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Is lying just a way of life?

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painfulpast posted 8/19/2014 15:01 PM

So, years ago, I bought a bunch of Harry Potter DVDs. WH and I watched the first one. He wasn't all that interested. I'd read the books so seeing the films was more of 'how did they play out on screen.'

After DDay, long after, he mentions having watched them. I said he only watched one. He insisted we watched them all. BULLSHIT. I told him he probably watched them because OW watched them and then they'd have something to talk about, blah blah blah. Nope, he insists WE watched them.

Cut to last week. Somehow, these movies come up. Now he says he only watched the first one. WHAT THE FUCK! I remind him he told me he watched them. No, he says, just that first one that we watched. After a couple of back and forths, I just turned away and said, extremely coldly, that I have no interest in furthering this discussion. In a very unlike him move, he just let it go.

It's like the bullshit never ends. It's been nearly 4 years since DDay and I had no interest in any A related anything, but it's been bugging me for days. Not so much the actual Harry Potter thing, but just the whole A related lie thing.

It's just maddening!

BtraydWife posted 8/19/2014 15:10 PM

I think for some people it is, unfortunately. I couldn't hang with that.

Sunrising posted 8/19/2014 15:21 PM

I agree
There are some people which lying has become a " normal" way of life for them
My WS said many years ago as achild he would lie about a lot of things, he then stopped doing it. Funny how it came back with a vengeance many years later!. I remember the days when he WAS honest about things, very sad he's chosen to become a lier again.

musiclovingmom posted 8/19/2014 18:25 PM

For my H, it was. For his mother it still is. He has worked very hard to combat this, but it takes extremely intentional effort and we have talks often about what I consider to be a lie (he had a VERY different definition of lie than I do). He lies to make himself look better. He lies to avoid conflict. He lies to people please. He tells lies of exaggeration. He tells lies of omission. Half-truths. I'm not really sure he has ever told the full truth about anything in his life except in the last few months. I see progress, but it is an almost daily struggle - even at two years out.

Chinadoll30 posted 8/20/2014 07:36 AM

Someone explained it to me as this: we develop these coping mechanisms as we grow (usually as children). They help us survive. But sometimes, these same survival mechanisms can turn us feral. Not only help us survive, but turn us wild. For my WH, lying was a at of protecting himself. If he told the truth, he would no longer receive love and often receive physical and emotional abuse. So he learned to lie to protect himself. Unfortunately, his defense mechanism turned against him. What started as survival became destructive. He now has to unlearn the very thing he has relied on to help him survive.
Your situation may be different. And lying is completely unacceptable to me. But it does help me to understand why WH does(did?) it.

peoplepleaser posted 8/20/2014 09:28 AM

I agree but would word that differently. We do develop coping skills young in life that work to meet our needs. If lying kept the peace, kept us from being emotionally or physically abused, or was modeled and expected by our caregivers then it likely becomes a typical way to deal with social situations. Through lying some people believe they are showing love and respect, as lying to another about ones anger or sadness not only protects one from being rejected or hurt, it also protects others from feeling emotional negativity. In some families this is expected. It's a lot like a family value.

I've met several people who tell different stories about the same incident at different times because the motivation in sharing experiences is about the exchange more than the details of what happened. For instance, he may have needed to believe or needed you to believe he watched the movies with you in your conversation. The more recent one might have required him to discuss the movies (or some other consequence he was avoiding) so he said he didn't watch them. It's less about a goal of deceiving and more about controlling another's expectations on him in the social exchange. The importance is placed on the immediate outcome rather than to obtain a genuine emotional connection with others. It may be that he is thinking about what he believes the other person needs to hear or believe to make them feel better at the time, with an underlying personal benefit of protection from emotional vulnerability. I'm realizing that the truth just isn't important to some people. Especially those who have been taught that their truth or feelings or thoughts matter less than other's comfort level. Especially when they have been taught that the truth is damaging. It's paradoxical to those of us who cherish emotional connectivity from truth and see it as genuineness. Their genuineness comes from what they can do in the moment to appease those around them without consideration for the long term fallout.

