From thanking your grandmother profusely for an awkward gift to telling a work friend that her less-than-sparkling presentation was fantastic, most of us fib, stretch the truth, tell white lies and omit facts from time to time. In fact, studies published over the past five years have shown that the average person lies one to three times a day.
In many cases, these untruths are harmless. But what about those things you should always tell the truth about, lest you hurt both yourself and the person you're deceiving?
Here are 12 topics we think fall under the heading "never lie about this." Next time you're tempted to twist the truth about any of the following, tune into your conscience, or at least your self interest, and tell the truth instead. You'll thank yourself later.
1. Having an orgasm. It's tempting to fake it, and not terribly difficult, as Meg Ryan demonstrated so well in “When Harry Met Sally.” But if you don't admit when what your partner is doing isn't working, how will he or she ever figure out what does?
2. Feeling sick at work. Just go home and get the rest you need so that you can heal properly and be productive again sooner. Plus, no one likes the co-worker who starts an epidemic.
3. Your physical appearance ... when you’re dating online. People presumably fib about their height and weight all the time, and honestly, who cares? When it comes to creating an online dating profile, however, you really should leave the embellishments out. If someone is going to reject you based on a superficial characteristic, better they do it anonymously than in person. Someone who meets you and discovers you've lied about your looks may, understandably, wonder what else you would lie about. Also, don't you want to find someone who is attracted to you just the way you are?
4. Whether you think a relationship has a future. Don’t lead someone else (or yourself) on. When something isn’t working you probably know it. Admit it and move on for both parties’ sakes.
5. Your mental health. Your anxiety or depression or OCD tendencies aren’t going to fix themselves, especially if you can’t even admit to yourself that they exist. Everyone has their sh*t -- acknowledge and deal with yours now.
6. What you need from another person. Whether it be a romantic relationship or a platonic one, don’t lie to yourself or to someone else about your needs. If you need someone to prioritize you more or call you less, just say it out loud. Settling for what you don’t want doesn’t do anyone any favors.
7. Your credentials. Learn how to sell yourself properly when you’re applying to jobs or discussing your work experience, but don’t make up skills you don’t have. Your experience, personality and drive will speak for themselves.
8. A mistake you made at work. Own up, own up, own up. If you claim that it didn't happen or, worse, blame it on someone else, it will come back to bite you. When it does, you'll look 10 times worse than if you had just taken responsibility, done what you could to fix it and learned from it.
9. Anything you tell your doctor (especially your OB-GYN). Your gynecologist isn’t going to judge your sexual predilections or the time (or two) you forgot to use protection. Medical professionals need accurate, comprehensive information about the state of your health in order to accurately diagnose and treat you.
10. Any information the government requests. This one should be obvious, but we'll say it anyway. The people who receive and process your documents probably won't judge you for your weight or tax write-offs or the time you got arrested when you were 20. Even if they will, you MUST tell the truth. If you get caught lying to the government, there could be some pretty major consequences. Not worth it.
11. Anything you say to your lawyer. Be upfront with your attorney the way you should be with your doctor. Any lawyer you hire is working to protect your financial interests and/or keep you out of legal hot water. He or she can't do that if you haven't disclosed all relevant information.
12. Not loving someone. Don’t say you’re in love with another person when you don’t mean it. It's cowardly and cruel. Just don't do it.