20-40-60 Etiquette: How to deal with lies in a friendship
QUESTION: I have very good friends and really enjoy spending time together. However, I recently discovered they lied about their ages and a couple other small life details. Should I confront the situation? Or just let it go and be more mindful about their honesty?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: How FUNNY! Clearly lying about age, this has to be a woman. If it’s bothering you, go ahead. If not, let it go, and just enjoy your friendship.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I think I need more details to fully understand how to answer this question. How did you find out about these details? Did they tell you? Do you know why they lied? How significant are these “other life details” — do they affect others? What can you live with? Lying is a barrier to close friendship — if someone is ashamed of their age and other life details, then they have put up walls that will prevent you from knowing them well. They might need your compassion more than your anger. It is too bad they don’t feel comfortable owning their own life story. Deliberate lies also undermine your trust in their dealings with you, so I also would be wary in the relationship. At the same time, I don’t know how you bring it up, so tread lightly both in whether you confront them and whether you remain close friends. I am sorry about the dishonesty but glad you know so you can decide what your friendship looks like.
HELEN’S ANSWER: Truth is definitely an admired trait, and we all think being honest is the right path. When you don’t tell the truth, it is hard to keep up with and remember what you said.
If you catch someone in a lie, you might not trust them again. You can ask the people if you misunderstood their ages, and see how that goes. Or you can continue to monitor their answers for honesty.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Chuck Ainsworth, local civic leader: Friendships are fostered by mutual trust and respect. Since there are no perfect people, we must find friends whose faults we can live with. Unless the lie is going to put someone in legal jeopardy, then decide — is this friendship worth saving? If not, then distance yourself from the relationship in a polite and cordial manner.
We should all remember what Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com .