7 Reasons Lying At The Beginning Of A Relationship Is Not Okay

The other day, I was asked by one of my clients why I thought their relationship had run so far off the rails. My first thought was more of a question: Did the relationship begin with an adverse event, such as dishonesty or cheating? Something they said earlier in the conversation cued me to think this. It’s, unfortunately, harder to fix an issue if it started at the beginning of the relationship and was never dealt with. What would help people not make this mistake? It seems obvious, but lying is not the way to start off a relationship. Let’s explore 7 reasons why starting a relationship with dishonesty is destructive. If you want to read more about how dishonesty hurts relationships then read my article about the harmfulness of dishonesty to marriage.

What happens if you tell the person you are dating that you grew up poor or rich, even though you didn’t? If you stay together long enough, your spouse will likely find this out. Trust at this point is broken and the relationship goes into crisis mode.

There are all sorts of reasons why someone might want to tell a lie when they meet someone they like: maybe to look good, to hide their past, or other reasons. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be a good strategy for developing a relationship. So below are my 7 reasons lying at the beginning of a relationship is not okay.

7 Reasons Lying At The Beginning Of A Relationship Is Not Okay

    • Honesty and trust are the first building blocks of relationships
    • Betrayal is one of the most devastating things you can do in a relationship
    • You aren’t giving the other person a choice to choose
    • Giving someone high expectations of you to start with is self-defeating
    • You will be found out at some point, so which problem do you want to face?
    • The other person will believe they NEVER knew you, thus not leaving much room for commitment
    • It’s selfish and will do more damage than you can calculate.

Honesty and Trust: The First Building Blocks of a Relationship

When you start a relationship, you need to create a good foundation so it will last. As you move through the phases of dating, courtship, engagement, and marriage, you as a couple need to build deep trust and honesty. Any break can be problematic. I have seen so much hurt and pain from dishonesty. The further into a relationship that a lie is discovered, especially if it happened early on, the more devastation it can cause.

Not all lies are the same. Depending on the nature of the lie, the effects may not be as disastrous. Even so, trust is broken on some level. For you to have the relationship you REALLY want, it is important to build a foundation of honesty and openness from the beginning, which helps in building trust.

Lying can be considered betrayal

Dishonesty at the beginning of a relationship is hurtful as we have stated. If the truth is not shared,  it may be considered betrayal. Why do I say that? Because the longer the truth is withheld, the longer you decide to choose to portray a false reality. You showed no faith in your partner’s grace and love. They will feel rejected and may feel as if they knew you.

Affairs and cheating are not the only forms of betrayal. If you lie, manipulate, or hide things, it can be considered betrayal. Again, you placed something else above your partner. Your partner at that moment will question if they can count on you. Are you for them? Will you be there if they need you?

Legitimate Jealousy

Have you ever heard of the term “legitimate jealousy?” Most people haven’t. I read it in Jimmy Evans’ book called Marriage on the Rock. He introduces the idea of the law of priority.

In the Bible, God said that a man will leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. They were to become one flesh. In essence, they needed to “understand the importance of rightly prioritizing marriage.” (p. 36) This means that each other should be placed in higher priority than mom and dad once the marriage is completed.

At this moment, a husband and a wife have been given certain rights. When those rights are taken from them, they feel jealous. You may say jealousy is wrong. And in many cases it is. However, when something has been given to you and someone comes along and takes it back and gives it to someone else, you will feel legitimate jealousy. That doesn’t mean that you have the right to hurt someone, but it just helps us understand what a person feels in cases like that.

Jimmy says it like this: “…in marriage, both spouses have moral obligations to God and to each other to protect their relationship from being violated by people or things of lesser priority.” (p. 37)

When we are lied to at the beginning of a relationship, we feel this sense of legitimate jealousy. Our rights have been violated, such as, the right to choose and to feel safe in a relationship. The spouse who lied chose the priority of their own safety and whatever they are lying about over the priority of their partner’s feelings and comfort. They gave their love away to something else by considering the safety of the things they are lying about as worth more than their spouse.

You took away your partner’s right to choose

Would you like your rights and freedoms taken away? I can hear a resounding “NO!” I wouldn’t either. However, this is what happens when dishonesty comes at the beginning of a relationship. You are not allowing your partner to choose their fate.

“Let them choose their suck!” some people say. I know these words aren’t nice, but it’s true! What do you think if you lie at the beginning of a relationship? Possibly this: “I suck, so I won’t let them know.”

They deserve the right to know what they are getting themselves into. Plus, if they choose to be with you despite your problems, that means they like you for you.

You are beating yourself

When you are not truthful to a potential partner at the beginning of the relationship, you have already lost. Just go ahead and call yourself a loser. You are now making yourself look better than you really are. What are the expectations going to be? If your partner has a higher expectation than you can achieve, what do you think the outcome will be later? FAILURE.

Why do that? Just start with the truth. You will have a higher chance to succeed if you do.

What is the main point? Don’t beat yourself by giving others a reason to see you as a loser later. It’s one thing if they want to push you to become better. It’s another thing if they already believe you should be where you are not. The relationship could fail if you tell a lie about yourself and that would likely be because you can’t measure up to who they thought you were.

All lies inevitably come out

Don’t get into the, “I’m special” trap. You are not. The Bible says that God will reveal all things. You may think it will be at another time, but don’t be too sure. I have seen so many lies come out that people were going to carry to their graves. No one knows that day will come.

Does the size of the lie matter? No! I believe you should be honest because you don’t want to take a chance on your partner finding out the truth before you “get the chance to tell them.” Don’t lose. Win! Even telling them sooner than later may spell victory for you!

When they say, “I don’t know you.”

Oh, how these words haunt me! When I hear that in couples counseling, I know that this spells disaster. It’s hard to help someone come back from that thought. Ask me how I know! It’s panic time for me when I hear these words because my mission becomes trying to convince them otherwise.

When a spouse uses the phrase above, they don’t have a leg to stand on in the relationship. The commitment is gone. They have both feet out the door and may be running for their lives. Dishonesty, especially at the beginning of relationships can make a person feel like they don’t know who they are talking to. They feel they were living a lie the whole time. Don’t let that be you.

Selfishness and damage

When you tell a lie at the beginning of a relationship, you ARE being selfish. Happiness, safety, and comfort are your priority, not your partner. A spouse like this isn’t thinking about their husband or wife’s pain or other problems that might arise.

The damage can be far-reaching. Love, connection, or trust are incredibly hard to develop in this type of atmosphere. A spouse will feel that something is off. They will try to deny it in their heads. You may have convinced them at the moment not to pay attention to their own internal sense. However, when they start questioning their own reality, they will soon seek help that will lead them down a path to explore the inevitable truth. This is not ideal!


When you start a relationship, start it on the right foot. Beginning with lies or bad behavior builds a weak foundation. It doesn’t mean that you can’t build a strong foundation over time, but this will involve changing behavior, being genuine, and having consistent honesty. The 7 reasons to not lie at the beginning of a relationship seem obvious, but why do so many people continue making the same mistakes?

Don’t let your relationship begin on a crumbling foundation. Choose today to make things right. If it lasts, then you will know that you have true genuine love and connection.