The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Honesty and Communication

Everyone lies, so why does my partner object to my lying?

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner:   Here is a question I got from Tina. See what your take is on this. “Hi Dr. Kenner. I know I’m not in a healthy relationship. My partner always thinks I’m lying, just because he caught me lying before. Well, he’s lied also. Everyone lies. They just call it white lies. He also calls me names, a retard, or tells me he’s wasted these past 10 years with me. I think I’ve had enough of him. I know there’ve been times that I’ve said things out of anger and didn’t really mean them, but he yells at me. Every time I try to explain myself he says, “I don’t want to hear your lame excuses.” I have three kids and I love my partner, I think. But I need to know what his behavior means. I need to make a quick decision that is best for me and the kids. Thank you for your time, Tina.”


So Tina, you have two of the biggest problems in any relationship. The first one is dishonesty. You cannot have a good, calm, supportive, loving, nurturing, romantic relationship if you’re both lying to one another. And it is true that if you lie once, your partner has reason to distrust you. And it is true also that little white lies really damage you. Now why is that the case? There are two problems, I’ll tell you first, are dishonesty and a breakdown in communication. So first let’s talk about the dishonesty.


Lying is going to take its tolls. Why would little white lies cause damage? Do you like my dress? Yes, I love your dress. Because if you don’t love the dress, you’re faking facts. You’re not in contact with reality. And you know that you’re faking. You know that you’re lying and your own self-esteem is going to suffer. You’re also giving the other person false information that you like their dress when you don’t like their dress. And you’re counting on them never finding out the truth, so you always have to hide the fact that this hideous dress that they’re wearing, that’s your evaluation, is something that you’ve told them that you like.


Here’s an example when I liked to somebody. I did one of these little white lies and it was something that stayed with me and taught me a big lesson. I had a lovely neighbor, an elderly woman that I liked a lot. I really liked her. I mean, this is going to date me, but I used green stamps to get her a pasta-making machine. If you don’t know what green stamps are, you can Google it. But she loved cooking and I enjoyed her so much. So she made me for Christmas almond cookies. She made it for me and my hubby. I don’t like the taste of almond, or amaretto. It was something either almond or amaretto. I felt uncomfortable, “How did you like the cookies?” What would you say? I don’t like almond, or I don’t like amaretto? So I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and I didn’t have the courage to say the truth, so I told her, “They were good.” And guess what she did, because she really liked me? She made me another big batch of these cookies. And I just didn’t know what to do. I felt like I did get myself deeper into the lie. So I decided to try to avoid white lies at all costs and I like myself a whole lot better. So you do want to commit to the truth.


The second thing is communication skills. If you’re engaging in name calling, “You’re a retard or I don’t want to hear your lame excuses,” just being dismissive of the person, it’s not good for either you or your partner, and it’s not good for your three kids! They feel like they live in a chaotic world. They don’t realize that adults can communicate well. And so what I would recommend there is, I wrote a book with Dr. Ed Locke, and it’s called The Selfish Path to Romance, how to love with passion and reason. That means you value yourself. You never take advantage of anyone else, your partner in this case, and you love your partner. You learn how to cherish one another. Both of you love yourselves and one another. And so you’re looking here, you can go to that book and read on honesty, you can read on conflict resolution - how do you resolve conflict? What are the specific communication skills you need? We have that in part six in our book. And also, if you’re looking to make a quick decision, do I stay in the relationship of 10 years or not, quick decisions are not good. You want a thoughtful decision. Unless there are safety issues, obviously. At the end of our book we have a nine-step plan, and our appendix on how to part ways and start over if you cease being soul mates. It’s very organized. You need to identify the reasons you’re considering leaving, identify what’s keeping you in a bad relationship, make a final decision by tying all the information together, talking to one another about it and helping your kids through it. There are a lot of wonderful tips in our book. You can get that and you can also visit my website,