Experts Say Your Partner Should Never Lie About These 9 Things

Plus, how to tell if the trust can be rebuilt.

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
Curious about when to leave a lying spouse? Experts say lying by omission in a relationship is a goo...
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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.


If They Lie About Their Interactions With Others

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Your partner may not be cheating. But minimizing the extent of their interactions with others, whether it be an ex or a co-worker, indicates that they're doing something you’d probably not approve of. After all, if they're not doing anything wrong, why would they need to hide it or be less than completely honest? "If you have interactions with others, share that information when you typically talk about your day," Dr. Catherine Jackson, board certified neurotherapist who specializes in relationship coaching, tells Bustle. "That way, nobody's hiding anything."


If They Lie About Money

For many couples, money can be a major source of problems. "It's best to discuss money openly and honestly," Dr. Jackson says. "Lying about money can lead to a sense of distrust, which will be detrimental to the relationship." If your partner lies about purchases, the amount of debt they have, or changes in their employment status, you're going to have problems long-term.


If They Lie About Their Past

You don't need to know your partner's entire life story at the beginning of a relationship. But Dr. Jackson says you should learn a lot more about their past once you're in a long-term committed relationship. "If big things from the past aren't shared, you'll be left wondering what else your partner is lying about or withholding," she says. If you think your partner isn’t being honest about the past, you can try sharing something about your past and letting them know it’s a judge-free space if there’s anything they want to share with you.


If They Lie By Omission

What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? In theory, yes. But at some point, you will probably find out. When that day finally comes, a lie by omission in a relationship can hurt even worse than one told straight to your face. According to licensed marriage and family therapist, Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, Ed.S., small lies, lies by omission, or lies said to prevent hurt feelings all matter. “Lying leads to more lying, paving the way for serious deception,” Gilchrest says. “Small lies might pave the way for bigger ones, as it unfortunately is an easy habit to develop. In a relationship, we want to be able to have openness and sharing of information, of each other's lives, both the good and the bad.”


If They Lie About Being Over Their Ex

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If your partner lies about being over their ex when they're not, you’ll likely have trouble making your current relationship work. For one, cheating will be a concern, especially if their ex is still in their life. Secondly, this shows that your partner can't be honest about their feelings with you.

As Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle, "It's impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who can't be honest, authentic, and real.” If this is something that bothers you, talk it out with them to see if it's something you can move past together.


If They Lie To You About Their Boundaries

If your partner withholds information about their triggers or they can't seem to say no to you, that's going to create resentment in the relationship. "Every relationship is different and every individual has different needs that make them feel safe and secure in a relationship," Laricks says. It's going to be hard for you to make your partner feel safe if they can't be honest about their boundaries.


If They Lie To You About What They Want Out Of Life

If your partner is not being truthful about what they want, April Davis, dating and relationship expert, tells Bustle, you won't know if they're really a good long-term fit for you. If they're not being honest about where they want to live, having kids, or getting married, your relationship may not have lasting power.

According to Davis, "A partner that lies to you, does not respect you." So if your partner has a habit of lying, you may want to reassess whether they're really the right person for you.


If They Lie To You About Sex

If you can’t talk about important aspects of your relationship — like sex — then you and your partner won’t last, Katie Ziskind, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "You need to have open communication about difficult topics, such as pleasure in sex, sexuality, fetishes, and sexual urges." A healthy sex life can keep the spark alive and will help your relationship last a long time. But if your partner feels the need to lie about anything related to your sex life, they're going to be left unsatisfied.


If They Lie About What They’re Doing On Their Phone Or Computer

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Unless they’re planning a surprise for you, there’s really no reason for your partner to lie about what they’re doing on their computer. As Angelika Koch, a relationship coach with LGBTQ+ dating platform and app, TAIMI, tells Bustle, “You should never ignore any lies in a relationship, no matter how big or how small. Paying attention to the lies is essential in the relationship because it shows you the level of honesty and openness that person has.”

Even them not sharing what movie they’re watching could lead you to question why they’re not telling you. Do they not trust you? Do they think you’d just laugh at them? What else are they lying about?

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.


Nadine Smiley, relationship coach at The Relationship Couch

Dr. Catherine Jackson, board certified neurotherapist who specializes in relationship coaching

Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio

Katie Ziskind, licensed marriage and family therapist

April Davis, matchmaker and relationship expert

Angelika Koch, a relationship coach with LGBTQ+ dating platform and app, TAIMI

Rachel Needle, Psy.D., licensed psychologist and Executive Director at the Whole Health Psychological Center

Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, Ed.S., licensed marriage and family therapist

Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist

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