I have some questions about white lies

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I am currently in a relationship that is long distance. We have been together now for almost 4 months. We only had about 3 weeks together before I left to another country to teach in. Since I have been gone there have been issues of trust on both sides. No one has done anything to make the other person not trust the other one until I started telling white lies to make her feel better. I know she is insecure with me being in another country and going out to the bars by myself. The white lies I told her ended up getting back to me or she caught me in them. EX: I have a guy friend that I hangout with a lot, one day he came over to hangout and I did not mention it to her on the phone until much later. She got mad and told me she does not trust me. I did not tell her this because I wanted to protect her since I already know she is insecure with him and would be upset about it. The most recent white lie I told was when we were chatting on the computer and a friend of mine IMed me so I quickly typed back I was busy and talking to my girlfriend. She saw that I was not focused on her so she asked me what I was doing. I lied and told her I was checking my e-mail. Well after I lied about it I felt bad and then I told her the truth. We got into a 4 hour phone conversation and almost broke up. I want to know why I tell white lies, how I can stop or change it, or anything else I can do to fix it. Do you think I have been doing this since childhood? My main reasoning is that I do not want to hurt the person that I am with so I tell a white lie.

A. You say that that you tell white lies. I can’t agree with the “white” adjective but we both agree on the fact that you lie. You also say that you do it to protect others but it is very clear in your letter that it is yourself that you are protecting, as it is for the vast majority of those who lie. If you told your girlfriend the truth, she would be angry with you or want to break up. You protect yourself and your ego by lying. Your girlfriend has every reason to stop trusting you because you are a liar. If you find that word shocking, then perhaps the shock will help you to see the truth. People lie for personal benefit, to protect themselves or to enhance the ego. This behavior is going to destroy any deeper relationship that you will attempt. In a shallow relationship, the other person will detect your lies but not respond to them by simply overlooking it. This is not because they haven’t correctly determined that you are a liar but because they care so little about you and the relationship that they will not bother to seek the truth. The only truth that they need is the fact that you are a liar and that you cannot be trusted. Your lifelong problem needs immediate attention or you will destroy all chances that you have for a serious committed relationship. You must stop lying to others and most importantly you must stop lying to yourself. Be honest with yourself and with others. Counseling, if you are truly open and honest with your therapist, will help you immensely. Good luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Nov 2006

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2006). I have some questions about white lies. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/11/12/i-have-some-questions-about-white-lies/