Almost everyone lies from time to time, and reckless lying can even help protect another person's feelings or maintain stability in your relationship. However, excessive or destructive lying can damage your relationship with your spouse beyond repair.
So how can you tell if and when your spouse is lying?Spotting a lie is not easy. Your own suspicions can get in the way of finding the truth. Learn the signs you are being lied to and what to do if you think your spouse is lying to you.
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This episode of is hosted by Editor-in-Chief and Therapist Amy Morin, LCSWThe Verywell Mind Podcast, with psychologist Paul Ekman, also known as "the human lie detector," explains why people lie and how to tell when someone is lying. Click below to listen now.
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Why do people lie in relationships?
People choose to lie for many reasons. Your reasons for lying can be well-intentioned and benign, or they can be intentional attempts to hurt you. Reasons for lying can be:
- Avoid conflict, shame or face the consequences of their behavior
- fear of rejectionor lose your spouse
- Hide something they did or didn't do
- Stay in control of a situation.
- Make yourself look good or more successful, more special or more talented than you really are
- Putting off having to make lifestyle changes
- Trying to protect someone else's feelings
While someone tells lies to protect their partner's feelings or to avoid conflict, these and other lies can still cause problems in a relationship by reducing trust and confidence.intimacy.
While it can be helpful to be aware of some typical signs of lying, it's also easy to misinterpret such behaviors. In fact, one study found that humans could only accurately detect lies 54% of the time in a laboratory setting. While you may believe someone is lying, it can be difficult to know for sure.
Spotting a lie isn't always as easy or straightforward as spotting unusual body language or behavior. However, the following signs may be present when someone is not telling the truth or is withholding information:
- avoid eye contact
- Be vague or give few details.
- body languagewhich is contradictory (like saying "no" but nodding up and down)
- Unusual body language (exrestless, stiffness, rubbing forehead, playing with hair or drooping)
- Continuallydefensivenessor deny the allegations
- Evasive answers or contradictions in what they say
- sweating on the forehead
- Put a barrier like a desk or chair in front of you.
- Provide more information or details than necessary or requested
- Say "no" several times.
- end the conversation
- unusual calm
- unusual voice fluctuations
- Unwillingness to touch spouse during conversation.
It's possible to mistake nervousness, distraction, or lack of eye contact for lying. Relying solely on common signs of lying can lead to misinterpretation or misidentification of your spouse's behavior. Nonverbal clues to lying can be difficult to spot and vary from person to person.
Scientists even have conflicting views on this issue. For example, some researchers claim that eye movements are not a good predictor of lying.
Dealing with someone who is pathologically lying
Impact of lying on a relationship
Some lies may seem harmless, and the occasional lie is probably inevitable (especially in the case ofpious lies or lies of omission). But even small, infrequent lies can lead to distrust and other relationship problems, including:
- Decreased Confidence: If your partner constantly tells lies, it can directly affect trust. The more lies they tell, the less you will trust them or believe in their honesty.
- Less compassion and empathy.: Lying makes it difficult to recognize a person's emotions, which in turn can reduce emotionscompassionjEmpathyYou feel towards that person.
- less privacy:privacyit requires emotional vulnerability that without a foundation of trust and honesty can become almost impossible.
- more lies and deceit: A study found that the brain can adapt to dishonesty. In other words, the more someone lies, the more their brain becomes accustomed to lying.
How to deal with a lying spouse
If you suspect your spouse is being dishonest, there are steps you can take to respond with compassion for your spouse and yourself.
- trust your instincts. It is important to trust your intuition. Your knee-jerk response may be more accurate than trying to identify stereotypical behaviors often associated with lying, such as B. Fidgeting and lack of eye contact.
- Set healthy expectations for honesty. For example, expecting your spouse to tell you exactly where they are and what they are doing every minute of the day is an unreasonable demand. But expecting honesty about your plans when you leave the house or check in regularly is usually reasonable.
