Listen, the phrase "honesty is the best policy" is one of those things we say, but we don't really mean as a blanket statement. Honesty is not, has never been, and will never be the best policy in every situation.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not out here advocating for lying our faces off - but there are some situations where the truth just isn't necessarily the kindest, safest, or most productive route.
Don't believe me? I'll prove it with the help of everyone's favorite website, Reddit. Reddit user tinythunder15 asked:
The responses were full of situations that some of us may never even have imagined, some of which we hope to never find ourselves in. Take a look, but brace. Some of this got really, really sad.
No Need To Relive ItGiphy
When the patient with dementia asks you, again, where their deceased spouse/child/other very important person in their life is.
Telling the truth only makes them relive the horror and despair of finding out that that person has passed away all over again.
I worked with a guy who had dementia and killed his wife. He was in an inpatient psychiatric facility that was locked and secured. He couldn't remember anything for more than 20 minutes. He would regularly ask us why his wife wasn't coming to visit him. One time his son told him out of spite and he flew into a self destructive depressive rage.
Half hour later the guy didn't understand why his knuckles were bruised and sore and why the wall was bloodied. He seemed like a really nice guy and had created this persona that he was a loving husband who would do anything for his wife, wrote her three love letters a day, and wanted to help others. It's almost like he forget he was this jealous monster who killed his wife when she tried to divorce him.
In either event, we just stopped telling him. We would say "Maybe tomorrow" knowing that he wouldn't remember asking us by lunch, let alone tomorrow.
Does telling someone the truth and dropping crushing news on them making them come to the realization that their world is a lie and they killed the person they loved the most 5-6 times a day when they can't do anything about it or change who they are through introspection really benefit anyone?
I can think of instances where I was genuinely ok with lying - and they all focused around caring with people with memory issues. Sometimes it was about granddad being dead, other times it was about forgetting to do mundane stuff that didn't really matter. For example if they asked around naptime: "Did I start the laundry?" I would just say yes, then go see if the laundry is started once she's asleep, and if not, I would start it.
Sometimes people with those issues ask if they're a burden, or if you're ok. You tell them they're not a burden, and you're ok... because I mean, wtf else are you gonna say? "It's hard, and yes, it's a burden, but you're family, and you couldn't stop me from caring for ya if you tried." They wouldn't understand and it would make them feel guilty.
I wasn't ok, but I always told her I was doing fine. Sometime grandmom was a proper wench to me towards the end (dementia sucks), but when she was having lucid moments and asked about how she was doing at other times, I told her she was fine and generally just sleepy. There was no point in making her feel bad over something she can't control.
So... generally, when people are in their sunset years I'm fine with lying for kindness. I'm not necessarily gonna say what's "better" because it isn't on me to judge you; but I'll say that I understand people in those situations are all just doing the best they can, and I don't fault people either for lying, or for telling a harsh truth every once in a while.
When planning a surprise party lying to the guest of honor is ok.
Only The "Mentally Strong"Giphy
Interviews. I was asked so what have you been doing the past year because it had been over a year since my graduation. I, like an idiot, answered honestly and replied that I was in a depression, but now I'm fine.
So when the the roll call came for the name of selected candidates the first thing the person who was announcing said that they needed "mentally strong" people.
The Ambulance Lie
Telling someone in the ambulance that they're going to live.
I have a friend who is an ambo. He tells patients he's never had someone die in his ambulance... which is technically true. Because they refuse to declare someone dead in the truck, because otherwise they have to drive to the morgue and fill out a bunch of paperwork. Instead, they continue to administer CPR until they get to the hospital and let the on duty doctor declare the time of death. That way the body is the hospitals problem and not theirs.
I was looking into becoming an EMT a few years ago. They taught us never to tell a patient they're going to live. Instead, you're supposed to dodge the question by saying, "We're doing our best to help you."
SCENARIO : You're the single occupant of a vehicle driving between 50-70mph that has struck a deer at night. The deer entered the passenger compartment. The antlers of the deer have penetrated your chest.
An ambulance arrives 16 minutes after the impact (this is practically light-speed if you're rural) and the ambulance crew (EMT-B and EMT-P..because you're lucky and it's a 3-person crew) look at you, as you realize you feel cold and numb and you ask "Hey...am I going to be OK?"...as you cough up some blood from the growing hemothorax in your chest...
......uh....*ahem......er...."!!!!WE ARE DOING OUR BEST TO HELP YOU!!!!"......please don't die.....
you hear.. in a robotic, terrified voice... from the EMT who is working on you. You feel good about that.... or maybe you want someone to lie to you (because who knows... maybe they're wrong and you're gonna live anyway?)
It just doesn't always work. You go ahead and tell people who are dying that you're not allowed to discuss statistical averages... see how well that goes down sport.