My WS is a good person deep down. She suffers from the same propensity to lie. Not out of an intent to deceive, though. For instance, soon after DDay she asked me to lie by omission to her mother about her mothers dog peeing in our house. It seemed harmless, but I had just undergone months of TT and discoveries about lots of little lies that built up in our relationship, for reasons similar to those listed above. I was taken aback. Really? She's asking me to lie? Her reasoning was that it wouldn't solve anything but make her mother feel bad and not ask us to watch the dog again. Or even that her mother would be snarky about it, assuming we told her so she wouldn't as us again. And that her mother watches our child and doesn't report the bad things he does when over there so that we don't feel bad or assume she doesn't want him there. My response was that it's not my responsibility to hide things based on my perception of how others will respond. I'm not accountable for others actions based on my ability to be genuine. I can't be held accountable for managing others emotions and actions by withholding information. I share it with the idea that I respect them enough to give them the information they need to make their own decisions. If we say we will still watch the dog and she chooses not to ask, that's on her. But if there is something wrong with the dog because of his behavior, her mother should know. Similarly I don't like that she doesn't tell us if our child behaves poorly in her home. I have learned that if she tells me something my child did, even if she says it's ok, it really wasn't and we need to address it. If her mother jokes about something that I did that inconvenienced her, I need to read into it and adjust my behavior. That's her way of communicating. Her sister lied to me about something during the same time that was unnecessary, but hurtful. It was what they learned to do in their family to avoid conflict, attempt to protect others from hurt feelings and control situations so that they could better deal with them in the moment.

Often they forget that they said something different a different time, too. We have gotten into arguments about the truth and she has argued that the context of the prior conversation led to the different answer without the realization that her answers were in conflict. Early on we talked about her draw toward the type of women she confided in and kept secret from me based on what she might get out of the correspondence--feeling wanted. But in a later conversation where we talked about her intent with the friendships and how she feet in our relationship at the time she claimed it had nothing to do with sexual attention in the beginning.

I'm not NOT saying it is ok or excusable in a romantic relationship. I bet there are many out there in relationships with others who share that same view and thrive with each other living a happy life. But when you get someone who values honesty with someone who values impressions it becomes a problem. A serious problem. For her, my ability to be genuine and share my thoughts and feelings with total honesty has been perceived as selfish. Though I recognize and try to practice the notion that there is a difference between being honest and being an asshole (as how and when you share honesty is important to effective communication), the fact that I don't hold back my wants, needs and concerns seems overbearing and is judged as insensitive and disrespectful. She would rather I assume she had the best intentions and swallow my concerns more often than I do. It gets messy.

I know this is long, and I'm sorry for that. I am processing this as I write and it's helping me to do so. Thank you for the post.

In the long run, it's important that those who have deceived horribly through As learn that any lie following DDay is retraumatizing to their BS, even if it's not a lie told to the BS. It destroys any trust that might have returned, and even becomes missed opportunities for building it. In my experience there is a learning curve in which the lies are corrected sooner each time, which is difficult because praising their ability to come clean even an hour later is difficult after the lie was already muttered. Worse, part of the curve is navigating conversations in which the truth is avoided by using circular logic or direct accountability. There are times that she sounds like a politician. I'll say, "you did this," and instead if agreeing she will repeat what she did in her own words that avoid directly saying, "I did that." For example, I'll say, "you chose not to tell me that you would take a break from therapy to do this activity," and she will reply, "I made that decision without talking to you because we already talked about how I had no time," instead of saying, "yes, I made the choice not to talk to you about it directly because (I knew you would be angry, I expected you to understand without talking, I didn't think about it but you are right it was deceptive, I was afraid you wouldn't approve and I really needed the activity, etc)."

I don't know if that helped at all. For me having an understanding of the process and where it comes from helps me to have more empathy and patience. It's so frustrating, but being able to look at the behavior as something she does with misguided goals instead of seeing it at who she is also helps.

Thank you again. My heart aches for you, as I have first-habd knowledge of how it feels. It will take time, patience and therapy to address issues of communication surrounding this. But in a situation where this occurs and there has been an A it has become an indication where opportunity thrives.

