Is It Ever Okay to Lie?
All Lies Are Not Created Equal
Dear April Masini,
My best friend is forever lying to people about her age; to the point that I am not even exactly sure how old she is! I am of the school that lying is wrong, no matter what the lie, but she claims that some lies are OK and perfectly harmless. Do you think lying is every OK and is it acceptable to lie about your age?"
Sincerely, Don't Tell a Lie
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Don't Tell a Lie,
Well, that depends… If you are dating and there is any chance that having children is an issue or could be an issue, lying about you age to a potential mate is not acceptable. On the other hand, if this does not apply, it’s really no ones business what your age is and frankly they are very rude for asking! The reality is not all lies are created equal.
White lies--and beige ones
Lies that are tolerable:
- Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I was caught in traffic.
- You made this spaghetti sauce? I love it.
- Your mother is charming.
- I did not throw out that old, torn up tee shirt with the chocolate ice cream stain on it that you love.
Lies that are not tolerable:
- Of course, I’m divorced.
- She's just a friend.
- I did not have sex with that woman -- oh, wait. That one's been told already.
- I have never been arrested.
All kidding aside: Lying is never a good thing. But there are lies that are forgivable and those that are not.
- Lies that are told to protect you are okay -- as long as you don't do it too often and become a chronic liar.
- Lies that are told to protect another person from a truth that will not change their life is okay. (If you hate the brooch your sister's child made her and she insists on wearing constantly, keep it to yourself.)
- Lies that you are telling to protect yourself and that are keeping a truth that will change someone's life, from being told, is never okay.
What does lying about your age say about you?
You have control issues. Someone who lies is trying to bend reality to fit a picture he or she is bent on creating. This sort of fibbing is likely to spill over into other areas of your life. There is no such thing as being a little bit pregnant, and there's no such thing as lying a little bit. There is intention behind lies which often colors the acceptability of lies, but lying is lying, and it's all about control.
Many women used to lie about their age because it was not socially acceptable to marry a man younger than the woman. So instead of not marrying him, and not fitting into the social norm of the time, these women lied about their ages. As widows, they keep up the lies or tell the truth. Often mothers pass away, and their children don't really know how old their mothers were because they know that the mother lied about her age to appear younger than her husband, but they aren't sure how many years the mom lied about.