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Have you ever been lied to by a lover? In this straightforward and supportive book, therapist Susan Forward profiles the wide variety of liars, shows you how to deal with the lies from the benign to the lethal that these men spin, and gives practical strategies to stop them before they ruin your relationship and, ultimately, your life.
Once you find out the truth about your lover and his lies, what do you do? Forward offers practical, proven, step-by-step methods for healing the wounds caused by his deception and betrayal. She provides all the communication and behavioral techniques you need to deal with a lover's lies, telling you exactly what to say, when and how to respond to his reactions, and how to present your requirements for staying in the relationship. With understanding and compassion, she helps you decide whether your relationship can be saved and shows you how to move beyond doubt and regret if you feel that it can't. But whether you stay or go, you can learn to love and trust again.
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About the Author
Susan Forward, PhD, is an internationally renowned therapist, lecturer, and author. Her books include the number-one New York Times bestsellers Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them and Toxic Parents. In addition to her private practice, she has served as a therapist, instructor, and consultant in numerous Southern California psychiatric and medical facilities.
Read an Excerpt
1 The Labyrinth of Lying
¥ You answer the phone to hear a woman on the other end say, "Is this Betty? I thought it was time you knew that your husband and I have been seeing each other for the past two years. He doesn't love you. Why don't you just let him go?"
¥ You get a notice from the bank that a check you wrote has bounced. You indignantly call the bank, certain that you have eight or ten times that amount in the account you share with your husband. You're told you're overdrawn, and you know you didn't spend all the money.
¥ Your live-in lover swears he's stopped drinking and has been attending AA meetings regularly, and then you find a bottle of Scotch hidden in his tool chest. Suddenly you've got vertigo. The world you thought you knew is spinning. Your mind races: Who is this person I thought I could trust? How many other lies have there been? You've been socked in the stomach. You don't know if you have a future with this man, and you wonder if you can believe anything he said in the past. All you know for certain is this: Your lover is a liar.
At this agonizing, bewildering time, finding a rational response is crucial, an important relationship hangs in the balance, and so does your own well-being. Yet no matter how alert we may be, most of us have no idea what steps to take when we encounter lies on this most intimate ground. Most of us don't have a clue about how to confront and counter the poison of a lover's lie. Faced with the disorientation of deception and betrayal, we tend to bounce between two extremes: we may deny and rationalize away our partner's behavior, or become so enraged we can't think. People who care about us may be yelling "Dump him!", and we turn ballistic, losing our perspective in a fit of anger. Neither path brings us peace or lasting satisfaction.
All too often our lovers' lies leave us paralyzed. We find ourselves unable to make even the simplest decisions with our partners, because trust has disappeared, and we don't know when or if they are telling us the truth. We don't know what's real anymore, and we suffer terribly. A relationship with a liar can destroy our self-respect and our ability to trust our own perceptions and judgments. In the worst instances, an otherwise loving woman can become bitter, guarded, and walled-off, afraid to open her heart for fear of being betrayed again.
A friend of mine recently summed up the dilemma many a woman has faced: "I trusted my boyfriend more than I've ever trusted anyone," she told me, "and then I found out he was still sleeping with an old girlfriend while he was telling me he loved me. I'm afraid I can never trust another man again."
Lying by a lover is frequently one of the most destructive forces in a woman's life. But it doesn't have to be.
There is a way through the labyrinth of lying in love relationships, and I'd like to give you a map to this subterranean world within a world. In the pages that follow, I will deal with the full range of lies, from the benign to the lethal, and introduce you to the many varieties of liars, from those who'd never admit what they're doing to the chronic confessors who encourage us to forgive and forget. I'll also give you a detailed profile of the one kind of liar you must leave immediately.
I will show you some of the forces that drive men to lie, how they behave, and how to stop them early on. In the second half of this book, I will give you specific communication skills and behavioral strategies that will go a long way toward helping you reground a relationship in honesty or, when that is not possible, decide when to leave a partner who lies. Whatever your situation, I will help you identify your best course of action, and I will support you through the process of bringing truth, self-trust, and intimacy back into your life.
A Diagram of Deception
The words lie and liar are ugly. It's heartbreaking to have to use them to describe someone you love or are interested in, because they're loaded with pain and anger. They put you face-to-face with betrayal and malevolence when what you thought you had was intimacy. The words themselves are so inflammatory that it's important not to use them casually.
Certainly not every man is a liar, not every liar is a man, and not every thoughtless act is a lie. But in this book I'm focusing specifically on men who lie to women because I've seen how resistant women tend to be to acknowledging that the men they love lie to them. Women suffer uniquely when lies pop up in a relationship because, as we'll see, when a man lies to a woman, both of them blame her. When I use the word liar, I'm not talking about men who mislead us inadvertently (because of oversights or misunderstandings) or with optimistic but unrealistic promises (like "I'll meet you at six" when they're not sure they can even get off work before seven).
