The big debate about little lies

Some lies seem unimportant, known as “white lies.” Are they ever okay? You might think, “Well, it depends on the situation.”

The conventional wisdom about white lies is that most are fine, depending on the situation. It is commonly agreed that lying is okay in these situations because:

  • Avoid hurting someone’s feelings
  • Increase someone’s self-esteem
  • Quickly avoid a fight over something irrelevant

Maybe this advice is for people you don’t know very well, but when it comes to primary love relationships, it’s best to put the extra work in full transparency, even when there may be a moment of discomfort.

A little story about a date night full of lies

One night, at the beginning of my life as a couple with my now husband, we were going for a leisurely stroll through the streets of Philadelphia. When I said I was hungry for dessert, his eyes lit up when he told me he wanted to show me one of his favorite shops in town.

We walked into a French pastry shop with quaint tables and chairs and a row-by-row showcase of French pastries.

We were both in the new cloud, dizzy and in love.

Then came our dessert.

It was a tray of cakes and assorted cakes with chocolate ribbons.

These items can make your mouth water, but not mine. Maybe there’s something deeply wrong with me, but I hate cakes. I’m a cheap date when it comes to dessert. I prefer a candy bar or a bag of jelly beans to a cake or croissant.

But what do you think I said?

“Wow, that’s amazing,” I lied.

They raised me to eat everything I had on the plate and sprout for everything they gave me. Especially the food. So I was thrilled how delicious these little desserts were. Not only did I swallow them to be polite, but I also showed that I loved them.

We had an amazing time. I really liked it and it looked very perfect. I didn’t want to spoil it by saying, “I hate French pastries. Cheese never belongs in the dessert, and I don’t understand why everyone wants the mini cheese cakes to be delicious. “

He was following the old “it depends” advice. I told myself there was nothing wrong with pretending I like deserts because I was just being polite and grateful.

Fast forward six months.

“Surprise! Remember one of our first dates at Pink Rose? I picked up some candy for us! “

He showed me a beautiful pink box tied with a satin ribbon.

I was very tempted to lie again, but I knew that if I didn’t confess, I would receive these “delight” surprises for the rest of our married life.

We both laughed a lot. His feelings were not hurt at all. In fact, I was thrilled to have the whole box for him.

What do pastry trays have to do with the longevity of the relationship

You may not be able to relate to my deformed culinary palette, but I imagine there have been times when you have wanted to avoid ruining a pleasant moment. Maybe you didn’t want to risk spoiling your mood, looking rude, or looking ungrateful.

It’s true that pretending to enjoy the mini cheesecake didn’t hurt anyone, and nothing bad came of it.

This is not an ethical debate of good or evil. Tips for telling the whole truth are the direct result of the science of relationships. Experts such as Dr. John Gottman and his colleagues conducted decades of research to measure human behavior. The results of these experiments show a direct correlation between transparency and long-term relationship satisfaction.

Three reasons to tell the truth, even if it causes some discomfort

  1. Truth creates connection

Healthy relationships are built on the basis of knowing each other well. Research shows that couples who ask questions and answer them honestly are more likely to be happy together than those who don’t.

  1. Truth improves conflict management

It is tempting to avoid minor disagreements by telling you not to talk when a topic seems harmless. This is risky. Minor irritants can turn into resentments if not addressed early. It’s like taking the time to take a small pebble out of your shoe so you can keep walking comfortably.

  1. Truth builds trust

It is known that couples generate trust through transparency. But most people think of things like breaking a monogamy deal or hiding financial information when imagining what violates trust. It’s usually a lot less dramatic than that.

You feel confident every time you say something, even if it’s a little controversial.

What to do instead of following logic: “It depends” on the lies

There is no need to choose between kindness and honesty. You can adopt these two values ​​at once, but it will take a little longer to find the right words. Here are some examples:

  • “I have a great time with you and I don’t want this date to end, but I’m not a big fan of pastry. Do you like ice cream? “
  • “I’m very sorry to be late. I don’t have a good excuse except I’ve lost track of time.”
  • “You’re awesome! Because you asked me for my opinion on the dress, it’s not my favorite of all your dresses, but you look beautiful no matter what you wear.”

A next step to consider is to start a conversation with your partner about white lies. Ask them what they think of conventional wisdom: “It depends on the situation.”

Hopefully, it will lead to an interesting and engaging conversation!


Connect, communicate, and have more fun with Laura’s weekly “52 Dating in 52 Weeks” planner for couples.

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