“I’m fine.” “That dress looks great on you.” “Everything is going great.”
As women, we lie all the time — sometimes to other people, but more often to ourselves. It’s not that we’re shady and bad people; it’s more complicated than that.
We often don’t even know that we’re lying, it’s just a part of our personalities. Men usually lie to get something they want (such as sex or career advancement), but women usually lie to hide the truth.
So why do women lie?
Sometimes, women don’t tell the truth so we protect someone else’s feelings (AKA the little white lie or compassionate lies). We try to rationalize these lies and rename them as fibs, saying they aren’t hurting anyone and that it’s the kind thing to do.
Susan Shapiro Barash, a relationship expert and the author of Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie, says, “Women still feel the need to lie as a coping or survival mechanism.”
Women lie so that don’t have to process their own negative feelings, such as the woman with an abusive husband who lies to herself when he touches her so harshly that there are bruises. He didn’t mean to hurt me — he’s not a violent person.
“Sometimes these internal lies are even subconscious because the truth is just too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves,” says Barash.
Another type of lie is the betterment lie, or the bread and butter of female lies. This is used to “better” things, or as Barash clarifies, “It typically involves women doing what they feel they simply have to do for the people they love.”
Barash also speaks about the survival lie (or the soap opera lie), which are used to keep a secret that’s too big for honesty — a lie that a woman believes is necessary to protect her current living situation, such as the reason they were fired from a job or why a baby was conceived when their partner was out-of-town.
In an article in The Science of Relationships, Dawn Maslar, M.S., author of From Heartbreak to Heart’s Desire: Developing a Healthy GPS (Guy Picking System), says that all women lie and that they don’t even know it.
In the article, Maslar recounted an exchange she had with her audience at one of her talks.
“I then asked, ‘How many of you would like to date a nice, sweet, kind man?’ Hands started going up. I then said, ‘Let me put it another way. How many of you would like to date an arrogant, flashy guy?’ The hands went down. In fact, not a single woman raised her hand. I pointed this out, stating, ‘Not one of you raised your hand and that’s why you lie.'”
A recent study from the University of British Columbia found a wide gap between what a woman will admit to wanting in a partner, and the type she actually picks. She might say she wants someone who makes her laugh and will then get involved with the bad boy down the street.
Is she lying to herself or is it that she doesn’t want to look bad by admitting the type she’s really attracted to? Lies can protect us, but the truth can empower us and make us stronger.
On the other hand, there’s no reason not to practice kindness, both on yourself and on other people. If you like that dress and it makes you feel good, then go ahead and wear it!