Is my lying a habit I can break?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

About 12 years ago before I got married I cheated on my boyfriend who is now my soon to be ex-husband with a married man. I never told anyone the truth about it or should I say I never admitted it to anyone. Everyone basically knew it happened. I lied about it up until about 1 year ago when I met my soul mate. I love this man so much. I never loved anyone like this before. I met him while I was still married to my husband. I swore I would never cheat on my husband because I never forgave myself for cheating on him with the married guy. I broke up that guy’s marriage and I didn’t love him. I hated myself for that. I ended up marrying my husband. I think I married him to hide what I had done.

I had always had feelings for my now true love. We work together. He is my boss. Problem 1) he is still married. 2) He believes that there are other guys in my life besides him including the married man I cheated on my ex-husband with before we were married. That bothers me so damn much. He said there are too many coincidences that prove otherwise. I can’t help coincidences. I am being truly honest when I say there is no other man in my life. It is him and only him. I have gotten so caught up in wanting him to believe that that I started lying to him about little things. Believe me they were not things worth lying about. Things like I told him I wasn’t chatting on email, facebook, or text. This was actually not true. I did and do some of these things. I figured if I told him I didn’t do it then I didn’t have to worrying about him thinking I was lying about whom I was chatting with. I was only chatting with girlfriends, family, and family friends. I figure he wouldn’t believe that because of what he believed about me. I even lied to him about why I was typing so lightly on the keyboard at work. We had the door open between our offices and I didn’t want him to get up and close the door between us because he would get aggravated when he would hear my typing. Usually I was typing an email for work or IM to someone at work. Mostly all work related material. He doesn’t believe that. Anyway now that I’ve lied to him he believes more than before that I am hiding things from him because there is another man. I am being so honest about there not being another man. I have screwed up by lying. I don’t believe that lying is a habit. Yes I lied to my husband but I’m not lying to him about there being another man in my life. I was so focused on that that I lied about stupid things that has made it so much worse. He loves me very much. I do know that. I love him very much.

He said that he doesn’t question that I love him only that he questions my meaning of love. Is it possible to love someone so much that you do crazy things that you know aren’t good for a relationship wanting to make sure that you never loose that love but the crazy things are what are causing you to loose him. He trusts me even less now and is not sure he can move forward with our relationship. I know I love him with all my heart. Can I live with what he believes? I’m thinking I can change but he thinks otherwise. I can’t say that I blame him. To him lying is just as bad if not worse than cheating on him. How could I be so caught up on trying to get him to believe that he is the one and only man in my life that I would actually lie to? Please help me, I love him.

A: Nothing weighs on us so heavily as a secret.
— Jean De La Fontaine

I am glad you have asked this question. While the swoon of love sounds powerful, there are several things about your question that you may want to pay attention to. The most important are your contradictions. “I am being truly honest when I say there is no other man in my life.”

Such an interesting sentence for a married woman to say a man that isn’t her husband. The problem is you seem to believe this. Most of your adult life and relationship has been spent with you having a secret that was based on a lie. This is continuing. We are not typically drawn to what is necessarily better; we are drawn to what is familiar. You may find some more information in an article I’ve written here. Your husband has reason not to trust you, and you lied to him. You are creating the same thing with the new man. There now is a condition here where he doesn’t trust you – also because of lying. In both cases you are left in the same role of not feeling good about yourself—in your words “never forgiving myself.”

I would strongly encourage you to do three things: First, it seems clear that you are doing a huge disservice to your current husband. Let him know where he stands. Deal with the reality of your feelings and let him have the dignity of coping with the fact he is married to a woman that doesn’t love him and would prefer to be with another man. This condition isn’t just about how you feel. He needs to know where you stand.

Secondly, you must realize that you are drawn to unavailable men. This is the second married man you were attracted to, and the second time you were with a man while being attracted to a married man. This kind of thing tends to be a pattern. In both instances there was lying and secrets. In both instances you are not feeling good about yourself. Last time you carried forward the secret, which may have been the problem with your intimacy. I suggest you begin by being honest with yourself.

Finally I would encourage you to begin therapy as soon as possible before acting on my suggestions. This is likely to be a difficult process for you, for your husband, for your boss, and for his wife. With all this in front of you I encourage you to get some emotional support, clarification, and understanding before taking any action. The find help tab at the top of the page will help you locate someone in your area.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Is my lying a habit I can break?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/02/is-my-lying-a-habit-i-can-break/