Why do people lie and/or avoid?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Nomad, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Surely, this is an an awkward topic for many and I apologize for this.
    husband says that I'm unusual in that I tend to be honest with others. I try to be considerate and be careful with my language. But especially if someone comes right out and asks me for their opinion about something, I tend to be honest. Sometimes, depending on the age of the person and circumstance, I try to get them to see what is going on themselves.

    I ask for the opinion of someone, I am hoping for an honest reply (with hopefully) kind words.

    Also, I'm not overly concerned with embarassing myself. For example...I might say "I'm very sorry that I forgot your birthday last week. I had a terrible week last week with a personal situation. Can we go out to lunch on Tues. or Wed. of this week or any time next week? I've gotten you a nice little gift." Something like this. I have found that honesty is the best policy and I try to make up for when I make a mistake. I don't hide.

    Recently...I've had friends who are clearly not doing the same with me.

    For example, I have a friend who is having trouble in her marriage. They are getting back together. She lives about two hours in another city. I've been emailing her like crazy...she has been ignoring my emails.

    My emails have been asking how she is doing. One was for her birthday. One was for the holidays...along with a xmas card. I sent a xmas card and present to her daughter...no thank you from anyone. One was to announce our son's engagement.

    All of a sudden...she emailed me because she is coming to town. She also needs a favor. She wants to get together. I have a conflict on that evening.

    I responded that I was disappointed that she had not responded to my previous emails. I mentioned the conflict on the day she wanted to get together. I mentioned many positives as well.

    Out of the blue she called me and asked me if I had gotten her recent email. She said she had trouble with her email. I recall when she first had the marriage difficulty and how we had corresponded by email a lot...almost like free marriage counseling. It's impossible to believe that now her email doesn't work. None of my replies bounced back.

    Instead of saying "Nomad, I'm sorry I haven't responded to your emails...this is what is going on here...can we talk on the phone and catch up...."

    Again...honesty, in my humble opinion, is the best policy. It's appreciated...even if it is difficult. That sincererity. People mess up. It's normal. As long as you express genuine care for the other person.

    What do you all think? Why do adults do this? Why do adults ignore others? Why do they lie/avoid?

    Thank you.
  2. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    My family doesn't believe me when I tell them I don't lie. What is it they think I am lying about??? Even though I tell the truth, anything and everything I say they question tell me it's not true. So I have to go print things off, get letters from school, I have to PROVE to them day after day, year after year that I tell the truth.

    How can THEY lie when I am standing there with a cell phone bill IN my hand and difficult child says...I didn't do that. husband says...I didn't do that. EXPLAIN then HOW it was charged to YOUR phone. AFter I have already spoken to the phone company.

    As far as emails, I have been taught and always use "return receipt". It works with most people I email I'll get a response back when it was opened/read. I sent the High School counselor one Last AUGUSt regarding difficult child's schedule. He had no history class. After a few days with no reply I had to drive out to the school. (School hadn't started yet so she could only be reached by email.) I had to see the principal.

    Anyway this past December I get a notice "receipt: Deleted. Not read"
    It sat in her mailbox for FOUR months and then she never even opened it???

    I don't understand either. You try to teach your kids if you lie you end up in more trouble. when I catch them lying I ask why. Answer " I didn't want to get in trouble".
  3. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Thank you!
    "I don't want to get in trouble" I DO think this is at least one plausible explanation.
    Immature/faulty thinking...but it does explain it.
    A defence. I will give this more thought.
    Thank you!

    Q: How do you do the "return receipt" email?

    I have yahoo. Is it a simple process? I am computer illiterate for the most part. :redface:
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    People lie to get out of trouble, or to get out of perceived trouble. Sometimes people lie to avoid hurting other people (which can be the same thing).

    If mother in law says to me, "I just got my hair cut, I really love it. WHat do you think?" of course I will say something non-committal, or maybe even say I like it even if I think it looks like she's had a pudding basin haircut and I hate those. Because nothing is gained in that situation by being overly frank.

    I do, however, try to answer truthfully even if I have to think fast to find an ambiguous answer. But truth is always the best policy where possible. "Mum, your haircut looks very tidy, she did a lovely neat job on it. It must be so much cooler to get your hair off your neck."
    I haven't lied and I've (hopefully) managed to slightly change the subject and direction to find something positive to say.

