Why Do People Lie About Their Feelings?

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Sometimes lying is done with malicious intent – for example, an ax murderer who claims he has no idea where the bodies are buried. Other times, dishonesty may come out of insecurities – lying about your age, for instance – or out of a wish not to hurt someone’s feelings – “Awwwww, your baby is beautiful!” There are pathological liars and then there’s George Washington, who never told a lie. Most of us lie somewhere in between the extremes; we indulge in a white lie, now and again, bending the truth just a little so we can preserve our ego. And sometimes we even lie to ourselves in order to maintain psychological harmony.

So why, when it comes to relationships, do people lie about their feelings?

1. To Project

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Many people lie about their feelings to project a different image of themselves for others to see. This is in order to gain approval or acceptance from their peers or partners. The problem with little white lies of this order is that they aid us in projecting a false identity, one which becomes more and more difficult to hold up in court. In a relationship, especially, a false identity is never good. Though it protects our self-esteem and ego, the need for acceptance from your partner means you sometimes put up a façade in order to mask what’s going on underneath.

2. To Protect

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One of the primary reasons people lie about their feelings is in order to protect themselves and others. Lying for self-protection stems from the need to keep oneself from becoming vulnerable. In this way, we safeguard our feelings to cover up insecurities or weaknesses, so that our partners won’t ever see us fully exposed. We also don’t want our partners to be vulnerable, and so we protect them with lies too. If your girl says she loves the present you bought her with a slight grimace on her face, it’s not because she wants to deceive you, it’s because she hopes to spare your feelings. And you return the favor. Perhaps her butt does look big in those jeans…But would you ever dare say so?

3. To Please

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In any relationship, we aim to please. You say you’ll take out the trash, even though you don’t intend to. You tell her you adore her mother, despite the fact that she drives you nuts. You may even say “I love you” long before you mean it, in order to please that needy partner. We lie about lots of things, including our feelings, in order not to rock the boat. In fact, we want to ensure the smoothest sailing possible. So we lie and say we feel good in this relationship.

4. To Preserve

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Lying also seems necessary sometimes to preserve the relationship, itself…in particular, if the lie is a huge one. If your girl asks you how you feel about another woman, are you going to tell her the truth – that you might find the woman in question attractive? Of course not. We lie to preserve the relationship. Let’s just hope that we don’t get caught.

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