I’m lying to my boyfriend – How do I stop?
How do I stop lying to my boyfriend?
I’ve been following you for a couple of years now on your Facebook-page, and I’ve enjoyed reading your agony column, but now I’m finding myself in a place of actually needing some advice myself.
The thing is, I have a huge problem.
I’m constantly lying to my boyfriend – especially when it comes to finances. I’ll lie about bills that need to be paid, and when he asks me whether it’s been paid or not, I tend to say that it has been, even though I haven’t actually paid the bill.
I really don’t know how to stop lying to my boyfriend. I truly love him and I don’t want our relationship to end just because I can’t tell him the truth.
It’s all come to a point where he doesn’t believe me when I say I’ll seek help, or when I tell him that I love him.
I hope you can advice me on how to move forward.
The Anonymous Girl
I’m lying to my boyfriend – How do I stop?
Dear Anonymous Girl,
Thank you so much for your e-mail. I’m so pleased that you like following me on Facebook, and that you find little helpful nuggets in my many agony column replies.
I’m so glad you reached out to me!
You’re telling me that you’re lying to your boyfriend, and you’re asking me for advice to help you and your relationship to move forward, because your boyfriend no longer trusts you.
The cheeky response would definitely be: “Well, stop lying!” but you and I both know that when you’re in the habit of lying, it’s very difficult to shake.
There’s a really good reason to why you’re lying to your boyfriend. It might sound strange, but my old cognitive teacher, Henrik Tingleff, taught me that: “People do things for good reasons”, which means that there’s ALWAYS a good reason to why we do what we do.
Good reasons within yourself.
Good reasons that others very likely CAN’T see.
Other people, including your boyfriend, just see your actions.
That you’re lying.
What they don’t see is why you lie.
I’m not entirely convinced you know why you’re lying either.
The ‘why’ you’re lying doesn’t make you lying OK, but it does make it easier for yourself to understand yourself and to let go of the lying. I’ll talk more about this later on, and I also have an exercise I want you to do.
You’re telling me that you don’t like telling him the truth, and this might look like your “why” and your “good reason”, but let me tell you a bit about “good reasons” first.
“Good reasons” can be highly insensible in the long run – years down the track – but right now, short term, they seem like the “easy” thing to do.
It’s a bit like the old metaphor of pissing your pants, because it’ll warm you up. The problem, of course, is that the warmth doesn’t last very long at all, and it quickly turns into a cold, stinky and sticky mess. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that good and lasting results happen when you create new and sensible habits – and stick to them! Whether it’s about losing weight, finishing your gardening projects, learn new strategies at work, accomplishing something in your professional life, make your relationship better, create a more satisfying sex life…
Persistence is key.
You have to persist.
And this is where you run into trouble.
Because it can seem much “easier” to lie, and hereby take away the initial discomfort you feel when you don’t lie and actually tell your boyfriend the truth.
In that second, it IS easier to just ‘piss your pants’. However, the easy way out is, as you’ve probably noticed, not so easy after all.
The alternative to telling a lie is that you tell the truth and own it. Doing this will, in the long run, make your boyfriend trust you. And it’ll ultimately create a relationship in which the two of you find solutions together as a team – and figure out a way to get you to pay your bills in due time.
However, for all this to manifest, you need to tolerate the feeling inside of you when you DO NOT lie. THIS is where you’ll find your ‘good reason’.
In the sentence: “I don’t like telling him the truth”, why don’t you like telling him the truth? Is it easier for you to lie and thereby “escape” the feeling of discomfort you experience when you go ahead and tell him the truth, and that no, you didn’t pay the bills?
I want to give you a tool.
It’s a three-step ladder I want you to use when you work through the process of telling the truth.
I’ve used it several times with clients who’ve had the same problem as you’re experiencing, and who truly want to stop lying but are finding it so difficult to tell the truth.
The first thing you need to do is to sit down with a pen and paper, and for the next 90 minutes you’ll be doing nothing but exploring yourself and your ‘good reasons’ to why you lie.
You can’t change what you’re not willing to acknowledge and this is why you need to start off with figuring out – and acknowledging – WHAT is behind all this lying of yours. If you do this, and create this momentum of persistence, you will create lasting results.
An exercise to make you stop lying
- Write down the last 5 situations in which you lied to your boyfriend. Bullet points, if you will.
- I then want you to write down, why you lied, in each of these five instances. For example: I didn’t want him to find out that I didn’t pay the bill I promised him I’d pay.
- Now you need to start digging around for your ‘good reason’. This is one level deeper than #2. This is where you need to look at your reason to why you don’t tell him the truth – WHAT are you actually afraid of will happen if you tell him the truth? Why is it ”dangerous” for you to tell the truth and for him to discover that you haven’t paid the bills? What do you convince yourself the consequences will be? Why are you afraid that he’ll learn the truth?
When you’ve shed light on when you lie and what your reasons for lying are, I’ll recommend you to talk to your boyfriend and make a deal with him that NOW you’ll take this seriously and you’ll be all-in learning how to tell the truth.
Tell him what you’re afraid of and why your “old patterns” were what they were. Also, tell him that it’ll be a process and it’ll be two steps forward and one step back for a long period of time, but you’ll get there in the end.
You also tell me that he no longer trusts you. At all.
Not when you tell him you love him or when you actually HAVE paid those freaking bills.
And this is the core of the problem with lies and trust. You don’t really know when you count on a partner who lies, and therefore, you automatically begin to question everything they say and do; including whether you are actually loved or not.
Your boyfriend can help you
That being said, you need to remember that we as human beings “teach” each other what we’ll put up with, and what we won’t put up with.
Your boyfriend have, again and again, put up with being lied to. Yes, he has stayed in the relationship and he’s told you he won’t have you lying to him, but he’s continued to catch you lying to him anyway, and there haven’t even been any real consequences for you. None, anyway, that have been “severe enough” to make you change your behavior.
