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Why We Lie

Not too long ago, a reader sent an email asking why emotionally sensitive people lie. Her question suggested that the emotionally sensitive lie more frequently than people who aren’t emotionally sensitive.

Her email made me curious. What are the reasons people lie? Do emotionally sensitive people lie more than others?

People Lie Without Thinking

Robert Feldman, who wrote The Liar in Your Life,and has studied lying for more that four decades, said in an interview, “Not only do we lie frequently, but we lie without even thinking about it. People lie while they are getting acquainted an average of three times in a 10-minute period. Participants in my studies actually are not aware that they are lying that much until they watch videos of their interactions.”

7 thoughts on “Why We Lie

  • May 29, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I don’t know if I meet the criteria for an emotionally sensitive person, although I suspect I do.

    The example of not sharing an interest in hunting with a boss who is an advocate of gun control is not a good example of a lie. That’s an example of retaining a sense of personal privacy in the work place. Something you can’t be too careful about doing these days. If the boss is led to believe you agree with his/her stance on gun control, THAT is lying.

    Regardless of what constitutes a lie, there is far too much of it going on these days in major ways. And a lot of it seems to be committed by bosses — people in management, etc. Blatant Whoppers, not just little white ones.

  • May 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I find myself lying to decorate what I believe are shortcomings in my achievements. Actuality I’m right up there with everyone else on paper..but confidence wise I don’t feel that way. I also lie frequently to avoid hurting feelings.As I am working on mental health i often find these elaborate stories about my achievements hurt more than they help because after i have figure out that the strangers (whom are no my friends) weren’t the ‘firing squad’ waiting to attack me, i have built many relationships on lies..

  • May 30, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I think much of my lying has to do with my sensitivity. I’m very hurt by criticism and get very anxious if I think people are evaluating me negatively. As a result I am super duper careful to always give the impression that I like a person and empathise with him/her, even when I secretly don’t.

  • June 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I agree that everybody lies, and quite often. Most of the lies are well-meaning, mostly pretending to agree when you don’t. And some are done for simplicity’s sake – there’s a long story, but there’s no good reason to tell the whole lot, so you tell a shorter story that takes so many shortcuts that it’s actually a lie.

    I completely agree that the less lies, the better the relationship. I have lived in many different places, and in those where white lies were less tolerated, people were generally happier, because they know where they stand. They know who likes them and who doesn’t, who they can put their trust on and who they can’t. And people get used quite well to a dose of reality, when it’s the same dose of reality that everybody is getting. Where people tell a lot of white lies, everybody seems to spend a lot of time speculating about what other people really thought, because they genuinely can’t be sure, and that makes everyone anxious.

  • June 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I am the classic melt-down sensitive creature. I get so painfully hurt and mad when someone points out that there is something I need to change or do or not do. I can’t take it when someone I trust, love or want adoration from calls me out. I come from a large unbalanced family that does not show loving emotions to one another. Therefor I also am a champion competitor and liar.(totally not proud of it, actually quite ashamed) but I do feel the need to lie all the time. It’s a lack of self worth for me. I’m not ever comfortable just being an average type. I strive for weird, strange, daring, off the wall, and rare in my “life”. I want the “SHOCK FACTOR” to force everyone I come into contact with not to be able to forget me. I elaborate to be bigger, When I was younger I use to flat out fill your ear with BS but now I just tell huge stories.(as my husband and I call it – BIG FISH…it’s a movie everyone should see) It’s dumb to keep up with all of the lies too and takes a lot of effort.

    And on the flip side of the conversation I tend to vomit from the mouth my unfiltered thoughts, I’m usually to blunt with people, and at the same time I try really hard not to hurt their feelings. cause I want them to like me.

    So if anyone knows of a way to just get comfy with the inner beast, besides self praise, cause that seems to just doesn’t work for me, Please tell me about it.


    • June 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

      Elllimace, Based on what you said it makes sense to me that you would want others to notice you and like you. It seems like it might be a way of seeking safety,maybe protecting yourself? I can’t know of course. Maybe finding a way to feel safe would be helpful if that is the case. If I am wrong, then completely disregard!

  • February 9, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I read somewhere, that in the future, we can all look back and realize that what we thought was true and real was, in fact, not as we believed at that time.
    If this is true then the present may not be what we think it is either. Following that train of thought,
    then what we think is the truth, may in fact be a lie, when we look back. I believe our mind fools itself, may even create delusions, or false creations, for purposes of self preservation or advancement,acceptance, or love. Most importantly, we may do this without knowing (at the time). Only when we look back do we realize, that they were lies.

    Of course some lies we are aware of at the time. They are blatant and everyone knows when they make one. It is the other lies which hold the most interest to me, because it speaks to the possible illusion of “reality”of self…it is the stuff of books, and movies…it is the look back at ones is the stuff which created the saying “living a lie”


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