Is Lying by Omission Really Lying?

“But I didn’t lie, I just didn’t tell you.” Has your partner said this before? Or, were you the one who said it?

“I just didn’t think it was necessary to say it. Honestly, if you had asked me I’d have told you” The conversation continues.

We have all been in situations where we have withheld some information from someone either to avoid conflict or having to deal with the repercussions aftermath.

But when does omission of information become a lie?

Some omissions are harmless but there are some people that take it too far. Take this twitter thread I read for example.

This lady met the man of her dreams a few years back. On their first date, she expressed that her dream was to have a large family with many kids. Both were from large families and the guy said he also wanted to be a father to many. A few months into dating, they moved in together but agreed they’d only have children in marriage. 

The wedding came two years later. Months after their wedding, she was still unable to conceive. She became distressed thinking that a dream they shared with her husband was not being fulfilled. She even felt she was letting the husband down. 

One day, at the husband’s family party, she told his sister that they’d been trying to conceive with no success. The sister was quite shocked. 

Then came the bombshell. 

The sister revealed to her that the husband had a vasectomy before they met and that he had always made it clear to his family that he did not want children. This lady confronted the husband and he didn’t deny it. He claimed that the reason he did not tell her was that he feared losing her considering he had met the one in her.

When I read it, I couldn’t help but sympathize with the lady. The betrayal! Crushed dreams, broken trust, regrets, wishes, whys…

Like what does she do after this? Should she just forgive and move on? Is she even justified to call her husband a liar when he just omitted a detail? 

Some people would argue, “but the husband didn’t quite lie, he just didn’t tell her.”

Lying by omission is still lying guys!

lying by omission is still lying!

Lying by omission is when one leaves out specific details in a conversation to alter the outcome for their own reasons. Mostly selfish reasons. I know you’ve tried convincing yourself that the only reason you withheld some details is so that you don’t hurt your partner but, think about it. You mostly did it for yourself. 

Did you do it out of fear of being dumped, your partner losing interest in you, being on the receiving end of punishment or anger, fear that someone may never trust you again? Aren’t all these reasons just about you?

90% of the time when one does not reveal some information, they want to control the outcome of the conversation.

For instance, if you tell a friend that your partner was angry with you for being late for an event yet you explained to them that it was because of heavy traffic, the friend would sympathize with you and would probably agree that your partner was overreacting.

However, if you fail to tell this friend that on that day, you woke up late, started scrolling through your phone or watched an episode of your favorite series, and before you knew it, time was long gone and that’s when you rushed out, then that also is lying by omission.

You know for sure if you shared the other side of the story then your friend would have reacted differently.

This is just one of the tiny ways people lie. It may often look like a white lie but when it becomes a habit, that’s how one easily gets to lie on bigger issues like a vasectomy. 

It’s a cliché to say that the truth will set you free but it is the absolute truth. Normalize saying the truth which comes with being accountable for your decisions and owning up to your mistakes.

Have you just remembered that moment you lied by omission and convinced yourself that it wasn’t really a lie?

About the author

Peggy Kimotho

Peggy is a Virtual Assistant, Digital Marketer and Virtual Assistant Trainer (You can check out her course here).
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