Pretty Much All Women Lie, But For Way Different Reasons Than Men

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man and woman arguing about why she lies

"I'm fine."

"That dress looks great on you."

"...No, really, it looks great!"

As women, we lie all the time — sometimes to other people, but more often to ourselves.

It's not that we're bad people. The most common reason women lie is far more complicated than that. In fact, we often don't even know we are lying, we think it's a part of our personality.

Why do women lie?

While men usually lie to get something they want (such as sex or career advancement), women usually lie to hide the truth for the sake of survival.

The most common reason women lie is for protection.

This is done either for their own protection or for the protection of someone else, known as compassionate lying or compassionate deception.

We try to rationalize these lies and rename them as fibs, saying they aren't hurting anyone and that it's the kind thing to do.

Susan Shapiro Barash, author of Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie, says, "Women still feel the need to lie as a coping or survival mechanism."

RELATED: 7 Solid Truths That Can Set A Woman Free From The Lies She Believes

Women lie so they don't have to process negative feelings, such as the woman with an abusive husband who lies to herself when he touches her so harshly there are bruises: He didn't mean to hurt me — he's not a violent person.

"Sometimes these internal lies are even subconscious because the truth is just too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves," added Barash.

Sometimes women lie to make things better.

This type of lie is known as a betterment lie.

As Barash clarifies, "It typically involves women doing what they feel they simply have to do for the people they love."

Sometimes women lie to ensure their security.

Barash also speaks about the survival lie (or the soap opera lie), which is used to keep a secret that's too big for honesty.

This may be a lie that a woman believes is necessary to protect her current living situation, such as the reason she was fired from a job or how her baby was conceived when their partner was out-of-town.

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Women may lie to protect their image.

Dawn Maslar, M.S., author of From Heartbreak to Heart's Desire: Developing a Healthy GPS (Guy Picking System), says all women lie and most don't even know it.

Recounting an exchange she had with an audience at one of her talks, she writes:

"I then asked, 'How many of you would like to date a nice, sweet, kind man?' Hands started going up. I then said, 'Let me put it another way. How many of you would like to date an arrogant, flashy guy?' The hands went down. In fact, not a single woman raised her hand. I pointed this out, stating, 'Not one of you raised your hand and that's why you lie.'"

Maslar points to a study from the University of British Columbia which found a wide gap between what a woman say they want in a partner and the type they are actually attracted to. Whereas most women would likely tell you they want a man who is kind, happy and considerate, "The study found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed."

Are women she lying to themselves, or do they not want to look bad by admitting the type they're really attracted to?

Lies can protect us, but the truth can empower us and make us stronger.

On the other hand, there's no reason not to practice kindness, both toward yourself and toward other people.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer who's articles have been published in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day.