Truth and authenticity are the foundation of any strong relationship. Yet some people choose not to be honest with their significant other and lie by omission. So what is lying by omission in a relationship, and why do people lie by omission in a relationship? Read on to find out.

Unlike outright lying, lying by omission is a form of deception that involves refraining from telling the entire truth. For example, when your partner inquires about your day at work, and you purposely neglect to mention that you had lunch with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend whom your spouse is suspicious of.

While some may consider these omissions as “white lies” to prevent hurting someone’s feelings, they can still harm relationships by creating an atmosphere of secrecy and mistrust. In a healthy relationship, both individuals must have trust and dependability. However, if your partner discovers you had lunch with your ex and didn’t disclose it, they may feel betrayed and question other undisclosed information.

Lying by omission in relationships can feel like a betrayal, putting a great strain on a relationship. Read this article to go into details of lying by omission in a relationship and learn the psychology behind why people lie by omission in a relationship. Also, if you are the one with deception problems, learn how to stop yourself if you lie by omission in a relationship.

What is lying by omission?

Lying by omission, also known as passive deception, occurs when someone intentionally withholds relevant information or fails to disclose the entire truth in a given situation. This can be considered a form of dishonesty because the individual deliberately conceals important facts or details that could affect the outcome or perception of a situation.

Unlike an outright lie, where the individual fabricates information, lying by omission involves holding back information the person knows the other party wants or needs to know. This can include anything from personal experiences to essential facts and details about a situation.

For example, imagine that you are selling a used car to a buyer. You know the car has had several mechanical issues, but you choose not to disclose this information to the buyer, fearing it will negatively impact the sale. In this case, you are lying by omission, as you intentionally withhold information that could be significant to the buyer’s decision to purchase the car.

While some people view lying by omission as a minor form of deception, it can have serious consequences for personal and professional relationships. In some cases, it can lead to a lack of trust, misunderstandings, and even legal issues.

What is the psychology behind lying by omission?

As discussed, lying by omission refers to fostering misconceptions by leaving out important information. Lying by omission removes transparency and has some psychological reasons attached to it. There are several potential psychological reasons why someone might engage in lying by omission:

  • Avoiding consequences: People may lie by omission to avoid negative consequences, such as punishment or disapproval. They may believe that by concealing certain information, they can avoid being caught or blamed for something.
  • Maintaining control: Lying by omission can also be a way for people to maintain control over a situation or relationship. By selectively withholding information, they may be able to influence the other person’s perception or decision-making.
  • Preserving relationships: Some people may lie by omission to avoid hurting the feelings of others or to preserve a relationship. For example, they may not tell a friend that they dislike their new haircut because they don’t want to hurt their feelings.
  • Self-protection: Lying by omission can also be a way for people to protect themselves. They may withhold information about themselves or their past to avoid being judged or rejected by others.
  • Habitual behavior: Finally, some people may engage in lying by omission simply because it has become a habitual behavior. They may not even realize they are doing it or feel it is a harmless way to navigate social situations.

Overall, the psychology behind lying by omission can be complex and can depend on the individual’s specific context and motivations. However, it often involves a desire to avoid negative consequences or exert control over a situation or relationship.

Is lying by omission considered acceptable in social situations?

Based on the criteria above, a lie of omission can be acceptable if it does not affect the person you’re withholding information from and if there’s no chance of them suffering any sort of harmful consequences by your deception.

But, if you intentionally deceive someone by leaving out details that change the accuracy or severity of information and cause them to make a different decision, that’s not an acceptable lie by omission. For example, let’s say you have a nosy co-worker who asks personal questions you don’t feel comfortable answering. In this case, it would be perfectly acceptable to withhold certain information to protect your privacy.

In this case, some might argue that the best course of action is to ask your co-worker not to violate your boundaries. Of course, this is perfectly valid and all based on personal preferences, but we also think it’s perfectly fine to avoid workplace conflict and choose to withhold the information.

What is lying by omission in a relationship?