    When you have Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form on the family, you learn to live with brutal honesty. You learn to avoid ambiguity; for example, if difficult child 3 gave the right answer I wouldn't answer, "Right," I would instead answer, "Correct." "Right" is also a direction and we found very erly on when trying to help difficult child 3 overcome his language delay, that to avoid ambiguity helped speed up his mental processing.

    The flip side of a lot of this is extreme honesty. difficult child 1 is in hot water at the moment, because he beleives other people to be as honest as he is. Especially people who he beleives are friends. When he was looking to buy a car, a friend told him that his mother was interested in selling her company car. difficult child 1 looked at the car, he said he liked it, he said he would buy it if/when they wanted to sell it. But tey made him wait another six months! In which time, they did no servicing and they let the insurance lapse. difficult child 1 did not know any of this; when he bought the car he was told that the insurnce would "roll over" to the new owner. In actual fact, the car had not been insured for six months.
    difficult child 1 then discovered the car's engine although allegedly new, was in poor shape. He spent more money than he could afford in cleaning it up and repairingthe car. He re-registered it but failed to take out the insurance because he beleived it was already insured. It was not. And when he hit another car just before Christmas, he's incurred a very large bill that he cannot pay. All because in his mind, everyone else is as honest as he is.

    We were going to dinner last Saturday night in Newcastle with easy child & BF1. It was a mass production buffet dinner, $25 a head for adults, $14 for children 14 and under. As we waited in the queue, easy child said to difficult child 3, "You're still only 14, for tonight."
    difficult child 3 said, "What do you mean?"
    easy child said, "If you say you're 14, and you really still look very young, you will cost us a lot less for dinner."
    difficult child 3 began to look concerned, became increasingly upset. "But I would be lying. Surely you're not asking me to lie, are you? That wouldn't be right. I don't think I could do it. Why do you want me to lie about my age? I AM 15 already, I turned 15 two weeks ago..." and he kept worrying at it so husband & I had to quickly say, "It's OK, you're 15, you don't have to say anything otherwise. DOn't worry, forget easy child said anything about it."
    We paid the full price, and difficult child 3 hardly ate anything anyway. Ironic.

    I think when it comes to dealing with people you need to remember a number of things:

    1) People are innately selfish. Thre is no such thing asaltruism - any good things we do, there is always some personal benefit (even if it's a warm inner glow). We always can justify it to ourselves in terms of us getting something out of it. Otherwise we would stop doing it. But this internal justification sometimes even involves us lying to ourselves.

    2) Part of how we interact with other people is, we try to get what we want form other people which often requires we give back to those other people. If we fail to reciprocate sufficiently, people will become increasingly reluctant to give us what we want. This is cimplicated further because we are not generally very good at telling one another when a give and take relationship is uneven or not working. For example, a woman I knew, the mother of a classmate of easy child 2/difficult child 2's, was a very needy person. She had problems, besides her daughter, she had a son who was profoundly autistic and she was trying to manage on her own. I took pity on her and invited the daughter to spend the weekend with us.
    Now, the payoff for me was, easy child 2/difficult child 2 had a friend visiting and was having fun. My child was getting a social advantage. Plus I had a certain amount of warm inner glow, helping another mother in her time of crisis.
    But very soon the rot set in. Her daughter turned out to be a major behaviour problem and soon fell out with easy child 2/difficult child 2. OK, I could still handle the girl though, but it made me more reluctant to have the girl stay again in the future, because she was more work for me than I had counted on.
    Then I lost the warm inner glow, when I discovered that the mother was not really doing anything worthwhile for her son. Instead of putting her free time to good use, instead of planning her free time and getting her act together, she was instead using every scrap of respite and break from her children to simply go on a mini-holiday. Even that wouldn't bother me, she really did need a break and I was happy to do this for her once or twice, but it was happening too often and there was no consideration being given by her to ME needing a break! She began ringing me up at almost zero notice to organise her daughter coming for a visit and wasn't happy if I said it wasn't convenient. One day she just turned up with her daughter and with her autistic son, and stayed - even though husband was laid up with a sprained ankle and my own doctor had told me I should put myself to bed. Instead of me going to bed as I needed to, I was following her son around my house trying to protect the place from him. She did absolutely nothing to control him, she just sat and talked to husband (captive in his armchair) while I ran myself ragged trying to rescue my son's toys. She hadn't taken 'NO' for an answer when I asked her not to come, she wasn't leaving when I asked her to leave, it was only when her son and difficult child 3 began to fight (they were both tired and difficult child 3 was fed up with his toys being destroyed) that she decided to leave. That was when it became clear to me that she had actually intended to stay the night - absolutely bizarre!

