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Why Do Men Lie? 11 Reasons You MUST Know About

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Imagine you’re sitting across from your boyfriend, husband, or friend, studying his face for the tiniest hint of a lie. He’s lied before, and you feel like he might be doing it again.

“I promise, I’m telling you the truth!” he says. But something inside of you can’t fully believe him.

Have you been in a situation like this? It can be tough when someone you care about might be lying because it hurts the trust of the relationship. 

In this article, we’ll unpack why men tend to lie and give you some tips on what to do.

Lying is a Universal Human Experience

For starters, let’s get clear on the fact that everyone lies. Men lie. Women lie. Non-binary people lie as well. 

The average person lies 1-2 times a day1 Lying is as ancient as human communication itself. It can be a way to protect, manipulate, or even prank. From the innocence of a child’s “I didn’t eat the cookie” to the strategic moves in international diplomacy, lying is intertwined with our day-to-day existence.

Though most lies aren’t big dramatic lies like telling someone you love them when you don’t. About 90% of lies2 are white lies. Which might be saying you liked a gift you didn’t like.

Lying is common, but that doesn’t justify it.

As a caveat, just because most of us regularly lie, that doesn’t mean we should. 

Neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris wrote this tiny but highly compelling book where he argues that there is never an ethically valid reason to lie (even to utter a little white lie) and that committing to a lie-free life is one of the best decisions you can make. 

While it’s an extreme stance, it’s worth contemplating if you think it’s ever right to lie.

The 11 Reasons Why Men Lie

So yes, all of us lie. But are there specific reasons why men lie?

To answer this question, it’s worth noting that the cultural pressures on what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman are different.

Many men are conditioned to be protectors, providers, and pillars of strength. In trying to fit these molds, they might weave tales that project certain images, hide vulnerabilities, or manage perceptions.

Now, let’s get more specific. Here are the main reasons why men might lie.

To seek approval

From childhood, many men are driven by a need for affirmation. For some men, this need carries into adulthood and relationships, manifesting as embellishments or falsehoods. 

They might exaggerate accomplishments or create fictional scenarios to be seen in a favorable light. 

This desire for approval is ultimately rooted in an inability to approve of oneself, so a person seeks it elsewhere, from peers, partners, and parents. 

If a man in your life can’t live up to the standards of success impressed upon him by his parents and his society, then he may fib to look better and get people to like and approve of him.

One example that came up years ago was when actor and comedian Steve Rannazzis talked publicly about how he worked in the Twin Towers in 2001 and barely dodged the 9/11 terrorist attack. He even shared the details of working on the 54th floor on a podcast episode with Marc Maron.

Unfortunately, Rannazzis was quickly outed by the New York Times. He worked in Midtown at the time, not in the Twin Towers.

Rannazzis apologized and said he lied because he wanted people to like him.

Rannazzi’s case is a pretty elaborate way to gain sympathy. But the man in your life might do the same thing in much smaller ways.

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To conceal vulnerability

In many societies, a vulnerability in men is seen as a sign of weakness.

As a result, some men lie to hide their fears, hurt, or sadness. 

To share a vulnerable emotion might mean that he is being “unmanly.” And so much of many men’s self-worth is tied up in their belief that they are “manly enough.”

This could mean he doesn’t admit to feeling hurt, fearing failure, or even experiencing deep sadness and might blatantly lie to cover these feelings up.

This is an unfortunate line of conditioning since studies suggest3 being vulnerable with other people helps us feel closer to them. 

To avoid conflict

Few people enjoy the tension of confrontation, but for some men, it’s a potent fear. 

Instead of facing the potential fallout of an unwanted situation, some men lie, seeing it as the smoother path. By avoiding the immediate discomfort of a conflict, they might believe they’re maintaining harmony.

This is one symptom of what Dr. Robert A. Glover calls “nice guy syndrome.” This is where some men internalize the idea that they will gain acceptance by being “nice,” one way they aim to appear “nice” is by burying conflict at the expense of truth. 

To defend his self-worth

Our self-concept, the image we hold of ourselves, is delicate. For men conditioned to perceive themselves as strong, infallible beings, admitting mistakes or shortcomings can be daunting. 

In these instances, lying serves as a shield, protecting a fragile sense of self-worth from perceived threats.

At the moment, it might make a man feel better to say that he didn’t leave the stove on because admitting to doing so would mean admitting to being careless, reckless, and incompetent, which are traits that would destroy his self-image.

Peer pressure

The camaraderie of “the group” can be both comforting and coercive. Men 

sometimes lie to fit in, to be part of the crowd, or to avoid being the outlier. 

This can be another side-effect of masculine conditioning. There can be a huge pressure to adhere to the pack and to be “one of the guys.”

So, the man in your life might pretend to enjoy a certain activity or hide his deeper beliefs to keep up with the herd.

To protect your feelings

Sometimes, men lie with good intentions, believing they’re shielding you from hurt or disappointment. 

