Is It Ever A Good Idea To Tell Little White Lies In A Relationship?

When it comes to relationships, one of the first things that often comes to mind is trust. If you can't trust your partner and they can't trust you, then you have a bit of a problem — or rather a huge problem.

But what about white lies? Those little things we say that are seemingly harmless. Like, telling our partner that their new haircut looks great when they come home from the salon in tears because the reality is, it doesn't look great at all. Or eating every last bite of a pie they made from scratch that tastes absolutely awful, but you keep saying, "this is fantastic" — are these ever okay?

"Healthy lies often involve holding back or tempering a truth to protect someone's feelings or help someone — the focus is on the issues of kindness, manners, tact, respect, and consideration," licensed clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, PsyD, tells Women's Health. "Lying for self gain or personal agenda, to manipulate or hide information, and lies that are hurtful or betray a trust are the lies that do damage."

However, the problem with lying, even if they're white lies, they can become a habit for some people. Then you can find yourself in a place where you don't know where the lies stop, and the truths begin (via Healthline). Once you tell one lie, then you need to tell another to give credence to the first lie you told — and so on.

So before you tell a lie to your partner, there are things to take into consideration.

Ask yourself why you're lying

When telling a white lie, you should ask yourself your intent behind the lie (via Psychology Today). Are you telling it to spare your partner's feelings, or are you telling it to get yourself out of trouble?

"Honesty is the best policy, but if you can keep from hurting someone through a white lie -– while keeping the best intentions –- then it's okay to be nice," Chair and Professor of Counseling and Counselor Education at Northern Illinois University Dr. Suzanne Degges-White tells Cosmopolitan.

But if you're telling the lie for some other reason, for example, to protect yourself from something you've done, then that's a different story — and we're not talking about telling them you didn't watch the new episode of a series that you've been watching together, although you totally did because you couldn't wait! Instead, it's more along the lines of promising your partner you won't, say, smoke weed in the house, but they were out of town, so you did it anyway but missed the small pile of ash by the coffee table leg, and your partner can clearly see it. You can't exactly talk your way out of that.

Consider the fall-out if your white lie is discovered

Whether it's the fact that their bad haircut looks good when it doesn't or how delicious that pie was, you can find yourself in a bit of a pickle — are you ready to eat that pie once a month because you said it was so good that one time?

"One of the small lies that comes up most often in my work is the 'orgasm lie' or leading your partner to believe that you enjoy a particular sensation more than you actually do," co-founder of Red Tent Sisters, Kim Sedgwick tells Bustle. "No one wants to hurt their partner's feelings, which is why it can feel safer to just agree when they ask, 'Does this feel good?' However, the result of this small lie is that you're less likely to get what you actually need in bed, and that's a recipe for frustration and resentment."

Sure, you protected your partner's feelings, but now you're stuck having to put up with things you really don't want to put up with just because you lied. "If you can verbalize your struggles or your frustrations, you're doing your partner a great favor because you two can directly address the issue together instead of avoiding the issue," licensed psychologist and relationship expert Susan Orenstein, Ph.D., tells PsychCentral.

As much as you may want to spare your partner any sort of pain, it really is best to be honest. Does the haircut look bad? It's not the best, but it will grow. Is the pie excellent? It might be missing an ingredient, so suggest that. Ultimately, your partner trusts you, and they want you to tell them the truth, just like you want them to tell you the truth too.