Some things in life are hard to understand or even recognize at first glance—like, lying. Why do we lie to one another? What’s the true intention behind something so unforgivable and deceitful? I’ve often wondered for years about this hurtful act, but this past week, wondered a million times more. Do liars not understand the damage they cause to those they speak to? In many ways, lying is an art. It’s an expression and application of (cunning) human skill with creativity and imagination, and is only ever appreciated by the effect it has on others.
In a study from the University of Massachusetts, researchers discovered 60% of adults can’t have a ten minute conversation without lying, averaging three lies per every 10 minute session. It’s probably worse statistically for children whose parents were compulsively lying growing up as research has shown by age four, 90% of children have grasped the sneaky and distrustful concept—and it only gets worse from there. But kind of shocking, right? Makes you wonder how shady someone can be around you every day, and why so sneaky when it comes to truly opening up. Is it more about you, or really just them?
Psychologist Robert Feldman cites self-esteem as one of the biggest culprits to our lying ways when people feel their self-esteem is threatened and immediately begin lying at higher levels. Feldman goes on to cite that lies between genders differ, with women more likely to lie to the person they’re talking to feel good, while men surprisingly, lie to make themselves look and feel better.
Weird, right? One seems more of a white lie to protect feelings and something we all do a lot every day, while the other is a blatant reason that often times is heartbreaking and devastates everyone involved. That said, sometimes I feel if you’re at the receiving end of a lie, you might deserve it, especially if you have spent so much time with someone over the years. In two of my relationships, I was lied to and both times was left broken. I met someone a few years back who lied to me about being single, but it was too late as I fell head over heels in love, devoted so much of myself to them and while we moved past it, they lied again and again about their current status and its depletion to which I only discovered the truth years later. It left me scarred and heartbroken, and in more ways mourning the loss of my own intelligence and simple heart. I was duped and equally hurt, and manipulated. In another relationship, I was lied to about a person’s character and started discovering how he treated others through little things, how he interacted with others and ultimately, was treated the same way to which I decided to end it. With both relationships, it made sense that the cruelest lies were often told in silence and by the diffident.
The lesson here is if you can’t see the truth and are already doubting an individual for lying to you, chances are you’re right and need to follow your gut. I’m not Christian, but growing up I was taught to read and understand each faith so I did that. In a book called, Mom’s Devotional Bible, there’s an excerpt that perfectly encapsulates the bumpy road ahead for victims of lies, heartache, and anyone facing tough times and mental pain.
“In life’s tough times, evidence of God’s care may seem to evaporate. But His presence in daily moments is there nonetheless—if we’ll just listen to the stones.”
There are signs everywhere, we just have to listen to them and make our own judgement. If someone you love lies to you and has broken your trust (and done it over and over), behaves brazenly and disrespectful, chances are the words they share from that day forward and the affection they show will not make up for the lies or the duration of lying because its done in defense for the fear of loss, so don’t ever kid yourself that they are. If they tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it gets believed and that’s the most damaging.
This past week has taught me, man is not who he thinks he is—he’s more of what he hides. If you’re lucky though, you get to know them deep down inside, get a peak at the very reasoning behind their intentions and still care for them despite it. Lying is more of an insecurity if you look at it that way. Of course, adding affection into the mix sounds a bit sadistic, but sometimes people lie to find the truth and see what it is that’s lacking in their life—the voids they feel are unfilled and will remain unfilled through it all. Through the two relationships I was in, I discovered those who lie the loudest (and longest) are those who are lying to themselves at the end of the day. And they will always lie to themselves for lack of confidence, lack of emotive response, and lack of compassion, lack of practicality and whatever else ails their mental capacity and scared heart. And it’s more piteous than anything at times. Sure it’s a hard to understand the reasons “why” depending on a case-by-case basis, but of course human behavior is nothing short of complex and rich.
Feldman goes on to reveal that many lies spewed are simply for the purpose of maintaining social contacts by avoiding insults or discord. If you’re not a good communicator, chances are you will keep lying. Lies are an interesting tool to avoid conflict, especially if you’ve experienced a lot of uncivil behavior growing up, and sadly, avoiding conflict is a top motivator for deception. Over and over. It’s a vicious cycle. It seems the farther one’s true self is from their ideal self, the more likely they are to lie just to give themselves that added boost in the eyes of others or even in their own. It’s all about perception. For years we’ve known that “perception is reality,” but if you can manipulate perception for a better, more, “have your cake and eat it too” sort of reality, why not, right? Perception is the lie that we convince ourselves exists. Those who go through life lying, believe their lies will make their life better with the hope to avoid further pain and emotional baggage they experienced growing up. Seemingly and evidently, it looks like their life is void of any happiness, incredibly vacant, and an on-going misery, and this is internal. This is not about others. You can’t fix a liar and you can’t stop them from lying because it’s on-going with every scold, humiliation, and what have you. These individuals believe it’s okay to hurt others because this is what they saw as a child growing up, which causes them to continue the pattern and live their life as a dysfunctional adult.
The irony of a liar is that they are so insecure with themselves and arrogant with narcissistic needs, that they cannot believe anyone else and refuse to acknowledge the truth that circles round them. It is their greatest downfall and their greatest punishment. In many ways, they get fed their karma though because when you lie and stretch the truth, watch out for the snap back. There’s no turning back from that kind of pain.