Caught In A Blizzard Of Little White Lies

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I jokingly instruct the guys I date that if I ever ask the dreaded question, “do I look fat in this dress?” they should lie, lie, lie.

“Always tell a girl she looks fantastic,” I say to them.

Yet, even the littlest white lies make me uncomfortable. To me, the problem is that a few harmless snowflakes can easily turn into a blizzard of deceit.

My friend “Sarah” met her current boyfriend “Chad” online. She dated him for a year before discovering that he was an entire decade older than what he’d indicated on his profile. Imagine how she felt to discover that, instead of celebrating his 30th birthday with him, she’d actually bought that sweatshirt for his 40th birthday.

For his part, Chad was actually relieved to have the truth out in the open. Tweaking every story he told had gotten confusing and stressful. The longer he stretched the truth, the harder it was to come clean, and the more he had to lose. Lying to a girl he’d just met online was a very different story than lying to his girlfriend of a year.

How could Sarah ever trust him again after not only the initial lie, but the chain of fibs that followed to cover up the initial one? Well, age was just a number, she figured after much deliberation. And a mere number was trivial compared to all they had been through and all they had shared. So, she chose to forgive him.

They’ve been together now for two years. And everything seemed all peaches and cream… until I myself became an unwitting and unwilling accessory to Chad’s lies.

I’d invited some friends over for game night (as in, “let’s have some drinks and play some games,” not, “let’s sit around and watch ‘the game’ on TV”).  Unfortunately for the UFC fans, my invitation coincided with a free fight on Spike TV. My friend Bob asked if I got the channel, because he was hoping he wouldn’t have to miss the fight. Truthfully, though, I had been hoping to just enjoy an evening with my friends.

Chad also didn’t want to watch the fight, since he was recording it at home and wanted to devote his full attention to it later. Before Bob showed up, Chad joked that I should just tell him I didn’t get Spike TV. I laughed, fully prepared to take the straightforward path and tell Bob that I hadn’t invited him over for a UFC party, but would happily record it for him to watch later.

Unfortunately, when Bob arrived, Chad went ahead and told him in front of everyone that I didn’t have the right channel. I wasn’t sure how to react.

As I mentioned, I’m terrible at lying and feel guilty being a party to any form of deceit, especially over something so trivial. I knew Bob would have totally been okay with the truth. Yet, by lying to Bob, Chad made us all co-conspirators with him. I didn’t like deceiving Bob, but calling Chad out in front of everyone didn’t feel right either. Chad forced the rest of us to make the uncomfortable decision of either joining his lie or ratting him out.

True, the fib was pretty innocuous, but two things really bothered me about the incident. The first was the ease with which Chad told the lie, as if he did it all the time. The second was that it was so unnecessary. An adage that would be almost appropriate to describe my obsession with honesty is that “I couldn’t lie to save my life.” Almost appropriate, because if lying would save someone’s life, I can understand the need for it. But lying to a friend simply because he wanted to watch a UFC fight uninterrupted seemed absurd.

My theory is that if a person lies to avoid such a menial confrontation, how can I believe even the smallest details of his conversations? Were it the first sign of dishonesty he’d shown, I would likely have just blown off the entire incident. Yet, looking back at his record of honesty (or lack thereof), the little untruths seemed to add up. I found myself worrying for Sarah and wondering if Chad was someone I’d ever want as a friend.

A few days after the get-together, I confessed to Bob that I did have Spike TV. Well, Sarah perceived my honesty as putting both her and Chad in an awkward situation. I tried to explain that I wasn’t the one who created the tension, that Chad created the tension when he roped us all into his story. I’m not sure Sarah agreed, though, and I think she’s still resentful towards me over the whole ridiculously petty incident.

To be perfectly clear, I don’t think Chad’s a bad guy. I know Sarah really cares about him, and I obviously care about Sarah, so I do want him to be the kind of guy she deserves to be with. To that end, I can’t help but wish that he could be more honest with even the trivial stuff. Of course, my wish is for selfish reasons, too, since I have no desire to be involved in any of his lies, trivial as they may be.

