How To Stop Tolerating Lies From Your Alcoholic Partner
How To Stop Tolerating Lies From Your Alcoholic Partner
If you’ve kept up with last few episodes (here, here and here), you know we’ve been doing a series on covert and passive aggression. As you’ll learn, this can be playing innocent, manipulating, and/or lying. But today is all about lying. We tolerate lies from our partners. We do. And it’s time to set boundaries for ourselves and stop tolerating those lies. We deserve that.
I’ve said this before, I’m pulling examples from this amazing book called In Sheep’s Clothing by Dr. Simon. You can get it on Amazon, and although the book is not specifically for addiction, I’m tweaking the examples and the wise advice and applying it for us, those who love someone suffering from addiction.
Stop tolerating lies when you love someone suffering from addiction.
Now, if you’re looking for a good book, this is a great one to pick up. It’s a quick and easy read, but I want to make a disclaimer here: a lot of times self-help books and relationship books written that are not specifically dealing with addiction, they don’t apply to us.
The tools these very popular self-help books teach are assuming that two people in the relationship are truth tellers.
The authors are teaching wonderful tools for couples who both want to be in an honest relationship and are willing to take responsibility.
In other words, they have the common goal of wanting to work it out, and they’re willing to make difficult changes for the sake of their partnership. But if you’re dealing with someone who is hiding behind their addiction, a lot of the popular tools that experts are now teaching aren’t going to work for people like us.
Healthy relationships (without addiction) have a common goal of wanting to work things out.
For example, I know a lot of us were talking about this in the Secret Facebook group. Brene Brown, who I am a huge fan of, just came out with a documentary on Netflix and it’s spectacular. I mean, what’s not to love about Brene Brown? She’s incredibly insightful, and she’s sharing a message that courage is vulnerability, and that’s a beautiful message.
I’ve read every one of her books and I think everyone should watch the documentary on Netflix. But I hear a lot of women in our space, in our community, who love someone suffering from addiction, tell me that they need to work harder on being more vulnerable. And they beat themselves up for feeling guilty because they’re being guarded with their loved one who happens to drink too much or abuse drugs.
Here’s the truth: If you really, really dive into Brene’s research, you’ll see the power of vulnerability works when someone has proven they are deserving of your vulnerability. That’s the magic of it.
In other words…
It would be considered a liability to continue to be vulnerable if you are in an abusive relationship.
Being vulnerable in an abusive relationship isn’t healthy.
And of course when you hear me say the word “abusive”, a lot of you are thinking, “Well, that’s not me.”
Each time you choose to tolerate lies, you’re losing yourself a little bit (or a lot).
If you’ve followed this series and you think you’re in a relationship with someone who is displaying signs of covert or passive aggression, rather than practicing vulnerability with your loved one, I would recommend you practice boundaries.
But I’m not just talking about physical abuse. There are many, many different forms of abuse, and we go into them in the Stay or Go program.
I’m talking about someone who is displaying signs of covert or passive aggression, because both forms of aggression are signs of manipulation, and being vulnerable with someone who is manipulative is not safe. It’s not safe for our hearts, our minds, and it’s not even safe for our bodies.
And here’s the loving truth: lying is part of the cycle of abuse. If you are tolerating lies, if you’re hearing lies from your partner, then it’s likely you’re in the cycle of abuse.
Here’s why: Practicing vulnerability with someone who has a history of lying without having boundaries in place is just plain dangerous, and that brings us to our third sign of covert aggression, which is lying.
There are different kinds of lies that you may be tolerating.
And you must stop tolerating all kinds of lies.
Now, Dr. Simon says in the book that it’s not usually black or white lies.
It’s not just a straight up lie, because those are too easy to catch. Your loved one will lie by omission or distortion, and one of the most subtle forms of distortion is being deliberately vague.
This is a favorite tactic of manipulators.
They’ll carefully craft their stories so that you form the impression that you’ve been given information, but it leaves out essential details that would have otherwise made it possible for you to know the larger truth.
When I read that, I was like, “Oh my gosh. That is the story of our lives.” It’s not just direct lying. It’s those subtle, little lies.
Now, let me just say, not all addicts or alcoholics or people that struggle with addiction lie. Some are very mature and they’re very sensitive. They’re willing to tell the truth no matter what the cost or consequence.
No matter if it makes them have an argument with their partner, or if they’re going to disappoint their partner or their children.
I know two of these kinds of people off the top of my head, but those types of people suffering from addiction are very rare.
We’re exhausted from tolerating the lies.
They’re lovely, and they’re super refreshing, and some of us are fortunate to find partners like that, but most of us, the majority of us, are exhausted from the lies.
We are so tired of having our hearts broken, feeling fooled, or second-guessing our loved ones. Or even worse, second-guessing ourselves.
