Some people are habitual liars, some try never to lie, and some people don’t think it matters one way or the other. The fact is, lying is usually a very bad idea, and tends to come back to you in the end.
I’m sure we all know at least one of them, the kind of person who seems to by lying every chance they get. We probably also know people that do their best never to lie. I happen to be one of the latter. Granted, being honest with people doesn’t always go over well, because a lot of people don’t actually want to know the truth, but it’s just a matter of principle for me. I’ve seen too many instances of lying turning out very badly for people.
For one thing, lies can be hard to remember. If you lied to more than one person about the same thing, did you tell all of them the same lie? Did you change a detail between telling it to John and telling it to Joan? What did you say? Can you cover your rump if someone calls you on your inconsistencies? If you lie a lot, it can actually get very confusing trying to remember who you lied to about what and when. Sometimes you’ll even have to make up new lies to cover the old ones, and if you forget a lie, you can really be in hot water.
Some people who lie habitually and repeatedly can actually start to believe their own lies. My grandmother was a good example of that. She would tell lies with great detail, and she would tell them to everyone who would listen. Over the years, she couldn’t even remember the truth, and actually believed that her lies were the truth, and other people were telling lies about people and events. People who lie on a constant basis are at high risk for losing touch with reality and believing the stories they have invented.
I don’t care who you are, sooner or later you’re going to get caught in your lies. Yes, it may appear that you’ve gotten away with a lot of them, but I have yet to see a case of someone never getting caught on any of their lies. Sooner or later, you’re going to get pegged for at least one lie that you’ve told. Once that happens, especially if it was a big lie, people start to question other things that you’ve said and done. Under that kind of scrutiny, more and more of your lies will come to light. If enough people find out about lies that you’ve told, you may find yourself in a situation where no one ever believes anything you say.
More likely than not, when you tell lies, someone is going to get hurt. What you’re lying about can have a lot to do with how badly someone gets hurt, but it’s likely to happen sooner or later. It may be something as seemingly benign as telling your girlfriend that those jeans don’t make her look fat, then she finds out that you really thought they did. It might be something a lot bigger. Once someone is hurt by a lie, it can have a long-lasting effect on them, and they may never trust you again. Telling someone the hard truth may hurt them a little in the moment, but it won’t do as much damage to them or to your reputation as lying will.
I’m skeptical as to whether there really is any such thing as a “white lie”. The example I gave a moment ago, of lying about someone’s clothing choice, might seem like one of those “little white lies”. The thing is, if you’d told her that they did make her butt look big, she might have changed them and not gone out and gotten teased by her friends. More often than not the truth is just the best way to go. You might think you’re saving someone’s feelings, but really you’re just postponing the pain, and it will be much worse when they realize that you’ve lied.
Some people say that not telling the truth is the same thing as lying. I disagree with that. I don’t see omission as lying. If you never say anything, you’re neither telling the truth or a lie, you’re just keeping your mouth shut. If you don’t think that you can tell someone the truth about something, I find that the safest thing to do is say nothing at all. Think about how evasive people get around Christmas. They don’t want to lie to you about your gifts, but they don’t want to tell you about them either, so they say nothing, change the subject, and try to get out as gracefully as possible. I find that this is one of the best things to do, and I do it quite a bit. Like they say, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
If you find that you lie on a regular basis, you might want to discover why. Lying is not something that a person should do if they can avoid it. If you don’t like it when people lie to you, then you shouldn’t lie to anyone else. Tell the truth whenever possible. My honesty catches people off guard a lot, but at least they respect the fact that I’ll tell them like it is, and do it to their face. Once people get used to it, it’s actually quite freeing and makes life a lot easier.