Why You Lie to People You Care About (and How To Stop)

Have you ever wondered what’s behind the white lies people tell? You might wonder what makes some people feel justified in bending the truth. Perhaps you even notice it in yourself.

The truth is that everyone lies from time to time. There are varying motivations behind lies, with many of them being harmless. Still, others may produce substantial concern for you if you notice yourself often fibbing, especially if it’s to the people in your life who matter to you. 

Let’s take a closer look at this. Let’s learn more about what motivates people to lie and figure out how to get help from compassionate mental health providers when you notice this habit feels out of your control. 

Why Do People Lie?

Isn’t the truth easier? For many, it’s not. Here are a few of the reasons you may feel compelled to lie, even during conversations with the people you love. 

To Avoid Embarrassment 

When you’re a kid, embarrassing moments may seem inevitable from time to time. As we grow older, many people learn that lying is a way to ward off red cheeks and sweaty palms. 

It might be a small lie, like claiming you didn’t realize a stain was on your shirt when in reality, you’ve been trying to hide it all day. Other times, you might claim you didn’t know you’d been scrolling your news feed for so long when you’ve really been intentionally zoning out from the stress of the day. 

To Preserve the Peace

How do you feel about conflict? Some people have no problem engaging in conflict with others or watching those around them participating in an uncomfortable discussion. 

Let’s say you can’t stand to have uncomfortable conversations with your loved ones. You might lie about things here and there to preserve a sense of peace temporarily. 

When you notice this, it’s a valuable opportunity to pause and ask yourself why you feel the need to preserve peace. There might be more going on for you that needs to be uncovered. 

To Cover for Someone Else

Sometimes, covering for people is no big deal. You might tell the barista that you made a mess to help someone else who’s ashamed to ask for help. 

If you find yourself covering for others in more serious situations, that’s a reason to look inward at what’s happening emotionally for you. In just a bit, we’ll look more at signs that lying is becoming a hindrance to your mental health and how to get help. 

To Avoid Consequences

Sometimes we mess up, and there are consequences. Whether those consequences are marginal like a speeding ticket or more significant, you may find yourself coming up with lies to attempt to lessen their severity. This could be an area to examine if those in your life end up feeling confused or hurt as a result. 

Because the Truth Isn’t Pleasant

It can be difficult to realize you don’t like the truth. Let’s say you’re in a heated exchange with your partner. As emotions rise, you notice feelings come up that seem too scary to deal with at that moment. You might cover your feelings by saying something that you wish was the truth to avoid the reality that feels too big to handle.

To Keep Up Appearances

If you think about it, lying may feel natural due to the use and consumption of social media. It’s easy to get caught up in appearances when everyone posts their highlight reels for the world to see.

If you want to get out of this pattern of covering your authentic life and feelings, there’s always room for growth. You can experience new thought patterns that allow you to feel content and unashamed about your life.

How To Know When Lying Is a Problem

As we’ve mentioned, sometimes lies are harmless. They can even benefit others in some minor instances. How can you know when you’ve crossed a line, and your lying needs to be addressed?

Sometimes, you just know in your gut that the lies have gone too far. Other times, you might need to look at a few signs that can help you realize something needs to change. 

How to know it’s time to stop the lies and get help: 

  • When it’s illegal. This may seem obvious, but lying in a way that breaks the law is something you should address. Talking to a mental health care provider about this can help you untangle why you feel the need to evade the law. 

  • When you’re doing it for personal gain. Gaining an advantage from dishonesty isn’t ethical. Seeking help can assist you in learning to enjoy earning your success in life.

  • When you’re manipulating someone. Sometimes, you may not even realize that what you’re doing is manipulation. Taking an introspective look at your actions can help shine a light on whether you’re manipulating others to cross inappropriate boundaries. 

  • When it can hurt someone else. If your lies are causing harm to others, it’s a sure sign that you should seek help getting out of that lifestyle. 

  • When you’re hiding from those that you care about. When you love people, you should feel like you’re able to show them who you are. If you find yourself hiding from others, it’s time to talk with a skilled therapist about strategies to help you share yourself with the people you care about most.

  • When you’re covering problematic behavior. Covering for others isn’t always harmless. If you find yourself in a situation where covering for yourself or someone else’s bad behavior, it’s a sign that your lying has gotten out of control.

  • When you’re minimizing yourself. If you lie to shrink yourself in moments of conflict, that’s an indicator that you may have some inner hurts that need to heal. Speaking with a caring mental health clinician can help you learn ways to handle conflict appropriately. 

  • When others feel like they can’t trust you anymore. If others tell you to your face that they can’t trust you, you may be in deeper than you realize. 

  • When you know that no one knows the real you. Keeping secrets from those you love doesn’t benefit anyone in the end. Showing them the real you can be more freeing than you know. 

How To Stop Lying When You Want Your Life To Change 

Maybe you realize that something needs to change. Perhaps you’re tired of making yourself smaller through small lies. You might be worried about how often you lie about things that matter, and you want to know how to stop. Here are a few things you can do when you’re ready to pursue better habits for yourself. 

Give Therapy a Try

What do you think about therapy? If you’ve never been, you might have pictures in your head of cold rooms and indifferent professionals asking you questions. 

At Mood Health, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We know how daunting traditional mental health experiences can be. That’s why we created Mood Health to provide quality talk therapy and psychiatric care from empathetic providers who want to see you succeed.

Consider Whether You’re Experiencing Symptoms of Anxiety or Depression

You’ll also want to ask yourself whether you feel hopeless, numb, or anxious about your life during this process. Maybe you realize you lie to cope with your symptoms of anxiety or depression. 

If that’s the case, seeing one of our Mood Health clinicians is the best thing you could do for yourself. Getting started with a virtual talk therapy appointment this week is easier and more affordable than you think. 

Be Open to Trying Medication

Right before you make your first appointment, we’ll ask you a few questions about yourself, so your provider knows a bit about you before you meet. As you share your story, you’ll both come up with a treatment plan for your time in therapy. 

That treatment plan may include a suggestion to see one of our psychiatric care providers in tandem with your talk therapy sessions. They’ll evaluate your symptoms and talk with you about medication that can treat your symptoms. If you deal with anxiety or depression, consider how a prescription could benefit your journey toward mental well-being.  

Have Patience for Your Own Growth

Change can feel scary at first, but we believe positive change is always worth it. Whether you want to nip a small lying habit in the bud or you need help dealing with the anxious tendencies that lead you to lie, getting help is an excellent step. 

At Mood Health, we’re proud of you for making that step to care about your mental health. Getting started with a Mood Health provider is one significant way to show up for yourself and those around you. We’re hopeful that you can learn to build a life where you feel comfortable being honest and authentic with those you care about most. 



Understanding Why People Lie | Counseling

The Truth About Lying | Health Library

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