While this intention might come from a place of care, it can also come from a savior complex. While someone of any gender can have a savior complex, it is common for men who feel pressure to be a protector figure. So they start to garner their self-worth from saving other people (whether that other person wants it or not!).

One way this can manifest is if the man in your life assumes that you can’t handle your feelings. So he might try to save you from pain, hurt, or disappointment by lying about something he did or feels.

To gain an advantage

Another part of masculine conditioning has to do with competition. Men tend to get told that they must compete with others to get ahead and that to be the “alpha male,” they must get to the top of the pack. 

As a result, in competitive scenarios, whether in the workplace or personal pursuits, some men lie to get ahead. The need to win can overpower their ethical compass. This could be by taking credit for someone else’s work or downplaying a colleague’s accomplishments.

One example is when Robin Thicke4 lied about the famous song Blurred Lines. For a while, Thicke claimed he co-wrote the song with Pharrell. But then Marvin Gaye pressed lawsuits for plagiarizing his song Got to Give It Up.

Immediately, Thicke changed his tune and said he was drunk in the previous interviews where he took credit. He then claimed that he did not help write the song.

So either Thicke lied about co-writing the song to look cool and gain credibility. Or he lied about not co-writing the song to avoid punishment. Either way, he was riding on a lie to give himself the advantage in the situation.

If a man in your life lied to you, it’s possible it was to get ahead somehow.


At times, the person men lie to the most is themselves. Whether it’s denying an addiction, justifying a wrong, or refusing to face reality, self-deception is a complex form of lying with profound personal implications.

Self-deception and denial often boil down to shame and a fear of admitting they aren’t in control. Many men have been conditioned to think that it’s weak to feel shame and even weaker to not have control of a situation. These pressures can push men to deceive even themselves of destructive behavior.

An act of avoidance

For some men, lying is a tool to create distance, especially when they feel their personal space is cramped and they lack the communication skills to set clear boundaries.

From an attachment theory perspective, men tend to have a more avoidant attachment style5 than women. 

To have an avoidant attachment style essentially means that intimacy can be overwhelming. If an avoidant person’s partner wants more intimacy than they do, then they might feel the need to retreat.

If a man in your life has an avoidant attachment style, it’s possible that he feels overwhelmed by the closeness of the connection. He might need to retreat but not know how to vocalize his feelings and needs, so he resorts to lying to create space.

The web of lies

Sometimes, a single lie can snowball into a complex web of falsehoods. Men who are caught in one untruth might feel compelled to weave additional tales to support the original deception. 

This entanglement often arises not from an initial intent to deceive on a grand scale but rather from a desperate attempt to maintain consistency and prevent the initial lie from being exposed. 

Over time, managing this intricate web can become emotionally draining and challenging to uphold.

One famous and strange example is from professional soccer player Stephen Ireland. In the mid-2000s, Ireland asked his coach if he could miss an upcoming match because his grandmother died. The request was granted.

Soon after, Patricia Tallon, Ireland’s very much alive grandmother, read about her death in the newspaper! Ireland then switched his story up and said it was his grandmother on his father’s side who died.

But she, too, was alive! And relatives complained to the paper.

Ireland then claimed it was his grandfather’s partner who died. This, too, was exposed as a lie.

Finally, Ireland admitted that all of these lies were coverup. In actuality, his girlfriend had an abortion, and he wanted to support her. He thought the death of his grandmother would be a more compelling reason to miss his soccer match.

But after so many lies, can we even believe his final story about the miscarriage?

That’s the problem when someone covers up a lie with another lie. At a certain point, their word loses all credibility.

Pathological lying or narcissism

For some individuals, lying transcends the occasional falsehood and becomes a persistent behavior. Surveys suggest6 that 5% of people tell 50% of the lies. This means that while most people lie a bit, a select few lie a lot.

Men who are compulsive liars engage in habitual dishonesty, not necessarily for personal gain but sometimes due to an underlying psychological issue. 

On the other hand, narcissistic individuals might lie to maintain an inflated image of themselves or manipulate others. 

In these cases, the lying isn’t just situational; it’s a more deeply rooted aspect of their personality and understanding, and addressing it often requires professional intervention.

What Should You Do if You Think He is Lying?

Okay, so you have some ideas about why he might be lying. But how should you handle the situation?

Here are some tips.

Observe without accusing

Rushing to confrontation can often lead to defensiveness and further misunderstandings. 

It can be helpful to sit back and observe. Look for inconsistencies in stories, body language, and behavior.

Notice when you feel the impulse to jump to conclusions.

Action Step: Create a personal journal or note to document moments of concern discreetly. 

You could also look into studying microexpressions. These are tiny, split-second facial expressions we give to denote what we are feeling. If his words and the emotions of his microexpressions don’t match, this could cause suspicion. 

Reflect on your behavior.