Safety Over Honesty
When you're lgbt and your parents are extremely homophobic/transphobic. Basically, when telling the truth will put you in danger.
If you're gay in Iran, its definitely better to lie.
White Lies Save LivesGiphy
When you are speaking to a person who is about commit suicide. Speak as if life is better, even if it isn't at the moment. I'm not saying you should 100% lie, but if you lie (in case you NEED to lie) enough to get that person to seek help instead of committing the act, you will understand the need of a little lie.
As someone who's been on the other side, I'm glad my best friend lied when he had no f-ing clue what was really gonna happen. I'm here today and I'm thankful.
If a guest at my hotel is hiding from an abusive SO or parent(s) and the abuser(s) show up or call looking for them, I'm certainly going to lie and say I've never heard of the person they're looking for. I've worked in hotels for nearly two decades, and on a few occasions over the years have actually dealt with this situation.
Lying To Kids
I fully support lying to kids. Whenever they make a crappy art project, tell them it's great. Sing terribly along to a song, tell them it was great. I want my kids to be confident. There are enough people in the world who are going to tell them they suck, they need to KNOW that there are people who will think they and what they do is awesome.
Maybe To Protect ThemGiphy
It's a feeling, I want to tell my parents that I had a horrible day at school and that I feel sad but... I just can't... it's better that we are happier. Maybe it's to protect them, maybe it's to prevent them from prying, or maybe take action.
A Matter Of Public Safety
I had a friend who's grandma had severe dementia. She'd get out money to pay for a delivered pizza, and when the pizza came, she couldn't find it. She also would be driving and forget where to go and blackout sometimes. My friend ended up telling her grandma that she got her license taken away to protect her and everyone else on the road.
CPR And Everything
When there's a vehicle accident and the involved party asks you if the other party is okay and you know they're dead.
The driver was performing CPR and everything on this dude who was drunk riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the road with no lights at night. It wasn't his fault, but he never could have lived with himself.
We held the scene (as we usually do when there's a fatal accident) and I had to lie to the driver that the bicyclist was okay in the hospital.
Call Me ShallowGiphy
May be an unpopular opinion, but I think there are times when lying to someone about why you are breaking up is the right thing to do. To be clear, I only think this is a good idea if it is a very young relationship or you haven't been dating very long. If you are in a long term relationship, you owe it to that person to be honest at that point.
So for instance, earlier this year I was dating a girl for a bout a month. Initially I wanted to make the relationship work, because she was a really sweet girl. But as we saw each other more and more, I started to realize that I just wasn't that physically attracted to her. Call me shallow if you want, but physical attraction is an important thing in a relationship. I thought that maybe I could gloss over this in light of her other qualities. But it became something that I started to think about more and more.
So I eventually decided to break things off with her. When I did, I just told her that I didn't think I was ready for a relationship right now and that we should probably just be friends. Which was a lie. But being honest with her would have meant saying something like "I just don't find you that physically attractive." Which to me, is far more damaging and just kind of mean.
Whether or not people want to admit it, I think that this is honestly pretty common. With a great many breakups, there's the reason that they gave you, and then there's the real reason.
Tell Them When They're Older
When my kids ask about their grandfather, my father. All the young kids in my immediate family think he died from a heart attack. Truth is he shot himself while both him and I were home. When they're older i tell them the truth, but no need to put that on a little kid.
How many men (as a woman) you've slept with. It really makes them either upset that they probably aren't the "best," or upset they aren't the first. It's truly a double standard I hate.
The Truth Is DangerousGiphy
It might be a messed up idea, but if lying helps you in a situation or simply makes a situation better than lie. I mean yeah if the situation will be resolved or handled better with honesty then, by all means, tell the truth.
They say the truth will set you free, I, on the other hand, say sometimes the truth is too dangerous.
When the truth would cause unnecessary harm.
A friend of mine was prepping to break up with her fiance, and then she died after some medical complications. They were living together and planning their wedding at this point. At her funeral I recounted some sweet stories of them together that she had shared, and told him how much she loved him.
Telling him anything else would have been cruel. She isn't coming back, and there would be only pain from knowing the truth.
Chillin' With Jake
When you're still living with your parents but your leaving to go have sexy time.
"Hey guys, going to chill with Jake, might spend the night. Don't wait up!"
Am I going to tell my saint of a mother I'm going to have premarital sex? Never ever!
Here's my story. My (now) wife bought an engagement ring off the internet. She read 18k gold so that's what she thought she got. Well turns out it was 18k gold PLATED over lead. How did I find out? Stones kept falling out and when the jeweler cleaned it, it basically became nothing.
I knew she'd never forgive herself if she found out. So I paid for the mold to be made of the exact ring with real gold and stones. I will take that to my grave.
The Gestapo is knocking on your door, asking if you're hiding anyone. You are. LIE.
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/