7 Seemingly Harmless White Lies That Can Actually Ruin Your Relationship

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There are a lot of things we do to make a relationship run more smoothly, whether it's remembering to always kiss your partner goodbye or giving them space after a yoga class because you know they’re going to want some down time. It's easy to do, because not speaking up — or even telling the occasional little white lie — can seem innocent and it often comes from an innocent place. But in the long run, those little white lies can actually damage your relationship.

"Small lies are not small. Small lies are big lies,” celebrity relationship expert, Audrey Hope, tells Bustle. “If someone can venture into this territory or can stick their toes into a place of untruth, then lying is their ‘thing.’ Their relationship was not built on integrity, and therefore will not survive.”

It's hard to imagine how a little lie can get so out of hand — but certainly can. Little white lies can keep you from addressing larger relationship issues, can make you frustrated with the other person, or can just mean that you're stuck pretending you love Katy Perry for your entire relationship. Here are the little lies that seem harmless, but can actually do some serious relationship damage, according to experts.


“It’s Fine”

Ashley Batz for Bustle

“It’s fine” or “I’m fine” can easily be a relationship’s kiss of death. “I believe that one of the most damaging ‘small lies’ a person can tell is, 'It doesn't bother me',” relationship coach Whitney Tillery tells Bustle. So why do people do it? Sometimes you just don't have the energy to fight — or sometimes you don’t feel talking it out will do any good — but pretending something’s OK when it isn’t won’t make the problem go away.

“Pretending that what your partner does that is bothering you is OK will only manifest later during an argument from something that is nine times out of 10, totally unrelated,” Tillery says. “It might seem so small and minuscule, but that one small lie can destroy your relationship.”


"They're Just A Friend"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If you start to have a crush or even an attraction to someone else, your instinct might be to hide it — but you shouldn’t. "A couple should never lie about growing attractions to someone else," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. Not only is withholding that information not being honest with your partner, it can also drive the crush or attraction forward.

"Secrecy fuels passion," Chilipala says. "A lie of omission is still a lie, so if a partner doesn't discuss a growing attraction, it can actually make their feelings and desire for this other person stronger." Make sure to be upfront about these feelings as they’re developing.


"My Credit Score Is Totally Fine"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

A lot of people find talking about money awkward, but in a long-term relationship, it’s important to be open about finances and not just brush financial problems under the carpet. “If you lie about your salary, your debt, or your spending habits, prepare for problems,” New York–based relationship and etiquette expert of Relationship Advice Forum, April Masini, tells Bustle. “It may seem like a little lie to fail to disclose a student loan or the real mortgage amount you owe, but when you’re seriously involved with a partner, this affects them and their finances. Don’t lie about money — and if you’re even thinking about it, ask yourself what it is you’re afraid of disclosing, and why.”

A lot of people struggle with money, so if you're in a tight spot then your partner should understand.


"I Haven't Heard From My Ex In Ages"

Ashley Batz for Bustle

Lying about exes is a sure way to cause trouble. Even if it was an innocent exchange that you had with an ex, you want your partner to hear it from you. If they find out you lied about talking to your ex then it’s still going to make them question why you hid it from them in the first place.

“It shifts the dynamic," Gestalt life coach Nina Rubin tells Bustle. "If the other partner finds out, the truth breeds mistrust and suspicion. Even if it seems difficult to talk about— when exes talk — it's better to reveal this to the new partner.” If it’s innocent, your partner should understand.


"That Was Great"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

It’s not easy to tell your partner that you don’t enjoy what they’re doing in bed — and way too many people will fake an orgasm so they don’t have to have that difficult conversation. But you can get caught in a cycle of little lies and that can become very difficult to get out of. “One of the small lies that comes up most often in my work is the ‘orgasm lie’ or leading your partner to believe that you enjoy a particular sensation more than you actually do,” Kim Sedgwick, co-founder of Red Tent Sisters, a business dedicated to women’s reproductive and sexual health, tells Bustle. “No one wants to hurt their partner’s feelings, which is why it can feel safer to just agree when they ask, ‘Does this feel good?’ However, the result of this small lie is that you’re less likely to get what you actually need in bed and that’s a recipe for frustration and resentment.”

Tell them what you don’t like, and what you do, as early as possible, to keep it from spiraling out of control. And remember, you deserve to feel sexually satisfied — and your partner wants that for you too.


"I Have A Headache"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Similarly, don’t lie to your partner about why you aren’t in the mood for sex. You’re 100 percent allowed to be not in the mood for sex — and it should be an open conversation. But telling little lies to get out of having sex can quickly create distance between the two of you. If they feel like you're avoiding sex, they may stop initiating and your sex life can fade away without either of you meaning it to.


“I’m A Huge Football/Baseball/Modern Dance/Yoga/Kanye West Fan”

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

This lie is one that often starts early in the relationship and then gets out of hand. You pretend that you like something your partner likes, to make things go more smoothly or impress them, but then you find yourself continuing to lie — and resenting it.This creates distance, which can eventually lead to difficulties," Sex, Kink and Intimacy Coach Rebekah Beneteau tells Bustle. "We tend to resent someone that we don't feel we can tell the truth to.”

Little lies may not seem like a big deal, but white lies can turn into something much bigger. Being honest with your partner is always the best option — even if it means things getting a little uncomfortable. In the long run, it'll be worth it.