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Lying Hurts the Liar

I came across this post in an old archive. The author was writing to teens about the Monica Lewinski scandal, but as I read through his wise words, I found myself thinking how appropriate the words are for all age groups:

Lying Hurts the Liar

If you lie, it will make things worse for you, too. Oh, you might get away with it once or twice, but you will get caught sooner or later.

How Does Lying Make Things Worse?

Lying makes things worse because it hurts your personal relationships: relationships with friends, brothers and sisters, parents, children, teachers and other adults.

Think of it for a moment. When you lie, it is a burden you have to carry with you. It makes you feel bad inside. You know you hurt your relationship with someone by lying. It violates the trust people have in you. Usually you have to lie again to cover up the first lie, and you feel even worse for doing that.

Have you ever noticed how badly you feel when you discover a friend has told you even a little lie? It hurts a lot. You wonder why a friend would do that to you. You think about it a lot, and you just don’t trust your friend as much after that. It’s not the same.

Then think about how you feel when someone is telling you what a good, good friend he is, and then he goes behind your back and says just the opposite. It destroys all trust.

A Way You Can Understand Lying

When you become a friend to another, you put your life in some small or large way into his cupped hands. You trust the person by putting part of your life in their hands. You want and need your friend to be worthy of that trust. When they lie to you, he lets your life slip through his hands, and is not worthy of your trust. How lonely that feels! How disappointing!

Lying harms not only personal relationships, but business relationships as well. In conducting business we also put ourselves into the hands of others. Our business associates need to be worthy of our trust. Take the simple example of going into a store and buying a box of chocolate chip cookies. The picture of the cookies on the box looks terrific. The chocolate chips look tasty, but you open the box at home and find cookies with no chips. You feel cheated because you believed what you saw. You believed a liar. No wonder you feel cheated. No wonder you’ll probably avoid that brand in the future.

Why Are We Tempted to Lie?

We are tempted to lie because we want something and use a lie to get it . . . That sounds a little selfish, doesn’t it? No wonder lying makes us feel lonely. No wonder the devil is called the father of lies.

We lie because we believe it will make things better. So you shoplift, and when questioned, say: “If I lie I won’t get caught. If I’m caught, they will be mad at me. I want to avoid the pain.”

Once we give into this temptation to lie, we start lying some more by saying: “I want to spare my loved ones the pain of knowing what I did.” So you try to spare them that pain by lying to them. That doesn’t make sense.

It’s like saying: “I’m not going to admit I robbed the bank because it will upset the police.” What kind of nonsense is that?

How Do We Respond When We Are Caught Lying?

Our response is usually to say: “Everybody lies. So what difference does it make?” The trick of a good liar is to attack the accuser. So when another kid accuses you of lying, you say: “Well, I heard you lie once.” It’s the “look who is calling the kettle black.” Attacking the accuser does not make the lie less a lie. It is still a lie. It still hurts relationships.

Your trying to justify lying by saying everybody lies is like saying: “Everybody hurts their loved ones so hurting loved ones must not be so bad.” Do you really believe that since so many people steal, stealing must not be so bad? It’s like saying everyone makes your life miserable so being miserable must not be so bad. This doesn’t make sense.

Why Are These Rationalizations Wrong?

Lies decrease the love we have for one another. They diminish hope. They extinguish trust and belief in one another. Lies are morally wrong.

Why don’t we just say: “Let’s forgive and go on with life?” Forgiveness makes us feel good, and like anything, it can be taken to excess. For example, if a person has no remorse, don’t forgive him just so you can feel good or look good. It mightily confuses the liar. Likewise, don’t forgive someone who has done nothing wrong. It confuses others.

On the other hand, don’t hold onto forgiveness as a form of vengeance. “I won’t forgive you because you need to suffer some more.” That’s like saying until you extract a pound of flesh, the score is not even.

The action of appropriate forgiveness is an action making the situation better . . . it produces a good set of outcomes. Failure to forgive in a situation where forgiveness is warranted makes the situation much worse.

