Are some men simply Natural Born Liars?

May 19, 2011

My father was a wonderful man. He was witty and charming and generous, a brilliant dad to me and my sister.

But he also found it impossible to be faithful.

He cheated on not just one wife, but two; both marriages destroyed by infidelity.

While he died prematurely from a massive heart attack (caused by smoking), I don’t doubt that the stress of having spent much of his adult life leading so many different lives played its part.

His parents were happily married for over 50 years, so it wasn’t learned behaviour. The only explanation I can give is that he joined the army at 14, and he was married for the first time at 19; perhaps he simply never really got the chance to grow up.

I suspect this is also why I was attracted to Man of the House, a what- you-see- is-what-you-get kind of guy; it’s also perhaps why I don’t like it if my offspring tells fibs – not even little white lies.

I’ve been thinking about men who tell lies a lot recently – mostly of course because the media has been dominated by them, or at least the idea of them, given we’re not supposed to know who most of them actually are.

I agree with Hugh Grant that if celebrities are trying to protect their families from press intrusion then super injunctions are probably justified; ultimately, if there are children involved, they should be protected from their (insert swearword of your choice) fathers’ philandering, however galling/titillating/gobsmacking we might find the sordid details of their sex lives .

And it doesn’t really surprise me that Arnold Schwarzenegger had been covering up an affair – and a child – for 10 years.

What interests me though is WHY some men seem to find it so easy to lie to their partners. Why do they do it? Is it simply because they can? Is it because they are afraid of the emotional fallout, they don’t want to rock the status quo? I can understand perhaps that they don’t want to throw a relationship away for a one-night stand. But wouldn’t it be better to simply not do it in the first place?

Or are they, ultimately, just little boys in a sweetshop, helping themselves to everything on offer and then stuffing it in their trousers so they don’t get caught? Are some men, in fact, simply just Natural Born Liars?

I’d love to hear your views.

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  • natalie donohoe May 21, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    My Dad is the same, and I think it has left me with issues that I think I’ll always have to deal with. My Husband is the most trustworthy man I know, and I know what I’m talking about after my dad and an ex who wasn’t faithful, yet we work in a company where there are lots of young girls who throw themselves at the bosses, my husband being one of them, and so with me there is always that what if……..
    And on the issue of these injuctions protecting the famous, I’m sorry, but they should have thought about protecting their family before being unfaithful, you make your choices and should always be prepared for the consequences.

  • Muriel May 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for this post. Just like you, I don’t understand why intelligent men can be so stupid. I think that it is because they believe they can get away with it…

    • Liz Jarvis May 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      I definitely think that’s a factor.

  • Rosie Scribble May 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    My father is a very strict Catholic and I don’t think he has ever really lied about anything. He is a very honest man but ask him about something he doesn’t want to talk about and rather than lie he would said nothing. Hard to know which is best sometimes. The news stories seem so depressing recently with so many men obviously lying to their wives and themselves. Paints a poor picture of society really.
    I’m rambling now.

    • Liz Jarvis May 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      I think that internalising emotions is very bad for men in particular; my father definitely did this, I think also that’s probaby a generational thing.

      I agree totally with you though that all these stories are really depressing – so many lies and so much hurt.

      I like your rambling x

  • Michelloui | The American Resident May 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

    I think it does depend on the man. Often there’s two sides to the story–he is open to the attention (and I do mean attention, not just sex) from another woman because he isn;t getting enough attention at home. When couples have children the children suddenly become the centre of the woman’s world, not the man. If the woman doesn’t remember to prioritise him as well when he needs it he will begin to feel sidelined. I am NOT justifying his actions, but simply explaining what happens in some instances. When another woman is praising him for things he does at work, or for looking good that day, and when she is willing to spend time with him letting him talk about his day, and yes, ultimately, when she is willing to give him an evening playing in bed, then he will take it because he misses it so much. I suppose it isn;t just children that cause this wedge in a marriage, but a career or other things can as well.

    Of course that doesn;t explain all the affairs. Some men just have no idea how much it sucks to not have a partner who is disloyal, they think ‘what she doesn;t know wont hurt her’ or whatever.

    And some, yes, are like kids in a candy shop, if it’s offered on a plate (like footballers) and if everyone around them is doing it then ‘Wa-hey!!’

    Interesting post. Sad about your dad, that he did that and that he died young, but how lovely that it didn’t get in the way of your relationship with him. And that his behaviour perhaps helped you to choose a more loyal partner!

    • Liz Jarvis May 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      I think that in some cases perhaps there may be an element of the man craving attention – particularly if he’s used to being the centre of the woman’s world.

      Of course I should add that it can be the case for the woman, too.

      • Michelloui | The American Resident May 20, 2011 at 8:15 pm

        Oh yes, quite agree that it can be the case for the woman as well! It’s such a complex issue, as many different versions and reasons as there are people involved I suppose.

