Lying to Spare Feelings: Classic Gaslighting

We have all been there in life. Someone tells us something and we later find out it was a half truth, lie by omission or a flat out lie. You confront the person about this and they tell you that they didn’t tell you something because they didn’t want to hurt your feelings or they knew you would get mad, fly off the handle or flip out. While any of that may have happened, it still never gives someone the right to do any of the aforementioned things.

I have had this happen on more than one occasion. I am very sensitive and can fly off  the handle sometimes, and I completely own that. However, I am less likely to do so and more likely to forgive and understand if someone were to tell me the truth in the first place. You don’t want to be my friend? You don’t want to date me? Fine! Just tell me. No games, no lies, no stringing along. I will be upset, yes, but I will be even angrier if I find out you were lying by stringing me along, leading me on etc. THAT is when I am more likely to flip out and lose my cool, cry etc.

There are people who lie and say they do it because they don’t want to hurt you or thought that the truth would upset you . They then claim they chose to ‘protect your feelings.’ NOPE! This is classic gaslighting. They cannot be real enough or mature enough to own up to their actions, tell the truth or deal with the fact that someone might not like what they have to say. Hence, they lie or tell half truths, making things worse.

Some more thoughts on this topic:

1. Most times, people might be upset, but they will be LESS upset if you tell the truth in the first place. The lying hurts and upsets people more. Telling someone they didn‘t tell them something (after the truth is brought to light) because they would react a certain way is also gaslighting. Now not only does the person think you are a liar, but now they cannot trust you and are even angrier than they would have been had you told them the truth in the first place.

2. Are you REALLY protecting them by withholding the truth? If you truly did not want to see someone upset over something (breakup, bad news, constructive criticism etc), you would find a way to tell them without being hurtful. Otherwise, it is cowardly behavior. Saying you were protecting their feelings is a cop out and selfish. You might have to deal with a person who is upset. Get over it and realize it is not about you.

3. Someone might be sensitive and get upset/offended easily, but that NEVER gives you the right to lie or assume they will always react a certain way.

4. Why would you lie? I can see not wanting to hurt someone, but there are ways to gently tell someone something without games, lies and being cruel. Example: Not telling someone about a cheating boyfriend. You know they will be hurt, but you can find a tactful way to tell them. Lying about it or hiding it only makes things worse. This is not saying to coddle someone, just be tactful and not a jerk about it.

However, there are also some truths that are also hurtful, but do not necessarily need to be brought up, UNLESS the other person brings it up. If you are asked, you can tactfully tell the truth without giving someone false hope. Examples include dealing with an unrequited crush and job prospects. You  can gently tell your friend that their crush may prefer someone else, tell them nicely that they might be better qualified for another job.

That being said, if you are not asked about it, then do not say anything. This may seem like a contradiction, but some things are just not your business to bring up or be involved in UNLESS you are asked for your opinion. Your friend will eventually find out so and so is dating someone else or they were not qualified for the job. They may feel hurt about it, but unless you were asked or directly involved, it I’d not your place to say anything. (I will say, whether you know or not having either of these things happen SUCKS and it does not matter who knew or told/didn’t know or didn’t tell. I was never angry when I found out my exes moved on….bummed, yes, but not angry, even if our friends knew. I was only angry when people shoved it in my face, but that is a topic for another day!)

There are also truths that are told that are meant to intentionally hurt people and things people need to find out on their own, but that is another blog topic in itself!

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