If you are in a relationship with someone who periodically lies for their own convenience, you have a very serious problem with the basic foundation of your relationship. Good relationships have truth as one of the highest priorities. Without truth there is a lack of trust. With a lack of trust, you usually wind up living in fear and shame (or the alternative of resentment and anger).
If the lying is in the context of a substance abuse problem, stop here and go to our explanation of the Drug Affected Syndrome. In some ways, there is more hope for change if substance abuse is involved. Many recovering people will stop lying as a natural consequence of working towards more spirituality in a recovering community. However, if your partner’s lying and deception has not involved chemical dependence, then their behavior is probably more personality based. Do not make the classic mistake of assuming that a) if you try harder to please them that b) they will build up more affection for you and c) will stop lying because they love you more. They do not lie because of you. They probably lie because of a developmental problem within their own character. Nothing you can do by yourself alone will change what is a a long-standing problem. Rarely do we see a person who lies just a few times. If it has been a few times, you can usually count on it again in the future. What can make a difference is a very intensive and lengthy therapeutic intervention. Such a program may require a combination of individual and group therapy for a year or two in order to have a reasonable chance of success. However, most partners who engage in deception are also very resistant to doing painful work for the sake of the relationship. In other words, it’s a long-shot getting someone like that to truly take on the intensity of work required to realistically address the problem.
There are a number of possibilities that can lead to deceptive behavior. If your partner has only turned deceptive around a likely affair with a third party, go to our explanation about Third Party Affected relationships. If deception has episodically occurred in other contexts, the two most likely causes are either a) underdeveloped personality (technically the “super-ego”) or b) poor development of healthy assertiveness and anger. Whatever the cause, it is not the responsibility of the non-deceptive spouse. The deceptive partner badly needs psychotherapy to address the problem at its source.
Call to set an appointment with a counselor for yourself. If your partner has been resistant to acknowledge his/her deceptions, then go to your first counseling session alone. Your counselor can help you to evaluate your options. If your partner acknowledges their problem but seems helpless to change their behavior, then go to the first session together.
If you find that your own judgment has become distorted as evidenced by your making excuses for your partner or you set limits only to later sabotage them yourself, you will probably benefit from attending CODA. CODA stands for Codependents Anonymous and is a peer support group for people who have difficulty maintaining healthy boundaries and limits in a relationship. In other words, if you are too preoccupied with other’s feelings at the expense of your own, then CODA may be for you. In the Raleigh, North Carolina area, their telephone number is (919) 990 1062. You may also click on their website at www.codependents.org for more information.