Several questions I get on the subject of friendship relate to why friends lie to each other. The lying can be as simple as telling you that they love the latest dress you purchased (when in fact they don't), or as horrible as lying about an affair, and everything in between. Sometimes friends plan an outing and lie about it to keep their other pals from going along. Other times people may lie about being friends with someone else. Why does this happen?
Friends lie for many different reasons. It doesn't always mean that they aren't really your pal, or even that they don't care about you. Here are some common reasons why a friend would lie, what it may mean, and what you can do about it.
Lying to Protect Your Feelings
One of the biggest reasons friends lie is simply to avoid hurting your feelings. Questions like, "Does this skirt look good on me?" or "Do you think I can sing?" might prompt a little white lie, or an avoidance of telling the blunt truth. Some people don't understand the difference between being gently honest with a friend as opposed to being so straightforward that you leave a verbal wound. Instead of these two extremes, they opt for avoidance in the form of a lie. Ideally, however, you want your pals to feel comfortable telling you the truth, even if it isn't the answer you were hoping for.
What you can do: Encourage your friends to be straight with you. You could even tell them "Be gentle, but be honest," and then no matter what their answer is, let them know you appreciate it. If you overreact or get angry with them, they won't feel comfortable telling you the truth again.
When Friends Lie to Exclude You
Lying isn't always a sign that friends are trying to protect you, however. Sometimes they lie because they want to exclude you from their plans. If they tell you they are staying home some night you want to go out, for example, and you find out later that they partied without you, it may mean they aren't as good a friend as you thought they were. Good friends should be able to tell each other the truth about hanging out with other pals. So if your friends doesn't want to spend time with you, they should just say they need some time on their own. In a solid friendship, this admission will not hurt the relationship.
Sometimes friends lie because they don't think you're good enough to mingle with their other friends. Maybe they don't want to mix friend groups together, and as a result prefer to see you for only certain activities. It isn't right (and doesn't always make sense), but that's why friendships are so diverse. Everyone is different.
What you can do: When you find out with absolute certainty that your friend was lying to you, try and confront them. Be forewarned, however, that if a friend lies to begin with, they may lie when asked a direct question about their dishonesty. Go with your gut on this. If you feel as your friend is lying because they don't want to be around you, that's your wakeup call to move on.
Lying Due to Embarrassing Circumstances
Sometimes friends will lie about things in their life because they are embarrassed. Maybe they had an affair, are in debt, or are going through a rough time that they just don't want you to know about. While you'd like to think that your friend would confide in you, sometimes they are just too ashamed to share their burdens.
What you can do: Avoid trying to badger your friend into telling you what's wrong. Instead, make it clear that you are there for them when and if they are ready to talk. Make your friendship a safe place for them where they can share their troubles with you without feeling judgment.