And I'm not talking about the harmless little white lies that we all tell or shading the truth to protect a person from something painful. Most of us use flattery and exaggeration in our day-to-day interactions, and life could be pretty cruel if we didn't. The whole truth and nothing but the truth is fine in the courtroom, but we all try to soften otherwise harsh realities. We meet a friend we haven't seen in a few years and diplomatically say, "You look great, you haven't changed a bit," even as we're thinking, "God, you've got jowls just like your mother's, and the same bad taste in clothes." Do our words convey the whole truth? Of course not. But is a lie like this worth worrying about? I don't think so.
The lies that harm us and our relationships all involve an intent to deceive. A lie is deliberate and conscious behavior that either misrepresents important facts or conceals and withholds them in order to keep you from knowing the truth about certain facets of your partner's past, present, and, often, future. Where Lying Thrives
When we hear words like deception and betrayal, we usually think of infidelity. And certainly every woman dreads finding out that her lover is cheating on her and is sexually involved with another woman. Discovering this kind of lie hits us where we are the most vulnerable. It attacks our very core and threatens our sense of safety and desirability. It both enrages and terrifies us, and it causes horrendous pain. Even in cases where the man insists that his action "didn't mean anything," an affair changes the relationship forever, and in some cases may end it.
But difficult as it may be for you to believe, other varieties of lies can equal or exceed affairs in the amount of havoc they wreak in your life. Lies are like dandelion seeds, they take root everywhere and flourish dangerously in every part of our lives. Throughout this book, you will get to know women whose lovers lie about money, addiction, commitment, availability, important events from their pasts, and the future. Often we dismiss these lies as inconsequential or even breathe a sigh of relief because "at least he's not having an affair." But as the women you will meet have discovered, a significant lie directed toward any aspect of your life can have a profound impact on your well-being.
The Two Faces of Lying
Lies can be in what is said or in what is never mentioned. It's helpful to think of these two basic categories as lies of commission and lies of omission. Lies of commission are blatant misstatements of fact about a man's life, behavior, and history, and they sound like this:
¥ "I am not having an affair" (when he is).
¥ "I made the house payment a week ago, the check must have gotten lost in the mail" (when he hasn't mailed it).
¥ "I've been divorced for a year" (when he's still married).
¥ "I used to have a little problem with alcohol, but I've gotten over it" (when he's still drinking heavily).
¥ "I'm not seeing any other women" (when he is).
¥ "I'll never hit you again" (when he will). It's Just Platonic
My client Lee was deeply hurt by a lie of commission early in a relationship that she had high hopes for. Lee is thirty-nine and divorced, and she works as an assistant manager in a men's clothing store in Los Angeles. She's originally from Central America and her lilting speech has a slight trace of an accent. Lee was flattered and intrigued when one of her steady customers, Barry, an attractive attorney in his late twenties, began flirting with her and then asked her out to dinner.
I told him right off the bat that I was older than him, and he said he'd always been with women in their thirties and forties because he found women his own age too immature and unsophisticated. Well, that was pretty reassuring. We started seeing each other, sometimes as much as two or three times a week. One night I was running late and I wanted to let him know, and I realized I didn't have his home phone, all I had was his pager number. When I asked him about it, he said that he had some roommates and that he didn't always get to answer his phone and he had some phone problems, and I should just use his pager number, something like that. It seemed a little too fishy to me and I said something, so he finally gave me his home phone.
Barry's runaround should have tipped Lee off. When you find that a new lover is ambiguous or evasive about such basics as where he lives, whom he lives with, whether he's married, and what his home phone number is, pay attention. This is vitally important behavioral information. If you ignore or overlook it, you may be in for some unpleasant shocks.
One night I called Barry to invite him to a party, and a girl answered. I hung up immediately. I felt really confused, and I asked him about it. He said yes, he lived with a girl, but she was just his roommate and that they'd been living together for three years. She was from another country, Guatemala, I think, and he was helping her out, but it was totally platonic. So I accepted that, and we kept seeing each other, and I'm getting more and more involved with him. He's pursuing me very hot and heavy and saying "I love you and I think we have a future together." But he never stayed the night. He would always have an excuse like "I have to get up really early in the morning, I have a lot of work to do." So I asked him why he couldn't stay over and he got real quiet and nervous, and then he told me that he couldn't do that to this girl. And I said, "What girl?" And he said, "Well, the girl I'm living with." So I asked him if they were a couple and he stammered a little bit, and finally he said yes.
What People are Saying About This
"Susan Forward's wisdom and compassion shines through in this excellent guide for women about a potentially devastating experience in their lives. Fascinating reading!"
"In this landmark book, Forward describes how lying and betrayal take place in loving relationships. In this practical guide, filled with helpful clinical anecdotes, she shows how people can move to new dimensions of love and healing. A must read!"
"Susan Forward does it again with this powerful book that will go a long way toward helping women regain their balance and self-esteem in the aftermath of betrayal."
"Betrayal goes way beyond sexual affairs to include a host of lies and secrets. When Your Lover Is a Liar is an outstanding guide for helping women reduce the trauma of such interpersonal violations, choose a direction, and rebuild their sense of self."
"Lying is a surefire way to demolish self-esteem and destroy relationships. This very useful guide shows us how to detect lies in those we love, confront the liar, and work through the betrayal so we emerge stronger and wiser."