Lying by Omission

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“Technically….I didn’t lie to her….”

Is there such a thing as lying by omission?

I’m not talking about harmless white lies here, as in “Does my butt look big in this?”   I am talking about  the omission of truth that, if known,  has the potential to hurt someone deeply, and to cause them emotional pain and anger.

 I believe that there is.  In fact, I believe that the person who omits the truth when he or she knows damned well that his or her partner would be crushed if he or she knew it, is as much of a liar as the person who looks you squarely in the face and tells a big whopper.

When we are connected with others and we are not fully forthcoming about matters of the heart, matters  that serve to hurt and deceive them, we can accurately be branded as liars even when we omit information rather than speak lies from our mouths.

Silence can be good at times, but in instances when the mechanics of a relationships are involved,  silence is tantamount to telling a serious lie…especially  when our partners want to know the truth, ask us outright what the truth is, and receive evasion or silence.

Any relationship that is sustained on lies is no REAL relationship at all….at least, not a healthy, respectful one.   These types of relationships are sustained on insecurities and on sick psychological dependencies that have nothing to do with love.  Committed partners simply don’t do it to one another.

These types of lies, the silent ones,  should not be confused with maintaining a sense of privacy in a relationship.  No one should be obligated, for example, to give his or her partner their passwords,  or to reveal personal information that does not threaten the relationship.   That is invasive and frankly,  just silly.  Everyone deserves privacy, but one should simply be able to state that openly.  “No, I don’t feel comfortable giving you my Facebook password, because I’d like to maintain my privacy.”  There is nothing wrong with that.

However, if someone is having an affair, it is different.

I have a good friend who exists in an untruthful relationship.  He fears his partner,  so virtually never tells her  the truth.  As a result, my friend is tied into knots half the time, miserable and unhappy, confused, hemmed in, resentful and living an inauthentic  life that doesn’t even remotely resemble who he really is.  He is in the relationship because of guilt, obligation, psychological dependency….but not because of a conscious, adult choice.  He is in the relationship because he fears his partner, not because he loves her.   But does that excuse his lying?  I can only speak for myself when I say that I would never remain in a relationship where I could not be my authentic self.  If I feared my partner, then I would not really consider that person to be an actual partner….and I can see infidelity being the result of that…but why not just split?  Some people won’t split because their relationships are abusive.  They have been convinced that they have no power without the abuser.

Just as a lie is a misrepresentation of the truth, so is remaining silent in those instances when doing so might make the other person believe something that is far removed from the truth.  Spoken or unspoken…a lie is a lie.…and if someone is doing something that his or her partner would break up with him or her over, then the union is a farce.

 I cannot, for the life of me, justify or even imagine being in a relationship where I had to lie to my partner…either spoken or by omission….just so I could go ahead and  do what I wanted to do behind that person’s back!  Why on earth would I want to be with someone who would not allow me to be myself….to talk to the friends I want to talk to….to go the places I want to go?   To me, partnership means sharing one’s life…not hiding it….and if you’re involved in a relationship where you have to hide your authentic self,  it isn’t really a partnership, and it isn’t a love relationship.  The whole  thing is a lie.

Misleading statements are also lies.

 A misleading statement is a tricky kind of lie .  It occurs when  there is no outright, obvious  lie told, but it still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe  an untruth….and what is the point of that?   If my husband/partner cannot accept what I do, tough.  I am an adult, and I am in a partnership, not a prison.  It is not my place to tell him what to do, and it is not his place to tell me what to do.  I  am faithful because I want to be….not because I have to be.  I am faithful out of a sense of respect for my marriage.

What about partners who issue ultimatums?  Is that a good reason to lie or to withhold the truth?    Ultimatums are for faux relationships that are unsteady and unbalanced.  Ultimatums that exist for the sole purpose of controlling another person should not exist.  Honesty should.  There is nothing wrong with having boundaries.  There is no fault in someone’s saying, “If you do that again, I will not participate in the relationship any longer,” but there is a distinct difference between setting boundaries to maintain one’s own sanity, and tossing out ultimatums to control the person you are involved with.

 Fortunately, I have enough respect for my husband to be honest with him.  It makes me sad to see friends who are in relationships where they do not respect their partners enough to tell them the truth.  That, to me, is tantamount to living in hell.  I simply wouldn’t do it….even in the case of my friend who lies because his partner creates hell when he tries to be honest.

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As adults, we all have the right to privacy.  When another adult asks a question about something that we don’t want to answer, each of us has the right to say, “I’d rather keep that information to myself.”  However, in the case of fidelity between couples, I don’t think so.  If you are in a committed relationship and your partner is lying to you…either with word or deed…or in silence….my advice is to beat it to the nearest door. …unless you are helpless and dysfunctional.  Then, you are apt to simply wallow in it while other people whisper about what a fool you are……forever.  And they do.  You can count on that much.

8 responses

  1. So true! Some people believe that as long as they don’t admit something… as long as they remain silent… they will not be “caught.” They are just cheating themselves out of living an authentic life.

    • This is a very sad phenomenon, Genie. The lies hurt the liar as much as they hurt those around them. I have had relationships where this was a problem….but I had the strength to extricate myself from those situations very quickly. I can’t imagine being so desperate that I would feel compelled to stick around in a relationship where my partner lied to me continually about something as important as being faithful/unfaithful. Nor can I imagine lying to my partner day in and day out and being miserable every minute that I was with that person.

      My friend’s partner is well aware that his/her partner lies and cheats, too. They just have some kind of sick, weak dependency that I will never understand. The truth can hurt, but it never hurts as much as living a lie that other people are aware of. Imagine what it must feel like for everyone to whisper behind your back about what a fool you are.

    • Cute video. I’ve seen one where the subject was dogs who also “lied” about what they’d eaten. Actually, it reminds me of my own son at about that age. Oh, the stories I could tell you about that boy! White blond hair, big green eyes…the most innocent looking little angel. ha ha! It is a pithy video, though, in that it illustrates that regardless of how much a liar lies, people do know and understand the truth, no matter how many times the lies are repeated.

  2. I’m sure you know that your friend will change his/her relationship when they get tired of living that way…… which may be never. It is so sad and difficult to watch someone you care about continue to make choices that lead to their own misery. It’s baffling.

      • Yes. I think fear of the unknown keeps many people in misery. People would rather stay in a known miserable situation that risk something new. We’re all guilty of it sometimes, myself included of course. The funny thing is when I have dreaded something and then finally found the courage to face it, almost never is it as bad as I’ve thought it was going to be.

  3. That is what I keep telling my friend! She/He has been in this relationship for 15 years now. There are two children in the mix now, too, that are negatively impacted by the whole thing. Everyone who knows them is negatively impacted by the whole thing. I keep telling him/her that if he/she would just be honest and live authentically, the universe will sort things out for him/her and let him/her wind up exactly where he/she needs to be. As long as she/he continues to lie, she/he will remain unhappy. Once she/he reveals who she/he *really* is, my friend will attract the person that she/he is intended to be with. That’s how it rolls! (….not just for her/him, but for everyone.)