Whether it's a fib, a tall tale or you're just stretching the truth there's no denying it, we all lie; whether it's lying to bosses or children, co-workers or clients studies show that people spend on average one tenth of every day telling porkies.
No one really minds the fabricated excuse for why you haven't done your homework or that reassuring compliment you give your friend when she gets a hideous haircut, but lying in relationships is a risky business and can have serious repercussions.
Despite the age old stereotype studies show that generally men lie no more or less than their female counterparts, the lies they tell and the reasons behind them differ greatly however and being able to identify that can be hugely enlightening. As a general rule men tend to lie more for self preservation, the lies they tell are usually about their achievements and abilities, or even to cover up their own thoughts and feelings as they, or society, deem them unnatural or un-manly. In a study by Vince Passaro the most common reasons given by men as to why they lie to women included: "Relationship Debt" – The idea that women remember previous grievances and hold grudges and will therefore drag up old injuries and incidents as ammunition in new arguments; "Maintain Control" – To feel as though their female partner is not completely running their life by being the key organizer, or in an attempt to hold onto an aspect of their life that belongs just to them; "Hide Private Urges" – to keep desires, both sexual and otherwise, that society deems abnormal secret, this can include anything from job opportunities to indulgent food or television shows that are normally associated with women.
Women on the other hand are more likely to lie to help others, normally to prevent them from being embarrassed or humiliated in some way. The two most common lies told by women are "False Compliments" – reassuring others, normally other women, about something in their lives, whether it be a new haircut, dubious boyfriend or career choice and "Personal Pleasures" – the lies women usually tell to men to reassure them about their abilities, this ranges from everything from faking an orgasm to pretending to enjoy his cooking.
However the lies women tell often increase their self esteem, as do the most commonly told lies by men; women feel better about themselves for what they view as protecting their friend or partner, whilst men feel as though their lies stabilize their place with the social hierarchy.
Generally women are more likely to tell small lies and lie by omission (ie: simply avoid saying something rather than outright lying) whilst men are more likely to tell larger and extravagant lies; extraverts are more likely to lie than introverts whilst children develop the ability to lie from as early as four. Humans are in fact the only animals with the capacity to lie as it involves creating a separate alternate paradigm in which people or events are different, it is therefore a huge demonstration of mankind's evolution and demonstrates a key step in children's development.
All of this gives little comfort when you have discovered your partner has been fibbing however, studies suggest that although some people are more likely to lie than others and that the male / female divide is clear, overall there is nothing to prove that someone who has told a small lie once is more likely to do so again, or that the size of their lie is likely to increase. However those who tell larger lies are considerably more likely to lie at a later date.
Few of the notions outlined here are set in stone however, many women lie to further their social status whilst men will often pretend to love their wives new shoes; the nature of every lie is personal and unique and whilst some lies may be deemed as more harmful than others it is important to remember that behind every lie stands a liar, a person who makes a conscious decision to not be completely honest, whether it is for their own gain or for your own good.