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Signs of Deception in a Relationship

Fake Love

Deception involves lying, distorting facts, making up stories, hiding the truth, or misleading someone in some way. It can be harmful to relationships because it violates trust. The mildest form of deception is a white lie. For example, we might tell our partner that their joke was super funny or that their new haircut doesn’t totally suck.

We all do it from time to time. These little white lies are usually harmless, but a pattern of subtle lying can be a dangerous path to go down. When the white lies go past the harmless “trying to protect your feelings” variety, they enter deceptive territory. Deception can also involve more serious offences, like cheating or gaslighting.

If you suspect that your partner is behaving suspiciously, you may wonder if they are deceiving you and what steps you should take. In this article, we will discuss what deception may look like in relationships, why people engage in it, and how it can damage relationships. We will also seek advice from a relationship expert on how to restore trust in relationships.

Deception can take many forms in relationships, from pretending we’re at work instead of a poker game to hiding our smoking habit from our partner. We may deceive our partners because we’re trying to avoid a fight, vying for their approval, hiding our insecurities, or protecting them from something. However, deception can be harmful to relationships because it undercuts trust. Inconsistent stories, unusual behaviours, evasive body language, and defensive reactions are some of the signs of deception. If you think your partner’s been acting kind of shady, or if you discover that they’ve been deceiving you, an honest discussion with them about it and setting boundaries together might help.

What is Lying?

Lying is a specific form of deception that involves making false statements with the intent to deceive. When someone lies, they deliberately provide information that they know to be untrue. Lying is a direct and explicit act of dishonesty, and it often involves making statements contrary to the facts. In summary, lying is a subset of deception. While all lying is a form of deception, not all deception involves lying. Deception can be achieved through various means, including non-verbal cues, selective information disclosure, or the manipulation of facts, whereas lying specifically involves the communication of false information.


Examples of Deception in a Relationship

These are some examples of deception in relationships:

Telling white lies: We might tell our partner we’re on our way to dinner while we’re still getting ready. Or, we might pretend we have a really early start the next day if we’re not in the mood to hang out with our partner’s annoying friend. All of us are guilty of telling these lies to avoid hurting our partner’s feelings or avert confrontation.3

Lying: While little white lies can sometimes smooth things over, there are times when we might find ourselves fibbing about where we are or what we’re up to, to avoid conflict or scrutiny. For instance, we may claim we’re working late at work, instead of admitting that we’re at a poker game instead.

Concealing finances: Talking about money can be tough, and there may be instances where we’ve struggled to be upfront about our income, debts, or spending habits, either out of fear or due to the pressure of maintaining a certain image. For example, we may not be honest with our partner about how much we spent on those new shoes. Research shows that financial deception is quite common among couples.

Embellishing our backgrounds: In wanting to impress a new flame, we may stretch the truth about our background or who we really are, presenting a more desirable version of ourselves to win their approval.

Fabricating stories: We may spin a tale or two to manipulate our partner’s perception of us. Whether it’s conjuring up a sob story to earn their sympathy or inflating our achievements to impress them, we’ve all been there at some point.

Omitting information: We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. Sometimes, we may choose not to spill all the beans, omitting certain details when we share things with our partners.

Covering up lies: Regrettably, there may have been moments when we’ve told a lie, misled our partner, and then gone to great lengths to cover our tracks, hoping they won’t find out what we’ve done. For instance, we may have snooped around their room a little, broken something in the process, and made up a lie to try and cover it up.

Withholding emotions: We may suppress our true feelings and pretend like everything’s hunky-dory, rather than addressing issues and resolving them. We may claim we’re fine, even if we’re not.

Hiding bad habits: We may hide our use of substances like alcohol or drugs, or other bad habits from our partner.

Cheating: Deception can also escalate to infidelity. We might have experienced the temptation to engage in emotional or physical affairs outside of our relationship.

Gaslighting: Deception can also include gaslighting, where we manipulate our partners and cause them to doubt themselves. For example, if they accuse us of something, instead of owning up to our mistakes, we might deny it and claim we never said that.


Why Do People Deceive Their Partners?

We may not set out to mislead our partners, but we may end up deceiving them as we navigate the messy terrain of relationships. While each situation is unique, some common reasons for deception in relationships include:

Avoiding conflict: We might tell a little lie or deceive our partners to avoid getting into a fight.

Preserving our self-image: We all want to look good in our partner’s eyes. We might brag a little and exaggerate our successes or downplay our flaws, to maintain our self-image.

Seeking approval: We may stretch the truth a little bit to win our partner’s approval. For example, we may say “I love hiking on holiday too!,” even if we don’t particularly enjoy it.

Hiding insecurity: We may feel insecure and fear losing our partners if we reveal our vulnerabilities to them, so we might choose to deceive them instead.

Shielding them: We may try to protect our partners from negative or unpleasant things, choosing to deceive them instead. For instance, we may say “My mother loves you, she thinks you’re great.”

Feeling trapped: In the heat of the moment, we might twist facts or manipulate the situation to make ourselves feel less cornered. For example, if they bring up an issue, we might try to turn the tables on them and accuse them of overreacting instead.

Fearing consequences: We may try to hide our harmful habits because we’re terrified of being judged or having to face the consequences.

Maintaining our independence: We may not feel ready to share certain things with our partners yet, so we may deceive them in order to maintain our sense of privacy and independence.


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