- Pause to think before reacting to what your partner is saying.. If your partner tells you what you think is a lie, take a few moments before responding. Use the time to process your spouse's patterns of lying and avoid acting on themimpulsive.
- Ask direct questions or challenge what your spouse is saying.. A 2008 study suggests asking for eye contact and then asking to tell the story backwards if you think a person is lying. Lying takes considerable effort. So if you ask your spouse not to tell your story in chronological order, cracks in the story and other behavioral indicators may be easier to spot.
Should You Confront a Lying Spouse?
Some experts believe that the sooner all cards are laid on the table and the sooner honesty is experienced in a society, the better.
However, you may also consider waiting until you uncover more information and facts before confronting your spouse about your suspicions. Only you know what is most comfortable for you and what is best for your specific situation, including the possible consequences of accusations and confrontations.
Should You Forgive Your Partner?
Whether or not you forgive your partner for lying is a very personal decision that may depend on your partner's past behavior patterns and how much damage your lie has caused. Likewise, only you can decide how much lying is acceptable in your relationship. It is certainly more difficult to forgive a spouseinfidelitythan lying, going to happy hour with co-workers.
But note thathold grudgesit can undermine your well-being and your relationship, so do your best to communicate your pain.forgive your partnerit doesn't mean you condone lying or hurtful behavior.
If you are struggling with problems caused by lying in a relationship,consider marriage counseling. Even if your spouse doesn't want to go with you, talking to a marriage counselor can help you come to terms with the lie and let go and forgive so you can move on.
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When to Leave a Lying Spouse
A little lying is common in romantic relationships. For example, your partner might omit details about a previous relationship. Or if you ask them if they're attracted to someone, they might say no, even if they really are. It's not uncommon for people to downplay certain things to keep the peace in their relationships.
It is important that you and your partner agree on what constitutes a harmful lie.One study found that people are likely to project their own beliefs onto their romantic partners. So it's important to take a few to think about.where are your limitswhen it comes to misinformation in your relationship.
When you know your own limits, talk about them with your partner. Do you agree what it means to cheat the other? What information is non-negotiable? What is unacceptable to be dishonest?
It may be time to end the relationship when you and your partner can't agree on the kind of information you need to honestly share with each other.
You may also ask yourself: am I giving my partner enough space to share information with me? When they try to be honest with you, but youcriticizeÖWastethem, they may find it harder to share things in the future.
When you set boundaries in relationships, it's important to draw conclusions. If your partner has been lying to you constantly, let them know that you will find it difficult to maintain a relationship with them if they continue this behavior. If he continues to lie, it's important to face the consequences.
If your partner shows no remorse for lying, hurting your feelings, or shows no willingness to change their behavior or seek help, you should seriously consider ending the relationship.
A word from Verywell
While some lies are normal and can be used to keep the peace or not to hurt the other person's feelings, trying to cover up your actions or lying repeatedly can undermine a relationship. Conclusion: Honesty is a healthier approach to a happy marriage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I learn to trust my spouse after he lied to me?
rebuild trustAnd getting your relationship back on track often starts with being honest about the underlying cause of the betrayal and making a commitment to forgive your partner. But it also requires an effort on your partner's part to show a willingness to take responsibility for the lies and make an effort to change their behavior.(Video) How to tell if your spouse is lying and what to do about it
Is lying a form of abuse?
It depends on why and how your spouse is lying. The people who get involvedemotional abuseThey often lie to control and manipulate their partner. For example, lying is often a big part ofgas lighting, which is a form of manipulation that occurs in abusive relationships.
What should I do if my spouse accuses me of lying?
If the allegation is false, consider why your spouse suspects you are lying. Are you insecure in your relationship? Has your level of intimacy changed recently? Are they fooling you or are they fooling themselves? Figuring out why can help you decide what to do next.(Video) 6 Signs Your Spouse Is Having An Affair