“A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future.”
Dating and lying. Seems like one is something we first learn to do in our teens and twenties. It seems like the other is something we first learn NOT to do when we are what … age 3, or 4, or 5? Certainly by age 10 (and I’m probably being generous here) we know what lying is and what lying isn’t. So how come I can be writing a post that talks about both dating and lying simultaneously?
I was talking with a friend two weeks ago. She met a guy online and they agreed to meet. She had seen a photo of him, and read that his height was 5’8”. She arrived at the restaurant where she was meeting him for dinner and searched for a man who looked like the photo she had seen online. Hmmm … she searched, and searched some more. She told me she only saw one person who vaguely resembled the photo … but looked more like he could be the father of her date! He saw her, got up out of his seat, and walked towards her. My sweet friend, who is all of 5’3” tall on a good day, towered over him.
He approached her, introduced himself, and then immediately said, “There are probably two things I should tell you. I am older than I said, and shorter than I said.” My friend, who has a great sense of humor, just looked at him and said, “No s*&!@!” And then she asked, “This is how you expect to start a date … by lying at the outset?” No thanks! And she left!
I applaud her for calling him on his lies. Were they harmful? No. Were they deceitful? Yes! Did he need to lie? No. Did it create more problems for him than simply being truthful? Yes! There wasn’t a first date, and certainly no chance for a second.
Another friend was recently dating a guy whom she was really starting to like. They had been out a few times, and had gotten past all the initial conversations. At dinner on this particular night, the conversation turned to previous relationships. Based on her own personal experience, she had a “sensitivity” to men who cheat. She asked him if he had ever cheated on anyone, and he said no. She believed him, of course.
But, as small world stories go, she met someone a few weeks later who knew this guy and filled her in on the story of how he cheated on a former girlfriend. It was a bad decision; he used poor judgment, and he had to suffer the consequences. Would it have been a deal breaker with this new date? Maybe. Maybe not. But lying about it made it an absolute deal breaker. She said, “Adios”
What’s the moral of this story? We all have things in our lives that we wish were different. It may be a physical feature. It may be a part of our past. It may be something we find distressful in our present day situation. Whatever it is, it’s something that we are so worried about personally, that we find it important to distort the truth about it. We have trouble accepting the truth of it, so we assume everyone else will as well. We lie about it. And it gets us in trouble. Eventually, we will be found out, and I argue that those consequences can be even greater than the consequences of being forthright from the beginning. Some people rationalize their lies by telling themselves that they have to lie about this particular thing, in order for this person to spend more time with them and get to know the “true” them. Really? You think a lie will be less hurtful a year from now, or five years from now, when I have really opened myself up to you and trusted you only to find out you lied early in our relationship? Is that supposed to inspire confidence in everything else you have shared with me?
At the end of the day, stop the lies. Be honest. Be truthful. Be you. If the truth is so offensive to your date, then clearly you aren’t meant to be together. As relationships evolve, people have to accept the whole package of what you offer, not just the “good” things. It’s not as if we get to pick … “I’ll take this part of you, but not that part.” When people choose to continue dating, it’s an expectation that they are accepting all of you … the good parts and the not-so-good parts. And, there is an expectation that all of these parts have come with full-on honesty.
When we find out later that we’ve accepted you “as is” and that “as-is” isn’t really “as it really is,” then problems develop! Major problems like, “If you lied about that, what else have you lied about” kinds of problems!
Lies can be easy in the short-term. Lies may work when they have no future. But, I would seriously think about the consequences of lying if you are looking for a future. That doesn’t work so well.
Would my friend have agreed to meet this guy for a date if he told her he was really 15 years older and 8 inches shorter than he said? Actually, yes, she would have! Would my other friend have continued to date this guy who cheated on a former girlfriend? Possibly. I am sure she would have wanted the truth. She would have wanted to have some honest conversations about the circumstances of the situation, and then she would have been better equipped to make a decision about whether to continue investing in this relationship.
It’s really not a difficult decision. Lies hurt. Lies only protect the present, but they have absolutely no investment potential in the long-term. It’s up to you to determine which is more important. It seems as if taking the high road is a much better, safer, and more successful long-term option!
What do you think? Is it ever OK to lie when dating? Have you been burned by having someone lie to you, or by being caught in a lie you told?
Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys.