Why Do People Lie? - Reasons for Lying

Most Everybody, at One Time or Another, Has Lied

Tell the truth now: that includes you and me. In fact, some people, sad to say, lie almost all the time.

Psychologists call these people compulsive or psychopathic liars. They tell lies even when they don't have to. Even the youngest of children will lie, especially if they think by doing it, they won't get punished for something. When children first learn how lying works, they lack the moral understanding of when to refrain from doing it.

Because lying can have such destructive and harmful consequences to both the liar and the one being lied to, I've written several blogs on this topic.

There are different kinds of lies, as well as different degrees of lying. It seems so many people I talk to have a problem with lying whether it's their own, or someone else's.

While maybe everybody lies at some point, few understand how destructive it can be, why we do it, and how to stop it. So, let's answer those questions.

Let's begin by defining what lying is:

Lying is saying something with the intent of creating a false belief or impression. It's an attempt to get someone to believe something that is not true.

Lying - Self Evaluation

  • How many lies do you think you have told this last week?
  • Who did you tell the lies to?
  • Why did you tell the lies?
  • How do you feel about the lies you told now?

Sometimes a lie might seem unintentional, or it may have been told to save someone else's feelings. For example, someone may say to another, "That sure is a pretty dress!", when the person knows it's ugly. We all have the capacity to lie.

Why Do People Lie?

FEAR

It was Tad Williams who said, "We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger." People can be so afraid of what might happen if they told the truth. Maybe they have done something wrong and are afraid of the consequences of their actions, so they lie to cover up what they did. As is often said about political scandals: It's not the crime that gets you in trouble, nearly as much as the cover-up.

MANIPULATION

Lies are typically motivated by a desire to get other people to either do something or not do something, or to make a decision in the favor of the person doing the lying. Someone might lie to get something they desire such as sex, money, status, power, love, etc. Lori said: "I'm young, but I realized quickly lustful people know how to get what they want, even if it means lying to you about how they feel." Probably the word love is used in more lives than any other. How often a guy will say to a girl (or vice versa), "I love you", simply to get the other person emotionally stirred up, so they can be more easily manipulated.

PRIDE

Many times, a person will lie because of pride. They use it for nothing more than a tool to create a favorable image of themselves. This leads to exaggeration, which is a form of lying. Often people will create fascinating, yet completely false, stories to improve their image.

Bottom line: We deceive other people because we think it serves our purposes in some way. And it's easy!

What's the Big Deal About Lying?

It becomes an addiction.

When you get away with a lie it often drives you to continue your deceptions, and in the process, we ruin relationships, hurt others, lose our integrity, and lose our peace. Truth becomes a feared enemy of the liar. It's a sick and tragic cycle that doesn't ever have a happy ending.

Lying may seem simple and harmless at first, but just like any addiction, you'll soon find yourself trapped and entangled more than you could have ever imagined.

Liars don't have peace

 Lying is extremely stressful. It causes you to be constantly looking over your shoulder and wondering who might be finding you out. You're always running through the lies you've told in your head, trying to keep track of what you've told to which person, and what's the next lie you need to tell. When you're honest, you don't have those worries or the negative consequences of your lies.

Roselyn commented: "I can say that not lying is a very relaxing way of life." The fact that you don't have to worry about remembering old lies or getting in trouble later on when the truth comes out (because it always does) puts a lot more relief in your life. Even when it's hard, telling the truth always has a better outcome than a bunch of lies.

Lies ruin relationships

 People are constantly looking to see who they can trust and who they can't. People are actually much more perceptive and aware of who tells the truth and who doesn't. Over time, honesty shows itself as a trait that is beautiful and deeply respected.  Liars are not respected.

This is true in all our relationships whether it's dating, family, friends, or at work. Macey put it so well: "It's always best, to be honest. It makes any and every relationship strong and healthy."

Someone commented about the value of being honest: "I used to lie a lot. I would lie only because it was easier than explaining the truth. And I have finally grown to realize that it's easier to [be honest]. Being honest and open has actually gotten me further than lying. My parents trust me, and I feel good about myself. And when you feel good about yourself then you know that everything is okay." This person has come to realize that when we tell the truth and live it, we become emotionally and spiritually stronger every day.

Telling the Truth Increases Security

It stands to reason that if you are not always working to stay one lie ahead of your last lie, you will be more at peace and have greater security in your relationships with others.  The wisest man in the Bible, King Solomon, understood this well. He wrote, "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out." Proverbs 10:9

God speaks of the dangers of lying often in the Bible. In fact, "Do not lie" is one of the 10 Commandments. God understands how much pain lying brings to both the liar and those being lied to and so He tells us not to lie in order to protect us from pain. The Bible also says, "For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all." Luke 8:17

Here is more of what God says about lying - Verses of Hope for Struggling with Lying

Following God can offer so much security in many aspects of life. For more on a relationship with God read Learn More About God

Honesty Challenge

I want to offer up a challenge to all of us. Would you be willing to commit to a life of honesty and integrity? If you're up for this life-changing challenge, please write me a comment below, and tell a friend about your commitment too.

Has lying become a part of your everyday life? Need more help? Listen to Dawson's Podcast, How Can I Stop Lying - EP -19.

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138 comments on “Why Do People Lie? - Reasons for Lying”

    1. Yes, the writer is Dawson McAllister. Here is his bio - "Dawson McAllister is an American speaker, radio host, and author. He is the founder of Dawson McAllister Association and TheHopeLine® and host of the national radio program Dawson McAllister Live, which is aired live on Saturday and Sunday nights." The call-in radio shows are really powerful - click here to find a station in your area https://www.thehopeline.com/dawsonradio/

  1. Awsome article! Very informative and eye opening I read this at a time where I needed to and still come back to it!

    1. After being frustrated by a new friend (& now former friend) that was actually a true pathological liar, in forced therapy for it & computer addiction & severe laziness, I decided to look at my self to see if I ever lied. Oh no! I do it too! Not as weird of lies, like he did when asking his boss for a day off of work to attend a funeral. True funeral, but when the boss asked who died, common question for showing appropriate compassion, the young man replied "I don't know the guy's name." Well, there 2 things wrong with that lie, one - asking for a day off for a total stranger's funeral. And two - the guy had the same name as his much older half brother and this young man had even helped at his other half brother's house with the Dad's home hospice care those last few weeks! Knew him all his life. Very odd lie. Anyway, I was like, do I lie at all? I was scared to realize that was a big fat YES. New Year's Resolutions? Same ones these last ten years. Do I go shopping or to the park with the kids or clean a mess every time I say I will do it at a certain time & day? No. Always have great reasons to reschedule? Rarely. "One cookie only today, just one." Eats two or three..... LIED AGAIN! "I am going to work out for 5 min every day this week." Looks back on week's exercise goals....FAIL...LIED AGAIN. "I need this item from the store (more than needing to save $$ for car repairs or next car to reach cash pay goal). Buys nice item and others and eats out too often, so didn't have cash for next reliable used car a few years later. LIED again. " I can't control my thoughts. " "Sometimes rudeness is the only thing that works." "I just can't put up with this anymore, so divorce is what is best for everyone." "Wishing that I was with someone better is good for me to think during my marriage." "A child's temper tantrums are just a phase, he'll grow out of it." (Continues neglecting child training responsibilities.) We tell ourselves more lies than to anyone else.

  2. I lie because it feel easier than telling the truth to people I care about. It makes me feel more important than I truly feel about myself. I had been lying to my wife about my career and life goals for nearly 5 years until we got into a fight two days ago. Thinking we were on the same page from a discussion years ago, we stayed together and have gotten married. I lied because I was too afraid to lose her and selfishly hoped I could change her mind later on. And now, I've hurt her in such a way that I could see her love for me leave her face as I was finally confessing. Lying has destroyed the only relationship I cherish. I need help to stop this cycle of lying to people I care about. I don't want to be afraid to tell the truth anymore.

  3. I got a bad habit of lying when I tell the truth nobody believes me they think it's a lie cause they say I tell lies all the time it's hard for them to know I'm telling the truth plz help I want to tell the truth but it comes out with lies plz help

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