At the same time. I’m not the one dating Chad, so it’s not necessarily my place to call him out. I truly believe that dishonesty isn’t worth losing the trust of a friend, especially when it’s over such frivolity. But if she’s okay with his little white lies, does that mean I just have to live with them, too?

I don’t know….

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30 comments

  • i agree with you. Lies are never necessary. People respect the truth, even if they don’t want to hear it at the time. And, I don’t think it’s fair that he roped you into his lie either, no matter how small. I sincerely hope this isn’t an indicator of his character, but you mentioned how easier it was for him to lie. I find that a little alarming. And this is coming from someone who just got out of a 7-year relationship with a confessed liar. I didn’t know he was a liar until then end, but then found big lies, small lies, middle lies all stacked up on each other that lasted for years and years. My thought is now (and maybe it’s a little extreme) that no lies are acceptable. Not white lies. Not lying by omission. If you can’t be honest with the person you are with, and with the people in your life… then you don’t deserve to be in their lives. Sorry if that’s harsh, but I really believe it.

  • It is scary how some people find it so easy to lie, even if it is just about something trivial.. but then..if it is trivial why the need to lie in the first place? Lying to someone for over a year about 10 years age difference sounds like a pretty big deal to me. If he felt he needed to lie about that and couldn’t come clean about it for so long… then what else is in the wardrobe? But then, it is your friends decision in the end of the day and hopefully that is the only hiccup.

    For me lying is not an option, it is disrespectful and cowardly. The truth always comes out somehow and then you have created a bigger mess than ever needed.

  • I think you should have called Chad on his lie. He’s a grown man and can accept the fallout from being outed. You could have easily done it in a light manner such as [to Chad] “Don’t lie, you know I have the channel.” [To Bob] “He’s just trying to protect me from being the bad guy. You know how I am about my game nights.” I don’t think that anyone would get huffy over that. I think it would be better than compromising your beliefs and feeling guilty over the situation.
    I personally don’t have a problem with little lies.

    Especially to loved ones. I certainly don’t want to be the Grinch shouting that there’s no Santa Claus. And before you jump on me about the exceptions, two people have stated that lies are completely unacceptable and there are parents out there that don’t believe in perpetuating the Santa Claus myth.

  • I think Bee has the right idea. Instead of “calling him out” on it, do it in a lighthearted manner. That way, you don’t have to go along with his lie, but you’re also not being confrontational about it.

    Then again… coulda woulda shoulda….

  • Chad and Sarah, huh? LOL Only funny to me cuz I know exactly who you are talking about. And I know it isn’t me (Thanks for adding the h to Sarah so there would be no confusion!) But interestingly my ex, that I am still somewhat in love with (he is in another albeit not totally committed relationship so he is off limits anyway) told me a similar lie from day one. He said he was 5 years OLDER than his real age and then later told me he was ten years below that number supposedly to make it look like he was joking with me (purportedly the first number was to make it seem like he looked “good for his age” since he definitely did not look younger) and refused to let me see any proof one way or the other until he finally came clean and his ACTUAL age was somewhere in the middle of the 2 numbers he gave me. I chose to maintain a relationship with him in spite of it…and he later tried to play it off as a game, saying he perpetuated it to deliberately annoy me. But my point is, I am with Meg. I am honest to a fault, so letting little lies go, even if they are meant to be a joke is really hard. Do you just go along with them that is is meant in fun or see it as a sign of deeper character flaws? I think for me, and I may be eating my words later, if I see these types of lies in the beginning of a relationship, it is a sign I should walk away. But who knows. Love is blind.

  • You didn’t really give the details on how you told Bob, but it sounds like you told him in front of Sarah. I could see how that would make Sarah feel awkward, especially depending on how you worded it. It might have gone over easier if, in private, you just said something lighthearted to Bob like, “Ha, I really do have Spike TV, sorry Chad told you otherwise.”

