When it comes to lying in a relationship, some falsehoods seem to be more acceptable than others. For instance, lying about who you hang out with every Friday night is obviously not OK. Lying about liking your partner’s taste in music, especially during the early days, can be considered harmless. But relationship experts say, even if your partner doesn't lie about big things, the smallest lies or lying by omission can still affect your relationship in a major way. If your partner can't be honest about a few key issues, your relationship may be in trouble.
As Nadine Smiley, relationship coach at The Relationship Couch, tells Bustle, "In order for a relationship to last, couples need to be honest about almost everything.” That means no lying by omission in a relationship or changing information in an effort to reduce conflict. Even lies meant to save your partner from hurt feelings can sometimes backfire and break the trust in your relationship.
While a big lie, like covering up an affair, is an obvious trust-killer, Kara Laricks, Three Day Rule's LGBTQ+ matchmaker and dating expert, tells Bustle that even the small lies can cause rifts, too. "Lies tend to multiply and cause a barrier between you and your partner," she says. "The beauty of an intimate relationship is that lack of barriers. And that lack of barriers is what sets your relationship apart from all the other relationships in your life. If long-term intimacy is your goal, leave the lies behind."
Below, experts share the lies that are red flags and what to do when someone lies to you in a relationship.
What To Do When Someone Lies To You In A Relationship
To be fair, many people lie and have lied in relationships. In fact, licensed psychologist Rachel Needle, Psy.D., says white lies are very common in relationship. But that doesn’t mean that should be tolerated.
“Each person has to decide for themselves what the dealbreakers in their relationship are,” Needle says. “Chronic lying or lies for personal gain, are some that many consider too much to come back from in a relationship, especially when your partner is not open to or willing to do work on themselves.”
When you find out that your partner has lied to you, consider the lie that was told, and then think about why your partner chose to lie in the first place. Did they lie to intentionally deceive, manipulate, or take advantage of you? Or, do they have low self-esteem and wanted to “sell” you on something that wasn’t true in order to look good?
If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” clinical psychologist, Dr. Carla Marie Manly suggests discussing the issue with your partner to see if trust can be rebuilt. “If your partner is consistently evasive, does not take responsibility, or continues to lie, exiting the relationship may be your only way to save your psychological health, self-esteem, and sanity,” she says.
But if your partner is willing to take responsibility, lies can present an opportunity to strengthen your relationship. As long as you and your partner are both determined to create a more open and honest relationship, this may be something you can overcome.