Lying by omission in a relationship refers to intentionally withholding information that your partner has a right to know. It involves leaving out important details or facts that could potentially affect your partner’s perception or understanding of a situation.

Let’s say you were out with your friends one night and had too much to drink. You ended up getting a ride home with a stranger and arrived home safely. The next day, your partner asks how your night was, and you simply say, “it was fine,” without mentioning the ride home with the stranger.

While you may not have lied about what happened, you are lying by omission by leaving out the details about the ride home. This information could be important to your partner, who may be concerned for your safety and well-being. By withholding this information, you are not allowing your partner to express their concerns and potentially offer support.

Lying by omission can be especially damaging if the information you withhold relates to something important or significant in the relationship, such as financial or family issues. In these cases, withholding information can lead to misunderstandings, mistrust, and resentment.

It’s important to remember that honesty and open communication are key components of a healthy relationship. While it may be uncomfortable or difficult to share certain information, it’s ultimately better for the relationship, in the long run, to be truthful and transparent with your partner.

What is the impact of lying by omission on relationships?

Lying by omission can significantly impact relationships by a person intentionally withholding information relevant to a particular situation or conversation. Here are some ways by which lying by omission can affect relationships

  • Trust
  • Communication
  • Intimacy
  • Resentment
  • Self-Doubt

Trust

Trust is a fundamental aspect of any healthy relationship. Trust can erode over time when one person consistently withholds information from another. The person lied to may begin to wonder what else is hidden from them and may feel that they can’t rely on their partner, to be honest with them.

Communication

Lying by omission can also impede communication in a relationship. When one person withholds information, it can be difficult for the other person to understand what is really going on or make informed decisions. This can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a communication breakdown.

Intimacy

Vulnerability and openness require intimacy. If one person consistently withholds information from the other, it can create a barrier to intimacy. The person who has been lied to may feel that they don’t really know their partner or that their partner doesn’t trust them enough to be honest.

Resentment

When one person feels that they are not being fully informed or that their partner is intentionally concealing information, it can lead to feelings of resentment. This resentment can build up over time and cause the relationship to become strained or even toxic.

Self-doubt

Finally, lying by omission can lead to self-doubt for the person who has been lied to by the deceiving partner of the relationship. They may wonder if they are untrustworthy or something is wrong with them, causing their partner to withhold information. This can lead to feelings of insecurity and a lack of confidence in the relationship.

In short, lying by omission can significantly impact relationships, including eroding trust, impeding communication, hindering intimacy, causing resentment, and creating self-doubt. It is essential, to be honest, and transparent in relationships to maintain trust and build a strong foundation for intimacy and communication.

Why do people lie by omission in a relationship?

There can be several reasons why people choose to lie by omission in relationships, which refers to withholding certain information that is relevant to a conversation or situation. Some of the most common reasons are

  • Fear of consequences
  • Self-protection
  • Control
  • Avoiding conflict
  • To subtly manipulate facts
  • Shame or guilt

Fear of consequences

People may choose to lie by omission in relationships because they fear negative consequences or repercussions. They may worry that disclosing certain information will lead to their significant other leaving, rejection, or different undesirable outcomes.

For example, a husband may not disclose that he met his ex because he is afraid that his partner would not be okay with it and may cause a conflict. Similarly, a girlfriend may not tell her boyfriend about hanging out with her guy friends as she might fear that her boyfriend might not take it positively and may want to dump her.

Self-protection

Another reason people may lie by omission is to protect their own self-image or reputation. They may worry that disclosing certain information will cause others to view or judge them negatively. For example, someone who struggles with addiction may not tell their partner or family members about relapse because they are ashamed and fear being judged or criticized by their significant other. Similarly, people may not disclose that they are in financial trouble because they worry their wife or girlfriend will view them as irresponsible or incompetent.

Control

Lying by omission can also be a way for individuals to control a situation or narrative. By withholding certain information, they can shape how others perceive the situation. For example, a husband might not want to disclose any sort of vulnerable moment in their life where they felt as if they were on the brink of losing at the hands of someone not to show any signs of weakness in front of their partner. Similarly, a person may not tell their partner about certain events or interactions to avoid arousing jealousy or suspicion.

