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Why do people lie?

You have met at least one person in your life who lied to you about something. And maybe you have lied at least once to someone in your life, even if it was for good intentions. Lying is a common behavior and it can have different underlying reasons. If you are being lied to, you can identify one of these reasons and react accordingly.

Here are 6 reasons why people lie and what to do about them:

1.It matters to the them: The topic at hand is very important to them and it’s a priority to them. Everbody’s priorities may be different. Your partner or friend’s priority doesn’t always have to make sense to you. You can approach these people by emphasizing with the importance of the topic for them: “I understand this outing is very important for you and you told me you were sick so you could skip the meeting and go to the gathering instead”.

2.Telling the truth feels like giving up control: Sometimes truth can hurt or may be too difficult to admit. People might have emotional or health issues that they may not want to share with everybody. They may also lie to exert influence on getting the decisions and reactions they want. You can remind these people that no matter what they share, they still have strength and focus on their strengths.

3.They don’t want to disappoint you: Sometimes people lie not to lose respect the people around them or they may worry about disappointing you. You may approach these people by telling them that you appreciate their sensitivity and caring for you.

4.One lie leads to another: You lie, and you tell another one to cover the previous lie. These people keep telling lies because they don’t want you to know they lied at the beginning. They are afraid of losing your respect. In these cases, you can be truly open and honest and tell them that the pieces in their story is missing. You can tell them you value honesty and encourage them for an honest conversation. 

5.It’s not a lie – to them: Memory can be unreliable especially under stress. Some traumatic or stressful memories are hard to process and memory recodes these experiences in a less distressing way. In this case, the person may need emotional and psychological help to process the true memory. 

6.They want it to be true: People hope that they can make something come true, by saying it over and over, and believing it as hard as they can. It is important to communicate to these people that their current state is ok and working on acceptance. 

Honesty and trust is an important value for every relationship. However, if the underlying reason of why they lie is one of those six items, talking about these reasons may open up a deeper level of understanding between you and the other person.

-Ipek Aykol, LMFT 97315