Lies can take on many forms. Here are two forms I’ve identified: eventful and hurtful.
Eventful lies are when someone lies about things or events that do not directly affect you. For instance, your friend tells you she is happy when she is not. Or she tells you she is on a diet and losing lots of weight, when you can clearly see with your own eyes that the opposite is happening. With eventful lies, you are not the target of the lie. It may make you feel upset, mad or uncomfortable because you feel as if you are being played for dumb. However, if you think about it, these lies truly have nothing to do with you—it’s all about the liar.
Why do people tell eventful lies? Plain and simply because they are unable to cope with the truth. They don’t even consider how you feel when they lie—it’s all about their inability to cope. The reality is that their life is painful; instead of dealing with it, they try to bury it—and the more they try to bury it, the more and more they lie. It’s a vicious cycle which only robs the liar of self-esteem and confidence. It’s sadly a self-defeating coping mechanism, and worse, it pervades our society today. So many people are suffering the self-inflicted ills of eventful lies. It’s sad.
Hurtful lies, however, are when someone sets out to tell you something that (a) involves you; or (b) with the knowledge that saying such a lie can and/or will hurt you. In this instance, your friend tells you she stayed home last night sick when you know from another friend she actually went out to a party. Hurtful lies are the lies that are not easily forgotten. These are the lies that are destructive to any form of relationship.
Several readers have written to me over the past month asking me questions like “How do you deal with lies?” “Do you confront liars?” “Do you tell a friend who is living in denial the truth when she can’t see it?”
When people lie to me, I always ask myself: What is their motivation?
Are they unable to cope with the world? Or are they trying to be hurtful? When people lie and I see that it’s because they are unable to cope with their world, I can often let the lie slide. I don’t get jarred or upset, because I realize the liar and his/her lies have nothing to do with me. These lies are all about the person who is lying. How can you be mad at someone who can’t even be honest with themselves? An eventful liar may be a good, kind heart who just isn’t able to cope with life.
When I was younger, I tried fruitlessly to help eventful liars, but in the end, I only isolated myself. It’s best to leave people in denial (after offering a hint or a suggestion and getting rejected), because they aren’t going to change simply because you say the truth. They usually know the truth, but are running as hard as they can away from it. Do know that they will only change when they are good and ready. If you don’t like it, I suggest you distance yourself to a comfortable location. There is little you are going to be able to do. Denial is an ugly, powerful monster.
Should you confront the hurtful liar? Well, the choice is certainly yours, but it is going to be an uphill battle, and it is a battle you’ve already lost. If someone tells you a hurtful lie, you already know, without having to go any further, that they are going to put their own interests ahead of yours—every time—and so the value of the relationship has disintegrated. You now know you are not valued anymore. Essentially, if you ask me, the relationship has disintegrated beyond repair, for good. So what is the point of confrontation?
The only time I will ever confront anyone is if I have established a very close relationship with them, and I know that I have some potential to get through to them. When I am in a close relationship like this, I know that honesty is valued, and in these situations, I will work hard to have the truth prevail. If I can’t get through, I will worry about the future of our relationship.
How do I approach them? I approach them with love, kindness and concern. I am never brutal, cruel or mean. I tell them that I am concerned and worried. I question them and express my fears. I try to lead them to the truth. I tell them that I love them more than anything, and that I am willing to lay all my feelings on the table, even if it means risking losing the relationship, because I care so much about them that I can’t handle seeing this situation deteriorate any further.
You must have the type of relationship that was built on honesty in order to endure this. If you don’t, it could very well be the end of your relationship, though you may find the risk worthy for the good of a friend. You just have to be willing to lose your friend with honorable intentions. It’s all about being honorable. You can do this in any relationship so long as you are certain your intentions are true and are out of pure love for your friend.
In an ideal world, all friendships would be based on honesty. We wouldn’t face eventful or hurtful lies, but the sad fact is we do, every day. We thankfully see a million times more eventful lies than we do hurtful lies, which makes it a little easier, because we know it is nothing personal.
As my mom always says, “If you have to hide something, ever, something is wrong—very wrong. Let that be your guide.”
I hope this helps you take a new perspective on the lies you face. Why are you/they hiding that? What was the motivation of that lie? Is it really about them, or is it all about you?