Avoiding conflict

Another reason people may lie by omission is to avoid conflict or confrontation. They may worry that disclosing certain information will lead to an argument, disagreement, or other negative interaction. For example, a person may not tell their partner about a disagreement they had with a friend to avoid an argument. Similarly, a wife may not disclose that they disagree with a project their husband is doing around the house for maintenance to avoid conflict with their husband.

To subtly manipulate facts

Some exaggerated omissions are intended to mislead and aid the liar in achieving their objective. The person lying by omission in a relationship would simply leave some details to gently twist the facts so that it becomes quite difficult for anyone to spot that they are lying by omission.

The facts can be cleverly manipulated in several ways to work in their favor. For instance, they can omit crucial information that would cast doubt on their actions or give the impression that they are actually not very empathetic beings nor as innocent as they admit to being.

Shame or guilt

Finally, some individuals may lie by omission because they feel ashamed or guilty about their actions. They may worry that disclosing certain information will lead to judgment, criticism, or ostracism.

For example, a person may not tell their partner about an affair they had because they feel guilty and fear being seen as unfaithful or immoral. Similarly, people may not disclose a mistake they made while caring for their child because they feel ashamed and worry about being seen as incompetent or unprofessional.

Amazingly, lying by omission can even alter the memories of people present during an event. If you consistently retell a story highlighting some parts and omitting others, over time, the people involved will start to believe your version of events rather than what actually happened. They gradually forget the details you overlook, and your interpretation of events becomes their reality.

Overall, lying by omission can have a variety of underlying motivations, ranging from fear and self-protection to control and shame. While there may be understandable reasons for lying by omission in a relationship in some cases, it is important to recognize that it can have serious negative consequences for relationships, leading to feelings of mistrust, betrayal, and resentment. To build healthy relationships based on honesty and trust, it is important to be open and transparent about our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Is lying by omission ever acceptable in a relationship?

In relationships, lying by omission can have serious consequences, leaving a huge question mark on its acceptability. It can erode trust, create misunderstandings, and damage the bond between partners. Lying by omission refers to withholding information relevant to a conversation or situation, which can create ambiguity or deceive the other person. However, there may be situations where lying by omission is perceived as acceptable or necessary, depending on the information’s nature and the relationship’s context.

On the one hand, lying by omission can be perceived as unacceptable in relationships because it violates the principle of honesty and undermines the trust between partners. Honesty is often regarded as a core value in relationships, as it fosters communication, builds intimacy, and promotes mutual respect. When one partner withholds information, it can create doubts, suspicions, and uncertainty in the other partner, who may feel betrayed or deceived.

For example, suppose one partner is aware of past infidelity or has unresolved feelings for an ex-partner but chooses not to disclose this information to their current partner. In that case, it can create a sense of mistrust and undermine the foundation of the relationship.

Moreover, lying by omission can create misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships, leading to misinterpretations or assumptions about the other person’s intentions or motives. When one partner withholds information, the other partner may infer that there is something wrong or may get suspicious, which can trigger defensive reactions or confrontations.

For example, if one partner constantly avoids discussing their work schedule or whereabouts. In that case, the other partner may assume they are hiding something or being unfaithful, leading to accusations, arguments, or even a breakup.

On the other hand, there may be situations where lying by omission is perceived as acceptable or even necessary in relationships, depending on the nature of the information and the context of the relationship.

For example, suppose one partner is dealing with a personal issue, such as a health problem or a family crisis. In that case, they may choose not to disclose it immediately to their partner to avoid burdening them or causing unnecessary worry. In this case, the partner may withhold information temporarily until they feel comfortable sharing it with their partner or until the situation has been resolved.