SparrowSoul posted 8/20/2014 12:23 PM

I'm kind of struggling with this question, myself. I truly believe that my WBF is not a bad person, just a person who did bad things, and that his lies were never meant to hurt me. I don't think he even thought about them, but rather, they just happened. He's definitely got some FoO issues which I think contribute largely to this problem, because as others have mentioned, when you grow up learning that the occasional little lie here or there might keep you from various unpleasantness, it becomes your first instinct to just go ahead and lie.

I firmly believe that it is a behavior that can be unlearned, but it takes a lot of mindfulness and effort-- And, foremost, the genuine desire to be better.

Keepcalm posted 8/20/2014 22:54 PM

I think it is. My husband started off with little lies, hid a few dollars etc. Got away with them, then told a few more lies, hid more money, a lot more money, had an affair... I think lying made him feel powerful and once he got away with little ones, why not tell bigger ones. Now I verify, check pay stubs, and look at his phone. I still catch him once in awhile lying about money. He knows I check, and he still lies. So I do think it is a way of life, or a personality trait.

redsox13 posted 8/21/2014 05:46 AM

I have a similar story.

The OM made my wife a few CD's. I found them at Christmas of 2007 (right after D-Day 1). She apologized profusely. She would throw them away.
Summer of 2009. I find them in the CD carrier in her car. She forgot - but it was just "music". She is apologetic, cries, agrees to throw them away.

We move early this year. Nearly 5 years after the final D-Day, and I am certain there has been no contact since then. I find them in a box. She is very apologetic. She had thought she had thrown them away. Four months later I find them AGAIN - and she FINALLY throws them away.

I have no idea what the truth is. We have reconciled - we are making really good progress.

But as you say, it's like the bullshit never ends.

It is maddening.

meleanoro posted 8/21/2014 06:00 AM

In some cultures, lying is relabeled as "saving face." In some western families, this is advocated.

Not excusing it at all. But for some people yeah, it's a learned habit from a young age and considered excusable or acceptable.

For me, it's considered bullshit.

SoLostStillNumb posted 8/21/2014 06:22 AM

I'm not in R at the moment, but I've been thinking a lot about what my WH has done and though I can't figure out his why for him or fix his issues, I can't help but try to analyze his brain!


It was what they learned to do in their family to avoid conflict, attempt to protect others from hurt feelings and control situations so that they could better deal with them in the moment.

This stuck with me. I have realized after being married into WH family that MIL does this. Constantly! And my theory is that this is the norm he grew up with. She avoids conflict like The Plague. She leads a secret life of a passionate crafter/quilter just to avoid conflict with FIL. She will hide anything related to this passion when FIL is around and she drags her kids into it too by having them lie for her to cover up stuff so FIL won't find out and won't get mad at her crafting hobbies. She'll often call and say "WH, call your dad and keep him busy for a little while, I need to stash stuff I bought away." I was first weirded out in the beginning of our marriage when I heard this happening, but WH found it so normal he just did it. More recently and after having very delicate conversations with WH, he started to just say, "no mom, I can't right now, I'm busy" so he wouldn't have to call his dad, BUT that was LYING TOO!! He couldn't just come out and tell her that he doesn't think lying to his dad would be healthy for their relationship, he avoided having a potential conflict with him mom about lying to his dad by lying!

The interesting thing is, after DDay WH told me he came to the conclusion that he was living a double life because he never learned how to deal with stuff from his parents. He said "I'm just like my mom. I am unhappy in my marriage and I just lied about it and had a double life instead. Just like she does." I wouldn't say this is a copout or an excuse in any way, but it was just interesting to me that he made this connection about his behavior on his own. On the other hand, I see he has the potential to really dig down inside and figure out his issues whether we R or not.

Sorry for the T/J! I just made a personal connection and wanted to share.

peoplepleaser posted 8/22/2014 15:35 PM

Slsn, I'm glad someone got something out if my rambling about lying. It helped me work some stuff out. My WS also said something similar. She said pre-A that she was resolving the fact that she would have to stay in an unfulfilling relationship, because she loved me but thought me incapable if meeting her needs. Then accidentally resigned herself to getting them met another way. It was a mistake and accidentally went where it went (her conscious excuses at the time), but it also was expressed as a solution in the very beginning.

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