It doesn’t do any good to censure a person who feels no shame, who feels no guilt. He will just make more excuses.

On the other hand, it does a great deal of good to refrain from censuring a person who already has censured himself. This is the person who really feels guilt and tries to make amends. Failure to forgive here is inappropriate.

It’s also good to remember that there is a difference between forgiving and condoning. Condoning diminishes the action. It’s inaccurate and it’s a cop-out. The religious call to forgiveness is not a call to be a sucker. If what was done hurt you, you need to say that, and not pretend it didn’t hurt and it doesn’t matter.

At every point a person has a choice to forgive or not forgive for the right reasons. Conciliatory personalities tend to forgive too much, too quickly. Aggressive personalities tend to forgive too little, too late. We need to strike a balance.

Is it Hard to Forgive After the Lying Has Stopped?

Yes, it is a lot easier to forgive when the person is trying to make up to you for all the lies he told you. Even then, it takes a long time for forgiveness to settle in. Why? Because the hurt is still there.

It is rather easy for a person who lies from time-to-time to quit. It can
be done rather readily if there is determination to do so. What about a person who lies habitually over a period of time and cannot quit easily or without consistent help? A habitual liar will be tempted to believe he just has to say he’s sorry, just as a habitual drinker will tend to believe all he has to say is he’s sorry. It doesn’t work that way. On the other hand, bull throwers, braggarts and exaggerators are a tiresome lot, but they are easier to get along with than habitual liars.

How Is Lying Made Worse?

The bigger the role model, the worse the lie. If someone I hardly know lies to me, it is bad. However, it is much worse if my mother lies to me. She is a much bigger role model in my life. That makes the lie worse.

That’s why the President falls off a mountain when he lies. Yes, he falls a great distance, and if he lies over and over again, he falls an even greater distance.

You may say that if we raise the bar too high, no one will run for public office. Then all we will get is the biggest bully or the guy with the most money. That’s really not our problem. The problem is just the opposite.

We need to raise the bar high enough so better people will run for office. We need to restore the expectation that includes honest behavior. The solution is not to take the bar away. To put it another way, if many people are lying, the solution is not to approve of lying, but rather to rekindle the fires of devotion. Otherwise, human flourishing is diminished.

Every time we see someone shoplifting in the store, we need to cry out: “Thief, thief!” Similarly, every time we see someone lying, we need to call out: “Liar, liar pants on fire!” We will be better off with fewer liars, not more.

These are just some of the reasons why the good Lord tells us not to lie.

Here is the source of the article: Girls and Boys Town.


March 11, 2007 - Posted by | Communication, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Lies, Marriage, Social Issues, Spiritual


  1. Moral of the article: lie and make sure you are never caught 😉

    Comment by cixousianpanic | March 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hmmmm, Cixousianpanic, I think he is saying life is a lot simpler and less painful if you stick to the truth. . .

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] Memory Keeper’s Daughter Rember the post Lying Hurts The Liar? In The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, the whole plot revolves around a huge lie, and the toll that […]

    Pingback by The Memory Keeper's Daughter « Here There and Everywhere | May 14, 2007 | Reply

  4. Who I thought was my best friend…is not. His lying has left my world a mess. How do I pick up the pieces and move on? LYING DESTROYS EVERYTHING!

    Comment by tangher | August 4, 2008 | Reply

  5. Tangher – I am so sorry that happened to you. There IS good news – YOU are not a liar. Once the liar is out of your life, the crazy-making things stop. There is more good news – one day you will look back and be thankful you got that bum out of your life.

