Is Your Partner Trickle Truthing? What It Is & How To Move Forward

If you ask people what they believe is the most important part of a relationship, chances are many of them would say it's trust. Trust is one of the foundations of a healthy relationship, and without it, it's difficult for the two of you to take your connection to the next level, via The Healthy. We're all familiar with little white lies in a relationship, but what about trickle truthing? Despite its silly name, trickle truthing is actually more serious than it sounds. The term refers to the act of slowly revealing the truth after a person has been caught in a lie.


It's most common between couples when a partner has cheated, but it isn't limited to these situations. Trickle truthing can happen amongst even the smallest lies, like your partner telling you they took out the garbage when they clearly did not. Given how we just talked about the importance of trust, trickle truthing seems like grounds for a breakup; however, that isn't always the case. Before you decide to call it quits, it's crucial to understand why your partner is being deceitful and whether or not the relationship is worth saving.

Why trickle truthing can be detrimental to a relationship

It seems obvious, but the act of trickle truthing can seriously damage — and even end — your relationship, just the same as any other form of lying. At the end of the day, a lie is still a lie, even if your partner eventually tells the truth. According to Affair Recovery, some argue that truth trickling is worse because their partner continues to think they're getting away with it. They are sharing bits and pieces of the truth when there are several layers to uncover, and only after being caught and coaxed into fessing up.


No matter the size or significance of the lie, it's normal to feel as if your trust has been broken, because it has. You might find yourself questioning everything that comes out of their mouth, and when that becomes the norm, it's worth reconsidering being together. As we stated before, trust is one of the main pillars of a healthy relationship, and once that pillar falls, it's difficult to come back from it.

Your partner wants to protect the relationship

Many people use trickle truthing as a way to keep a relationship alive. They think, "If I don't tell them the whole truth, they won't break up with me." Unfortunately, that mindset hardly ever works out in their favor, especially in cases of cheating and other forms of betrayal, such as lying about finances. For instance, your partner has been lying about your financial situation, saying things are totally fine, when in reality, they've put the two of you in serious debt. When you catch them in the lie, they may fess up but fabricate how much debt you're actually in. 


The more you call them out for lying, the more and more of the truth you learn. Eventually, the whole truth comes out, but only after they've run out of lies to tell. This approach represent someone trying to have their cake and eat it too. They may say they're lying to protect you, but in reality, it's an act of selfishness. Your partner tells you they didn't want to hurt you after they were caught cheating, but that's just an excuse to save their own butt. In reality, they didn't want you to dump them (which will likely happen anyway).

Trickle truthing may be a result of insecurities

Trickle truthing can stem from your partner's insecurities, whether it's about their appearance or how you perceive them as a partner. No matter the case, if they already feel anxious about the security of your relationship, they're less likely to admit when they've messed up, as opposed to couples that are more comfortable with one another, according to Anchor Light Therapy Collective. When your partner thinks you might be thinking of ending the relationship — even if you aren't — it makes sense to them to lie in order to prevent that from happening.


Perhaps, your partner has been lying about going to the gym. At first, they claimed to be going every day, but when you call them out, they tell you they're really going three times a week. Eventually, as you continue to catch them in their lies, you discover that they don't go to the gym at all. This may seem insignificant to you, but to a person with anxiety, it could mean the difference between staying together and you leaving them for someone else. This doesn't justify them trickling the truth, but it does give you an idea as to why they're doing it.

If you suspect this is the case, sit down and ask them how they feel about your relationship. Is there something (like anxiety) holding them back from telling the truth? Ensure you offer them a safe space to open up and allow them to speak freely.


How to maneuver your relationship post-trickle truthing

The first step in moving forward after catching your partner trickle truthing? A conversation to develop a plan of action when one of you has made a mistake, no matter how great or small it may be. Set ground rules for both of you to follow, such as coming clean in the present moment. In most cases, the longer a person sits on a lie, the more difficult it becomes to fess up, per relationship expert Kate Northrup.


When your partner feels comfortable telling you about their smaller mess ups, over time, they'll feel more inclined to tell you about bigger mistakes they've made, Radical Honesty explains. Just be aware it's not something that happens overnight. If they admit their wrongdoing, it's up to you to decide how you want to move forward with the relationship. Do you feel the trust has been broken or is it something you believe you can rebuild?