Making the Decision to Lie and Deceive
So how do we decide when to lie to a romantic partner or spouse?
Well, most of the time we do not intentionally think about misleading our partners. Rather such decisions are governed by our emotions and just seem to happen when the right situation presents itself.
Again, deception, like a lot of other behaviors, "happens in context." Very few of the lies we tell are intentional in nature. Rather most lies "happen in context" – we find ourselves in situations where telling the truth is difficult to do, so we avoid doing it – we deceive.
And just like decisions about our willingness to help others, our cravings sweets, and our fear of snakes, we are designed to deceive our romantic partners when placed in the right situation. Deception is a psychological adaptation – an innate solution to one of life’s reoccurring problems (see evolution and human reasoning). Our decision to deceive often occurs in the background – outside of our immediate awareness – with little thought, effort, or planning – we lie.
Often a sense of excitement, opportunity, and exhilaration can lead us down paths we had no intention of traveling. A sense of fear, loss, and trepidation, on the other hand, prompt us to cover-up what we’ve done and be more conservative in the short-term.
Luckily our emotions are very good at reading situations and keeping our deceptive behavior within limits. Our emotions prompt us to do things behind our partner’s back while also allowing us to maintain the benefits we get from our intimate relationships.
By being honest AND lying, we can "have our cake and eat it, too."