Sonya Thomas lcsw

Lie Inviting Behavior – What is it?

In a recent blog post, I introduced Ellyn Bader’s concept of “lie inviting behavior.”  I remember the first time I was introduced to this idea ~ that the way we “show up” relationally and in communication with our parter either invites them to tell us their truth, or not.  It was pretty revolutionary in my own relationship to ask myself  “do I really want to hear my partner’s truth, and if the answer is yes, then what can I do to invite my partner to tell me their truth?”

If you suspect that your partner is withholding the truth, what are the “lie inviting behaviors” you might be doing that helps to foster an atmosphere of inauthenticity? The list is long, but here are just a few examples:

  • flying off the handle when you disagree
  • making threats
  • constantly seeking assurance
  • checking up on your partner
  • laying down the law
  • excessive blaming
  • having emotional meltdowns
  • issuing empty ultimatums

You might also be giving unspoken cues that invite your partner to withhold the truth, such as:

  • asking how your partner feels, but making it clear that there is really only one correct answer;
  • asking for the “whole truth”, but communicating that it would devastate you;
  • telling your partner s/he is being insensitive for expressing their thoughts, feelings, opinions or frustration with you.
  • Implying that your way is the only way.

The message that all of these maneuvers have in common is this ~ your partners reality, his or her truth, is not really wanted. It is too painful, too difficult, too threatening, and you worry your relationship may not be strong enough for it.

We will look at different types of lies in a future blog post; all lies are not created equal and the truth your partner may be withholding could very well feel devastating.  How your handle your feelings of devastation matters.  In the coming week, I invite your to ponder how you either invite of disinvite your parter to tell you their truth.