When you think about lies and people being untruthful, you might picture mean manipulative people — like the stereotypical sales person trying to get you to buy something, the guy you meet in a bar with his 101 pick-up lines, or politicians saying what people want to hear in order to get elected. But in reality, a lot of good people who generally live honest lives tell lies — myself included. They tell them not because they’re looking to gain from a situation, but because they want to others to feel good or to feel better about a situation.

Sometimes it's OK to lie (Photo by Leo Reynolds)

Sometimes it's OK to lie (Photo by Leo Reynolds)

Think about it: Humans created the idea of heaven to ease the fear of dying. Parents tell their children about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to make Christmas and Easter more fun. Husbands and boyfriends tell the women in their lives their butts don’t look fat in those jeans. Women smile and say thank you, when their boyfriends or husbands buy them a slinky negligee for their birthday when what they really wanted was a pair of comfy sweatpants.

I am not always able to tell those white lies. If I don’t like a gift, it shows on my face. If someone asks me if they look good in an outfit, and they don’t look good, I tell them so. Ask me my opinion on a situation, and I’ll tell you exactly how I feel. You might think it’s good to be so honest, but my actions have hurt people’s feelings. When dinner is made for me as a surprise, I should say thank you and eat it — or some of it — regardless. I should not throw a fit like I did with the infamous Sloppy Joe supper made by my boyfriend years ago.

As a parent, however, lying is part of the game. “Mom, can I have some candy?” “Let me think about it.” “Mom, can we go to the mall?” “Maybe.” “Mom, can I go to Horror Nights with Amanda?” “We’ll see.”

The true answer to all of those questions was “No.” Why didn’t I just say no? Because I didn’t want the battle. While our kids are young, we can get away with those responses. Soon, however, they figure it out — “No, maybe! Maybe means no! Why caaaaaan’t I!”

And, of course, I told the Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny lies. A couple years ago I got tired of playing the Easter Bunny and all the work of setting up egg hunts. Plus the damn bunny got all the credit! So, I told Paisley the truth. She was heartbroken. Through her tears she shrieked, “You lied to me! Now, you’re probably going to tell me there’s no Santa Claus!” “Oh, no,” I said. “I’m not telling you that.” Yup, I told her another lie.

If the tables were turned, would I want to be lied to? If they’re lies that make me feel better, then yes. When I cook a meal, tell me it’s wonderful even if you think it smells like garbage. When I get dressed up to go out, tell me I look beautiful even if the dress is less-than flattering. When I buy you a gift, tell me you love it even if you think you’ll never use it.

I also believe that full disclosure is not always warranted. Unlike the characters in The Invention of Lying, you do not need to reveal all of your true thoughts. While that made for some chuckles during the film, in real life feelings get hurt.

When thinking about my personal life, I sometimes wonder what I would expect if my significant other flirted with another woman or went to the movies or something with another woman. If the action did not affect our relationship and his feelings toward me remain true, do I want to know about what he did? No. He can keep that information to himself.

Yes, you should strive to be open and honest. But sometimes, just sometimes, a lie is called for.

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