How to Deal With Dishonesty in a Relationship

There are different types of lies.
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Dishonesty is a coping mechanism, according to the late Stan Dale, relationship author and founder of the Human Awareness Institute. Lies are protective devices that keep us from getting hurt or causing hurt to others. Yet trust is the basic foundation for any solid relationship. Dishonesty erodes trust, causes distance between partners and ultimately leads to the breakdown of the relationship. Head off dishonesty by becoming aware of different types of lies and making a pledge to consistently strive for truth within your relationship.

1 Understanding the Habit points out that lying is incredibly common. Small falsehoods make social relationships run more smoothly. Within relationships, few people actually want an honest answer to such questions as, “Do I look fat in this?” Yet even well-meaning white lies ultimately drive people apart. Dale wrote that real love cannot exist without the trust and intimacy that come with vulnerability and honesty.

2 Types of Lies

Lies come in three basic forms, according to The most well known, verbal lies, involve spoken falsehoods. Behavioral lies occur when one partner does not back up his words with actions. For example, you might not show up on time for a date or bring over the soup that you promised when your partner is sick. Everyone misses an appointment or forgets a commitment now and then, but a pattern of behavioral lies shows disrespect and makes your partner feel that you are unreliable. The third level of dishonesty is a lack of authenticity. Only by being true to yourself can you build a bond of trust with your partner. If you change parts of yourself, such as your opinions or interests, you create a layer of deception that interferes with your relationship.

3 Examining the Relationship

Although all dishonesty is damaging to a relationship, points out that some forms of dishonesty are more destructive than others. Evaluate both the individual lies and any patterns that emerge. While it is possible that a relatively minor white lie is a sign of trouble, it is equally possible that a one-time lie was simply a bad choice. Discuss the situation with your partner and set clear expectations for honesty. Decide together whether your moral compasses are in line with each other and whether the relationship is worth saving.

4 Rebuilding Trust

If you choose to continue the relationship, be prepared for things to change dramatically. Rebuilding trust takes time and effort. The Relationship Institute provides a checklist for couples attempting to rebuild their relationships after a major betrayal. Suggested new behaviors include openly sharing both positive and negative feelings, letting each other know where you are during times apart, and providing reassurance when requested. Spend time together, acknowledge the past while focusing on the future and help each other put your problems into perspective.

Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.