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Dear Christine, Gentle Heart in Howell

| November 7, 2016

ccc 2Dear Christine: My girlfriend has lied to me on an important issue, we talk it out, she promised she won’t lie to me anymore and I said to give her one more chance. I really tried to give her a fair chance, but the thing is I often wonder if she will lie to me. I want to break up with her but I don’t want to hurt her if I can help! what do I do? Should I believe her or shouldn’t I? Please help me! gentle heart in Howell

Dear Gentle Heart in Howell,

Oh dear. This isn’t easy. You don’t give lots of detail about what sort of lies your girlfriend has liked about, nor the time period in which she’s been lying, or how long you both have been seeing each other. It sounds to me like you don’t trust her on some very basic levels, like feeling emotionally safe with her. And it sounds like her past lies have created this lack of safety for you. What sort of lies are they? Is she cheating on you and lying about it? Is she telling you “white lies” to protect your feelings (like saying “sure those pants look good on you” even if she doesn’t think that exactly). Is she telling you she’s going one place, and then it turns out that she really went somewhere else? Why is she telling you lies? Is it to protect her privacy? Her freedom? Is it to make you not feel safe, because that’s what they are doing. Healthy relationships are built on trust, and trust is built on honesty and transparency. Early in relationships, people tend to “play games” and put their best face forward, trying to look and be everything they think the other person is looking for. This is wellintentioned, but can backfire, as you each are unique and different individuals and you can’t ever be fully what someone else wants you to be. You really can only be yourself. So, you first have to know yourself, and then you have to be honest with yourself about who you are. If you know you want a relationship with someone who doesn’t lie, then you need to break up with this girl, grieve and move on.

Now, everyone tells a lie now and then. We call that being civil or polite. So, if your neighbor really doesn’t care how you are, but you both run into each other at the mall, you know your neighbor doesn’t want a full, honest answer to the question: “how are you?” Likewise, you might not want to spill your guts to your neighbor out in public, telling her what a terrible day you’re having and all your problems, so, you are likely to respond: “I’m fine. And you?” Neither one of you expects more than the short, ritual greetings, so no one feels “lied” to in this situation, though neither of you may be telling the truth. Now and again, someone might tell a lie and get caught in it, and be able to explain what was going on and why that lie was told. Another example: If someone asks you a question you know is complicated, but they think is simple and direct, say “where did you go last night?” it can be tempting to just give a general and vague answer: “Out”. However, if the questioner is someone who is likely to care where you went and who you were with, it may not be worth the one word answer, as there are likely to be follow up questions, and then the shadings of complication will begin to emerge. Then the questioner will feel like you’re hiding something or not being fully truthful, and the interrogation may increase. The best practice is to be honest, and not play games, even in dating. As you get to know each other more deeply, and trust each other more, both you can go into more detail about the complications of life and past relationships, family etc.

Take some time on your own to think about what you would need to know in order to feel trusting of your girlfriend again. When you have that, go to her and tell her what you need to believe her again. If she truly wants to earn your trust back, she will agree and comply to whatever you need for as long as you need that. If isn’t that into you, then she’ll protest that you are being unreasonable. Either way, knowing what you need to trust her again is critical in deciding whether or not you can really give her another chance. If she complies with whatever you need, for as long as you need, and you still don’t trust her, then she has violated something sacred that may not be able to be put back together again. That is a risk that a liar takes when telling a lie. You can lose everything. Explore your gentle heart and see what it is that you need, deep down inside, and trust that sense of yourself. Be honest with yourself, first and foremost.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067


Click here to email Christine.

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Category: Featured Column

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