Similarly, suppose one partner has a sensitive experience, such as trauma, abuse, or addiction. In that case, they may choose not to disclose it immediately to their partner to avoid triggering negative reactions or judgments. In this case, the partner may temporarily withhold information until they feel safe and secure enough to share it with them or until the relationship has developed enough trust and support.

Moreover, there may be situations where lying by omission is perceived as necessary to protect the privacy or safety of the partners. For example, if one partner is a public figure or has a high-profile job, they may choose not to disclose certain personal information to avoid media scrutiny or harassment.

Similarly, suppose one partner is in a situation where they are subject to domestic violence or abuse. In that case, they may choose not to disclose it immediately to their partner to avoid retaliation or escalation of violence. In both cases, the partner may withhold information temporarily until they feel confident and empowered enough to take action or seek help.

Whether lying by omission is acceptable in relationships depends on several factors, such as the nature of the information, the relationship’s context, and the partners’ values and expectations. In general, lying by omission is perceived as unacceptable when it undermines the principle of honesty, creates misunderstandings or conflicts, or erodes the trust between partners.

However, there may be situations where lying by omission is perceived as acceptable or necessary to protect the partners’ privacy or safety or avoid burdening them with unnecessary worries or stress. In order to navigate the complexities of lying by omission in relationships, it is important for partners to communicate openly and honestly about their expectations and values.

How to spot someone who is lying by omission in a relationship?

Spotting someone lying by omission in a relationship can be challenging because it involves detecting what is not being said rather than what is being said. However, several signs and cues can indicate that someone is withholding information or being deceptive. Paying attention to these signs can increase your chances of detecting lying by omission and addressing it appropriately.

  • Inconsistencies in speech or behavior
  • Nonverbal cues
  • Changes in tone or pitch
  • Avoiding certain topics or questions
  • Overcompensating with details

Inconsistencies in speech or behavior

One of the most common signs of lying by omission is inconsistencies in speech or behavior. If someone withholds information, they may inadvertently reveal their deception by contradicting themselves or acting differently than usual.

For example, if someone claims to have been at home all evening but later mentions a detail that suggests they were actually out, it could be a sign that they are withholding information. Similarly, if someone is usually talkative but suddenly becomes evasive or withdrawn, it could be a sign that they are uncomfortable revealing something.

Nonverbal cues

Lying by omission can efficiently be indicated by nonverbal cues. For example, if someone avoids eye contact, fidgets, or displays nervousness or discomfort, it could be a sign that they are withholding information. These nonverbal cues may suggest that the person is anxious about being caught in a lie or that they are struggling with the decision to withhold information.

Changes in tone or pitch

Changes in tone or pitch can also indicate that someone is lying by omission. If someone’s voice suddenly becomes higher or lower, or if they start to speak more slowly or hesitantly, it could be a sign that they are being deceptive. These changes may indicate that the person is struggling with their emotions or trying to control their behavior to avoid revealing something.

Avoiding specific topics or questions

If someone constantly avoids specific topics or questions, it could be a sign that they are lying by omission. For example, if someone refuses to discuss their past relationships or job history, it could suggest that they are withholding information about those topics. Similarly, if someone constantly changes the subject when a certain topic comes up, it could be a sign that they are uncomfortable discussing it.

Overcompensating with details

In some cases, people who are lying by omission may overcompensate by providing too many details or explanations. This can be an attempt to distract from the fact that they are withholding information. For example, if someone is asked where they were last night. In that case, they may provide a lengthy description of their entire evening, including irrelevant details, in an attempt to convince the other person that they are telling the truth.

How to address lying by omission in a relationship?

Addressing lying by omission in a relationship can be challenging, but it is essential to maintain honesty and trust in the relationship. You must fight the odds if you want sanctity in a relationship and address the situation head-on. Here are some steps that can help address lying by omission.

  • Identify the problem
  • Understand the motivations
  • Set boundaries
  • Practice active listening
  • Seek professional help

Identify the problem

The first step in addressing lying by omission is to identify the problem. This may involve having a conversation with your partner about the issue and expressing your concerns. Be specific about the behaviors causing the pain, and avoid attacking or blaming your partner.

