100: There Is Only One Bad Kind Of Lie

In response to a Twitter conversation I was having, I came across an article. I was trying to illustrate how children learn to lie early on, by age 3 apparently, as a survival strategy for not getting into trouble. In the article a professor who had been studying this identified four types of lying, but that responses suggested only one was perceived to be ‘the bad kind’. The four types were identified as:

lying to protect the feelings of others
lying to protect yourself
lying to yourself
lying to hurt others

Of the four, only lies designed to actually hurt others were perceived to be the bad kind. This of course will not sit well with anyone who has been lied to and the perpetrator found out, particularly in cases of infidelity. The lie is the same, the outcome is the same.

But surely lying to someone in an effort to not hurt them, isn’t a bad thing, right? Take these examples: the friend who says her overweight friend, who is painfully self conscious about her appearance, looks amazing in order to boost her confidence. The child who lies to his parents about where he’s been so as not to worry them. The cheater who lies to his wife not to hurt her. Of course, you could as easily and legitimately say that in the case of the latter two, these people are lying to keep themselves out of trouble, rather than because of any regard for the people they are lying to. And you would probably be right. Here’s another article which goes into more depth about why we might lie to someone without malicious intent. The fact is, we all do it, even if they are little white lies to save ourselves or someone else.

I’ve seen the early stages of the lying game in action on documentaries about children. A child was put into a room on their own with a jar of sweets or a closed bag, and told by the adult not to eat the sweets or look into the bag. When the grown up had gone most children couldn’t resist the urge to do either. It’s like putting a sign next to a button on the wall that says don’t press this button and seeing what happens. When the adult returned to the room and asked if they had done as they were told, the child often lied. But are these natural instincts or learned behaviour?

We instinctively lie to our children from an early age. Telling them Santa is real, that if ‘you keep pulling that face and the wind changes you’ll stay like it’. Religion. Even seemingly innocent lies are cues to children, who pick up on it and learn from it. The professor added that children who are more emotionally stable are the ones who are more likely to lie than tell the truth, an unexpected suggestion.

So if lying is inevitable from such a young age, and it’s such an inbuilt part of our personalities, is it any wonder that as adults we do the same thing to protect ourselves? Noone should go into a relationship expecting their partner to lie. But infidelity is so prevalent, shouldn’t we be thinking outside the box in order to make our relationships more satisfying?

So far, what blogging and reading other peoples relationship experiences has taught me is that couples with less strict boundaries seem to be happier. I have absolutely found relationship fluidity more satisfying for me both physically and emotionally. Not everyone is built for monogamy and personally I don’t think that man is an inherently monogamous creature. It is a construct we have built to define and rein in our sexuality.

By putting those restrictions on our relationships from the outset, we are in some cases almost doomed to failure. Couples split up, cheat, find other distractions. But if you can build a more flexible approach into your sexual relationships in the first place via non-monogamy, polyamory or open relationships, and if you’re the kind of couple who can handle that, you could be in for a more interesting and fulfilling relationship than you realised.

5 thoughts on “100: There Is Only One Bad Kind Of Lie

  1. Interesting post. About this: :”personally I don’t think that man is an inherently monogamous creature. It is a construct we have built to define and rein in our sexuality.” Lots of other economic and social reasons too.

    Liked by 1 person

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