Lying by omission

I was having this conversation the other day with a friend and with my flatmate about whether it is considered lying if you just decide to not tell someone something.

I personally think it is. My analogy or example for this was if in a relationship, one partner cheats on the other, obviously does not tell the other partner they are cheating — they are still lying.

My friend wasn’t too happy with the fact that I considered ‘lying by omission’ as a form of deceit if you wish. She said it made things very complicated.

My flatmate agreed with me but added that it probably could only be considered ‘lying’ if the other person asked a question with regards to the situation. For example, asking a friend what they are doing over the weekend and if they don’t want you to know who they are going out with and just tell you “I’m meeting some friends”, that would probably be considered lying by omission.

I’ve had people lie to me that way. I have found out later they have lied.

I can’t say I’m happy about it but I haven’t confronted them either (since I do not like confrontations!!)

But it can hurt.

However, it also makes me aware of what I’m saying and being careful whether I’m lying by omission.

Have you ever been lied to in this manner? Or lied to someone else?

Until next time,


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  • Kartikey
    13 January 2009 at 3:33 pm

    How about:

    I am going out with some friends this weekend..

    I am not comfortable telling anybody about them.

  • Smita
    14 January 2009 at 4:03 am

    Hmmmm Catch 22…it is lying to some extent but then there is always 2 sides to everything…..

  • Psych Babbler
    14 January 2009 at 10:27 am

    @ Kartikey: I’m assuming you are using that as an example…but I wouldn’t consider that lying because at least you are saying you are not comfortable revealing the names of the ppl.

    @ Smita: Yea…agree with you. Especially if you don’t want to hurt someone, this would probably work. Like white lies…

  • Afronuts
    14 January 2009 at 11:16 am

    I hate the idea of lying to anyone about things I dont want them to know cause what goes around comes around.

    Rather I’d avoid telling them without necessarily lying. I cant imagine what they would feel if I had lied and they found out…

  • Reema
    14 January 2009 at 1:37 pm

    sometimes a soothing white lie is better than a truth that will hurt.

  • Raahi
    14 January 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Gosh omitting to tell-all is not lying. I’m a loud mouth in most respects – for example I find it extremely hard to not disclose my weekend plans when somebody (who’s not included in the plan) asks me what I’m up to. I usually tell them but tag a bunch of sorries for not being able to join them. I’m trying very hard to overcome that and become close mouthed. It’s not lying, it’s just being discreet. But I agree with your flatmate – it’s not lying till you are specifically asked about it and you deliberately mislead with your answer.

    On the other hand, when it comes to stuff that other people tell me, I have scruples and will try my best not to talk about it. I’ve had situations where a guy friend obsessed over a mutual girl friend for months, but I couldn’t/wouldn’t tell him that she was already seeing someone ’cause she wasn’t ready to disclose it to others yet. If I told him, I would be breaking her trust and IMO that is worse than what I hid from him…

    In another case, I’ve disclosed stuff about A to B to make A appear in better light.A will not appreciate it (some people are very private that way) but my intentions were good and yet I’m ridden with guilt and fear that A will find out what I did.

    Wow taking about the above mentioned incidents here, feels like catharsis 🙂 Have a good one. Keep writing.