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  • Writer's pictureThought Matters

Lies and Relationships

Quoted in Mumbai Mirror, Bangalore, Pune and Ahmedabad mirror on 17/2/2020

'Lying to your partner.' -Acceptable and unacceptable situations and how to handle it

Some lies are okay

Many couples operate under the mistaken notion that all lies are created equal and that lying is always synonymous with cheating and betrayal, says Dr Nahid Dave,

a psychiatrist at Thought Matters. She enlists a few scenarios where it may be okay to lie to your partner:

1. Past sexual relationships: While it’s natural to want to learn about your partner’s past sexual experiences as a way to get to know him/her better, this disclosure could

also lead to jealousy or insecurities. “It’s often safer to avoid getting into the details of your past. Think about what you or your partner stand to gain from such

conversations. You could try to reframe the conversation about how the sexual dynamics of your current relationship can benefit from your past experience,” she says.

2. Money: After sex, money is the biggest reason why couples fight. If you and your partner are on a strict budget, small, impulsive purchases could spark unnecessary

arguments. “It may be okay to not tell your partner about such purchases, so long as the amount isn’t too large and it isn’t a regular habit,” she says.

3. Conceding to keep the peace: Sometimes, telling your partner that they’re right just to avoid a verbal duel can actually be healthier. “You must remember that a

relationship is a partnership and not a contest. Letting your partner have his/her way even if you don’t necessarily agree can be the wiser thing to do at times,” she


Understand your pain

Before you decide whether or not to be affected by your partner’s lies, ask yourself whether you are angry about him/her doing something you don’t approve of, or

whether you are upset about not being told. In the latter case, understand whether the matter is worth confronting your partner about. Certain harmless lies can be

ignored for the sake of maintaining peace, says Dr Dave. She adds that if the underlying reason is cheating or betrayal, it’s important to address that rather than

focusing on the lies

Choose your words wisely

Instead of verbally assaulting your partner with accusations at the outset, a better strategy is to first inform your partner that their lying disturbs you and give him/ her

the opportunity to work on changing the behavior. If you still don’t see a change, request what you want, says Dr Dave. Never force your partner to do something that

(s)he doesn’t want to — this will only ensure that (s)he can or will lie about it. “When speaking about the issue, address your partner’s need to lie. At the same time,

avoid using the term ‘lie’. The human brain is designed for self conservation and your partner can easily turn to denial or projecting blame on you instead of

addressing your concerns. Instead, of saying that (s)he lied about something, say that (s)he could not talk to you about the matter. This takes the edge off and paves

the way for open dialogue. Further, never threaten your partner with walking out of the relationship to make him/her concede to your will. Focus on the consequences

of their action(s) and the impact on your relationship,” she adds.

Dr Dave adds that if you are found out, it’s best to come clean at one go and brace yourself for the aftermath rather than feeding your partner the truth in small


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