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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Not mentioning a fact you were not asked about is equal to lying about it?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) May 14th, 2010

Is not mentioning something that you were not asked the same as lying? There are incidences where someone will discover something about another that was never brought up in pleasant conversation but the person will feel the other should have offered up and by not doing it was the same as if they lied about it.

Example #1
Fred use to date Alice and they had a torrid sex affair, but now Fred’s cousin is dating Alice and though he knew Fred dater her he never knew Fred snack all in Alice’s cookies, and Fred never mentioned it because the cousin never asked. Then one day the cousin chatting in familiar circles gets wind of the hot and heavy sexual relations Fred had with Alice and gets mad because Fred never came out and said “Oh, I use to ride your new G/F like Seattle Slough at the Kentucky Derby” he equals the silence of Fred to be him lying about how deep his dating involvement with Alice.

Example #2
Minnie and Meg are BGF and do everything together. Meg never mentioned that her great grand father was a high ranking member in the KKK and when doing a class paper discovers the man, then confronts Meg who admits it. Minnie is mad because she figure Meg should have told her and by not saying anything she was lying about who her ancestors were.

Example #3
Mike had tickets to a hot concert his best bud really wanted to see. But Mike went with is baby’s mamma and never mentioned that fact. His best bud knows he went because Mike told him how great the concert was. The best bud learns accidently via Mike’s sister that he took his ex and child’s mother to the concert. Mike’s best bud feels he was lied to because he was not told by Mike that he took one of his exes, though the best bud never asked.

To not bring up something that you were not asked, if the person discovers or learns of the fact is the silence the same as a lie or is it “sorry for your dumb luck” for those who learned about it because they were in the dark and they never thought to ask about it?

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17 Answers

janbb's avatar

I’m not a Catholic but aren’t there sins of commission and sins of omission?

Buttonstc's avatar

Yeah. I’m not Catholic either.

But haven’t you ever heard of “lying by ommission” ?

You can try various rationalizations, but it is what it is.

crystalvegan's avatar

I think we tend to leave things out in order to spare someones feelings. I personally don’t think this is lying, however, the person on the other end of it, might think so. Setting aside all the technicalities here, it can hurt someone, regardless of intentions.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, lying requires a specific act, telling the truth, but not the whole truth does not automatically equal lying. Intent has a lot to do with it, as in “I saw him at the store” and not saying “He was with another woman”.

theichibun's avatar

First two, no, it’s not lying. I didn’t tell you that I brushed my teeth last Thursday. Or who I dated in high school. Hell, my wife doesn’t even know that. And you know what? It doesn’t matter either. Although for the record, if she asked or obviously wanted to know I’d tell her.

3rd example isn’t lying, but it is a bit douchy.

jazmina88's avatar

These are definitely areas of uncomfortability that arent easy to blurt on out there.

It is not the same consequence as lying. We avoid confrontation and hurt feelings as much as possible.

MissA's avatar

If I felt that a friend and I were quibbling over a technicality involving what constitutes a lie…I’d also feel as we didn’t have much going on in the friendship department.

A friend has your back…and, if you need to remind them of that fact, you won’t be able to count on that trust.

Regarding example two, maybe the klan member’s relative simply didn’t know how to bring it up. It is such a vile and disgusting thing to be associated with.

Bottom line: Friends don’t split word hairs regarding their honor or their word. What would be the point?

MissAnthrope's avatar

It’s not a lie, but it’s not entirely honest and forthright, either. However, there may be good reasons to omit a piece of information, so it boils down to intent. Omitting a piece of information to get away with something, to put one over on someone else, or to garner advantage from the omission is shady. I can think of good “honest” reasons to not mention something.. politeness, privacy, embarrassment, thinking it irrelevant, etc.

MacBean's avatar

I agree with @MissAnthrope that intent is what really matters. Sometimes lies of omission are sneaky ploys to get away with something. And sometimes they are really just honest omissions.

In your three examples, I think Fred’s cousin, Minnie, and Mike’s best bud should suck it up and not take things so personally.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Fred was doing the honorable thing by keeping his mouth shut. He had no right to talk about his activities with Alice.
Minnie and Mike’s bud need to get over it. Maybe we can introduce them to each other.

filmfann's avatar

Have you heard the expression “Lies, damn lies, and statistics”?
Those are lies of ommission, and if they were at the expense of some women I know, you would end up a statistic.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

None of those are lying but yeah, they’re touchy omissions. In your first example, ex rider is being a gentleman not to bring up details of his cousin’s (now) girl. The friends who blabbed about the details were not being polite. No foul on the ex rough rider. Example #2 is history not relevant to the present and the offended person should consider Meg may not be so proud of her ancestor’s doo dallyings in the klan so why make an issue of it and embarass her by bringing it up when Meg didn’t? The third example is one of tough tatas, it happens all the time between friends and is to be taken on the cheek because if there’s no intentional slight then it shouldn’t go deep and personal. We all wish at one time or another to get the shotgun seat for something. Too much else to cry for.

SeventhSense's avatar

It’s relative to the relationship and what it means to you but we cover up many things and somethings are actually best left unsaid. Especially so if the person may be hurt by the disclosure. All’s fair in Love and war.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@SeventhSense is right, there are some things best left unsaid. Below is an example:

A man takes his new gf to a fabulous restaurant for her birthday. She asks how he came to think of bringing her there and he tells her it was a favorite of he and his ex gf, they went there all the time and he’s kind of nervous because she might be there at that very moment. Ugh, now wouldn’t it had been better if he’d just said something like, “a friend brought me here and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since, I wanted to share it with you and I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself so well, Happy Birthday sweetie.”

SeventhSense's avatar

@Neizvestnaya
Look I only went there once with the old girlfriend!
Are you an ex girlfriend?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Neizvestnaya If he suggested they go to that restaurant and the wait staff recognized him and because he seem like a regular she ask him how many times he had been there and he leave is vague like “a little” but it was the ex and his favorite haunt that would not fall in the “de facto lie” column? Or is it simply not letting out the whole truth because the details if implied were never asked?

Coloma's avatar

Yep, lying by ‘omission’ is still lying.
To deliberately choose to not disclose a particular piece of information that might have an altering effect in anothers feelings, choices or decision making process is duplicitous.

Lying by omission is a favorite tactic of the passive aggressive personality and very not cool.

None of the examples you give are of an earth shattering nature, but…certainly not in the interest of total transparency either.

On the one hand we are not under any obligation to share anything, and, technically, that is our business.

However, if one truly wishes to claim they have a strong sense of integrity there is no argument for concealment of anything if one knows that by so doing they are tricking another out of their right to all the facts.

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