    So I had to learn to lie to this woman - the next time she turned up out of the blue, I quickly invented "an essential car trip" we were committed to going on. "My in-laws just rang up, my father in law has just been rushed to hospital, we have to go now. So sorry we can't stay and entertain you."
    I hated having to lie, but nothing else would have worked with this woman.

    I later found, she was what I call a "user". She'd worn out every official available service, she then went from church to church wearing out her welcome. All the local welfare support groups were running scared. She would milk every bit of human kindness she encountered, wring it to the last drop and then only move on when there was no more compassion to be drained. Like a vampire. She would pick up a bloke and then in a desperate rush would look for someone to take the kids so she could go away with the fella for the weekend, with no ties.

    End result - her son was taken from her (and she was relieved, I think. He certainly was better off) and her daughter became a mother at 15.

    It's a long-winded story, sorry about that, but what I'm trying to say - the reasons people lie are complex. Sometimes it's because the truth will hurt unnecessarily and we're trying to avoid an unpleasant scene, and sometimes it's because the truth won't work. When someone rings me up to sell me life insurance, I tell them I already have all the life insurance I want. Who knows? Maybe Icould do with more life insurance, but I don't ant to go through long-winded explanations to someone I don't know on the other end of the phone. it's quicker and easier to tell them I already have it, to make them go away in a hurry.

    I hope this explains it a bit more.

  5. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    People want to avoid conflict, plain and simple. They don't want to make waves. A lot of people have simply got themselves trained that way, so it makes it easier for them to lie, rather than admit they made a mistake.

    In her situation, maybe she is just too embarrassed to reply or too hurt to reply or even just that she wanted to and was depressed; she thought she'd reply later and never did and now she's embarrassed to admit that she just never got around to it.

    Nomad, I am the same way. If someone asks me my opinion, I am straight up. It may hurt your feelings and that's not my intention, but if you ask me, I will tell you. Most of my friends know that and they will ask me knowing that I may not sugar coat things. I will be kind about it, but truthful nonetheless. I have lost of few friends along the way, because of my honesty, but then the person was never a true friend and I got over it. OR she/he came back after they realized that I was the only good friend that she had and I wouldn't lie to boost her ego.
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Marguerite: Totally agree...brutal honesty...not usually appropriate...esp. with casual friends or those who are sensitive. It seems appropriate with some folks to find something nice to say even under the most difficult of circumstances. Learning to lie to the woman who didn't hear you say "no" sounded like a good thing...self preservation. My concern is folks who are adults who are good friends...yet are too easily embarassed and too quick to engage in this behavior.

    Lothlorien: Yep, I see it...the avoidance of conflict. People get embarassed. People have their own issues. I think it's probably best to be honest, but to be kind. And of course, the closer we are to people, the more up front we might be able to be "frank" with them.

    I personally, appreciate someone who is honest with me...especially if I ask. This also means if I mess up ... not just if there is a problem on their end. I also think this is at least partially a self esteem issue. When I'm feeling good in this department, it's easier for me to say "I'm very sorry. I messed up. My life was haywire at that time. How can I make it up to you." (Also, discretion is good. Privacy, etc.).

    by the way...with telephone solititors...I just say things like "Due to the economy, we are very limited with reference to our donations. Thank you for your call. Good luck with your efforts." Then I quickly hang up. I do NOT entertain discussion. That's just the way I handle it. The bottom line...don't beat yourself up, don't feel guilt, don't stay on the phone. Whatever technique you use is fine.

    I greatly appreciate your input...it is wonderful!!!
    Lasted edited by : Mar 1, 2009
  7. ML

    ML Guest

    Fear. Fear of getting in trouble, of not being liked, being rejected, or simply inability to be honest with themselves. Sometimes people aren't in a place to hear honesty because they don't want to make a change so they rationalize to avoid facing that change. The truth may have been that she knew your advice would have been contrary to what she decided and wasn't able to face hearing truth for herself. We learn to accept less than ideal situations for ourselves but we don't always admit to ourselves that is what we are doing, instead we try to trick ourselves into projecting that everything is perfect.