    • Actually, I told Bob’s wife the truth, since it’s her number. Then, I told Sarah that I told the truth, so there wouldn’t be any secrets between anyone. Then Chad apologized to Bob. So, it actually all worked out ok. Frankly, Bob didn’t really care. They are all still friends with each other and things were smoothed over quickly between them. Because honesty really is the best policy. Whether anyone will still be friends with me however is up in the air. 🙂

  • I think I am more concerned with the time you took to write this entire story about a lie that nobody really would have cared about. Obviously lying isnt right and I dont condone that, however if “Sarah” was truly your friend as you say you probably would not have posted an entire story about her online about her boyfriend. It seems to me that whatever they work through in their relationship is their business and not your business to post online. Some friend you are. The sad part is, I dont know you or the couple your talking about but coming across your story makes me thankful that I dont have friends like you in my life to stir the pot a little bit more.

  • Dear Jessica,
    It’s an interesting point you make about my story about my friends. The truth is my friend who I care about dearly was upset I published this story. However, my goal was not to criticize her relationship. In fact if anyone should be mad it should be Chad, since it’s his reputation my story questions. I always cconsider the repercussions of my stories and the impact it will have on the people in it. I don’t say anything in the article that I haven’t said to my friend and honestly this article isn’t really about Chad and Sarah. It’s about honesty and I clearly do not think honesty is a trivial subject. As the adage goes, “Ccontrol your thoughts for they become words, control your words for they become actions, control your actions for they become habits, control your habits for they become character.” I use the eample of my friends, because that spurred my contemplation over the subject of honesty. It may not interest you, but as a culture Americans are very concerned with honesty. From stories of George Washington and the apple tree to the current craze of Wikileaks, Americans call for honesty in our politicians, our government, our celebrities and one another. I have lived in cultures that view cheating as helping, lying as an art and bribery and corruption as an essential part of government. We care about honesty. We care about character.

  • Also Jessica, clearly I cared about the lie. I’m a good enough friend to be bothered when someone lies to my other friends. If my integrity makes someone not want to be my friend, I’m better off. We write about our lives and the lessons we learn. My readers read to know they are not alone. Inevitably I will write about the people I care about, because they are an integral part of my life. My friend is intelligent, caring and beautiful. She is a wonderful woman and I think that after her initial anger she will realize that if she can get over a year-long lie, she will recover from having her story told to others. As I said to her, it is her relationship and she knows her boyfriend better than anyone. She knows whether it was a one-time mistake or a personality trait. People make mistakes. That doesn’t change how the incident affected me however, or my feelings when it happened. For me, lying to my friends is a big deal. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t have written the article, but thanks for sharing your opinion on the matter.

  • I think the right time to have sad anything was right when it happened. After that it comes across as plotting against “Chad” because you are having it both ways; you took part in the lie but also later ratted him out. I think it would have been up front to have just called him out when it happened and then moved on and not brought it up again.
    But other than that, I loved the article:)

    • As Dennis said, “shoulda, woulda, coulda.” In hindsight, it would have been best to have said something at the time. Still, I think the truth is always better sooner or later. I want all of my friends to know that they can trust my word, no matter how trivial of a matter it is. One of the points I want to make about trust is that Chad’s reputation had preceded him, so to speak. The earlier lie about his age already made me weary about his trustworthiness, I think. So whereas with another friend I may have been more apt to think of it as an honest mistake, I admit, I was prejudiced to judge him more harshly.

  • Funny you try to come off as being so noble and logical with all your reasons for writing the story yet when you read through the lines I think there are underlying reasons for you writing this story, what are your real reasons for posting it? Did you gain something from putting this out there? How much did you really think about how this would hurt your friend? And better question yet do you really think she will continue thinking the same of you? Sure the article is about lying and how it bothered you, so you decided to write about the incident. If you really think your friend is caring, intelligent and beautiful then don’t you think she’s good enough judge of character to believe that she is dating the type of person that is up to her standards? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have told the truth in fact I think it’s fine that you did however a lot matters in how the truth came out and if it was addressed in the manor it should have been.

    • I’m just gonna jump in and make a general response to one particular comment, not about this particular friend (since I don’t know who she is), but about friends in general:

      If you really think your friend is caring, intelligent and beautiful then don’t you think she’s good enough judge of character to believe that she is dating the type of person that is up to her standards?