Understand the motivations

Understanding why your partner is lying by omission can be quite helpful. Is it to avoid conflict or negative consequences? Is it to control the situation or maintain the relationship? Is it habitual behavior? Understanding the motivations behind the behavior can help you address the root cause of the problem.

Set boundaries

It is essential to set clear boundaries around lying by omission. This may involve establishing expectations for honesty and transparency in the relationship and communicating the consequences of breaking those expectations. It is essential to be clear about what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not.

Practice active listening

Truly hearing and understanding your partner’s perspective highly involves active listening. This can help create a safe space for open communication and can help you address any underlying issues that may be contributing to the entire fiasco of lying by omission in a relationship.

Seek professional help

If lying by omission is a persistent problem in the relationship, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you and your partner work through any underlying issues and develop strategies for improving communication and honesty. You might find it hard and quite difficult to seek professional help, but this little step can help you a lot in the long run.

In a nutshell, addressing lying by omission in a relationship involves identifying the problem, understanding the motivations, setting boundaries, practicing active listening, and seeking professional help if necessary. With patience, understanding, and a commitment to honesty, it is possible to overcome lying by omission and build a stronger, more trusting relationship.

How to stop your partner from lying by omission in a relationship?

It is essential to stop lying by omission, as lying by omission in a relationship can be just as damaging as telling a direct lie. When your partner withholds information important to your relationship, it can lead to mistrust and communication breakdown. If you suspect your partner is lying by omission, addressing the issue as soon as possible is important.

Here are some steps to stop your partner from lying by omission in a relationship:

  • Start by recognizing the signs of lying by omission.
  • Communicate openly and honestly with your partner
  • Set boundaries for honesty and transparency.
  • Listen to your partner’s perspective.
  • Be patient and consistent.
  • Consider therapy or counseling.
  • Take care of yourself

Start by recognizing the signs of lying by omission

Lying by omission can be challenging to detect because your partner is not actively telling you a lie. Instead, they are withholding important information that you need to know. Some signs that your partner may be lying by omission include

  • They avoid specific topics or questions
  • They change the subject when you bring up a particular topic
  • They seem uneasy or defensive when asked about something
  • You find out about something important from someone else, not your partner

Communicate openly and honestly with your partner

It’s important to approach the issue of lying by omission in a non-confrontational way. You don’t want your partner to feel attacked or defensive, which will only worsen the situation. Instead, start by expressing your concerns and how their behavior impacts your relationship. Use “I” statements to avoid blaming your partner, such as “I feel hurt when I find out that you’ve been withholding information from me.” Encourage your partner to share their thoughts and feelings as well.

Set boundaries for honesty and transparency

Tell your partner that honesty and transparency are important values in your relationship. Establish boundaries around what you expect your partner to share with you. For example, you may expect them to tell you if they’re going out with friends, have made a significant purchase, or received a job offer. Let your partner know you value their honesty and are willing to work together to build a more trusting relationship.

Listen to your partner’s perspective

Your partner may have reasons for lying by omission that you’re unaware of. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed to tell you the truth. Listen to their perspective and try to understand where they’re coming from. Validate their feelings and let them know that you’re willing to work together to find a solution.

Be patient, and consistent

Stopping lying by omission takes time and effort. Be patient with your partner as they work to become more honest and transparent. Consistently reinforce your boundaries around honesty and transparency. If your partner slips up, gently remind them of your expectations and encourage them to be more honest in the future.

Consider therapy or counseling

If lying by omission is a recurring issue in your relationship, consider seeking the help of a professional therapist or counselor. They can provide you with tools and strategies to build a more honest and trusting relationship. A therapist can also help you and your partner work through any underlying issues that may be contributing to the problem.

Take care of yourself

Dealing with lying by omission in a relationship can be stressful and emotionally draining. Take care of yourself by practicing self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and family. Don’t hesitate to contact a trusted friend or family member for support. Remember that you deserve a relationship built on honesty and trust.