    I try to be honest with myself and I think that carries over to my interactions with others.

    Good topic :)
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    If I ask someone's opinion, I hope for an honest answer. If someone asks me my opinion I try to be honest with tact because I've found that many people don't really want your opinion, they want you to back up what they think and get upset when you don't.

    If someone emails me I email them back......unless I respond to it in person. Last night both K and her husband emailed me. Her husband had sent me pics of Alex. I acknowledged and thanked him for his email and the pics in the response I sent to K's email. I even explained that I wasn't sending him a personal reply because I was short on time.

    I think it's an immaturity issue.
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Rationalization...a defense.
    Fear (in general)
    Fear of making changes.

    ML: It is ashame that my friend, after all these years, after all that was said, wouldn't know in her heart, that I would accept her decision simply because she is my friend. It is her as an individual and her friendship that has the greatest value to me. A personal decision that she might make that I might not personally agree with is not of huge importance to me. What is more impactin to me and our relationship, is how she personally treats me. Honesty is an "issue" of mine and so that has more of an impact. I totally "get" what you have said....there are possibilities there. Sometimes I think it is hard for folks to put themselves in the shoes of others. However, this is especially tough when we are hurting and I also see this.


    I see it and I think I personally need to learn to do a better job at accepting folks at face value...at where they are...at the time that they are at. However, sometimes with long friendships, things change and people grow at different rates and in different ways. I suppose I'm in one of those philosphophical moods today! UGH!

    Thank you again everyone...this has been helpful for me. Very appreciative.
    Lasted edited by : Mar 1, 2009
  10. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Interesting discussion. I don't lie...I just don't tell. I don't know if there is a difference. If it is a friend, I have no problem being completely up front. Spouses is another issue. I'll actually post about that in a new thread.

  11. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I do think there are times with those we love that it is best to be mum. But I think this should probably be a very rare exception. As you know with- our kids...just not telling...is almost always a form of lying. Sometimes, things can be said in such a way to avoid hurting a person's feelings. I think a lot has to do with the intentions and forethought. About how we genuinely feel about the other person, how we feel about ourselves and what might be at stake. These things can get complicated....no doubt.
  12. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    Experience and modeling are the main reasons that adults are challenged to directly communicate with another as to what is true for them.
    Children are learning through developemental stages and depending what age and what is going on in their heads as they fill in blanks for themselves...I have a hard time accepting that children are 'lieing, when they are actually just inexperianced. What they say maybe off mark, but when I talk with children the thinking process is often not really lieing, it is more a lack of perception and a little less straight forward than an intentional lie,per se.
    With adults when someone is indirectly communicative, then at least you can let that person know that between you and them it is ok, whatever is so is safe with you (if it is) otherwise, perhaps if one is truely honest, do you really want the whole truth? When she says her e-mail wasn't working right, does she have to say to you that she was in a funk under stress,distracted?
    although you value and want others to respond in kind, is that really as 'friendly' as letting them operate without those demands from you? Sure on one hand it is 'common courtesy' to xyz, but it is proper ediquette to act to make others feel comfortable.
    I had a friend who would walk out with out saying good-bye. I found it hurtful. To me, walking out without saying good-bye felt like she didn't appreciate how much I care about her.
    However, later in life, armed with her example, I discovered times when walking out without saying good-bye was appropriate for me and I was not caught up in the
    pattern that I general do to this day prefer.
    You have to look at is it "lieing" or is this a way of saying some of what is true without the detail you are just in the habit of offering?
    If it is lieiing the only thing I ever found about liars is that they will ruin the reputation of others and to get away from them.
    I think that sometime adults use lieing and liar on things that are not really either.
    Especially with children.
    When I reflect that someone is lieing or a liar it is strictly based on what I know to be true.
    A child I will ask questions so that I do understand what they are thinking and to the best of their ability what they able to say. Children perfer to have the facts out and understood and to be relieved of any funnyfeelings that parents know they wear often on their face and contenence until, whoosh, those are releived.
  13. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello All--

    I am a very truthful person, myself, and in my naivete--I expect that what others say to me is ALSO the truth. Unfortunately, I have been embarassed to find out that many times...what I hear is NOT the truth. I have actually lost friends over issues where I have inadvertantly "caught" them in a lie...and they prefered to let the friendship slide rather than to "fess up" and move on.

