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Why Do Men Lie?

I can say with confidence, that I believe most women will ask themselves this question within their lifetime. Why do men lie? And while most people lie, no matter their gender, for some reason, men struggle with this behavior the most within relationships. Why?

woman and man talking

Why do males feel the need to lie, when the truth is much less harmful in the end?

I know I’m not alone when I say that we as women desire to have our spouses tell the truth above anything. Trust and transparency are one of the most essential needs of a woman.

And even though men know this about us, they still struggle with honesty.

As I am always confronting marital issues and difficult circumstances in relationships from my faith-based perspective, it’s important to note that this information applies to everyone, religious or not.

Before we delve in here, I want to note that this article is not some trash gossip about men being liars. It’s an informative message to women who are in relationships that are continuously being affected by the man lying. Every woman desires loyalty from her spouse. And as there might be different motives for when your man lies, it’s important to first unravel their hearts to give us more insight into the WHY.

Women who are in these relationships need to understand that if the lying is habitual or has to do with infidelity and is destructive to you or your relationship, and the man is not actively seeking help to change, then counsel and therapy is absolutely needed from a psychologist, therapist or mentor.

Trust your intuition, seek God, and never feel ashamed to ask for help.

These men are most often compulsive liars, and if there is to be any hope of amending the relationship, professional and continual healing and help are needed.

That being said, it’s very easy to blur the lines of when a husband or boyfriend are just being human, and when they are taking advantage of you and your trust.

Why do men lie?

When the man you love lies to you, it’s one of the most hurtful experiences. Since women need and desire safety within a relationship, it only makes sense that a lie can totally dismantle her emotions and change her view of her spouse. In essence, a simple lie can bring a good relationship to ruin and open the door to mistrust in a marriage.

But what if I were to tell you that when most good men lie, it’s not because they want to, but it’s because of their deep-seated need to please you.

When a man lies, it’s his choice to lie, and there is no one else to blame but him. And as there are certain things women can do to nurture trust within a relationship, it’s still on the man to take responsibility for his lying.

I recently had a conversation with a woman whose husband had been lying to her about a specific issue he promised to seek help with years prior.

Claiming he had overcome this issue, she continuously believed him until seven years later, it all came out.

I looked at my husband after hearing the news, and angrily said, “Why do men lie? Why can’t they just tell the truth? Is it worth it for men to risk their entire relationship because of deception?”

Experiencing the pain of lying and what it did in my own relationship, I could identify with her on a much smaller level. So I asked my husband the hard question. Here’s what he said.

Heavy-hearted, he replied,

“I think men lie for three reasons, depending on the circumstance: They feel ashamed, they don’t want to hurt or let down their significant other, and they have a general desire to please everyone — the wife being the most significant one to please. They also don’t want everyone to know what they believe to be true about themselves — that they are failures.”

Wow. That simple answer explained SO much to me about my husband. As there are exceptions, I knew at that moment that when my husband had lied to me in the past, it wasn’t some evil vendetta against me. It wasn’t because he wanted to hurt me. It was because he wanted to protect our relationship and protect his reputation.

And even though those reasons don’t merit lying, it helps us women to better understand why they do what they do.

So let’s dive a little deeper into what my husband said.

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1. Men lie because they feel ashamed.

After my son fibs or tells a little white lie, I try not to make him feel like he’s unlovable or the worst person in the world. I address his lying, but I assure him that he is wholly forgiven by us as his parents AND God.

I make sure he knows that everyone struggles with it, and he isn’t singled out as a bad person. Sometimes, I will share a story of when I lied to my parents when I was in high school.

This type of direction and empathy is helping your child understand Godly sorrow vs. shame and guilt.

Godly sorrow leads to change and growth. Shame leads to hiding the lie better next time.

The same goes for adults. And if we have appropriately learned Godly sorry as children, this will come easier. The habit of lying will be dealt with sooner than later.

When we make a mistake, we will arrive at confession, repentance, and freedom from guilt. But when we haven’t properly understood this, we will feel ashamed, embarrassment, and perhaps with good intentions of changing and not furthering our dishonesty, we will most likely not succeed.

Good men desire to protect their wives, emotionally and physically. So when they have broken that because of something they did or a secret they’ve kept, men feel ashamed and don’t want you to know what they have done.

So they lie.

They lie because they believe a lie in their own minds that it’s better not to hurt you than to be honest about the hurt they have caused you.

But they will soon realize after the truth is revealed, that it would have been better to be honest in the first place, as lying adds another element of hurt for the receiving person.

BUT for some reason, men don’t learn this consequential outcome the first time, or even the second or third time.

Most men will continuously lie because of these three reasons: shame, protection, and reputation.

2. Men lie because they want to protect you

Check out what men need in a relationship. From that article, you will understand that a man’s instinct is to protect you at all costs, even from himself.

If he knows that his actions will harm you emotionally in some way, or affect your trust in him, he will most often lie.

As it’s NEVER your responsibility when your husband chooses to lie to you, understanding this may perhaps allow you to show grace and forgiveness when they ARE honest with you about something they did that hurt you. This will help them see that you won’t hate them if they do something wrong, and want to be transparent with you.

Does that make sense?

Let’s say they were honest to you about something they did. Your reaction to that could pave the way for them to be transparent in the future, even though it’s still their choice to lie.

In order to break down this barrier, we have to also do our part in being approachable.

3. Men lie because of their insecurity and failure to be honest

We could go deep on the topic of why men feel like failures on a daily basis, but I’m just going to scratch the surface here.

Most men, when they walk out the door to go to work, hope to God that no one finds out what a failure they are. When you can understand this struggle of your husband, it might help you understand why he sometimes feels the need to lie.

Again, this is NOT a justification for when he lies, especially when they are destructive lies that are affecting you or your relationship in a toxic way. The type of lie is very important for how things are dealt with. 

This is simple to help you understand that the biggest reason why men lie, is because they don’t want to let you down, or let you know that they failed.

By understanding your man’s struggles, you can help him understand that even if he fails you, you will still love and admire him. This will help him be transparent — by knowing you won’t flip a switch those times he decides to be honest with you.

The emotional vulnerability that needs to take place to admit this reason of lying won’t come naturally for a man. 

In summary:

It helps women to understand, forgive, and have grace for their husbands when they lie, when they understand the WHY behind it.

But our understanding of it is only part of the solution to this frequent issue that relationships often face.

These reasons for men lying are not an excuse, and your spouse needs to take it upon themselves to do their part in mending the relationship and trust they have broken. But remember, you are only responsible for yourself.

We cannot force our partners to change — that’s between them and God.

We can only do our part, work on ourselves, and forgive. Forgiveness is not only important for healing in your marriage, but also for yourself. Forgiveness will free you from hurt, and help you move to the next steps of healing.