The Biggest Lie People In Dysfunctional Relationships Tell Themselves Daily

Two rules to follow when you're ready to break out of this pattern.

Couple looking unhappy in a bedroom, dysfunctional refusal to look at one another People Images, Yuri A | Shutterstock 

Most of us grew up thinking we had a normal childhood. After all, it was the only childhood we knew. Regardless of how dysfunctional the systems may have been, everyone in a family adapts, creating a unique "normal". Then, one day, you realize that your childhood wasn't perfect — it may not have even been normal. This may be the first true moment of adulthood. 

The codependent systems may work for a while, but these relationships are built on a lie — the lie that everything is OK and that everyone is fulfilled. 


What fuels the lie at the heart of dysfunctional relationships?

1. Fear

Let's face it, staying in the dark is comfortable. When we avoid facing our darkest truths, it's easy to pretend everything is fine. And growing up we may have actively participated in covering up those unspoken truths. 


During a recent podcast appearance, Mark Groves, founder of the Create The Love platform and co-author of the book Liberated Love: Release Codependent Patterns and Create the Love You Desire, explained how the cycle can trap people. 

"If your dad was an alcoholic, the family could've pretended everything was fine," Groves told Andrea Milller, host of Open Relationships: Transforming Together. Dancing around the elephant in the room made it easier to handle the situation. This type of "dancing" can easily be carried forward into your romantic relationships as an adult — often without realizing it. After all, it seems normal!

Miller speaks up about her own experience and says, "I remember being in college and I was twenty-one years old. I was a grown woman and I remember talking to my mom and she was slurring."

She wanted to address it but she felt this paralyzing fear inside her. As if ingrained in her DNA, she stood frozen, not knowing what to say.


RELATED: How To Be More Honest, Even When It's Hard

2. How we are conditioned

As we get good at playing pretend, we're unconsciously taught to hide our truth. And as we get older, we find ourselves in dysfunctional relationships, unable to grasp why we feel the urge to lie. Things aren't going well, we are overcompensating or pushing down hurt and discomfort, and somewhere inside we know it's not healthy. 

Why can't we just face the music and be honest? Why do we smile even though we feel like we want to cry? As Miller says, it feels like it's in our DNA. The good news is, it's not. 

The real issue is that you're scared of what might happen if you face that truth. But once you face it, you're no longer caged by it. 


3. The consequences we face

When we uncover the lie at the heart of our dysfunctional relationships, it's not a pretty sight. As Groves points out, "It's the recognition that relationships in usual family systems pivot around truths that they don't want to talk about."

We don't want to admit that Dad has an alcohol problem because facing that truth means dealing with the consequences. It might mean Dad can't provide right now and we're stuck in a rut.

It might mean struggling for a while, and maybe our family dynamic is completely messed up. Yes, facing the consequences of carefully covered lies is a terrifying ordeal but it's necessary if we want to heal.

How Mark Groves learned to stop buying into the lie 

Groves was trained to be the perfect guy. He was funny, charming, and filled with smiles. However, underneath the surface, there was a lie begging to be uncovered.


There were feelings from his childhood he didn't get to express. But as he got older and looked back, he saw things differently. He got engaged because it felt like the right thing to do. Slowly the reality of being engaged when he didn't really want to marry his then-fiancée crept in. 

Why did he get engaged if he never wanted to? Why did he put others' feelings before his own? Why did he smile even though he wanted to cry?

RELATED: Are You Lying To Yourself About Your Relationship?

Working with a psychotherapist, Groves was able to admit a lot about himself. He realized that, for the first time, he made a decision just for himself, regardless of how others felt. He also realized that he always avoided hard conversations that needed to be had. He's even had to have that conversation around his relationship with social media. 




Two rules you must follow to break a codependent pattern

1. Have every difficult conversation you don't want to have.

Because, ultimately, these are the conversations that truly matter. These are the conversations that are 

2. Pledge complete dedication to the truth.

He spent all his life dancing around the glaring problems in his life. His mask was on tight and he learned to say that nothing was wrong.

However, during his sessions with a psychotherapist, he was given an exercise to complete the sentence. The sentence read, "Behind my smile is a —," and after that, he collapsed.


He realized that his mask was covering the core lies of his dysfunctional relationships. 

Now, working with others, he can share the things he wishes he had known sooner. It's okay not to smile and to let yourself be with those difficult emotions. 

It's important to tell these hard truths. No matter how tough, how bleak, or how embarrassing they might seem. It's so others know they're not alone.

RELATED: 12 Red Flags Top Experts Wish People Paid Attention To In Relationships

Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.