While it’s a rather nice idea to think that you and your beloved never tell lies to one another, to say such a thing you’d be, well, a stone cold liar.
What about when you said your husband’s clag-like risotto was 'delicious' or that of course you liked your wife’s work friend Carol? Or when you told your adorably fashion clueless boyfriend that your Lover dress cost $20 (for example).
People tell fibs all the time.
In fact, according to new research put together by Lonergan research for the DVD release of the thriller Gone Girl, most of us (80 per cent in fact) lie to our partners. And usually we do it about 1.6 times per week. Men are more likely to tell a porky than women (82 per cent compared to 78 per cent before we can get too smug about it).
Gone Girl had us all on edge about marital deception and the tangled depths of the heart's desires (am I meant to know my partner’s blood type, and is not knowing a direct correlation with being a psychopath? we mused quietly over our popcorn in the cinema).
However, while most of us don't have the kind of marriage that Amy and Nick have in the book and film, we still live with some level of deceit.
So when does lying to your partner become a problem? When it moves from being a fib about your real thoughts on something ("lovely!") to lying about something that actually happened ("No of course I wasn’t at the bar with Sue from accounts"). Or is it when it becomes, as psychologist and author Bella DePaulo, puts it a "serious lie?"
The serious lies are the biggies in life.
And they’re also the ones that you’re most likely to tell to the person you care about the most.
As DePaulo puts it,
"When people lie about something big - such as an affair, or about some other terrible thing they did, or just about anything else they consider serious - they are more likely to tell those lies to the people they care about the most. Our spouses and the other people we feel closest to are the ones who have the highest expectations for us. That means it is especially hard to tell them that you have fallen so short of those expectations," she wrote in an article for Psychology Today.
When it comes to telling lies, it’s worth keeping in mind who you’re trying to protect – you or your beloved. And if it’s you, it might do to ask yourself why.
Harmony can run on few fibs, but damaging deception starts when you’re lying to yourself too.
Gone Girl is out on DVD now.