5) They tell those they love.
The people who are closest to us know us best. Those we love know the “real us.” Or at least they do until we start to lie to them. Someone who has let a lie get out of control will sometimes be confronted by a loved one, or a family member will ask for more information related to the lie being told. At times it’s because someone else asked the spouse or family member a question, and so they just need more information. This is when the liar, who, if you recall, has started to get really good at lying, goes over the edge.
Lying to someone close to them starts to erase the last shreds of dignity the liar has left. There are those who lie at work, but whose family knows the truth. This is sick, of course, and in a way the family is complicit. However, at least at the end of the day these kinds of compartmentalized liars at least have a family that knows the “real person” behind the lies.
Of course people skip to stage 5 lying all the time when their lie involves adultery. When you are cheating on a spouse sometimes they are the first person you lie to—not the fifth stage in a journey of lying. This is why adulterous affairs can shatter someone’s life so quickly. Those who trust and love you most are lied to and their entire world comes crashing in.
So, how do you stop things at this stage? Like all the stages, this is difficult. And I hate to tell it to you, but they get harder as we go. Here’s some thoughts:
- When tempted to exaggerate to those you love, don’t. If we get used to blowing things out of proportion, to embellishing our stories, to telling “white lies” about things that don’t “matter” for convenience sake—we have eroded our own radar on truth with those we love. Your spouse, your children, your parents: these are the people to have 100% truth with. A family can be the “truth gravity” where you find your orbit in life—no matter how cloudy the world of grey gets for you, the home must be a place of black and white truth.
- If you find yourself having to lie to cover to your family, know that you have come to a threshold where everything is at stake. The lying now isn’t just about your employees or employer trusting you. The lying isn’t a career or reputation issue now. The lies now become something that your kids will talk about after your funeral. Think about that as you consider lying to your family.
- Lying isn’t protecting. Sometimes your rationalization of a lie (stage 1) goes so far you think that you are protecting your family, especially your kids, from the truth which will hurt deeply. But the discovery of the lie (and again, I should remind you that the truth does always seem to come out) is going to cause way more pain than your confession of the truth ever will. Lying to protect your family is lying to yourself.