Hear me out.
It’s a learning process for your boyfriend as well, and it’ll be really good for him to fully understand this.
When he again and again has “allowed you” to lie to him without there being any consequences other than making him more and more unsure of whether the can trust you or not, this ‘learning’ hasn’t really been clear enough. Ok? The strategy he’s employed hasn’t worked on you. I’m sure he’s asked you to stop lying and you’ve told him continuously that you’ll stop – and you’re still lying to him. This ‘game’ has been going on between the two of you for a long time, and it’s only made things worse and worse.
Lying to your partner is a deal-breaker
In a relationship there are, in my eyes, deal-breakers. Deal-breakers are a certain type of behavior that makes you question whether you even want to be in this relationship.
And if you stay, then there’s work to do. Not just promises. No, work. You need to work on changing this insensible behavior or the relationship will end. This isn’t how the two of you have approached the whole ‘work on not lying’, and that’s such a shame.
Because really, you could’ve changed this a long time ago if you your boyfriend had insisted that you stopped lying. For instance, if he’d made it ABUNDANTLY clear to you that you’d lose him if you didn’t stop lying and if you didn’t change your behavior right away.
Studies also show that the most successful relationships are the ones that make it very clear, from the get-go, what you’ll put up with and what you won’t put up with. Identifying the deal-breakers, so to speak.
Of course, you can help each other along in this process and I also believe you should do this, also when you’re dealing with jealousy, a lack of sex drive, other types of distrust etc.
You are both a part of this relationship and you are both experiencing this to be a problem. Therefore, it’ll take two of you to solve this.
Love is (also) abot helping each other get rid of the not-so-flattering sides. We all have them, and it’s about letting these not-so-nice traits go before they ruin your relationship.
That being said, the majority of the work to be done is yours. I don’t want there to be any confusion about that. You need to acknowledge why you’re lying, in what types of situations you lie and what you can do to change your behavior from here on out.
For ages now, your boyfriend has asked you to be honest with him and you haven’t honored his wish. It’s time now for you to get to work, darling.
When you catch yourself about to lie – or start to feel like lying – then say it out loud: “Oh crap… Here I am about to lie again, because…” Say it out loud regardless of how embarrassing you think it might be. Saying this out loud is FAR better than actually lying…
Behind the lies, you’ll find fear
Behind the lies, there’s often vulnerability and a deep fear of rejection. Also, a lot of thoughts and ideas of what might happen if we’re honest…
If I show you who I really am, you’ll reject me and you won’t love me, and therefore I have to lie. Despite the fact that it’s the lie that makes our partner distance themselves from us both physically and emotionally. In the end, the lies will also be what might cause them to leave.
You might recognize this from other areas of your life, where you lie because you’re afraid of the consequences if you go ahead and tell the truth?
Keep your eyes on the prize
When you choose to work on not lying, you need to constantly remind yourself of what on ‘the other side’ of your efforts. You constantly need to keep in mind what your reward is.
What do you gain from telling the truth despite the fact that the truth makes you feel uncomfortable? What will the long-term benefits be?
What do you gain from changing your behavior?
The way I see, your reward is a relationship without any distrust and a boyfriend who trusts you, and, with this, security. On top of this, you’ll see yourself as a person who can look yourself in the eyes and say to yourself, honestly and openly: “Yes, I do make mistakes and sometimes I screw up (Join the club! All human beings make mistakes!), but I own these mistakes and I recognize my mistakes, and I apologize, and I make amends.”
THIS does something to your self-worth and how you see yourself. I guarantee it. And so, a benefit with be that you’ll feel so much better about yourself as honesty slowly but steady becomes an ingrained part of your personality.
And remember, you don’t actually have anything to lose anymore; as it is, your boyfriend doesn’t trust you one bit. Basically, it can only get better.
What if I screw up and lie to my boyfriend again?
Yes, what if you do?
It would be utopia to think that you’ll stop lying “just” because you’ve written to me, received this advice on what to do and an exercise for you to try out.
There’s also the fact that you’ve promised yourself that you won’t ever lie to your boyfriend again. But you’re human… it’s crazy to think that you won’t screw up again.
I’ll guarantee it.
When you do screw up, you need to put your cards on the table right away; own your mistake and apologize (even though you feel ashamed!). You have to make things right the moment you realize you’ve done something wrong. While doing this, you’ll figure out what on earth caused you to lie in that particular situation, share this with your boyfriend and talk to him about your ‘good reason’.
From now on, honesty to both yourself and your partner is the absolute most important thing. It’s such an honest thing to do to tell your partner: “I accidentally lied to you yesterday, and I’d like to apologize to you. Would you like to talk to me about what it is I’m so afraid of?”
If you’re both aware of the fact that you’re going through this and that it’s a process, and that it’s inevitable that you WILL find yourself in this situation again, but you promise your boyfriend that you’ll come to him and admit to your screw ups (and he sees this), then you’ll slowly but surely start to rebuild the trust between you.
I wish you and your boyfriend the very best. Stick to this and remember that it’s a process and you’ll soon be a trustworthy person again.
Maj Wismann – Clinical sexologist and couple’s therapist with private clinic since 2006.
More posts about lying:
► Agony column: I don’t trust my partner <—
★ Are you also lying? And are you having a hard time telling the truth despite really wanting to? Have you managed to turn things around? Or have you experienced that your partner won’t stop lying? It’d be amazing to see some comments from anyone who can relate to this
*Please remember to keep a nice tone. ALL negative comments will be deleted immediately. I wish to create a positive and supporting space where we can support each other, and I therefore have a zero-tolerance policy towards rudeness, condescension, negative inputs and disrespect.