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How Many Relationship Lies are "Too Many?"
By Susie and Otto Collins

There's an old saying that goes: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

If your partner has lied to you in the past, you might think of this aphorism. The last thing you probably want is to be lied to again.

Nobody wants to feel like he or she is being made a fool!

On the other hand, you might not feel ready to end your relationship.

It can be very confusing to know what to do when your partner has lied in the past and you now suspect much of what he or she says because of weakened trust.

You might be asking yourself, "How many lies are too many?"

There really is no specific number of lies that are "too many." In fact, one lie can be damaging to trust-- no matter how inconsequential it seems to be.

It is up to you to determine at what point you think you can-- or can't-- recover trust with your partner.

Alex doesn't want to take steps toward divorcing his wife Megan, but he also doesn't want their relationship to continue as it has.

Megan has a habit of lying to Alex. For many years, these lies seemed to him to be minor.

For example, Alex would inadvertently discover that Megan had lied to him about the type of foods she likes or her relationships with particular people in her life.

It struck Alex as odd that Megan claimed to love cheesecake when he later found out she really dislikes it and "always" has.

And it was confusing to him when he learned that a childhood friend of Megan's, whom she claimed to have adored and been close to, was actually not a friend at all.

Over the years, Alex had become accustomed to wondering when Megan was speaking honestly about something and when she was hiding or
changing the truth.

But then Alex discovered that Megan wasn't actually attending a women's knitting group every week as she claimed.

After bumping into a friend who is in the group at the grocery store, Alex learned the truth. Megan hadn't ever attended this group and does not even knit!

Alex is worried about what Megan has been doing instead. He's starting to realize Megan's lies are not inconsequential at all.

He wonders who this woman that he's married to really is!

Take an honest look at where you are and what you want.
When you find out that your partner has lied to you again (or many times), you might feel shocked, stunned-- or perhaps not surprised at
all. Much of this depends on your situation.

Above all else, when faced with the fact that your partner lied, stop and create space for yourself. Go within and be completely honest with yourself.

Listen to what you need right now.

In the past you might have told yourself that your mate's lies were "minor" or about "unimportant" things so they didn't matter.

But, as you probably already know, a series of "minor" lies can add up to a whole lot of mistrust and distance in your relationship.

After all, it is difficult to feel close to someone who you second-guess much of the time.

With as much objectivity as you can, take a clear look at where you are right now. Are there any areas in your relationship in which there does seem to be stronger trust? Are there ways that your partner might have been making positive changes?

Try to get a view of the whole picture of your relationship.

When you come upon a thought or belief that you just aren't certain of anymore-- due to the lying and mistrust-- set that thought aside for the moment.

For right now, bring to the front of your mind, what you do know to be true about how you feel about your partner and your relationship.

You could even make a list on a piece of paper the things you know to be true and also those that you are less sure of and need verification about.

Next, we encourage you to think about what you want in your relationship.

How do you want to feel when you are with your
partner? What would you like to happen with the level of trust that currently exists?

If you can't see yourself having this kind of relationship with the person you are with right now, focus mainly on what you want and less
on how it can ever happen.

You might to write down on another sheet of paper a list of characteristics for the relationship you want to have.

After Alex returns from the grocery store, he sits down and completes this exercise. His list of things that he is now uncertain of is very long.

In fact, Alex is having a difficult time knowing
what he can believe about and from Megan.

He knows that he loves her, but even that is beginning to get confused and unsure. Included on his list of what he wants from his relationship are: trust, complete honesty and reliability.

What is your non-negotiable?
When it comes to trust in your relationship, there can be levels.

If trust has been damaged in the past through lying, for example, as you and your partner rebuild trust you might find that when it comes to particular topics there is a higher trust than in others.

It can be helpful to take a wider view and to also be clear within yourself about what is non-negotiable for you. This is a boundary that you can set and then choose to honor.

What is non-negotiable is usually different for each person.

Ask yourself what you will not tolerate in your relationship. What is the boundary that, if crossed, you would no longer choose to
continue this relationship in its current form?

This can be a difficult question to ask yourself-- especially if you really want your relationship to work out.

But if you are tired of being lied to, it can be helpful to gain this clarity.

It could be that your partner has lied to you in the past and you truly will not tolerate any more lies.

If you decide to take this position, be certain you are willing to follow through and stand behind it.

If your mate does lie again, you leaving the relationship is not the only possible consequence. Seeking out help from a counselor or coach might be the step you choose to take in response.

Another option might be to take a trial separation.

What is most important is that you are aware of what is non-negotiable for you.

You can let your partner know about your non-negotiable using language that does not sound like a threat or an ultimatum. It is simply a statement of what you will no longer allow.

When Megan returns home for the evening, Alex tells her about the conversation he had with the woman at the grocery store. Alex explains to Megan that he does not feel like he can trust her

He shares with her that it is a non-negotiable for him to have zero trust in a marriage.

Alex suggests that they begin to meet--
individually and together-- with a professional who can help them sort through this situation. And he tells Megan that he will be temporarily moving in with his brother to give himself some space to

There is nothing fool-ish about lying.

It can literally destroy a relationship. Keep being honest with yourself and continue to be clear about what your non-negotiable is.

Make your vision of the relationship you want your focus and keep believing you can have it.







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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email

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