What Typically Happens When Deception Gets Discovered?
Uncovering deception by husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend is a very emotionally painful event (see Planalp & Honeycutt, McCornack & Levine).
Discovering that an intimate partner has lied, especially about an important issue, is difficult to deal with because it raises many questions. It destroys trust and it leaves people feeling vulnerable (take a look at a real example of someone who discovered deception by a loved one).
To begin with, uncovering a partner’s deception is difficult because it calls into question many important beliefs and values. Typically, when deception is discovered it brings to light something negative about a romantic partner. As such, finding out about a partner’s use of deception raises many questions ("Who are you?" and "Why didn’t I see that coming?").
Having such fundamental beliefs challenged leaves people feeling uncertain and out of control— "How did this happen to me?"
Not only does uncovering deception shatter our fundamental beliefs, but it also destroys trust. When a spouse or romantic gets caught in a lie, it raises suspicion, which causes people to re-evaluate their partner as well as their relationship ("What else having you been lying about?").
It is impossible to feel close and intimate with partner or spouse who has betrayed your trust because they have demonstrated that they are willing to put their own interests ahead of yours.
And trust is crucial to a healthy relationship. Without trust our relationships fall apart quickly. Trust can be repaired, but it is not an easy thing to do (see rebuilding trust).
Discovering deception by a loved one is so painful because the person you naturally turn to in a time of need cannot be trusted and is now the source of your problems. Given this, it should come as no surprise that relationships sometimes end in divorce when deception comes to light.
It can be extremely difficult to get over an intimate partner’s betrayal.