By Baila Sebrow

Question

The guy I am dating lies a lot. For example, when I ask him what he was doing at a given time, he will tell me that he was learning or helping someone with something. Then later I find out that he lied, and that really he was just chilling. On our first date he bragged that he got into every yeshiva in Israel that he applied to, but he picked the one that he went to because he didn’t want to make his friends who were going there feel bad. I found out that he really didn’t get into a better yeshiva. There are other things, too, but they sound even sillier.

He is great in other ways. He treats me like a lady by taking me out to nice places, and he picks me up and brings me home, which most of my friends don’t get from their dates. Most boys are cheap and lazy with their dates. He is also very good-looking, and his family is very nice. I want to keep dating him, but I am starting to trust him less and less. What advice can you give me?

Response

I will address your last statement first. You praise him for treating you like a lady. Well, that is how it should be. Picking you up and bringing you home safely is what any man who invites you out for a date should do. I am sorry for your friends who allow anyone to treat them differently from the way they ought to be treated. And his looks, the type of family he comes from, or the fact that he takes you to nice places should have no impact on the seriousness of your situation, and I hope it will not stand in the way of whatever decision you will come to.

It sounds like the person you are dating might be a compulsive liar. Lying is not an attractive feature in any person and can only be excused if it is done for the purpose of sparing someone’s feelings. For instance, if your friend made an expensive, nonrefundable purchase for something that you find unappealing, you might not want to tell her how you truly feel, as there is nothing that she can do about it. Or if a person is ill, r’l, you will probably want to make her feel good by commenting how nice she looks on a day when she is out and about or accepting visitors, even if that is not entirely true. Such lies are socially acceptable as they are specifically said in circumstances to benefit the subject, rather than the liar.

There are situations where a person may lie so as not to disappoint or worry someone they care about. In such cases, the lying party may feel that as long as no one is getting hurt from the lie, then it is not only OK to be untruthful, but at times it may even be a necessity. Where it relates to not being honest, it is not always black-and-white. However, lying just for the sake of lying or deliberately misleading someone is usually a symptom of something more serious.

Since you have not given me more information about him, I do not want to pass quick judgement on this young man. You shared two examples of his lies to you, so I’ll touch upon those. The reason is to make sure that you don’t dismiss a person who means a lot you, just in case things are not as they appear to be.

When young people in the dating parashah are suggested specific types of shidduchim because it is expected of them to date such types, they often feel that they must go overboard in proving almost-fanaticism in that area of hashkafah.

If he is a learning type of boy, there’s nothing wrong with him for taking a break and chilling for a while. It would mean that he is human. People need a breather every once in a while to rest their eyes or their posture from being hunched over a sefer. The problem is that some girls are not that easygoing, and if they hear that the boy they are dating took a break from learning just to relax, they automatically dismiss him that he is not as big a talmid chacham as they assumed.

In their minds, and perhaps what they have been taught, the man they must ultimately marry should be consistently immersed in Torah and chesed. The same with regard to the yeshiva he went to in Israel. People get so hung up over which yeshiva or seminary the high-school senior gets into because they are brainwashed into believing that it will impact on the shidduch they will get. So, if for whatever reason a boy or girl does not get accepted to the top yeshiva or seminary, the family feels that they were afflicted with a catastrophic dilemma. Fearing a negative future outcome in shidduchim, families of these students will come up with various excuses to explain why their child did not end up going to a particular top yeshiva or seminary.

It could be that this boy has been presented to you as following a specific type of hashkafah, but deep down he is not that person. And in his quest to win favor in your eyes, it is possible that he is not able to relax and be himself with you. Instead he is saying what he assumes you want to hear.

Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. Are you comfortable enough with him to discuss the issue of his being dishonest with you?
  2. Did you presume him to be what you want him to be, but he is really not living up to your standards?

If it turns out that he is different than you thought and you are O.K. with it, then you need to tell him in order to have a healthy relationship. Honesty is the best policy here. However, if who he is really bothers you, then you will have to make the decision of whether this relationship is right for you.

So now that I gave this boy a fair share of being dan l’kaf z’chus, I will go back and focus on the possibility that a more serious issue exists: compulsive (or pathological) lying, as that could potentially lead to severe consequences.

I noticed that you said that he also lies about things that are silly. You did not elaborate on those things, so I am not sure what you are referring to. However, those who lie compulsively have become so accustomed to lying that they are almost incapable of ever telling the truth. Such liars may lie for reasons that serve no benefit to anyone. Not only that, but a compulsive liar can sometimes start to believe his own lies to such an extent that there are times that even a highly trained polygraph examiner may not be able to tell if the person is lying.

Do you think that might be the case with the boy you are dating: that he lies for no particular reason at all? Do you find yourself doubting everything he tells you because you are not sure what is true and what is not? If so, then I recommend that you get out of this relationship while you still can, or you risk heartache down the line. Do not think that you will change him, or that he will change for you. Whatever is going on, you should want no part of it.

The glue that binds a relationship is trust. In most cases, being able to trust somebody is not necessarily instantaneous. Trust is a work in progress. As you spend more time with a significant person in your life and develop feelings for him, it is natural to allow yourself to become vulnerable enough to trust him. And when something goes wrong and it becomes evident that you have trusted a person not worthy of your trust because of lies told, that sort of damage can rarely be undone.

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here