Why Lovers Lie – Abbreviated Version
For the longer version – please see – why lovers lie.
Close relationships are based on interdependence (see Kelley & Thibaut). Interdependence refers to mutual influence. Your actions have an impact on your partner’s behavior and vice versa.
Interdependence creates a lot of rewards – people get ahead in life by being connected to someone else (see Kelley & Thibaut; Foa and Foa).
As interdependence increases, telling the truth is essential. To create positive outcomes through our relationships, couples need to know and understand each other (see Cole & Teboul).
On the other hand, interdependence also creates many constraints (see Baxter). As interdependence increases, people are no longer free to do what they want, when they want, with whom they want.
So as we get closer to someone, telling the truth becomes more important but it also starts posing more risk.
Intimate partners are more concerned about what we are thinking, how we feel, and how we behave. Our thoughts, feelings and behaviors have a direct impact on a partner’s well-being.
What does this all mean?
Telling the truth is easy do to when interdependence is low – like revealing deeply personal information to a complete stranger sitting on a plane. Telling the truth in such situations does not matter – there is no real consequence for doing so (nor is there any real benefit).
When interdependence is high, however, telling the truth is important. Telling the truth allows people to coordinate their actions, create intimacy and closeness.
But, interdependence also makes deception more likely. Because partners expect and demand a lot from us (see partner’s expectations), telling the truth carries more risk. Telling the truth in a close relationship can lead to increased conflict, negativity and it can restrain one’s goals (i.e., "you can’t do that").
As it stands, both telling the truth and deception are needed to make a relationship work.
Intimacy requires honesty, but complete honesty tears couples apart. Finding the right balance, can be difficult for many couples to do.
- blog – latest research findings on lying
- detecting deception
- lying and deception – articles, links and resources