Romantic relationships offer us one of the greatest opportunities to understand ourselves.
Like a great therapist, a romantic partner can serve as a mirror, reflecting back a part of you. Simultaneously, relationships bring to light our biggest insecurities and vulnerabilities. This makes our romantic relationships breeding-grounds for emotional reactivity, lying and self-deception.
How do people lie in romantic relationships?
Common lies in relationships include everything from I am not in touch with my ex (when you are!) to I am just as attracted to you as I was the day we met (which is rarely true) to my sexual fantasies are all about you… and I don’t masturbate or watch porn very often (…define “very often”).
At the end of the day, we lie to our partners about almost anything we don’t want to admit. Then we justify those lies by lying to ourselves about why it is okay to lie. And all of the emotion surrounding these experiences is intense.
A Real Life Relationship Scenario
How does this play out in real life? Let’s say you are in a new relationship with someone you really like. But, you are also in contact with an ex that you can’t seem to get over. You wish your feelings for your ex were gone, but you still get butterflies anytime you hear his or her name.
You want to communicate with your ex, but you know your current flame would not approve. Especially if he or she knew you were emotionally connected and sexually fantasizing about your ex!
So, you decide to lie—you tell your current partner that you are not in touch with your ex. Then, you try to make yourself feel better about your lying by rationalizing why your behavior is okay—you may tell yourself that it’s best to lie because you don’t want to hurt your current partners’ feelings. And you don’t want to fight about it. Plus, your feelings for your ex have nothing to do with your current relationship. And, although you feel guilty, you wish you felt differently and are trying to change.
For all of these reasons, you tell yourself that it is better to lie. This exemplifies the intertwined nature of lying and self-deception common to romantic relationships.
In addition, emerging research suggest that people can literally can feel addicted to a love interest. This means they’ll think about them constantly, feel desperate for contact, and want to spend every waking moment with the person of interest.
Your brain is activated in ways that creates extreme cravings, bonding, and focus on your love interest.
The brain can respond to romantic love, especially the early “honeymoon phase,” much like it does to addictive substances.
Although this addictive feeling can be magical, it is devastating if the love is not returned. I consult for a company called EXaholics.com, which is an anonymous recovery community for anyone going through a painful breakup. On the website, people are encouraged to abstain from contact with an ex, develop a social support network with professionals and others struggling to get over an ex, and understand their role in keeping themselves from moving on.
I can teach you:
How your background affects your current romantic relationships
How emotional reactions are connected to our thinking
Why you feel addicted to a love interest or ex
The costs of lying to ourselves on our relationships
How to use interpersonal interactions to understand yourself
How to get over an ex and move forward from an addictive relationship
How to create healthier, more meaningful relationships
For more information on Dr. Warren’s work on relationships, EXaholics, and addiction:
*Claudat, K. & Warren, C.S. (2014).
Self-objectification, body self-consciousness during sexual activities and sexual satisfaction in college women. Body Image, 11, 509-515. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.07.006
Warren, C. S., Lindsay, A., *White, E., *Claudat, K., & Velasquez, S. (2013).
Weight-related concerns related to drug use for women in substance abuse treatment: Prevalence and relationships with eating pathology. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 44, 494-501. doi: /10.1016/j.jsat.2012.08.222
Lindsay, A., Warren, C. S., Velasquez, S., & Lu, M. (2012).
A gender-specific approach to improving substance abuse treatment for women: The Healthy Steps to Freedom (HSF) program. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 43, 61-69. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2011.10.027
*Claudat, K., Warren, C. S., & Durette, R. T. (2012).
The relationships between body surveillance, body shame, and contextual body concern during sexual activities in ethnically diverse female college students. Body Image, 9, 448-454. doi: 10106/j.bodyim.2012.05.007