How many of you have caught your loved one telling a subtle lie, especially around their addiction?
Next time you’re being lied to, know that this is a sign of manipulation, and here’s the truth: You’re probably not going to get them to admit that they have lied, so don’t waste your precious time trying to make your case to beat it out of them that they just lied to you.
Don’t turn your living room into a courtroom. You don’t need to be a prosecutor or the judge or the jury.
You know they lied. That’s enough.
Now I know some of you are sitting here thinking, “I can’t keep a quiet mouth! No way.” I hear you. I do. I was the same way, especially when I first started my recovery.
You can say something like this, “We both know you’re not telling the truth right now, and that’s disappointing, because I think in a healthy relationship, being honest with one another is critical, and when you don’t tell 100% of the truth 100% of the time, it forces me to mistrust you.”
And then you casually walk away. You don’t slam doors, you don’t roll your eyes, you don’t give them the silent treatment for the rest of the day. You just move on and keep your dignity.
They get it, they do.
They know they were busted, and you’re smart enough to catch them, but you’re too smart and mature to waste your time listening to their defensiveness.
You’re walking away casually and sending the signal, “I’m done with this conversation. I have better things to do and I’m not willing to argue with you or listen to you put a spin on this. I love you and I love myself enough to not continue this dysfunctional cycle, so I am going to try something different by giving myself a voice and also choosing to walk away.” You get to remain in control. You get to remain dignified and powerful. It’s simple. If you need to write this down, grab a pen and paper or open an app on your phone and then practice.
You can repeat this as many times as you need to. If they get aggressive or are angry with you, because I understand that too, if they follow you into the next room or they start raising their voices at you or calling you awful names or trying to place blame on you or placate, you can grab your keys and you can leave.
You can exit the premises. If you’re on the phone with them and you’ve just stated this, that you’ve busted them in a lie in a dignified way and they start using abusive language towards you, name-calling, swearing, whatever, I want you to hang up.
And then this is key, y’all: Don’t answer when they call back. I know. It’s so tempting, right? You just want to answer the phone and fight back and engage.
Remember, we talk about this a lot: You’re addicted to addiction.
It’s becoming the sort of weirdly uncomfortable, comfortable place that you live in right now because it’s becoming so familiar to you. Not engaging in conflict is a way to become unaddicted to addiction.
It’s a way to get into a healthier space, not engaging in that type of energy. This is what powerful looks like, and by doing this, you’re teaching them you will not put up with lies.
You’re just not willing to engage when someone is not telling you the truth, because the real truth is that you deserve honesty. You do. You deserve to be able to rely on someone else.
So doing this, this is what it takes. This is what it looks like to take back your power from this disease, because you are not powerless.
You do not need to place your joy and your approval and your security on somebody else.
You’ve got that ability all within you, so use it. Practice this. See how empowered you will feel. You might not feel empowered immediately, but I guarantee two, three, four hours later, when you look back on how you handled this lying situation, you’re going to be so stinkin’ proud of yourself, and I will be proud of you. I will be so proud of you, because this is a sign of your growth. This is how you rise when you are in a relationship with addiction.
And do you see how it’s not about staying or leaving right now? It’s about learning the practical real tools that you can apply that will take you through this relationship. And if you decide to leave, it will carry you on to the next season, and if you decide to stay, it will sustain you. It will sustain your heart, will honor your deepest feelings, your morals, and your ethics, and who you really are. So you’ve got this. I know you can do it and I want to hear about your success stories. How do you apply this to your life? I want to hear, and I want to be able to cheer you on. You guys, I love you, and I’m cheering for you, and you got it. You got this.
Questions from our community:
Is omission the same as lying?
Lying by omission is a form of lying that leaves out essential details in the story. Lying by omission is a form of lying. Here’s the deal: lying is lying. It doesn’t matter the type of lie or how ‘bad’. Being honest and telling the truth all the time is a foundational elements in all relationships.
Is lying considered manipulation?
They can go hand in hand. All too often, the ones we love that suffer from addiction manipulate us in order for their addiction to thrive. That almost always involved lying to us, in one form or another.
How can you tell if he’s lying?
There’s a whole checklist of items you can go through about his body language, eye contact, story, etc. But here’s the loving truth: You have a strong intuition, and you know your husband (or partner). You know when they’re lying. You don’t need to run through a checklist. You can feel it in your bones.
How do you confront someone about lying?
If you’re confronting your parter (or husband) who suffers from addiction about lying, there are certain steps that should be taken in order to have a productive conversation. Here are just a few tips to start: wait until their sober and ideally not hungover. Detach from the outcome of the conversation before it even starts. Promise yourself to leave the room and end the conversation if they start yelling or otherwise abusing you.
Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.
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