Is it Possible to Lie & Deceive Someone We Love?

Is it possible to lie and deceive someone we love?

One of the blogs I read on occasion ( asked a question similar to that asked above.

And the short answer is: No, of course not.

And the longer answer is —

It’s not possible to lie and deceive someone we love because love isn’t a feeling or it isn’t something we say or talk about, love is a verb. Our love is proven and made known to the person we claim to love through our behaviors. In other words, “love is as love does,” as Peck wrote in “The Road Less Traveled.”

This question — “Is it possible to lie and deceive someone we love?” — only comes up if we are trying to define love not through behaviors but through emotions and feelings. If we define love in anyway primarily as a feeling or emotion, then all sorts of unloving behaviors can be rationalized and excusified.

Love, when defined as a feeling, is actually not love, because the feeling of love, though it arises because of the other person, is not actually about the other person once the feeling arises.

Let me clarify that.

When love is defined or viewed as an emotion or feeling — i.e., romantic love, which is an intoxicating emotional cocktail of infatuation, deep acceptance, euphoria, aliveness, butterflies in the stomach, having one’s breath taken away, walking on air, et cetera — the experience and the relationship become less and less about the other person as an end in him- or herself and more and more about the other person as a means or a vehicle for continuing to deliver these exhilarating and intoxicating euphoric feelings.

In other words, the relationship becomes less (and less and less!) about the other person and more (and more and more!!) about OURSELVES and our own feelings — maintaining the euphoria and intoxication.

So the original question really is more accurately rendered as: Is it possible to lie and deceive someone who once made us feel all lusty and infatuated and giddy but no longer really does, in order to feel those feelings once again somewhere else with someone new?

And the answer to *that* question is: Of course it is! People do it all the time.

And thus the rationalization that follows almost inevitably: I love him but I’m not *in love* with him. Or: I love her but I’m not *in love* with her.

Which means: at one time feelings of romantic fervor and infatuation and lust and connectedness were felt in regards to this person, and we made a pact / entered into a contract with each other on the basis of those feelings in the hopes that said contract / pact would serve to establish a bond that would serve to establish once and forevermore those intense feelings, and we could let our guard down, get comfortable with each other, think we had security with each other, no longer continue to put our best foot forward and continually try to win / seduce the other, and backslide to who we actually are (a much lesser version of ourselves than the person we first showed up to the relationship as). But in doing all of this –getting too comfortable, taking the other for granted, focusing on how we felt and focusing on our feelings, focusing more and more on what we were (or were not) getting instead of what we were (or were not) giving — the feelings of love have died in relation to this person, and now a new person has come along, is giving me oodles of attention, makes me feel wonderful, listens to me, seems very interested in me (even though he or she hasn’t yet had sex with me 1000 times — newsflash, it’s human nature to prefer fantasy than reality, it’s human nature to crave a new move-in ready relationship that requires no real work [what Rilke terms “day labor,” or what can also be called “grunt work”] or maintenance and where everything is new and exciting than to desire a real person with real ups and downs and who has sometimes slighted you or disappointed you, and with whom there is an actual real world [instead of perfect fantasy world] history with), and is making me feel all tingly and alive inside, and I want to jump this person’s bones and feel euphoric.

This is how many an extramarital affair develops. Sometimes the original partner (husband or wife or person one has promised him- or herself to) has backslid to a person who if that version of the person had been the one who had originally shown up, there was a much less likelihood of ever getting involved with the person. After all, this is how most long-term relationships start — two strangers meet and don’t show up as who they really are, but instead show themselves as much better and much more together and psychologically healthy version of themselves than they actually are. And then these two people start sleeping with each other, connecting with each other, cathecting to each other, becoming more and more intertwined with each other emotionally, psychologically, physically, and then after about 18 months to 3 years of this, they start regressing, stop acting so wonderful, start taking the other and the relationship for granted, start getting very comfortable, start becoming again who they really are. But by that time the couple may already be married, have a child or children, et cetera. And the backsliding isn’t always dramatic and sudden, often, usually, it’s slow and haphazard..

And so what’s a person or two people to do who find themselves (after five or ten years together) more and more in this situation — with a person who takes more than he or she gives, is more interested in what he or she is getting instead of what he or she is giving, and is more interested in becoming someone different than the person he or she led you to believe he or she was going to be (but was only doing all of that because he or she needed acceptance, approval, sex, security, to borrow functioning, et cetera)?

So is it possible for one person in such a situation to lie to the other person in this equation? Of course it is. What’s one more act of unkindness or what Schnarch calls “normal marital sadism” heaped onto a relationship that is steeped in neglect, unkindness, self-righteousness, resentment, pettiness, indifference?

The only difference is that adultery is a bit more clearly out of bounds (or a more clear cut violation of the marital vows).

How many people take vows that are realistic? That instead of containing grand and broad generalizations — I promise to love, honor, cherish, and remain faithful, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in near crippling affluence — contain somewhat more specific and actionable promises such as:

I promise treat you as I want to be treated, I promise to do unto you as I would want done unto me if the situation were reversed.

I promise to really try to be nice and patient and kind to you, even when you are pissing me off or not giving me what I want.

I promise to become more and more aware of myself and how I am acting towards you and how I am showing up to the relationship.

When arguing and disagreeing, I promise to seek first to understand instead of seeking first to be heard and understood and validated and appreciated.

I promise to try to lose at least some of the arguments and not always have to have my way or to be “right.” I promise to not be a complete control freak, but instead to work towards compromise and to be willing to talk, listen, negotiate, consider and explore our differences of opinions (in other words I promise to be a fully human human being, a creature who uses both head and heart, and not just the heart or the head).

I promise not to take your choices away but to be a team player.

I promise not to act like an emotional child in an adult body in our relationship but to actively struggle to grow up, become more responsible, more self-aware, more patient, understanding, kind, compassionate.

In such a relationship where such promises have been made and are actively being kept and fulfilled and lived up to, the question of “Is it possible to lie and deceive someone we love?” is one that is much less likely to need asking and answering.

About John

I am a married, 46-year old, Midwesterner, with four children. My primary interest is in leading a very examined and decent and Loving life; my interests that are related to this and that feed into this include (and are not limited to) -- psychology, philosophy, poetry, critical thinking, photography, soccer, tennis, chess, bridge.
This entry was posted in Antilove, Commitment, Immature Love, Intimacy, Kindness, Love, Love Is a Verb, Mature Love, Mental Health, Perspective, Real Love, What is Love? and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Is it Possible to Lie & Deceive Someone We Love?

  1. Samantha says:

    Hello John!

    I really needed this. Thank you very much for putting all these things into words. I feel very lucky for having come across this. This will definitely change how I behave in my relationship right now. Just… thank you.

  2. therapyjourney says:

    An incredible post that made some things clear. I much prefer your vows – because they are very uncomfortable, certainly that would make me think twice about diving in to anything masquerading as “love”, because I am not mature enough to keep promises such as those.

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