The worst thing about living with someone else’s lie is that it will destroy relationships you actually care about. It’s bad enough to live with your own lies, but living with someone else’s is insane and is totally unnecessary.
You inherit someone else’s lie, because you agree in an unguarded moment to participate in covering up their lie. Then, it seems unsociable or impolite to go back on your enforced participation.
Sadly, the only right answer to to tell them to go peddle their mess somewhere else and that they screwed up big time by trying to get you involved. If you have the courage to do this, you will lose only one "friend", but you will keep your integrity intact and you will not mess up your relationships with the rest of the world around you.
Now for the real-life example I mentioned in my last post: the "friend" who says, "Don’t tell anyone, but I am cheating on my husband."
When I lived in Florida, our best friends lived at the other end of the street. Bill, the husband was my closest friend. Our kids played with their kids and we did barbecues and dinners together at least once a week. I got divorced and moved away and they moved north to upstate New York, but we still kept in touch.
I had a chance to visit them a few years later and arranged to stay overnight and spend the weekend skiing with them. I was looking forward to a happy reunion with people I really cared about. As I got out of the car, the wife came out and greeted me warmly and said, "Don’t tell anyone, but I am having an affair with my ski instructor."
Bummer! I didn’t have the presence of mind to object. I just nodded numbly and went into the house and greeted everyone else.
The weekend went downhill from there. The weather was beautiful and the skiing was perfect, but the strain of concealing this woman’s activities was wearing thin by the time I left. Her three children were aware of her relationship with another man and discussed it with me, but I could not bring myself to discuss the situation with Bill, my long-time friend.
The end result was that I completely severed relationships with this family because I could not deal with the fact that I had participated in covering up something I did not approve of in the slightest.
In subsequent years, I have found myself in business situations where I was asked to be a party to concealing information about unethical corporate activities. In these situations, there were no bonds of friendship to confuse me and I spoke out rather than participate. I was subsequently dismissed or left of my own accord and I have no regrets for the outcomes.
It is a hard call, and you will have to make your own decisions, but doing the right thing always works out for the best eventually. Doing the wrong thing and covering up another person’s lies will stick with you for a long, long time.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned!. 🙂