      Nope. That’s why I started this blog. 😉

    • Oh, I’d just like to add one thing in Meg’s (as well as everyone else on here’s) defense:

      As writers, the underlying reason for us to write about anything is because we want to share our thoughts. It’s our version of exhibitionism.

      Just as the ripped meathead likes to wear tight shirts, or the busty bimbo likes to… uh, wear tight shirts, we like to wear our thoughts publicly.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with admitting that.

    • Would it have been better if I had something to gain? I write about what matters to me, not with the intention of gaining anything, but to share with others who might have had similar experiences. I think it teaches about how important it is to maintain your honesty and integrity. I hope that the lesson others get out of this is that even the littlest lies can create havoc and make others question the very roots of your character.

  • Since I was there, and a co-conspirator, here is my two cents. I have to agree with Jessica on all accounts. The initial event that sparked everything is trivial, a little white lie to spare Bob’s feelings. Again, I agree with Jessica…THIS NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE PUBLIC. In fact, I think it should be taken down. Even though the names were changed; in our group of friends….everyone knows who is being talked about. It would have been better to wait 6 months to a year before posting (if if felt it had to be posted) so as to let things settle down first. I feel like the author is trying to justify their actions by posting this article-so soon, so that people can agree with them and they can feel vindicated by other people’s opinions. Two, I think resorting to Chad’s “history” is an attempt to justify what initially took place, or take the attention off “spilling the beans” to Bob. Which is what happened…everyone got messy. Instead of respecting Sara, Chad, and Bob, Bob’s wife; (and mine) friendships, their friendship was put in jeopardy by making a big deal and coming clean about “a little white lie”: which EVERYONE told to Bob. In my opinion, telling Bob was selfish. The consequences for everyone involved should have considered, before rectifying a little internal guilt.

    I can’t help but suspect ulterior motives for these actions, whether conscience or sub-conscience. But that really doesn’t matter, what matter is, Sarah and Chad were probably hurt by this and additionally, publicly calling out Chad’s history; which is their private relationship and no one else’s business. Posting this article was probably adding insult to injury to both of them. I know if it were me this all happened to, I would be pretty damn upset at this point. If you care about a friendship with Sarah, I feel an apology is in order. Then this article should be taken down immediately.

    I am not usually one to “get into it on a public forum”, but since I’m moderately involved and was present for the initial event, I feel another perspective might be useful. I hope things get worked out between everyone.

  • You guys realize that, by posting your comments publicly, you’re now making it an even bigger deal than it ever was before, right?

    I don’t think taking this post down is going to solve anything at this point. The people who are in this group of friends all know about it now. Meg’s dug her hole. Now it remains to be seen if this hole is gonna end up being a grave.

    For my part, I thought it was a well-written article and has a valuable lesson. As you can see from the other commenters, there are people who see Meg’s perspective. For that reason, I’m inclined to leave this up. Uninvolved people will read it for the lesson and move on. They won’t care who was actually involved. If do they care, it’s only because of the attention that’s now been brought to them.

    I’m going to leave the decision up to Meg, since it is her article. Personally, I like this piece and want it to stay. On the other hand, yes, I understand that members of this group of friends are upset. Yet, on a deformed mutant third hand… really, nobody outside this group of friends cares.

    • Dennis, you are very wise and a good moderator. I am happy that someone like you is passing on your knowledge and experience to the youth of today in the classroom.

  • For the record, everything said in this article was already said to the important person involved. Also, I did not “out” anyone, anyone who knows who I’m talking about already knew the entire story. Anyone who doesn’t know these people, still doesn’t know these people. Finally, the main 2 issues the friend had with the article were 1. that I was putting her personal life out there for others to have an opinion on and 2. that I was judging her boyfriend harshly.
    To issue number 1, honestly the comments themselves are evidence that frankly this was gossiped about by others long before I wrote this piece. To issue number 2, I do trust my friend’s judgment after having discussed this topic extensively over the last few weeks to get her full opinion on it. I did not jump to conclusions, but expressed my concerns and listened to her perspective. Chad is a good guy, I enjoy his company, but integrity is important to me. I think that a friend who tells me I’m wrong for telling the truth, isn’t really a friend worth keeping. After discussing these incidents, both Sarah and Chad agree that the lie was a mistake in the first place. I know Sarah shares my opinion on lying, despite being mad I wrote the article.

