Why do men lie, you ask? Well, consider first the thought that most people are good people.I know it’s hard to consider, especially when you’ve probably searched endlessly asking yourself why do men lie, because whatever happened to you was truly awful. I get it. It shouldn’t have happened, and his lie has devastated you, and divided your friends and family. Whatever the case, It happens to the best of us. But let’s consider for a second that people lie not for intentionally bad or evil reasons, but more so to protect themselves from hurt. It’s selfish at the core, yes, but that in itself in my opinion isn’t evil. Selfishness isn’t evil. My aim here isn’t to blame or accuse — but more so to delve deeper into the motives of lying.

Imagine there are three constant emotional states. The child, the adult, and the parent. When a father is having fun with his son then he moves into his “child” emotional state, allowing him to recall memories of his childhood to better adapt to his son’s play-style. When a man is talking with his wife then he is in the “adult” emotional state, allowing him to exist in the present. When a man is telling his son off then he is in his “parent” state, recollecting the experiences when his mother or father were asserting their authority over him, and passing this authoritarian style over to his children.

Lying often happens to people that have an overlap of one of these emotional states, and don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of people with these overlaps so it’s not an uncommon event. His child state can be infecting his adult state for example, never allowing him to properly grow as a human; the same can be said when the parent is infecting the adult – whichever the case it’s all caused by a significant amount of difficulty as a younger person and he hasn’t developed the necessary tools to face the consequences of his actions. He lies to you because he doesn’t want to hurt you, or to put it in more foundational terms, he lies to you because knowing that telling you the truth will cause a certain amount of conflict that he doesn’t want to deal with. He doesn’t want to hurt you, yes, but what he doesn’t tell you is that he doesn’t want to hurt you BECAUSE it will cause a certain amount of conflict.

Why do I think it’s complex?

Well, there is no 10 word picture solution to a complex issue like “why do men lie” as you might see on Facebook, or there of. But it is my belief that everyone is just making sense of life in their own way, in the only way that they know how. If you ask anyone to tell you their life story then I’d hazard a guess they would be the hero of it. Whether that’s the powerful hero seeking justice for all that is good, or the beaten down hero, sunk in shadows, that no-one pays attention to whilst they go about their business doing their good deeds. Even two people arguing at both sides of the idea-spectrum. Both believe they are good, just and gunning for the right things. Regardless of what you tell me I would hazard a guess that 99.99% of people on this planet believe they are good, and trying to do the right thing.

I don’t like to think of this world as good or bad, or evil or just. I like to think of our lives as more several shades of grey. Men lie for many different reasons. There is rarely intentional wrongdoing. They don’t sit there rubbing their hands, evilly thinking up ways to screw other people over, but more-so because they want to have the best of both worlds, or at least have people look on them differently to how they feel about themselves. Sometimes the decision isn’t thought much about, other times the decision is brought to head over several weeks of deep thinking, but 100% of the time it’s because they want to do something, or be seen as someone, and they haven’t quite got the confidence to do it truthfully.

Liars have terrible self confidence issues

Think of a world without lies. If you haven’t watched The Invention of Lying by Ricky Gervais then I suggest you do so. The best part of this whole film is that it adequately reflects what a world without lies would be like. The only part I disagree with was the naivety towards lying which was perceived in that world. It just wasn’t considered.

But think of a world without lying, right down to the small details like, “Yes dear, that dress looks awful on you. Please put on a new one.” I don’t agree with lying, even the small white lies. I like to tell everyone 100% of the truth 100% of the time, and there are ways and means to let people down gently whilst telling the truth.

I had a young man in my last place of work always stop me and tell me that I was getting a bit chubby. He had short term memory loss. I always admired that no matter the situation he would always tell me what he was thinking. It didn’t offend me what he was saying — he was telling the truth. The truth only hurts when you’re in denial.

So when we lie to other people we are saying I deny the reality that you see in front of you. In short they are telling you that they would rather you imagine them as someone else. This is the epitome of low self esteem. Confident people want you to see the reality in front of you because mostly they are proud of who they are and enjoy their own company.

Mistaking Arrogance for Confidence

A lot of people will be saying by now, “That’s not true, I know lots of confident people that lie lots,” but a lot of people get arrogance and confidence mixed up. Confidence is also the ability to be vulnerable and own up to your mistakes. A confident person will say, “I’m sorry that happened. I’m partly to blame. Let’s look at fixing this.” An arrogant person would say, “There’s no way that could have been me. You’re to blame.” The first example showing honesty and vulnerability, where there is no need to lie. The second person’s way is a defense mechanism to hide his faults because he is too unconfident to be seen as imperfect. A good example may be that he was never shown as a child that being faulty is part of being human. Confident people recognise their mistakes, and own them, whilst not letting those mistakes dent their confidence. Arrogant people are less likely to own their mistakes and would rather lie to cover up their imperfections, mainly because recognising them, or at least acknowledging them, involves some form of emotional hurt.

So what now?

Well, firstly it’s your choice. You can still stay connected with this man that lies, and work through his lying in the level you’re connected with him at, be that friendship, or more intimate. Some men grow out of lying as I did. The older I became the more self assured and happy in my surroundings I was, and as a result I feel less inclined to lie. Just remember, it’s not your job to heal him. A lot of people freshly armed with new knowledge will set about trying to heal their wounded friends, but as I realised swiftly, and very uncomfortably, is that people will only become better versions of themselves if they want to, and it’s not my place (or yours for that matter) to tell them that they need to change. Doing so, without them being ready, or even needing to, can be the end of your relationship.

That being said most people, and I can say this with absolute assurance, will never think that they need to make any sort of radical change in their lives at all. As I said at the beginning, remember? How do you tell someone they are wrong when they believe they are good and just, and doing the right thing? You can’t. All you can do is lead by example.