Reasons why you're lying in your relationship

You've probably heard the phrase "honesty is the best policy," but this advice is not always easy to take, especially not in romantic relationships. Some people are surprised by their tendency or the ease with which they share “white lies.” Others have normalized lying by saying things like, "it's just what couples do” or “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

But if you have noticed not being 100% honest (or even flat-out dishonest) with your partner lately, it might be time to reflect on why that is. Everyone will have a unique cocktail of reasons (or excuses) as to why they are lying, but here are some common ones:

Why you're lying to your girlfriend, boyfriend

You are upkeeping previous lies. Do you know those cute little lies you thought didn't matter when you started dating? Well, now you find yourself having to do the upkeep! Maybe you overemphasized how much you like camping or eating olives, you lied about liking football, or perhaps you wanted something in common, so you said their favorite band was yours. And now, months or years later, you find yourself saying yes to camping, eating olives, hosting Super Bowl parties, or getting surprise tickets to this mediocre band on your birthday when all you wanted to do was see Dua Lipa.

You are trying to avoid conflict. Some of us are anxious or uncomfortable when facing conflict, and we might lie to avoid hard or triggering conversations. If this is you, remember the more you avoid conflict, the more it builds – it doesn't just go away.

You’re doing something you shouldn’t be. We often lie because we are doing something that will hurt or disrespect our partner and the relationship we built together. Another reason we lie is that we want to avoid facing the truth about who we are or what our actions mean. So, it's less about lying to our partner directly and more about them being the collateral damage to us lying to ourselves.

You and your partner struggle with communication. Maybe you are not used to disclosing your inner world to your partner or feel uncomfortable doing so, you might lie about your emotions or thoughts. Maybe you don't want to stress your partner out so you omit important facts about your new work position.

Have you ever hidden a personal purchase from your partner? What about taking cash out at the grocery store, so they don't know, and you can use it for something else? If you aren't used to communicating with your partner about money, interest, or needs, you might try and fulfill them without your partner knowing. It's not malicious, but it's a sign of a breakdown in communication.

You are trying to preserve your autonomy. Being in a relationship can feel like an attack on our independence, which is not always easy to detect or communicate. Sometimes lies are our attempt to preserve privacy or to have something that is just our own. A solution would be to set boundaries, which requires clarity, honesty and communication.

You are scared that the truth will push them away. Maybe you are afraid to share that you're still friends with your ex, that you don't hold the same views on religion, that their family gets under your skin, or that you don’t want to have children. Sometimes we think we need to lie to keep our partner close.

You don’t want to hurt their feelings. It's common to stumble upon couples who lie to avoid being "mean." Maybe you find the foreplay too long, and perhaps their breath smells. Maybe their Christmas gift is not something you wanted. And sometimes this looks like not telling your partner that when you first started dating you kissed someone else while intoxicated because it "didn't mean anything." Sometimes we lie in an effort to try and be “nice” or spare their feelings.

Your relationship is not a safe space for you. In some contexts, we lie for self-preservation. We don't want to be punished or harmed, so we bend or skip the truth to meet our needs without dire consequences. These are unhealthy and dangerous relationships to be in.

So, why do you think you lie?

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Sara Kuburic is a therapist who specializes in identity, relationships and moral trauma. Every week she shares her advice with our readers. Find her on Instagram @millennial.therapist. She can be reached at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Relationship advice: Reasons why you're lying to your husband, wife