You've caught your boyfriend lying, but you're ready to forgive, forget and move forward. Some men in that situation would be relieved to have dodged a bullet, and be all-too glad to act as if they had done no wrong. Others, however, might feel a great deal of remorse and shame that prevents them from forgiving themselves. Fortunately, you can say and do things that will help him move past his shame.
Assure your boyfriend that you really do forgive him. Think of ways to show you understand why he lied and that you don't harbor any resentment. For example, if he lied to you about quitting smoking, let him know you sympathize with how difficult it is to break a smoking habit. Praise his attempt to quit and tell him you are willing to excuse his lie because you know he felt ashamed of his weakness. But you must be sincere. If you don't seriously feel forgiveness, don't say that you do -- he's likely to sense your insincerity.
Help your boyfriend relieve his anxiety. Lying to you probably caused your boyfriend some stress, and he now needs to decompress. Suggest a little vacation for the two of you to get away to someplace new, to relax, unwind and recharge his batteries.
Help him recognize how common lying is. Karen Pine, psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire, told "The Daily Mail" lying is an essential part of the human experience that has helped the species survive. Research conducted by BMW Financial and reported in "The Daily Mail" found that men lie about three times every day. These lies include small fibs such as, "Nothing's wrong, I'm fine" and "I had no phone signal." This doesn't mean you should tell him lying is OK, but you do want him to understand that his behavior was not unusual.
Help him see the difference between doing something wrong and being a bad person. Let him know that everyone, including you, makes mistakes and that doesn't change who you are as a person. Point out that the depth of his remorse suggests he does have a conscience and a good heart.
Ask your boyfriend if his sense of shame is possibly generated by a desire to punish himself. Advise him to consider if he's done this in the past. Hale Dwoskin, author of "The Sedona Method: Your Key to Lasting Happiness, Success and Emotional Wellbeing," suggests guilt usually accompanies shame. Human psychology causes some people to inflict self-punishment when they know they've done wrong. Helping your boyfriend understand this dynamic might give him much-needed insight into his own feelings and help him overcome his negative emotions.
- If your boyfriend's shame lingers despite all your efforts, suggest he get some professional counseling.
- NBC News: Shame, Shame -- How Lying Affects Men's Health
- Cal Poly Pomona University: Lying and Shame
- The Huffington Post: Lies That Bind Us to Guilt and Shame
- Seventeen: Can You Forgive a Liar?
- Empowered Recovery: Get Rid of Guilt and Shame
- Medical News Today: The Key To Overcoming Shame Is Making Connections
- MailOnline: Men are more likely to fib than women, telling on average three lies a day
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images