My ex-boyfriend hid contact with other people from me

About a year ago, I ended a good, healthy relationship with a guy I’d been with for three years. There was no lying or deception during the entire time we were together (to my knowledge, anyway) and we were trying to stay close friends after the breakup. His reasoning was that he “wanted to be single until he’s 30,” and not be tied down in a relationship.

Throughout the course of our friendship following the relationship, we talked frequently, almost every night. We shared our days, who we hung out with, what we did, etc. It was essentially as if we’d never broken up -- the emotional and physical parts of the relationship continued into the friendship.

However, once I expressed my disapproval of one of his female friends, we’ll call her Stacy, he shut himself off from me. Stacy was someone who’d hurt me emotionally in the past and who this guy (we were all mutual friends) knew would be the worst person he could possibly hook up with. He knew any romantic or physical involvement with her would hurt me the most and I’d stated those exact words to him in our relationship. So, he and I continued talking on the phone as usual, but he’d be very vague about what he was doing, or who he was hanging out with. I got upset and thought I was doing something wrong -- he told me on several occasions I was being "mean" and there was "nothing to be so paranoid about."

This ‘shutting out’ began around last August. In December, I found out he’d been lying to me for 4 months. He had, in fact, hooked up with Stacy and it had gotten to the point where he thought he was in love with her. He revealed the information to me over several days, where he’d give me part of the truth "I hooked up with Stacy, but only once" and say that was the entire truth when I asked him. Then, the following day, the story changed to "Actually, I hooked up with Stacy several times." Over the course of about 10 days and 10 lies, I found out that he’d been hiding hookups with two of my other "friends," in addition to his love for Stacy.

He claims he hid the information from me because he was afraid of how I’d react, but each time I learned there was more to the story, I was calm and understanding. I never overreacted and I never yelled. In addition to this large series of lies, I’ve also caught him in smaller ones. He once called me "Stacy" on the phone instead of my real name. When I immediately asked "What did you call me?" he lied and said he called me by my real name, and I must have heard wrong. It was only after repeating the question in a much more serious tone of voice that he came clean.

I honestly don’t think I can trust this person ever again. He’s been begging me lately, telling me I’m the only one for him, he’s sorry about everything he’s done and that he has and always will love me more than he loved Stacy. I don’t believe him and I’ve broken off contact with him after thinking about the situation and realizing I just couldn’t deal with all the lies.

He sent me flowers for this Valentine’s Day, but didn’t sign the card. When I asked him if he was the sender (twice), both times he feigned confusion about any flowers. The third time, he admitted it. He says "not admitting" something is not the same as lying, but I think he has some serious issues that he needs to seek help for.

As I said before, I don’t think there was any lying throughout our three-year relationship, but with the onslaught of lies lately, I’m not so sure. His lying to keep my friendship can be seen as a noble act, but I’m leaning more toward just plain cowardice.

Do you think I’m dealing with a chronic liar here?

Response:

Based on the information provided, your boyfriend does not sound like a chronic liar.

A chronic liar is someone who lies when there is no reason to lie—lying becomes a habitual response (see types of liars).

From your question, however, it sounds like your ex-boyfriend only lied about information where you disapproved of what he was doing. That is a normal response—to shield oneself from the disapproval of others.

The type of lying you describe is very common and it is most likely based on the dynamics of your relationship. If your ex-boyfriend has a need for approval, and you express disapproval of what he’s doing, then deception will almost always occur. Deception is often a relational dynamic—it stems from how two people interact with each other (see when lovers lie).

And while you say that you were “calm and understanding,” you also explicitly expressed your disapproval of his behavior and shut him out for a while. Moreover, you most likely signaled your true feelings through the types of questions you asked, the tone of your voice, the shortness of your responses, and so on.

If that is the case, then it would be very unusual for your ex-boyfriend to tell you the truth. You did not create the conditions where telling the truth is safe to do (see get others to tell the truth).

In a relationship, if you want to know the truth, you have to make people feel comfortable telling the truth. Few people will consistently open themselves up to someone who disapproves of their behavior. In fact, people do just the opposite, people go out of their way to find someone who is accepting and approving, not disapproving. Or think about it this way, if you thought that your ex-boyfriend was doing the best thing in the world by getting together with Stacy, you would have heard every little detail of what is going on. But, since you disapprove of what he is doing, the opposite occurs—you have to pull information about of him.

Again, your ex-boyfriend’s behavior is not consistent with chronic lying. Most likely, both you and your ex-boyfriend are both responsible for this dynamic. As a general, the more you disapprove of what someone does, the less you’ll hear about what they do.

 confront lying | denies lying | lying boyfriend | troubled relationship

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