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Lying in Relationships: Why Do People Do It and How Concerned Should You Be?

September 23, 2020


Even though most people would say they believe you should never tell a lie when you can tell the truth instead, lying is a lot more common than you might think. Lying is a pretty deeply ingrained human behavior, with roughly 60 percent of people spouting untruths regularly. A dizzying number of people even tell a lie every few minutes, some without necessarily realizing it.

Of course, most of the lies people tell are trivial and relatively harmless. A few little white lies in relationships may even be preferable, as not everyone likes brutal honesty when it comes to hearing what their partner truly thinks of them. However, more significant deceptions are common enough to make understanding the reasons for lying important too.

Why Do People Lie?

There are as many different reasons someone might decide to lie to their partner as there are types of people in the world in the first place. Some of those reasons are innocent or even non-existent, as people do sometimes lie “just because.” Others are a lot more serious. Here are a few of the most common.


With around 15-18 percent of married couples choosing to step outside their relationships sexually or romantically at one point or another, cheating isn’t necessarily the norm. However, it remains most people’s top concern as far as possible reasons a partner might be lying or sneaking around. The way modern technology tracks your every move makes it pretty hard to get away with cheating for very long these days, but there will always be those who try anyway.

Desire to Avoid Consequences

Even honest people don’t necessarily like to be held accountable for their actions and choices. People spend money they shouldn’t have, watch porn on the down-low, or perpetuate friendships with people they know their partner doesn’t like. Most think they have good reasons for not being honest about such things, but it’s more likely to be about not wanting to wind up in hot water if they can avoid it instead.


People care what their partners or potential love interests might think of them. It’s why over 90 percent of people lie on their dating profiles to at least some extent. Most of these lies are insecurity-based, though, and relatively harmless. For instance, men may fudge the facts when it comes to what they earn or how tall they are. Women more commonly lie about their age or weight. Just about everyone bends the truth when it comes to topics like education, family background, and professional goals.

Family Ties

Family members can be sensitive topics when it comes to other people, but with spouses and partners, especially. Many families include people who are addicts, who are abusive, or who have cut ties with others in the family unit for various reasons. Someone in a relationship may lie out of embarrassment or out of a desire to protect their families from judgment.

To Avoid (or Cause) Hurt

Relationships can be complicated when it comes to concepts like hurt. Almost everyone can point to a time they told a little white lie (or maybe even a full-size falsehood) because they wanted to avoid needlessly hurting their partner’s feelings. However, it’s just as common for people who are hurt to want to hurt their partner in return. Lying serves both purposes equally well.

How Worried Should You Be About a Lying Partner?

No one likes to catch their partner in a lie, but it’s essential to realize that lying is part of human nature. Nobody’s perfect, your partner included. Everyone occasionally fibs, dances around the truth, or gives in to the temptation to lie by omission. However, there’s a massive difference between a little white lie told to spare someone’s feelings or avoid admitting to something embarrassing and a huge betrayal.

Relationships require openness and honesty if they’re going to stay healthy and happy, so no one should make a habit of lying or sneaking around when it comes to their partner. If you’ve caught your partner in a lie recently or suspect they might be lying to you about something significant, you’ll have to confront them – preferably with proof. If you’re trying to move forward after a past lie, there’s no shame in seeking out help via therapy or counseling.

Ultimately, lying crosses a line in a relationship when it’s so constant or so severe that it makes trust impossible, and no one should put up with being hurt or disrespected in their relationship. How serious a role does falsehoods play in your partnership? If something’s bothering you, don’t sit on it. Bring it up for discussion with your partner so the two of you can find a solution that’s fair, loving, and honest.

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