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Truth-Teller in Trenton

  • Posted on May 1, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Dear Christine,  

I don’t understand why people lie. It’s always been one of my biggest pet peeves and maybe I’m too firm on this but I generally find the offense unforgivable.  To me the truth always works better so I don’t get it.  Now, I’m in a place where I’m hoping I can forgive but I’m so torn.

My boyfriend who I’ve been dating for 8 months has just gotten caught in a big lie.  He got fired two weeks ago for not passing a drug test at work.  Yes he smokes marijuana a little and I don’t care about that.  I never realized they drug tested at his work or I might have advised him to stop his habit but the lie is that he didn’t tell me he got fired.  He even pretended to go to work after he was let go.  I only found out because he told his mom who accidentally told me because she assumed I knew.

It might not be an outright lie, maybe more of an omission but I’m really struggling with what to do.  The dishonesty is something I find hard to get past. Can I ever trust him?  Thanks,

Signed Truth-teller in Trenton

Dear Truth-Teller,

Yes, that’s a big lie of omission, to hide the fact that he was fired from work for failing a drug test.  I’m guessing he hid that from you because he knew you don’t like lying.  However, he’s not making very mature choices and they aren’t very good for his career or his relationship with you.

You need to think for yourself about what you need to have, what you must have and what you cannot have, to make a relationship work.  Make a list of those non-negotiables and communicate them with your boyfriend.  Both of you telling the truth, avoiding lies of omission, might be at the top of your list.  Being employed might be another.  There’s no right or wrongs here.  It all depends on what you need to feel emotionally secure in an intimate and committed relationship.

Dating is the time to get to know each other and find out if you share enough values, goals, needs and communication and trust to build a relationship that has staying power.  Falling in love is the easy part, but if you don’t communicate your non-negotiables to the person you fall in love with, you end up getting involved with someone who will break your heart.

Ask your boyfriend to make a list of what he needs in a relationship too.  What are his non-negotiables?  Does he feel you set the bar too high and he cannot possibly meet your relationship non negotiables?

Lying doesn’t build trust and the only way to repair trust is openness and communication, as much as you both need.   Consider couple’s therapy to have a neutral third party help you both discuss your needs, feelings and the fallout of this lie.

Good luck, and feel free to write again and let me know how you two are doing.
Christine C Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist