When I produced for the Montel Williams show in the 1990s we booked an amazing therapist who discussed friends and lies, families and lies, and was adamant that you must never lie. I guess, if you’re faced with a survival situation you may be given a pass, but otherwise… never. Why (besides the obvious)? Because your health will suffer, you are more likely to divorce and your dog will have an unhappy life (or die faster) – basically, it ain’t good. Not sure about his canine stats but it sure made for a great tease in the show.
What jolted my memory about this extraordinary therapist, was reading the account of Dylan Davies in his recent appearance on 60 Minutes and his version of the Benghazi attack in the Huffington Post. Davies original version differs from his recently published book and the TV show. While that’s for their lawyers and producers to sort out, I thought this may be an opportunity to address how to deal with friends who tell you porky pies – lies! (Porky pies is Cockney slang for lies.)
The Truth about Friends and Lies
To tell the truth often takes a lot of courage, as friends may not want to hear the truth. I’m not talking about discussing ideas such as “does this striped, red ruffled dress look OK on me?” – which is an opinion so you can be encouraging and kind – “Yes, but the little black and white number makes you shine.” See Super Friend Groups “Honesty and Friends” post.
I’m talking about a friend in my youth who told our group she had a brain tumor. And a few weeks after she came back to the coffee shop, where we all gathered, allegedly after her operation she was happy as a clam, with her tumor removed. No scars, no sad hospital tales, just “pass me the double latte.”
A Cry for Help
Even at my youthful age, I saw this as a cry for help. She needed, wanted attention, and by telling everyone she had a tumor she successfully made herself feel special. I mean, who’s going to call her bluff – the stakes were too high.
Since then, I’ve had friends over the years who tell little lies and whoppers. And, the interesting thing I’ve learned is that people who lie can’t remember them. As I have a really great memory, I’ll say oh, remember when you did (fill in the blank). But they can’t, because they didn’t have the actual experience.
Ideas to help friends who tell porky pies:
- What’s motivating their lying ways? A cry for help? Embarrassment over not having money? If so, ask them if you can help them resolve their issue.
- Do your friends lie for fear of telling you the truth? Some friends just don’t like conflict, so if you push them, they may tell porky pies to avoid the combat zone. Re-think your approach.
- Your friend’s lies are really self-denial. Yeah, everything’s great – as they’re sinking into addiction, pain or isolation. Be compassionate as they need your help and not your judgment. And, avoid perpetuating their life’s fiction. Remind them that you’re there for them even when their life gets difficult.
- Compulsive liars. Often, it’s a way to gain power – temporarily – as these friends rarely hold onto long-term relationships. I adored a friend who told enough porky pies to fill a whole bakery. While we had a fun relationship for a number of years, I stopped sharing anything intimate or controversial as she’d distort this information and gossip to others. However, I knew that she was a very decent person in so many other ways; it’s just she had a tough time in her teens and lying became a way for her to survive. If you can’t help your friend directly, you may choose to back away.
There are many reasons why people lie. You can make an endeavor to help them or monitor your response to the information. Be mindful that if your friend is a compulsive liar (rather than just nudging the truth) then they may need counseling or psychological help. So, if you can, guide them to seek help. Click here to find out more about this behavior.
My dear friend Lisa Haisha is the CEO of Soul Blazing, and I truly wish that if you, or any of your friends, need help resolving this issue find out about her programs. You and / or others deserve to find the love and solace to get through this pain. Lies are based in pain, fear or isolation, and there are ways you can change this behavior and shift your life for the better.
Remember…. a great friend starts with you!
On Friday at 11 a.m. PT “Super Friend Groups Talk Radio” we discuss when your friend asks you to lie for them… stay tuned.
Image courtesy: By Katja Kuhl via Wikimedia Commons
© Glenda Shaw_Superfriendgroups.com 2013
Please note: I hide specific and identifiable details in my friend stories as these stories are examples of behavior and not meant to hurt anyone. These stories are based on my opinion and perspective, except when the people written about are in the public domain. As I am not a therapist or counselor, this is opinion only and must not be considered legal or medical advice. However, if you are struggling with the issue in this post, please email Super Friend Groups on the Contact page.