Ask the Relationship Expert: 'I Lied to My Girlfriend and She Found Out'
What happens when running a business gets in the way of your romantic relationship, or vice versa? In this weekly column, relationship expert Marla N. Mattenson responds to entrepreneurs with love dilemmas -- because the hidden power of successful businesses are the stable, loving relationships behind the scenes.
I lied to my girlfriend and I feel awful about it. When she asked me if I was coming straight home after work, I told her that I was, even though I planned to stop for drinks with friends first. Honestly, I didn't want to hurt her feelings by telling her I'd rather go out than come straight home. She ended up finding out the truth and now she's questioning everything I say. How can I rebuild trust with her?Signed,
Living in the Dog House
Dear Dog House,
Rebuilding trust takes time, and it is a great sign that you're asking how to do this. If you are really honest with yourself, it's not only that you didn't want to hurt her feelings. It's also that you didn't want to deal with her reaction. In business, this is how "buyer's remorse" happens. When someone initially says yes to your service or product but they really mean no, it's a form of lying that leads to regret, request for refunds and cancellations post purchase.
To rebuild trust you both first need to understand the truth about lying -- lying is human! Our fight, flight or freeze response is programmed in our DNA, and in relationships the "flight" response relates to lying. As young children, we are encouraged and rewarded for lying by "doing what we are told." We are given praise for being a "good" child rather than encouraged to choose what we truly desire. As an adult, this leads to challenges being truthful with ourselves, our friends and family, in our business relationships, and especially with our love partners.
Interestingly, lying is not the only problem, here. The reason why you lied is another piece of the puzzle for you.
First ask yourself, "What part of you doesn't want to deal with her reaction?" Once you're clear then you're ready to ask her if she wants to understand more of the reasons behind your choice that night.
Next, tell her you love her and want to heal this together. Share that dealing with her reactions when she doesn't get what she wants from you sends you into an old default habit pattern of lying. And you don't want to do that anymore.
Finally, choose to live unafraid in your relationship and trust that she can handle your truth. Telling the truth doesn't come naturally. It takes a dedicated couple to want to hear the truth from each other. Practice speaking your truth and you'll get out of the dog house to experience true freedom in your relationship.