Would I lie to you?
It depends. Are we married?
Because then I might. And you might lie to me, too。
Let's be clear: I'm not talking about the big, ugly, deal-breaking deceptions -- lies that, if exposed,could destroy a relationship。
I'm talking about the fibs and feints and little white lies that serve as a social salve and help arelationship run smoothly. You know what I mean。
And you know that even in the best marriages and romantic relationships, we sometimes fail to tellthe truth. After all, we have plenty of reasons not to。
We fib to avoid conflict. To gain approval. To save face. Or just to be kind. (Show me a man whotells his wife she looks fat, and I'll show you a man headed for a night on the couch。)
Speaking of men, they didn't exactly line up to be interviewed for this column. I asked hundreds ofthem about the little fibs they tell their wives or significant others. And here's what I got: radiosilence。
The women I queried yammered on and on. They giggled as they told of lying to -- or withholdingthe truth from -- their partners about their dress sizes, the cost of their hair highlights, whetherthey got Botox injections or how much reality TV they watch。
'You mean the old 'new clothes out of the Nordstrom shopping bag into the cleaner's plasticgarment wrap before you come into the house' trick?' asked a human-resources executive in SanFrancisco, who has been married for 37 years. 'Well, obviously I plead guilty.'
One woman told of ordering take-out food as a newlywed, then dumping it all in pots on the stovebefore her husband came home from work. Another said she waited three years before telling herhusband she had dropped one of the diamond earrings he'd given her down the sink. (Each timehe asked why she wasn't wearing them, she claimed they hurt her to wear。) Yet another told of afriend who pockets the money her husband gives her for a housekeeper and does the cleaningherself。
Many women I spoke with seemed almost proud of the cleverness of their shams. So why wouldn'tany men cop to stretching the truth from time to time? Intrigued, I asked them。
The answers poured in. (Promising anonymity helped。)
'What don't men lie about?' quipped one man I asked。
'For men, all lies are big,' explained another。
'I don't lie. I tell the truth . . . slowly,' said a third。
又一位男性说，“我不说谎。我说真话. . . . . 。慢慢地说出来。”
And there were others: 'Guys constantly feel like they are being called into the principal's office.That's why we lie.'
'Most of my buddies tell very large white lies, and in order to really keep the peace, those cannotbe disclosed!'
'It's not a lie if you believe it ('Seinfeld's George Costanza).'
Pressed for specifics, my male sources finally owned up to fudging the truth about working late (tomeet friends at a bar, sneak in a ballgame or take a walk alone). They also said they fibbed abouthow much they drank at a party, how fast they drive, whether they find their female friendsattractive, how much they like their significant other's cooking or outfits -- 'After she's changed 10times, you'll say yes to anything to get out the door' -- and yard work。
'I sometimes fib about trimming limbs off the trees in the yard,' says a small-business owner inKentucky, who admits he's been known to go overboard with a handsaw. 'I tried to tie it to cropcircles once, but I really don't think she bought it.'
Two weeks ago, he sawed off a limb, leaving a huge white stump. Desperate to hide the evidence,he climbed a ladder with a brown magic marker and colored the wood in. 'She never saw it!' hesays proudly。
OK, just hold on a moment. Doesn't anyone remember Pinocchio? The Bible? Their mom? Lying isbad, especially when the recipient is your life partner. Do I really have to explain this?
So why is everyone so busy manipulating the truth -- even if they don't always consider it lying?
'It's a matter of survival,' says Ed Dunkelblau, a psychologist and director of the Institute forEmotionally Intelligent Learning in Northbrook, Ill. 'If you don't fib, you don't live.'
伊利诺伊州诺思布鲁克的情商学习学院(Institute for Emotionally Intelligent Learning)的心理学家和主任爱德(Ed Dunkelblau)说，这是为了生存。如果你不说谎，你就无法活下去。
In other words, sometimes lies -- at least the little ones -- can help our relationships。
For starters, they allow us to avoid conflict. That's why James Carbonara told his then-girlfriend hehad to take clients to dinner (he was playing poker with buddies)， ate turkey sandwiches for lunch(he preferred burgers and pizza) and craved iced tea (he needed an excuse to get out of thehouse to sneak an occasional cigarette). 'The No. 1 reason guys lie is so that women don't getmad,' says Mr. Carbonara, a 28-year-old investor-relations officer in New York。
For Tanner Lenart, a little lying has prevented a lot of arguing during her five-year marriage. Theproblem? Her husband's favorite T-shirts, which have holes and no arms (he cut them off). 'I amsure they are very useful when you are working in the brush in Texas, but they have no place inour cute little neighborhood in Salt Lake City,' says Ms. Lenart, 30, a law student。
So she hides the T-shirts, including one from an asphalt company and a 'screaming green' onefrom a scuba shop in Oahu. When her husband asks if she's seen them, she says no。
Joshua Lenart takes the deception in stride. 'As long as she doesn't throw them away, it's OK,' saysthe 31-year-old university English teaching assistant. 'I'll look under the bed or behind the dresser,make sure they get washed, and put them back into rotation.'
Fibs can help us protect a loved one, as Sadie Alexander of Paris, Texas, can attest. She concocteda doozy to get her husband to see the doctor. He had a hernia in his testicle, but was too scaredto get it checked. For two years, she says, he ignored it and it kept growing。
So one night after the kids went to bed, she sat him down on the deck and told him she'd had acheckup that day. 'If there's a little lump in my breast, it's probably nothing, right?' she asked him。
'He went ballistic,' says Ms. Alexander, 35. She says her husband bellowed about how he couldn'tlive without her and insisted she go to a doctor immediately. She let him rant for a while. Then shecalmly told him, 'I didn't say I had a lump in my breast. I said, 'If I did, should I see a specialist?' Youare the one with a lump. And the doctor says it could kill you.'
'It worked like a charm,' says Ms. Alexander. Her husband agreed to see a doctor and had surgeryseveral weeks later to repair the hernia. (He declined to be interviewed。)
OK, that's a bit extreme. But, let's face it, there are some things we are always going to fib aboutto the people we love。
'We all want to be truthful, but there is such a thing as tact,' says Wayne Wilson, a retired financialexecutive in Seattle. When his wife asks how she looks, he always tells her she is beautiful. 'A badhair day isn't going to change your life,' says Mr. Wilson, 64. 'What's to be gained by sayingsomething negative to someone that is of such fleeting importance?'
His wife says she is just fine with his confession. 'After 15 years of marriage, we both realize thatmaybe we have exaggerated at times,' says Tamara Wilson, 48, who owns a public-relationsagency。
Her standard lie? 'Oh, you're so strong.'