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 5, 2008 | Reply

  6. fuck you dude, i guess youve never lied huh tangher? sometimes, it is to avoid pain for you and the people you love, sometimes you make a mistake and know u cant take it back or change it, but it really wasnt worth all the pain it could possibly cause the people you love… lying sux, and i dont recommend it, but it happens, mostly because people are trying to avoid pain for themselves and mostly others…

    Comment by cuz | September 27, 2008 | Reply

    • I’m with you cuz!! WOW! ‘Ol tangher is f’d up major. Sounds like a self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one seriously misinformed individual. It’s apparent that “tangher” visited my blog, which is all about lying and it’s effect on others. It definitely isn’t about relationship-type lies, or, lies by drunks and those with, what was it, “No remorse?” Tangher lives in a delusion if “raising the bar” is the answer to honest public officials (LMAO). I heard a lot of hostility and bitterness in Tangher’s post; someone must have really pounced on him/her with a lie. And, yes, I am guessing that this person “Throwing the first stone” has told a lie or two that if the “TRUTH” were known actually hurt someone as described in the post, was caught, confronted, tried to tell another lie to cover it up, and is still awaiting the so-called forgiveness!
      As a first-hand observer of what lies can do and create, this is my contribution to this narrative on lying.


      Comment by looking4trth | September 5, 2010 | Reply

  7. Cuz – did you read the article? Lying hurts those you lie to, hurts you, because you lose their trust, and hurts you, because you end up trying to live a lie. Lying hurts everyone.

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 27, 2008 | Reply

    • Oh Yeah! Cuz read the post, that’s why the reply is so right on target! Lies don’t just hurt others, they destroy lives, careers, property, and sometimes sanity. You people, sucking up to the author of the post, need to do a lot more research before you are qualified to consider yourselves experts on lying.


      Comment by looking4trth | September 5, 2010 | Reply

  8. I defiantly agree with looking4trth, are we really coming to this were peoples opinions are shut down immediately after they come out, did you even consider his side of view, you don’t understand Cuz he’s just trying to help the readers. we should be thanking him he says himself that he doesn’t recommend lying, but sometimes we have to understand that the person only made a mistake trying to fix something. i understand he made i worse but he didn’t try to…

    Comment by ()*&^^% | May 10, 2012 | Reply

  9. i have done this myself just today… and i have tried to spend the whole day fixing that, and i think i have i think that if they come out with it truthfully later then they should be forgived or at lest given 3 chances. Can you say you have never lied. I’m now talking to intlxpart to look at this we can’t just turn our back on someone because they made one mistake…

    Comment by ()*&^^% | May 10, 2012 | Reply

    • Here’s the bottom line. Lying to a person is like putting up a barrier between you. Lying people give themselves away. One lie usually leads to another to try to support the first. Soon, you have a barrier of lies, like a house of cards, and the slightest breeze can blow that house of lies apart. When lying behavior is exposed, trust is broken. You can forgive, but you don’t forget that a person you trusted has lied to you. It takes a long time to redeem yourself. The good news is, it can be done.

      Comment by intlxpatr | May 11, 2012 | Reply

  10. […] The truth is, most of us know when we are being lied to. There are times the liar will never admit to it, but you have to work with the knowledge that what he or she is saying is a lie. At least you know. You don’t have to buy into the lie. And you know my position – lying hurts the liar most of all. […]

    Pingback by Spy the Lie on the Diane Rehm Show « Here There and Everywhere | July 24, 2012 | Reply

  11. it’s better to hurt by saying truth the hurting by fuckng lying…. lying to loved one is nothing but cheating them

    Comment by # ^^ ^^ u | September 5, 2012 | Reply

    • There’s a reason Satan is called the Father of Lies.

      Comment by Intlxpatr | September 6, 2012 | Reply

  12. hdxfgh

    Comment by garrett hestang | January 27, 2013 | Reply

  13. Why do you even give a trick about being a good liar.

    Comment by garrett hestand | January 27, 2013 | Reply

  14. Garrett, when you lie to someone, you give life to something very wrong. It starts out small, but it gathers energy around itself and quickly grows beyond the liar’s ability to control it. Most liars start out lying to spare themselves pain, or maybe to spare someone else pain, but in the end, the lie creates craziness and most liars end up regretting their lie heartily. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a good liar. There are only those without the courage to tell the truth and face their consequences.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 28, 2013 | Reply

  15. When you lie, it makes the person that you lied to feel more distant towards you.
    In a family, it’s worse because they think that they can’t believe what you say unless you prove it to them

    Comment by Hartwick | March 28, 2015 | Reply

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