  • I dunno Meg.. First off, I have to agree with you, integrity is very important to me. And were I in that situation, I would probably be uneasy with the ease Chad told that lie too – knowing his history.

    However, when I read this article (and I kinda disagree with Dennis here) I feel a little uneasy. Not from knowing that Chad lied, but from the fact that such a personal story was written. I don’t feel, “Wow, I really don’t want to tell white lies, or I don’t want to date a man who can lie so easily, let this be a lesson to me” – or anything down that road. I feel confused. I think, “why are you writing this?”
    The reason given (integrity) does not match the extent of the so called ‘crime’, so what comes across is a feeling of pettiness and justification and perhaps some need to be heard and be ‘right’. I don’t mean to say that this is what you are trying to do, but I am saying that this is what I feel when I read this article.

    And it is a shame, because honestly is a big issue, and I truly believe that we don’t have enough of it in relationships. I only wish that this article could have made that come across better instead of coming across as it does now.

    So, I don’t have any opinion on whether this article should be taken down or not because a) I don’t know the people involved, b) it’s none of my business. But I just wanted to write in and let you know of what feelings it invokes in me when reading your article. Perhaps it also invokes the same or similar feelings in others and hence why Jessica and Joseph have such strong feelings over it?

    Either way, good luck and I hope this sorts itself out 🙂

    • I don’t mean to say that this is what you are trying to do, but I am saying that this is what I feel when I read this article.

      Fair enough. When we write, I believe that what others interpret is even more important than what we mean. Actually, this applies to any form of communication.

  • I always write personal stories about the people and relationships I know, I don’t really get why this one was so upsetting to people. What’s the difference between this article and all the other ones?

  • And what the hell are the other motives people keep talking about? What have I to gain from this? Nothing. My writing isn’t about other people. I hope other’s enjoy reading about my experiences, but I consider writing to be one of the honest most raw expressions of who I am and how I see the world. Writing is really a very selfish act for me, it’s not about being right or about pleasing an audience or making money for me. It’s a very base act of sharing with others what is really deeply inside me and I think it’s worth sharing, because I think there are others who think like me, but don’t know how to express it and they relate. There are still others who see the world completely differenty, and I think that my different opinion helps them see things from a new perspective. I write to know I’m not alone.

  • I’m happy that Meg and Dennis decided to keep the article and I got the chance to read it (and its comments).
    I don’t know if I’m any wiser now, but I certainly do feel a little more knowledgeable about human nature, so thank you for that.

  • Hm, I should probably just let the fire burn out on this, but I’ve never been good at listening to my gut. Which, I have to say, is why I’m grateful I have friends like Meg in my life who, even if it makes me mad at them sometimes, are willing to let me know when they’re concerned about me. And that’s honestly what I interpreted when I read this – I thought, wow, Meg seems really concerned about her friend who’s with someone who seems to be able to lie very easily.

    Sarah can take that concern for what it’s worth, but she doesn’t have to let it – or this article – ruin their friendship. Sometimes writing about something is the best way to make yourself heard. I’m not saying that’s what Meg was doing, but really… why get mad at someone who obviously has concern for your well-being? It’s not like she’s trying to break up the relationship (especially after 2 years). Anyway, if I were Sarah, I’d want to know about my close friend’s reservations.

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  • While people can always have an ulterior motive, I didn’t see any indication that this post was anything more than a discussion of the author’s opinions on honesty and attempts to grapple with the ideas of small or large lies. I think it’s definitely understandable to be concerned with someone who can lie easily, but, also, I think a lot of us lie easily about little things in situations where no one is really harmed by the lie. I mean, I guess my most frequent lie is when I say I’m busy and I’m not just to avoid a long discussion as to why I really just don’t feel like going out. Or saying there was traffic when I’m late. It’s hard to distinguish between what are important and what are unimportant lies and, also, what signs should put you on edge. I think that this article brings up a lot of interesting issues.

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