Invasive Questions and Lying

"Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies."--Oliver Goldsmith

It’s common for lovers to lie when romantic partners ask too many pointed questions (see Lippard).

inquisitive womanWhen spouses are overly nosey and inquisitive – asking a lot of invasive questions – it is normal for people to feel like their independence or sense of privacy is being stripped away.

This does not mean that it is wrong to ask romantic partners questions. But, there is a fine line between asking questions and being overly intrusive (see limit questions).

When partners do cross the line and repeatedly ask questions such as...

  • What are you thinking?
  • Who were you with?
  • Why did it take you so long?
  • What were you doing?
  • Why did you...?
  • Why didn’t you...?
  • Is that the truth...?

...romantic partners can feel put upon.

When confronted with what can seem like a never-ending interrogation, people feel like their choices and options are being limited. Often, this causes a spouse or partner to feel like they are losing control – that they have no privacy or sense of autonomy.

And as a result, spouses often fight back by lying. Deception is useful when trying to gain back a sense of freedom and independence (see protect privacy).

In fact, lying can be considered as a passive or indirect way of getting a partner or spouse to "back off" or "let it be."

fearful manAlong the same line, it is interesting to note that people, whose job it is to discover the truth, know better than to ask a lot of pointed questions. Despite what is seen on TV, many criminal investigators will ask very few questions during an interrogation; that is, until the right moment, when a suspect is ready to admit to the truth.

An experienced interrogator will try to avoid asking direct questions, at first, because they know that if you ask such questions people are more likely to lie. And more importantly, once people lie they tend to stick to their story whether it is true or not.

This brings to mind an episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza lied to his in-laws about having a house in the Hamptons. George’s in-laws called his bluff, but rather than admit the truth, George drove his in-laws all the way to his non-existent house at the beach – making up even more elaborate details about it on the way. Eventually, George blamed his in-laws for his behavior by claiming that it was all their fault. While George’s behavior is humorous, it highlights an important lesson about lying: Sometimes we prefer to look crazy rather than admit to telling a lie. Coming clean about lying is one of the most difficult things to do (see pointing out the truth). And because people tend to stick to their guns rather than admit the truth, it is often wise not to force people into situations where they feel compelled to lie in the first place.

The moral of the story?

The person who asks the most questions is often told the most lies (Lippard).