The Irony in the Judgement of Lying

I found out a friend lied to me. We're not BFFs or anything, but I know a lot about her and I do consider her a friend. She previously told me several things that today turned out to be untrue and I get the feeling she didn't realize that she'd outed herself on the lie. In a previous conversation, she told me she'd had a miscarriage only to tell me today it was actually an abortion and that when she told me she miscarried she was actually still pregnant.

There's a lot of stigma around abortions so on the one hand I have a really hard time being upset about her lie but at the same time, why did she think she needed to lie to me? Especially since when she told me about the miscarriage, it was information she'd volunteered to tell me. She had a lot of stuff weighing on her and she needed to get it out, but it seems getting the truth out wasn't what we were going for.

I really don't like being lied to. I don't like a lot of things, but being lied to is up there on the list. There are a lot of reasons this rubs me the wrong way, many of which I'm sure you can relate to, but I think my list of reasons gets different when we start talking about what your lying says about me.

Some people are just liars. I'm not talking about those people and when I assess that an individual I'm associated with is one of those people, I do my best to disassociate and quickly because -- say it with me now -- I don't like being lied to.

The rest of us, though, tend to lie when we feel like we've got no other choice. When we think the truth will rain down a larger consequence than a lie. Sometimes our assessment of the consequences is skewed by momentary or fleeting wishes (like lying to get something). But a lot of the time when we lie, especially about something major, it's to avoid dealing with something else.

In my best estimation, most people lie to their friends to avoid judgement. Whether it's lying to your significant other about whether or not you smoked a cigarette today or lying to your best friend about where you met your new boo, typically we lie to avoid being or feeling judged. Since I believe this, I go out of my way to make people around me feel not judged. Those efforts have had some interesting consequences, like the fact that some my close friends feel a little too comfortable dropping almost anything in my lap and not expecting me to be shocked, but I deal with that if it means that people will be honest with me.

In this same vein, I don't ask a whole lot of questions. I've found that a lot of times folks lie because you just kept asking questions and didn't get the hint that they didn't want to talk about it. I never want to put someone in a position to lie and asking questions a person doesn't want to answer is a great way to fail at that. I let folks tell me what it is they want me to know and I trust that in time they'll open up to me and let me in on what makes them tick. I'm ironically patient in this way.

I'm setting all this up for you to emphasize how easy it is to be yourself around me. You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to and you don't have to pretend to be something you're not (unless what you are is in someway harmful to children because that pisses me off) and you don't have to waste breath telling me what you think I want to hear because whatever you want me to hear is fine with me.

So when my friend told me she experienced one really horrible thing (miscarriage) because she was afraid of what I would say to finding out she actually experienced a different horrible thing (I've never personally had an abortion, but knowing people who have, that's not some walk in the park afterwards) I was confused and a little bit hurt. She had been hinting for months that there was a larger story to some of the of the things I was seeing in her behavior and today she finally let it go.

Afterwards she kept remarking at how shocked she was that I didn't think she was a disgusting person and how I seemed to be ok with it; she also kept talking about how good it felt to get everything off her chest. I wanted to mention that had she been honest with me months ago she could've felt some relief a long time ago, but I knew this wasn't the place. It is a truly complicated situation that is actually much larger than the abortion issue. Honestly she's made some decisions that I don't think I would if in that position and that I'm not sure I understand why she made them but none of that is for me to judge because she seems to be in a lot of pain with everything.

What's so terrible about honesty? Especially when you're talking to someone that has demonstrated that she isn't going to make you tell her more than you want to? I think it speaks to how large the fear of judgement is. How we all want desperately to be believed in and to have support. To the importance of connectedness, even -- because when you get right down to it, so what if I judge you? If I disapprove of you -- and disagreeing with things you have done, for the record, is not disapproval of you as a person -- then we lose our connection and human connectedness is so very important, even when we don't recognize it, even when we don't think it is, even when we don't think we need it.

To me, if we're friends and you lie to me it's because you didn't trust me to handle the truth. You thought that instead of being a listening ear, I would immediately judge you and that somehow you would lose the connection we have. You judged me before I had a chance to do anything; ironic, I think, since the lying was in an attempt to avoid allowing me to do what you've already done to me.

And yeah this is deep, maybe deeper than some folks wanna go but sometimes you gotta get to the bottom of something to figure out how to fix it.

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