I can literally type pages about this topic. And I correctly placed the word “little” in quotation marks, because what defines “little?” Little is a subjective word that means one thing to me and something else to you and yet something else to another. With the “little” white lie, let’s include the lie by omission. Lying by omission is basically remaining silent. You didn’t say anything outright, yet you didn’t deny or correct or do anything to indicate that what was said or done isn’t true, the whole truth, or anything else. Let’s throw one more saying in for good measure: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” and end it with, “The ends justify the means.”

Everyone has their lists of requirements for what they want and are looking for in a relationship. Whether you’re dating or married for 50 years, there are certain things that are specific for you that you think you must have. Years ago, my support staff was a young lady in the shidduch parshah. She would always tell me about her dates. I remember when she said, “My husband will have to hold my hair and pat my back when I throw up.” Huh? I asked her what happens now if she throws up. One of her parents stayed with her. That is an example of what she requires in her relationship. I know someone else who said that she doesn’t care about flowers every Shabbos or “just because I love you” flowers. All she wants is to receive a card and flowers or a gift on her birthday, anniversary, and on Mother’s Day. “Three days a year is all I’m asking for. Just buy something when it counts.” Those are just some examples of what people want but think they need in their relationship.

In my opinion, every relationship should have common core values of what each partner should have in order for the relationship to survive and flourish. So, for all the millions of couples out there, (according to me) you should all have/require: Truth, Loyalty, Love, Happiness, Trust, and Respect. These are just the basics. If you don’t have a good foundation, how can you build a relationship? The hair-holding and the flower-buying are secondary to the pillars of what all relationships must have in order to succeed.

So how do white lies, lies by omission, and “The road to hell…” fit in here? It doesn’t matter what you did in the past. You are now with someone else and need to consider his or her feelings when you do or don’t do something. The white lie may not mean anything to you and, in the end, everything worked out perfectly. But your partner may have a different opinion. He/she may feel that any lie is wrong, and if you lie a little here and there, even though you think it’s for the greater good, you risk losing trust and possibly the relationship. Don’t get me wrong – I still believe in the little white lie to your young children when it’s absolutely necessary. For instance, when my kids were two, I make sure that they brushed their teeth every day. It was a challenge with my daughter. I had to be inventive. So, one day, I told her that the President sent out the toothpaste to 100 children to test the flavor. If the kids approve of the flavor, it’ll become the national flavor of toothpaste. “The President?” my daughter was in awe that she was part of the chosen few. You do what you do for the greater good as parents.

Now let’s get to white lies and lying by omission in a relationship. I have a cousin whose husband gave her a beautiful wallet for her birthday. She told me about it because he usually gives her odd gifts that she has no need or want for. But he nailed it with the wallet. Her husband accepted the thanks for the gift, and she went about her life. Weeks later, she discovered that it was her mother-in-law who picked out the wallet for her. Her husband really had no idea what to buy her, so he asked his mom for help. His mom told him exactly what to buy her, including the brand and color. My friend said that she was so embarrassed that her mother-in-law had to pick out a gift because her son has no idea what to buy her. I didn’t think it was a reason to be embarrassed or upset; he wanted to give her a gift she would finally love. My cousin saw it as her husband of 11 years not knowing her, and now his mother knows and she was clueless to her mother-in-law having this bit of knowledge of their relationship. She agreed that the gifts were always horrible, but she knew they were from him. Now the gift meant nothing because it was a gift that wasn’t picked out with love. She said he let her believe he picked out the gift and now she was hurt. That was the smallest lie by omission, but it hurt my cousin.

How about going to a new venue, activity, or a movie with your significant other. Your partner is excited to be going, and when she/he asks if you have ever been there before, you answer no because you don’t want to burst her/his bubble. You act just as surprised and excited as your partner, until someone in the venue thanks you for returning because he/she remembered you from your first visit with friends only a week earlier. True story (but not mine).

Another scenario: You are planning a surprise party for your spouse/partner, and in doing so, you tell little white lies about what you have planned or not planned for the special day. You know that your partner will love the party, so all the little lies you tell in the meanwhile won’t matter, such as you couldn’t get plane tickets for your sister-in-law to fly in or you forgot to make a reservation at his favorite restaurant for the special night… Anything like that. The means of the little lies justifies the end, which is a party he will remember forever. But you don’t know that your partner is hurt that you didn’t think enough to book his sister a flight weeks earlier because you know how close they are. You don’t know that your partner is annoyed when he finds out you didn’t make the reservation, so he/she now calls the restaurant hoping they can squeeze the two of you in for that evening (They know you there – you dine there all the time. They could make room for us.) – only to find out the restaurant isn’t booked up and, yes, they can make a reservation for you and your partner. Now your partner wonders about the lie. Maybe they figure out you’re planning a party, maybe not. But they are hurt, annoyed, frustrated… for a time when they didn’t have to be.

I provided the surprise party as an example of what can be considered a little white lie, which really doesn’t hurt anyone in the end because, “The look on your face when you saw your sister was priceless!” But for a short amount of time, your partner thought you didn’t care enough to do something you knew they wanted. Why? Why didn’t he/she do it? It’s simple. I would have done it if he/she was so busy.

Now imagine that these little white lies pop up once a week or a few times a month. Yes, it’s all for a good reason, but your partner realizes it’s not hard for you to lie to them. You’ve done it before with something little, how do they know you won’t do it with something big? They don’t. Once the little white lie or the lie by omission happens more than once in a loooong while, trust in the relationship may be damaged. I’m not saying not to plan surprise parties or anything like that, but there is a reason why I never let my father surprise my mother. It was because of the instance of hurt feelings that were not part of the plan. My father couldn’t account for how my mother would react to something, even though he said even though he knew she would love the result. After one incident that we were able to laugh about years later, the lesson was learned. You may know your partner for weeks, months, or decades, but feelings run deep and you can never know for certain that “it’ll be fine because he/she will end up loving it.” What about the in-between parts?

All I am saying is that every relationship must have a solid foundation, and you can’t have the foundation erode away over time because of “little” white lies or something that is small to you, in the long run. You can’t know 100 percent how another grown adult will react to your white lie or your lie by omission. And you don’t want something as insignificant as “I forgot to book reservations” to impact your relationship long after the meal has been finished. Go surprise your spouse! Buy presents! Go on adventures! Do it all. I’m just saying that you should think about the repercussions of a “little” white lie, because you really don’t know what they are.

Hatzlachah to you all!

Goldy Krantz  is an LMSW and a lifelong Queens resident, guest lecturer, and author of the shidduch dating book, The Best of My Worst and children’s book Where Has Zaidy Gone? She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..