Is Complete Honesty Always the Best Answer?

Older man giving wife Valentine's heart with chocolateHonesty and trust are essential ingredients for a strong and loving relationship. The security of knowing that your partner is being open and truthful with you eliminates fear and worry. Couples who have experienced infidelity or mistrust know how devastating doubt can be. But is lying always bad for a relationship? A recently published article reveals the answers to a survey that explored that very question. According to the survey, more than 70% of the 400 people asked said that they believed that most people regularly lied. The majority of them even said that telling a lie can sometimes be better than telling the truth.

The participants cited several instances when the truth could do more damage than good. For instance, they said lying may be appropriate when your partner asks how they look. Rather than telling their partner that their attire is not flattering, choosing an alternative response, even one that is not entirely honest may be more appropriate. In the survey, nearly half of the participants said that they had been dishonest with their partner in the past, and 65% said that they thought it was acceptable to lie in certain situations. Sexual performance, past love interests, alcohol consumption, and the cost of clothing were the most common things that people lied about.

Silvia Benovic, a clinical psychologist who works with compulsive liars said that it is natural for people to lie for a number of different reasons. Lying allows people to portray an image of themselves to others that could serve to inflate their own low self-esteem. Some people lie merely to avoid hurting those they care about. However, Justin Oakley, associate professor in Moral Psychology at Monash University, said that lying may not always be bad. But, he added, “When you tell a lie, you start to weave a web of deceit.” Even though the lie may be told with the best intentions, it can still quickly spin out of control, creating a sticky situation for everyone involved.

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  • marnie


    May 25th, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    I have been married for 20 years and I have to say that there has never been a time in that 20 years that I have said, whew, I sure am glad I told that lie instead of telling the truth. I hope that my husband feels the same and I think that he does. I know that there have been times that I have told some little lies, all with the intent of nit hurting feelings, but in the end I have felt so sick over it that it would have been a whole lot better just to tell the truth instead.

  • madeline


    May 26th, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    coming from a someone married for over a decade-lying may not be a very honest thing to do but sometimes you just need to say that lie.

    even then I strongly believe there are a lot of things that you should avoid lying about.there’s good lies and then there’s bad lies.if you can differentiate between the two then there’s no problem.

  • Lois


    May 26th, 2012 at 4:06 AM

    Yes, being honest is typically the best policy.

    But what about when a little lie could protect someone from a ton of heartache? And this is someone that you really love. I happen to think that in this sort of situation it is fine. Maybe not ideal, but okay to save someone that you love from some hurt.

  • Cole


    May 26th, 2012 at 5:15 AM

    While a lie may prevent hurt or disagreement at that instant it will always come back to bite you.The truth cannot be hidden and no matter how small the lie was it will create a feeling of distrust in the partner who was lied to.

    One lie often leads to another and it will soon become a trail of lies thereby causing unseen problems in the relationship or marriage.If you lie beware of its repercussions.if you think you cannot handle all that then be fair and do not lie.Simple.

  • traci scott

    traci scott

    May 26th, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Yes! It is essential that your relationships be built on a principal of disclosure and honesty, and not on the sinking sands that lies WILL ultimately become. Where is the trust if you think that there is always the chance that your partner may not be completely honest with you?

  • Wayne H

    Wayne H

    May 28th, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    I will admit it- there have been times I have lied to my wife.
    Not to hurt her, would never do that.
    I guess I see the lies that I have told her as trying to spare her feelings.
    Do I look good in this outfit? Of course I will always say yes.
    Do I look lik I have gained weight? No honey, not at all.
    I think that we all tell little lies like these just to keep the peace in the home.
    Don’t you?

  • quincy


    May 28th, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    If my partner even thought that I was being anything less than honest with me, then I think that he would leave me. That’s how important honesty is in our relationship. I am surprised that not every couple makes that a priority, or that the ones who don’t make it a priority are even still together.

  • CHAZ


    May 29th, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    There sure are a lot of different opinions here!
    I have always been the one to profess that honesty is the best policy, period. But I also know that there are some gray areas too, sometimes when either a black or white answer does not satisfy the issue at hand. In those times, I guess you just have to be willing to use your own adult judgement and make the choice that will cause the least harm and offer the best solution, whatever that may be.

  • Bryson


    May 30th, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    So let’s think about this for a minute. . .

    Is honesty always the best answer? Yes, I would say that in most cases it is. But is it the easiest answer? Assuredly not.

    Sometimes it is flat out hard to admit that you have done someone wrong because we are afraid of hurting them, or causing damage to a relationship that will not be able to be repaired.

    But is that really a good excuse for choosing to lie, or withhold the truth instead? No. Choosing to be dishonest is choosing to place your own self interest above the good of another. Doesn’t sound too great when put that way.

  • Ben


    June 18th, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    Trust is not a vehicle of convenience. Honesty is not something that happens only when you are going to benefit from the situation. If your wife asks you if an outfit looks good on her and you and you lie saying, “of course it does”… you may think that you are sparing your wife’s feelings, but you are really masking the reality. If you can see that something doesn’t look good on her, so does everyone else… and if you really love your wife don’t you want the best for her, including looking her best. On the flip side, there is something to be said for using tack. There is a deference between saying, “No, that looks awful on you”; and you saying, “I don’t think the outfit is the most flattering on you.” Trust is the foundation for a relationship. If you feel the need to lie about the small things for fear of how someone is going to take something, then what makes you feel like you will be able to tell the truth about the bigger issues. Pretty soon your word means nothing at all..

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