We know that lying by omission in a relationship can erode trust and communication over time. If you suspect that your partner is lying by omission, it’s important to address the issue in a non-confrontational way. Communicate openly and honestly with your partner, set boundaries for honesty and transparency, listen to your partner’s perspective, and be patient and consistent. If the issue persists, consider seeking the help of a professional therapist.

How to stop yourself if you are lying by omission in a relationship?

If you recognize that you have a tendency to lie by omission in your relationship, there are steps you can take to address this issue and become more honest and transparent with your partner. Here are some tips on how to stop yourself from lying by omission in a relationship

  • Identify the reasons behind your lying
  • Practice open and honest communication
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Seek support
  • Practice self-reflection
  • Establish boundaries
  • Be patient and persistent

Identify the reasons behind your lying

Reflect on why you feel the need to withhold information from your partner. Do you fear their reaction or judgment? Do you want to avoid conflict or protect their feelings? Understanding the reasons behind your behavior can help you address them and find healthier ways to communicate with your partner.

Practice open and honest communication

One of the best ways to stop lying by omission is to practice open and honest communication with your partner. This means sharing your thoughts and feelings, even if they may be uncomfortable or difficult. Start small by sharing something minor, and gradually work up to more significant issues. Remember that honesty and transparency are essential for building a solid and healthy relationship.

Take responsibility for your actions

If you’ve been lying by omission in your relationship, taking responsibility for your actions is important. Acknowledge your behavior’s impact on your partner and apologize for any hurt or mistrust you may have caused. Be willing to listen to their perspective and work together to rebuild trust.

Seek support

Changing ingrained behavior patterns can be challenging, so seeking support as you work to stop lying by omission is essential. Consider talking to a therapist or counselor who can help you identify and address the underlying reasons behind your behavior. Confiding in a trusted friend or family member who can offer you support and encouragement is also quite helpful.

Practice self-reflection

Self-reflection is an essential part of personal growth and can help you identify and address patterns of behavior that may be holding you back. Set aside time each day to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Consider keeping a journal to track your progress and gain insight into your behavior.

Establish boundaries

Establishing clear boundaries around honesty and transparency can help you stay accountable and avoid slipping back into old behavior patterns. Talk with your partner about what you expect from each other regarding communication and honesty. Agree to check in with each other regularly and hold each other accountable for meeting these expectations.

Be patient and persistent

Changing behavior takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself as you work to stop lying by omission. Celebrate small victories along the way, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Remember that building a strong and healthy relationship takes work, but the rewards are well worth it.

If you are owning up to the fact that you are lying by omission in your relationship, then you are already halfway through overcoming it. Lying by omission in a relationship can erode trust and communication, but it’s possible to overcome this pattern of behavior.

Identify the reasons behind your lying, practice open and honest communication, take responsibility for your actions, seek support, practice self-reflection, establish boundaries, and be patient and persistent. By taking these steps, you can build a more honest and transparent relationship with your partner.

Conclusion

Lying by omission in a relationship is a deception where a person intentionally withholds important information from their partner. While it may not involve actively telling a falsehood, lying by omission can damage a relationship as it destroys trust and can make your partner feel like they cannot rely on you to be open and honest with them.

People may lie by omission in a relationship for various reasons, including fear of judgment or conflict, a desire to maintain control, or to protect their interests. However, it’s important to remember that honesty and open communication are key components of a healthy relationship. While it may be uncomfortable or difficult to share certain information, it’s ultimately better for the relationship, in the long run, to be truthful and transparent with your partner.

If you find that you are consistently withholding information from your partner or that your partner is lying by omission, it’s important to address the issue and have an open and honest conversation about it. By working through these challenges and building trust and transparency in the relationship, you can strengthen the bond between you and your partner and create a more fulfilling and satisfying partnership.

Author

Nabeel Ahmad is the founder and editor-in-chief of Lone Mind. Apart from Lone Mind, he is a serial entrepreneur, and has founded multiple successful companies in different industries.