The topic of trust is an important factor in all matters of the heart — and here’s why. Men lie to women. Women lie to men. And most people agree that some lying is even necessary — to avoid petty squabbles and to grease the wheels of a relationship.
At the heart of many men’s lies, however, is the male ego. Men lie to build themselves up or to conceal something, DePaulo says. According to psychologist Michael Lewis in the book Lying and Deception in Everyday Life, men are more likely to lie to enhance themselves than women are.
But consistent lying — even about minor matters — can unglue a marriage. Women need to know what kind of lies to watch for, when to accept the lies and when to call a partner’s bluff. Here, from my own experience and surveys, are some of the most common lies men tell women:
“Me? I graduated top of my class.”
This is a classic case of the runaway male ego, designed to present a man in the best light and impress a woman. When the lies continue into marriage, it’s not long before the truth will out.
Playwright Neil Simon recalls what happened after his first hit play, Come Blow Your Horn. Every morning he’d leave for his office, telling his wife he was writing his next play. In fact, Simon had become so engrossed in a dart game he’d devised that he had not written a word. “For two months I lied to Joan,” he wrote later. “I told her the new play I was feverishly working on was coming along nicely.”
Men have a hard time admitting failure. How our culture defines success is important to a man, so he assumes it’s important to his partner.
Normally, as trust builds, a man drops these types of lies. If he doesn’t, his spouse needs to be careful. A man who can’t be honest about his failures — at work or elsewhere — may end up blaming his wife when the going gets tough in their marriage.
“Of course I like your friends!”
The lies to make a woman fall in love or stay in love account for many truth-stretchers. In one study, psychologist William Tooke and an assistant at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh asked 110 students at the university to look at 88 deceptive tactics — such as inflating one’s accomplishments and wearing designer clothes to appear wealthy — and reveal how often they were used in their own relationships. Men were significantly more likely than women to use such deceptions.
A man I know told his girlfriend, “You’re a great cook — much better than my mother.” In fact, his mother is a chef at a well-known New York restaurant. Fortunately for him, by the time his girlfriend discovered the truth — when they dined at his mother’s restaurant — she was so in love that she forgave his overzealous compliment.
Women sometimes aren’t as cautious as they should be when flattered. If a man insists that his wife’s parents are wonderful, she should observe whether he actually wants to spend time with them. The same applies for her dog, her kids or anything else he says he’s crazy about.
Ego-stroking statements that turn out to be total lies may be designed to cover up opposite feelings — for instance, when a man says he values his wife’s work but actually doesn’t consider it important. Such lies can signal serious problems ahead, whether it’s dealing with child care, vacation plans or career moves.
“Honey, you’re the best.”
One of the most lied-about subjects has to be sex. Perhaps that’s because it’s the area where we are most vulnerable. Here again men are likely to lie.
In the first rush of romance it makes sense for a man to engage in exaggerated praise of a woman’s beauty and sexuality. But “you’re the best” lies can paralyze a relationship.
A male colleague once confided to me that there were things he hated about his wife’s lovemaking. But he couldn’t bring them up because he’d spent years telling her she was “the greatest” in bed. By continually lying to her, he had placed real limitations on their love life — and their marriage.
If a woman feels her man is holding back on his true sexual feelings, she needs to encourage him to be open. Talking about her own preferences is a good way to begin. Real intimacy depends on truth — lovingly told — especially in the bedroom.