        When I was getting divorced I remember someone saying to me that ‘men only get divorced when there’s another woman, where women don;t need another man to get divorced’ or something like that. Broad generalisation, I know! Not even sure how accurate it is as a generalisation but you get told all kinds of things by friends meaning well. Anyway. Going slightly off topic now. You’ve got me thinking. 🙂

        • Liz Jarvis May 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm

          I think that’s a really important angle actually – I do know lots of women who have left relationships because they felt they weren’t working; but with men it often seems to be the case that they leave when there’s someone else in the picture.

  • Becky May 20, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Yup, my Dad was exactly the same. I grew up to screaming rows and got used to my Dad’s dalliances with this secretary or that ‘friend’…

    I feel the same – love him to bits but don’t love how he behaved. Weirdly, he’s now settled down and seems to be very happy.

    I feel terribly sorry for Arnie’s ‘love child’, I mean, they’ve named his mother for gawd’s sake, so everyone must know who he is… he must be going through hell.

    • Liz Jarvis May 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      I always do feel sorry for the kids in these situations, which is why I think it’s probably right to protect the identity of the celebs involved in the superinjunctions if they’re parents.

  • Potty Mummy May 20, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Oh god – such a hot topic over here. Maybe I should write a guest post for you about the male/female dynamic in Russia; ‘fxxked up’ is not the word. Neither is ‘healthy’ ‘respectful’ or ‘partnership’. I must be clear and say that I don’t speak from personal experience (thank god), but really, I have been amazed by the attitudes I’ve encountered. It really throws what we accept as ‘normal’ in the UK into sharp relief, I can tell you…

    • Liz Jarvis May 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      Wow – obviously in France and Italy they have a different attitude to monogamy too (I’ve been told)…

  • Liz Jarvis May 20, 2011 at 6:42 am

    The invincibility concept is really interesting – I think that in some cases, particularly celebrity cheaters, they are so arrogant they definitely believe they’ll get away with it so why not.

  • Sabs May 19, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Interesting blog as I have no experience other than all the men in my life be it father, grandad, uncle, boyfriends etc being liars and some unfaithful..
    So it’s a question I have also asked myself.
    Men obviously know consequences but I do believe they believe they have some invincibility quality about them- and always think they will get away with the odd fib here and there.
    This then escalates to them pushing the boundaries and seeing what else they can get away with and with their sexual desire and interest of the opposite sex- infidelity is obviously a “No-brainer” to them.

  • wifeofbold May 19, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I would have to veer towards your sweet shop analogy i’m afriad, most men simply cannot help themselves, sad but from my own experience very, very true. That’s not to say we woman are above such behaviour, god no, but i do believe we think things through more, and we also have much more to loose.

    • Liz Jarvis May 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      I think you’re right actually – especially if there are children involved.

  • Vivien Sabel May 19, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Heh forgive me for being so frank but it sounds like you are still angry with your father. I can understand from what you’ve said you may well be. It’s also obvious from your opening line that you loved him very much and remember many of his good qualities.

    My experience tells me, men & women are guilty of these behaviours. Many of them learnt and passed on through the generations. It seems like you are doing a good job at promoting positive change with your ‘offspring’ in not accepting lies.

    Thank you for sharing your personal story of your father. Maybe I will have the courage one day to share mine.

    • Liz Jarvis May 19, 2011 at 10:09 pm

      I’m angry with him for dying prematurely and leaving so many unanswered questions; but ultimately I adored him and forgave him a long time ago.

      I agree men and women are guilty of cheating but it’s the men who are taking out the super injunctions or like Arnie admitting to affairs, and that’s what really interests me.

      • Vivien Sabel May 19, 2011 at 10:22 pm

        I suppose I’m not interested in Arnie admitting anything, celeb super injunctions and the famous men who ‘fess-up to affairs.

        Does this mean that women aren’t ‘fessing up to their affairs? Or are men doing it more in public?

        • Liz Jarvis May 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm

          95% of the super injunctions I’ve heard about have been taken out to protect men.

  • Lucy May 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I think Neanderthal Man was programmed to spread his seed as far and wide as possible. Men have ‘learned’ to be faithful. It’s so easy to assume all of our acts as adults, as humans are selfless, compassionate, but really a lot of it comes down to survival. I once read, with sadness a quote following Wayne Rooney’s infidelity that “he did it because he could”. I reckon that certain men and women just can’t help themselves, and are able to switch off that warning alarm telling them not to be unfaithful. Call it an ego boost, call it a weakness,insecurity, sex addiction, craving love, it could just all be part of our flawed design. Violence, drug dependence, gambling, infidelity, all tear families apart, all are as old as time, and I doubt they will ever disappear.
    Remember your dad, not the man ho was unfaithful.

    • Liz Jarvis May 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

      I think that’s very interesting – we are all basically flawed (wasn’t that Hamlet’s issue?)

      And yes, I always remember my dad as he was.

  • Helen May 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Def. Depends on the man! I’ve known both!!

  • Kat May 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    I really think it depends on the man. For instance I can tell the moment my husband lies. It could be about the smallest thing, but I can tell.

    • Liz Jarvis May 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      I can tell with No 1 Son, too!