What If You Tell A Lie But They Won’t Forgive You And Tell All Your Friends?

by Reid on September 17, 2017

Unhappy couple arguing at therapy session in therapists officeHow do you handle it if someone won’t forgive you when you lie and tells everyone about it?

With Reid Mihalko from ReidAboutSex.com and Cathy Vartuli from TheIntimacyDojo.com.

Cathy: We’ve talked about people, “What happens if you tell a lie and how do you fix it?” Someone wrote in reply that, “But what if the person doesn’t want to forgive you and what if they’re going to tell all your friends, and everyone will leave you and turn against you?” That’s really painful. I really appreciate you writing in. This is Reid Mihalko from ReidAboutSex.com. 

Reid: Cathy Vartuli from TheIntimacyDojo.com. 

Cathy: People don’t have to forgive us. That’s the truth, and if you lied and you did something that hurt them, they may not and you get to handle that disappointment. You can do what you can to clean things up, and you don’t have to make yourself a punching bag for them for the rest of your life either, but realize that people don’t have to forgive you, and they can tell other people about what happened. 

Reid: Yeah, advice around … And we’ve talked about this before but it’s good advice. There’s a book that used to be called The Five Languages of Apology, and now I believe it’s been re-titled When Sorry Isn’t Enough. 

Cathy: Yeah. 

Reid: It’s by Gary Chapman and co-written by Judy or … 

Cathy: Jennifer. 

Reid: Jennifer something, and we apologize Jennifer. We obviously don’t know your name. 

Cathy: It’s okay. 

Reid: We’ll figure that out, though. This being said, that book is really helpful in learning … Because sometimes they’re not forgiving you because the way you’re saying you’re sorry doesn’t land on them, so they don’t believe you. If you can change the language, the dialect of apology, then they can often see that you actually are sorry and start to forgive you, and that still might take some time. 

Cathy: I think it helps, too, if you’re going at it from that attitude that you want to make up for what happened, versus I want you to not be mad at me and not tell any of my friends that I screwed up. 

Reid: Yep. 

Cathy: Kind of owning it, like, “Hey, I did screw up. Is there some way I can, you know, either retribution or apology to help you feel complete with what happened, knowing that my intention is to never do that again.” 

Reid: Yeah, it’s tricky and there’s a lot of different ways … If you’re afraid that they’re going to tell everybody or that they’re telling everybody, and it’s appropriate for you and your needs to just come clean with your community, just tell them. Be like, “Hey, I fucked up. I lied to so-and-so. I’m trying to clean that up. I’m trying to make amends,” and again, you don’t want to be turning into some political spin doctor, trying to tell everybody else first, to inoculate yourself from the embarrassment. We’re all human. We’re not going to be perfect. At some point in your lifetime you might get scared or do this or do that, and make the wrong call and lie about it. But again, trying to clean it up with them so that they don’t tell the community, that starts to fall under the realm of keeping secrets and that’s weird. 

Cathy: People can tell, and one of the things I love that you teach this … I grew up where I was always trying to never make a mistake. I was trying to stay way away from the fence, the boundary, and that made me live a very small life. I was afraid to take risks. Realizing that everybody does screw up and that it’s not staying away from the fence, but cleaning it up when you do cross the fence, and just kind of owning that, “Hey, people do screw up. I really wish I hadn’t done that. I wish that hadn’t been between us, but I’m willing to clean it up, and if you can’t forgive me, well, I’m sorry, and that probably will affect our connection, but it is …” Owning yourself, owning I did this and I’m still going to be there for myself and I’m open to people forgiving me. That’s really powerful. 

Reid: Yeah. What do you think? How do you like to be apologized for in ways that allow you to forgive somebody? 

Cathy: What do you do if you can’t forgive? 

Reid: Leave a comment below.

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