I had a long conversation with someone today and it was all about not telling the truth. It wasn’t the kind of blatant lying that we all know about. It was more about omission. You know, just not saying something, keeping it secret until it had to be said. Not telling to avoid confrontation. Not telling to save the person the pain of knowing. Not telling to avoid shame.
“He does it all the time and it pisses me off!“, she said.
“It’s not like he’s really lying, he just doesn’t tell me things until he has to or until I find out some other way.”, she said.
“I know why he does it because I do it too. I have done it in the past.”, she said.
I think she was telling the truth about an impossible situation. I also think she was finally noticing that not saying something is the same thing as not telling the truth. It’s just easier than outright lying because when someone doesn’t say something you have no signals to alert you. If you ask someone a point blank question and they are being dishonest there are many ways you can tell if they are bullshitting you.
Avoiding eye contact
Going stone faced
Facial expression and body language are not in sync
Delayed response or answer to the question
Putting space or objects between you
Answering a question with a question
Mumbling an answer
Evading the question
Repeating the question to you
Enunciates their words
Deflecting the question with humor or sarcasm
Being relieved when the conversation changes to another subject. Honest people will defend themselves when they are being accused of lying.
At the same time I think we have all told lies and been lied to, some of us more than others. It seems we even have unwritten rules about lying. You have your little-white-lie, like calling in sick to work when you aren’t sick. We have all lied to our parents and teachers and friends and lovers. I think we all learned how to lie a long time ago and in that learning we were socialized to believe that it is okay, but is it? Where do you draw the line? When do you stop it? I know people in their 40’s who still lie to their parents. Is constant lying a sign of immaturity? If you asked me I would have to say yes!
I have used lying a lot in my life and because of this I can usually tell when someone is lying to me and often I have rationalized their lies because I know why they are doing it, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to me anymore. I have come to a place in my life where I want to tell the truth and it is not easy. Telling someone I would rather not attend a party because I don’t feel like going is a lot harder than telling them I have other plans. Telling someone they hurt my feelings when they said such and such is a lot harder than sucking it up and not saying anything, (omission), but it frees me up to forgive them instead of resenting them forever and telling someone when they withhold the truth it hurts me more than if they didn’t is harder than calling them a liar, but it is honest. I think the bottom line here is that it goes to how much you can trust someone and of course how much they can trust you. My friends know I will tell them the truth even if it hurts, I expect the same from them. Where do you stand on this issue?
Do you think that any lies are acceptable? If you knew your relationships were fraught with lies, even little-white-lies what would you do? If you knew someone in your life lied to everyone around them would you think they were being honest with you?