How to get someone to trust you after you’ve lied to them

Destined962013 asks: Me and my boyfriend have been together for over seven months now. About four months ago, I lied to him about something very serious. I really had no reason to lie to him in the first place, but I did. The problem is that, since then, I have been completely truthful about everything, but he doesn’t believe me. I was wondering if you know any way for me to show him that I really am not lying to him now.

Hi Destined962013 –


Quick answer:  No.  There is no way to prove you’re not a liar.  There’s a rule in logic that says “One cannot prove a negative.”  What it means is, it’s impossible to prove that something is not the case.  You can only prove that something is the case.

For example, let’s say you go home, and you see that your cat was bitten by someone this morning.  Can I prove that I wasn’t the one who did it?  No.  It’s impossible.  Now maybe I can prove that I was at Handsome’s house when it happened, and you know your cat was in your yard, and between those two you figure out that it’s just about impossible for me to have bitten your cat, and so figure I didn’t do it.  But that’s not the same as proving that I didn’t bite her.

On the other hand, there are lots of ways to prove I did bite her, if I did.  Maybe there’s saliva in the wound that matches mine in a DNA test, for example!

Your problem is that there is no way to prove to your boyfriend that you didn’t lie today, that you aren’t lying right now, or that you won’t lie tomorrow.  But here’s the thing about that: he didn’t know that when he started dating you either.

We dogs are unable to lie.  It’s just not part of our brain makeup.  And that’s one of the reasons people are so fond of us – you love our honesty.  But you humans are fully able to lie, and usually start doing so by the time you turn two years old.  So anyone who’s old enough to date is certainly able to lie, and everyone knows it.  In other words, your boyfriend knew that you had the potential to lie, when you two first got together.

But he decided to trust you.  Why?

Well, he decided to because he wanted to, because he liked you and hoped that you’d be true to him, and because you hadn’t given him any good reason to think you would lie to him.

And today, it’s just about the same, right?  He still likes you, he still hopes you’ll be true to him, and you’ve never given him any reason to think you would ever…


That’s the mistake you made.  Now he will always have reason to suspect that what you say could be a lie.

So does that mean it’s all impossible now, that your relationship is destroyed?  Not necessarily.

Here’s what you can do.  First, give him a promise, that you’ll never lie about anything important again (the chances you’ll give a tiny lie about something are too high for this).  And tell him that if you ever do, you will consider it reason for you two to break up.  Maybe you could even promise to do something for him if he catches you lie, like give him some money or something!

Second, try to show him how hard you’re working to tell him the truth.  Tell him extra facts.  For example, if you’re late meeting him, tell him exactly why you were late, including things that might look bad, like “I stayed in bed after my alarm.”

And Third, whatever it was you lied about before, give extra on that issue.  For example, if it was that you kissed another boy, go to extra trouble to tell him about any interaction you have with any other guy; if it was that you took some money from him without telling him, pay for more things than you normally would.  Basically, try to make up for what you did.

But in the end, this isn’t something that you can make happen.  Eventually, it will be up to him.  Only he can decide whether he’s going to trust you or not.  And he will decide that based on his own self-interest.

You know how we dogs love to play fetch.  Well, it’s very normal for someone, especially kids, to pretend to throw a ball and watch us run for it.  If they do it enough times, we’ll just stop chasing when they throw, and the game will be ruined.  But even then, if they start throwing the actual ball enough times, we’ll start running for it again.  Why?  Because we want to play that game, and we want to believe you’re throwing the ball.

Similarly, if you keep working to earn his trust, the day should come when he chooses to assume you’re telling the truth, just as he did before.  If he doesn’t, then maybe it’s his choice, to pretend he doesn’t believe you, in order to have some more control over the relationship.  And that word I just used, “pretend?”  Another word for that is to “Lie!”  So if he starts doing that, feel free to point out to him that he’s become the liar in the couple!

But hopefully that won’t happen.  Hopefully this will all work out very well very soon, and you two can move on into a future where you believe in and trust each other, simply because you choose to.


Good Luck!



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