Today I got Busted. With a capital B, for ‘lying’. Not outright lying, or pathological lying, but white-lie lying. And when I tried to defend myself, the reply I received was ‘you lie all the time about this stuff’. I was gobsmacked. I mean…REALLY?! I’ve always considered myself a rather straight forward person, with no time for lies or games. So how did this happen?
I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this after this discussion. This is how my lying evolved. You see, I used to be brutally honest. Like Tourettes – type, couldn’t stop myself, HAD to say what I thought. I’d been raised better than that, but I didn’t have time for bullshit. Better to just say it and get it out there. Surprisingly, I had many friends and they just accepted it as part of my personality. Although I know for a fact that there were many hurt feelings left in my wake of honesty. It was only after I began traveling to far-flung countries and cultures around the world, that I learned that this was not a good practice. Asia is what finally cured me of my brutal honesty. I learned, that in the culture, people elude to what it is they are trying to say. People are supposed to be able to pick up on the body language clues as well as inflection and understand exactly what was being said. But you never…EVER say it straight. It is insulting and does not allow for the person – sometimes victim – to save face. And that, is just not acceptable. Especially in any kind of business context. How was I so stupid? This point, my friends, is where the little white lies began.
- ‘How are you?’ ‘Lovely’.
- ‘What do you think of this dish?’ ‘Delicious.’
- ‘Our schedule for tomorrow is…(7 solid hours of events I don’t want to attend) Does that suit you?’ ‘Absolutely, can’t wait’
- ‘Does my butt look big?’ ‘Nope, you’ve got a great ass’
- ‘I will pick you up at 6 in the morning…ok?’ ‘Perfect!’
You can fill in the rest. We all do it. Which brings me to the question of….why? If we all tell the same lies, then we all know when someone is telling the same lies to us, which takes away from the ‘I’ll soften the blow’ basis of the whole idea in the first place. So why do we perpetuate these little white lies when nobody is falling for the bullshit anyway? I mean, come on. I know that when I ask my fiancé if my butt looks ok in a pair of pants, exactly what he will say. (Well ok, not always. He knows it’s a trap & avoids it as much as possible). But when he does reply, I know that he wishes to avoid my incessant follow-up questions so much, that he will tell me exactly what I want to hear. And THAT is what this is all about. We lie to avoid hurt feelings and conflict. (As a general rule. There are some folks who just lie for…well, for themselves I guess).
My next question is: If I don’t want to hurt people with the brutal truth, and I don’t want to lie…where is the line? I think the line is tact. But tact seems to be that part between colours on the colour wheel where the shades blend in with each other. So where is the line between tact and lying? At what point do you pull yourself back?
And what about lying by omission? I mean, ok. I understand that it is absolutely wrong if you forget to tell your SO that you slept with someone else. That’s just straight out lying. But, well… I have a nicolette habit. It’s awful for me, I know. But I’m not smoking cause that’s 1000 times worse. My fiancé knows that in stressful situations I run for the gum. But he forgot about it after a time, and when he found some I had stashed away, he was really upset about it. This is the best kind of example I can give for what I mean. I didn’t see the problem, because I hadn’t told him I wasn’t doing it, so therefore wasn’t lying. And I think it ridiculous to report that I am purchasing it, as I don’t give a full report of everything I purchase, basically …ever. Same with clothes. I see something pretty, I buy it, I hang it, I pay my other bills. So why does it matter? But I digress. I think he felt like I had allowed him to believe that I wasn’t taking it anymore because the whole subject just kind of died in the wind, as most subjects do. And because I had them tucked away, not just laying out on the table, I can see that he thought he was being deceived somehow. So what is the thing here? When does just doing what you do and not thinking it important enough to mention, turn into lying by omission? At what point and how do you know? Help me out here, because I am at a loss.
I’ve really been thinking about this so I’ve decided to challenge myself, and you too, if you’re up for it, to NOT lie. No whoppers – pathological ‘I’m a detective, I work for the CIA, no I’m a policeman’ lies (not a problem for me, but maybe for some people), no lying by omission – i.e.; just not telling someone something (this will be difficult for me because I have a tendency to just do whatever I decide to do and more times than not, don’t bother telling anyone about it because I feel it’s not a big thing if I bought a new shirt, or left to go somewhere for awhile.), no conflict avoidance lies – i.e.; telling someone whatever it is they need to hear to just make. it. stop. No little white lies either. (Eeeek! This will be so hard, and I’ve already got a list of friends I’ll probably loose.) No lying on Cv’s or credit applications either, folks. (This happens a surprising amount. You know who you are.)
I would love for you to share any advice or thoughts you have on the matter because my questions are genuine. If I’m trying not to lie, and I’d like to maintain my relationships with friends, family and a lover who gets the brunt of my opinions…how do I do it?
Who’s with me?