    There was a woman I considered a best friend. I told her EVERYTHING...and I thought, that she was sharing with me on equal terms, as well. When we began to run into financial troubles and my husband was at risk of losing his job of many years, naturally I confided in her. In return, she spoke about some of her own financial issues...but mentioned that things were fine now because her husband has just landed a job with a six-figure salary. Because her husband and mine are in the EXACT SAME line of work, with equivalent experience...I asked whether there was any way her husband might put in a good word for my husband and possibly help him land a similarly-paying job.

    Well, that was pretty much the end of the friendship. My friend had a million reasons why my husband should consider any other company in the world except the one where her spouse was supposedly earning the "big bucks". She began declining invitations and stopped returning my phone calls.

    Meanwhile, my husband had made inquiries about the particular company and whether they might have an opening for him....turned out, the large salary was a lie. Despite her bragging, it seems that my best friend could not admit that her husband and mine earned nearly equivalent salaries. What a bizarre issue to lose a friend over!

    I'd be her friend today...if she would be interested. Last time I heard from her...she had some story about how there wasn't any phone reception in her neighborhood--so she couldn't make telephone calls...


  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    DaisyFace, your friend is the perfect example of how a small lie (or what seems to be a small lie) can come back to bite us, and if we allow it to compound it can change our life, for the worse.

    What a fool! Surely she could simply say, "I goofed, I was trying to impress you." Really good friends should be able to 'fess up and maybe even laugh about how foolish they were trying to be.

    But then - if she felt the need to tell you that lie in the first place, then WHY? She had the perfect opportunity to say, "It IS difficult for men in the profession our husbands are in, we're in the same boat as you." And what would have been wrong with that? But instead, part of her felt the need to compete unfavourably with you. Maybe she was trying to give you hope - "My husband is back in a well-paid job" even if it wasn't true. But if that was the case, then it should have been easy for her to say (when you asked for a reference), "Actually, I exaggerated a bit, I was only trying to make you feel better, you seemed so down."

    But she couldn't. Which tells me her motives for big-noting her husband's salary was NOT merely trying to cheer you up, but instead trying to cheer herself up, at your expense.

    That is not friendship.

    So don't mourn. Move on. She is the one who has painted herself into a corner and has therefore limited her options.

    So sad, what we do to ourselves sometimes.

    One last thought on lying - it is so much easier to tell the truth, because then you don't have to keep mental track of what you've said, so you cna maintain consistency. If what you've said is all truth, then all you have to remember, is what really happened instead of having to try to remember a dozen different lies.

    That give me much more mental energy to get on an enjoy living.

  15. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    DaisyFace: It is ashame that you and your friend could not reconcile this situation. We all know that money and religious matters are super sensitive topics. AND I also think sometimes we can get super sensitive with reference to anything with- our spouses. I also really like what Marguerite has said on this.
    Ropefree: Totally agree that many folks model this type of thing...not dealing directly with a problem or issue...instead feeling fear and giving into it, etc.
    DaisyLover: I too see immaturity as a possibilty. Jealousy...another possibility.

    The info below correlates to the general discussion here. When we have issues related to our difficult child's that are "sensitive." I've run into this a few times. Who to tell...who not to tell. A need to know basis. husband says that I've learned how to work around this. How to be discreet. I still avoid being dishonest. I just don't believe in it. I do feel that with close friendships and with direct questions, it is best to make every effort to be as honest as possible (while respecting your privacy and that of your child's). Use common sense.
    This might explain it well. It is shortened from The Hazelton Newsletter...

    There's a big difference between being dishonest and respecting my own privacy.

    There might be things that have happened in my past that I don't need or want to share with others. I don't have to share private thoughts or situations with everyone. I can choose when and with whom I will share this information. I can decide what I want to share with others without being dishonest.

    Telling the truth is necessary to move forward in my healing, but sharing every detail about myself is not. If people ask questions about my past and I don't feel comfortable answering them, I don't have to. I can simply say, "I don't feel comfortable discussing that" or "That's too personal, and I don't want to talk about it."

    Use your best judgment about what to share.
    Lasted edited by : Mar 2, 2009
  16. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    My wee Irish Grandmother said to me -
    Liars have to have fantastic memories...