A friend prompted me to write this post. A few days ago when he was asking for my insight on why his girlfriend was acting the way she was and wondering if all his distress was really just stemming from his own baggage, he said, “By the way, can you write a blog post about lying?”
“Well, heck yeah,” I responded.
I can’t imagine there are too many people who know as much about lying as I do. Not because I’m into lying myself. I’ve never been very good at it. I think perhaps that’s why my women friends don’t take me shopping very much because when they’re standing in front of a three-way mirror, asking, “Does this dress make my rear-end look like a stagecoach?”….well, I’m gonna tell the truth.
I know a lot about lying because I’ve been lied to a lot…mostly by men. So it was a strange thing to have a male friend ask me to talk about lying in relationships. I kind of thought lying was the territory of men. I have an encyclopedia full of stories about men who lie, men I’ve loved and trusted and men my women friends have loved and trusted, too. Like the guy who told his wife he was going to be home late because he’d be out cutting hay till dark. What he failed to mention was that after he’d cut the hay he’d be rolling in it, too…with a woman not his wife.
But lying isn’t just the purview of men. Everybody’s doing it. So much so that when my aforementioned friend and I were competing on an emotional baggage weigh-in, lies told by exes was the dead weight taking both our scales to the ground.
So what’s up with all the lying, and why do people do it, particularly in romantic relationships?
I’m probably not the best person to answer that question given that I’m actually notorious for brutal honesty. (If this blog isn’t a testament to that, I don’t know what is.) I have frequently and injudiciously told the truth far too many times, and I’ll often take the measure of a date based on whether or not he can handle it. It might shock you to know that many a man will freak when you honestly tell him he’s handsome. Maybe this sets up expectations for routine shaving of the five o’clock shadow or regular changing of the underwear. I don’t know….
But what I do know about lying is this: it’s usually committed by people who are reluctant to live in reality. No surprise there, huh?
So when my friend told me he felt “emotionally compromised” by all the baggage he carried from women lying to him, I had to make a correction. The people who are emotionally compromised are the ones telling the tall tales. They are incapable of dealing with reality, so they lie in an effort to avoid it and create “realities” they can cope with.
Allow me to give an example….
Once upon a time, I knew a man so polished in the art of deception that he had almost convinced himself the person he was pretending to be was, in fact, real. He was that good. He could lie to himself and believe the lie. Hence, when he lied to his family and friends, he was highly convincing. No liar is better than the liar who can convince himself. The man was so unhappy in his reality that he created an alternate universe where he was a kind and attentive romantic partner, a brave and committed man, a considerate and passionate lover. And that is the universe he escaped to when reality was too much for him.
His disconnection from himself and his true reality was so great that one day when his wife was sitting across the table from his ex-lover in a restaurant, holding her hand while the two cried together, he texted his spouse, completely disconnected from what was really happening, “Honey, when you’re on your way home, can you pick up cat litter?”
Little did he know reality was about to hit him hard and square in the face…along with the cat litter delivery.
Hence my sometimes frightening dedication to truth. Truth can hurt. Truth can piss you off, as Scott Peck says. But truth is freeing. It allows you to live in a world where people love you for who you really are, not for some absurd façade you create.
And if you find yourself in the company of someone who can’t cope with truth, beware. These are the types who “need a break,” when caught in a lie, want “baggage-free” relationships, and who ignore your communications for three days after you’ve made some reality-inducing gesture.
Watch out for these Mr. or Mrs. Containment types. They’re the ones struggling with both hands to plug up all the holes where they feel like shit is coming out…or might come out. If they can’t deal with your baggage, chances are damn good they can’t deal with their own either. And trust me, the last thing you want in your life, no matter how gorgeous she is or how charmingly he behaves, is someone who lacks coping skills. Because they’re usually the first ones to lie…in a desperate effort to save themselves, not you, when they think the ship is sinking.