It would seem that honesty is one of the most important qualities upon which a solid relationship is built. But the truth can hurt. So, when do you have the freedom to fudge the truth?
On The Early Show's "Life Matters," David Zincenko, editor in chief of Men's Health magazine, and Janis Spindel, a professional matchmaker, will debate the question of whether a loved one has the license to lie.
Many men and women may throw little white lies around during the courtship process, in an effort to endear themselves to a potential mate. But lying can also persist in a committed relationship, marriage or otherwise.
Zincenko says the more trivial the point, the more acceptable it is to stretch the truth. He explains that it is preferable to lie. He says everyone lies, and those who say they don't are lying. Zincenko says a lie can be used to protect yourself or your spouse.
But Spindel says pulling a Pinocchio with your Romeo or Juliet is the wrong move. She says if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember to keep the story straight. But Spindel admits that there will be some point in a relationship where a white lie can protect the partner's feelings.
The two seem to agree that, to a degree, lying is a part of a relationship. But who lies the most — men or women? Spindel says men lie frequently. She explains that they like to lie about who they're sleeping with, if they are sleeping with anyone and if they are cheating.
Zincenko disagrees with Spindel assessments. He says he believes men and women lie in equal amounts, but in different situations. Spindel says men lie more often to protect themselves or make themselves look better. He says women often lie to protect others.
The Early Show got some viewpoints from the experts on some common lying situations.
- Do you lie if you're cheating?
Zincenko says: Don't cheat. He says if you're already cheating, you're already living a lie. However, he says, a lie would be acceptable if you're lying to protect her, but if you only cheated once.
Spindel disagrees and says cheating is unacceptable. She says cheating is wrong for all intents and purposes. Spindel advises the person being cheated on to get out of the relationship.
- Do you lie about sexual performance?
Spindel says lying about sexual performance in not recommended. Flatter your spouse on his good qualities, but advise him how to make sex better.
Zincenko says you should lie. He says the lies protect your partner's feelings.
- Do you lie about the number of sexual partners you had?
Zincenko says you should never answer this question. However, he says, when dealing with sexually transmitted diseases, a different approach is required. Zincenko says a lie here could last a lifetime or end a life.
Spindel says both should be tested for disease. But if a partner is just curious about the number of sexual partners, she says a white lie would be acceptable — within reason. Cut the number dramatically and tremendously if you've slept with droves of men or women. She says your future partner doesn't need to know that.
- Do you lie about a partner who gained weight?
Zincenko says you could be tactful with this question. For example, you could say your partner looks great, but you feel heavy and would like an exercise partner.
Spindel sticks to her honesty advice. She says you should not lie about a partner's weight gain. Spindel says telling it like it is would help your partner in the future and motivate her to lose extra weight.
Do you lie about your interests on a date?
Spindel says lying about a common interest is not advisable because that's false representation. She says lying comes back and bites you
Zincenko says he does not see anything wrong in expanding your horizon. Maybe you don't like "chick-flicks," but you can watch them because you want to spend time with your partner.
- What do you do when you discover the truth?
Zincenko recommends admitting to your lie. But, he says, you should know if you were lying for your partner or for yourself. He says if you're lying to save yourself, that's a lie of a coward. When that trust isn't there, it erodes the relationship.
Spindel agreed with Zincenko. She says a lie can only become larger if you don't tell the truth from the beginning.