Sometimes, the dynamics within a relationship can unintentionally encourage dishonesty, especially if one partner feels frequently judged or misunderstood. 

Is there a way you can take responsibility for creating a dynamic that led to him lying? Is it a pattern in your life for people to lie to you, and if so, how might you contribute to those situations?

Reflecting on your behavior doesn’t mean blaming yourself, but understanding that relationship dynamics are two-sided.

Action Step: Set aside quiet moments for introspection. Ask yourself if there have been times when your reactions or behaviors might have discouraged open communication. Consider taking responsibility in a conversation with your partner/friend, as this will likely make him feel safer.

Open a safe space for dialogue.

When you’re ready to discuss your concerns, choose a comfortable environment free from distractions. And remember, the source of his lying might be coming from a place of sensitivity or shame. So approach with care.

Be careful with coming in too hot and pointing a finger right at him. You don’t want to evoke more defensiveness.

Instead, come in with patience, care, the desire to connect, 

If he does fess up, it will be a vulnerable act. So, it’s on you to create a safe space for him to feel vulnerable.

Action Step: Set aside a specific time, free of interruptions, and let your partner know that you’d like to have an open conversation about things you’ve been feeling. While it’ll be important to voice your concerns, try to do so without blaming. 

Instead of “You lied to me!” You could say, “I felt you might have been stretching the truth. Is that true? It’s okay if you did; I’d just like to get on the same page to discuss it.”

Seek external guidance

If trust issues persist, consider seeking couples counseling or therapy. A neutral third party can provide valuable insights, tools, and strategies to help both partners navigate trust issues and improve the relationship.

Action Step: Check Psychology Today for a repository of therapists to contact. If you’re apprehensive about the idea, consider starting with individual therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Why Men Lie

What motivates men to lie in relationships?

What motivates men to lie in relationships often includes a mix of societal expectations, personal insecurities, and the desire to protect or manage perceptions. These reasons can range from wanting to appear more favorable to avoiding conflicts.

Are there common situations where men tend to be less truthful?

Yes, there are common situations where men tend to be less truthful, including when they’re trying to avoid conflicts, hide vulnerabilities, or fit into societal molds of masculinity.

How does societal pressure influence men’s honesty?

Societal pressure greatly influences men’s honesty by setting expectations and norms around masculinity, which can sometimes push men to mask vulnerabilities or portray themselves in certain lights.

Do men lie more than women, and if so, why?

It’s a misconception that men lie more than women; both genders lie, but often for different reasons. Men might lie to align with societal expectations, protect their ego, or avoid conflict, while women might have other motivations. That said, one study indicated that of all the people who identify as “good liars,” 62% are male. In other words, it’s more common for a man to think he’s a good liar than for a woman to think the same of herself.

What are the emotional consequences of dishonesty for men?

The emotional consequences of dishonesty for men can include feelings of guilt, anxiety, and a diminished sense of self-worth. They can also lead to an upset, distrustful partner and a strained relationship.

Can trust be rebuilt after a man has been caught lying?

Yes, trust can be rebuilt after a man has been caught lying, but it requires open communication, forgiveness, understanding, time, and consistent efforts from both parties involved. Both parties must commit to telling the whole truth and avoiding lies of omission.

Are there effective strategies for improving communication and reducing dishonesty in relationships?

Effective strategies for improving communication and reducing dishonesty in relationships include practicing active listening, setting aside regular check-ins, and fostering an environment where both partners feel safe being vulnerable.

Takeaways on Why Men Lie

It is difficult to be in a connection where you suspect the other person is lying. After all, trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. But all is not lost yet.

If you’re concerned a man in your life might be lying to you, consider these potential reasons for his behavior:

  • To seek approval: Many men lie to gain affirmation, often stemming from childhood needs for validation.
  • To conceal vulnerability: Some men hide their vulnerabilities due to societal perceptions of male weakness.
  • To avoid conflict: Avoid confrontation; some men see lying as a means to maintain perceived harmony.
  • To defend their self-worth: Men might lie to protect a fragile self-concept from perceived threats or mistakes.
  • Peer pressure: The need to fit in with peers can drive men to hide true beliefs or feelings.
  • To protect your feelings: Men sometimes lie, believing they’re shielding someone from hurt, often stemming from a savior complex.
  • To gain an advantage: Competitive pressures can lead men to lie to secure a perceived advantage in various scenarios.
  • Self-deception: Denial and self-lies can arise as a coping mechanism from shame or a reluctance to face certain truths.
  • An act of avoidance: Lying might create emotional distance or boundaries when intimacy becomes overwhelming.
  • The web of lies: An initial lie can snowball, leading men to craft additional tales to support the initial untruth.
  • Pathological lying or narcissism: For some, lying is deeply ingrained due to underlying psychological issues or personality traits.

Best of luck navigating this situation 💙

And if you’d like to understand better what body language reveals when someone is lying, this lie-detecting guide might prove useful.

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