the reflection. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_beware_conflicts_of_interest

Why do we treat our loved ones like they are too fragile or incapable of handling the truth?

They can’t handle the truth! or so I thought. My brother and I have had a “FINE” relationship. Truth is my brother is opinionated, to make it worse he is a know it all, add to that he has been diagnosed bipolar, and the real truth killer that makes most tiptoe around him is that he tragically suffered the loss of his first love. He can’t handle the truth, he claims that is what he wants but when administered his reaction can be abrasive to put it mild, you never know if this is the last conversation you will have with him for years.

When I called him to check the status of our relationship he confirmed that it was “FINE”. My brother questioned my continued desire for friendship. The truth is… he is an opinionated brother, he is a know it all father, and a bipolar husband, and friend. I didn’t think he could handle the truth but it was me who couldn’t handle the potential consequences of “my truth” about him. By not being honest with my brother I made him small in our relationship.

A true friend is consistently willing to put your happiness before your friendship. It’s said that “good advice grates on the ear,” but a true friend won’t refrain from telling you something you don’t want to hear, something that may even risk fracturing the friendship, if hearing it lies in your best interest. A true friend will not lack the mercy to correct you when you’re wrong. A true friend will confront you with your drinking problem as quickly as inform you about a malignant-looking skin lesion on your back that you can’t see yourself. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201312/the-true-meaning-friendship

Truth is my brother was right, I’m not a friend… but this liar is going to take the dare to be an honest friend. They can handle the TRUTH.

(Featured Image: bruckerrlb, cc2)

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