Is reverse psychology actually lying?


I have a situation where there is someone in my life that I’m related to that is very quick to be…um…critical.
Ok, I’ll fess up, it’s my mother. She has a critical opinion about everything and everyone especially in-laws.
Now granted, most of her observations have more than a hint of truth to them but she is blunt and loud about them at inappropriate times. Also, she has a looooooooong memory.

On to the juicy stuff:
She has two older daughters (my sisters) who’ve married specific types of guys that even get on my nerves and even can badly effect my life once and awhile…not to mention my mother’s life [money concerns, working relationships, etc…]. My mother is fiercely protective of her daughters and will be vocal in the criticism of their husbands personality and actions.

Obviously, my sister’s are adults and she needs to keep her opinions to herself unless asked, but that is not the situation that we live with.

So now it’s my turn to get married. :smiley: . I give her no ammunition to criticize my cutiepie, and neither does he.

But I also take it a step further, I will complain to her about events that will show him in a good light and myself in a bad light.

Yup, it’s silly and should not be necessary. But I know my mom. I need this for ‘insurance’ for the future.

At this point she trusts and appreciates him and will continue to do so if I never bring up anything that would ever put him close to a bad light in her eyes.

Ok, my question is: I know what I’m doing. I’m delibrately having a conversation in which I’m close to manipulating her opinion of him. Is that considered a lie? Ommission of truth perhaps? Although I know she should not be privvy to any personal relationship issues.

Yes, I know this situation is wierd and convoluted and the obvious answer is to not ‘play’ a game. At the same time, I know I will have a long relationship with my mother as will my future husband. I want to avoid the speedbumps that my sisters’ didn’t.

Not to mention, I’m her youngest daughter and she is having a tough time ‘letting go’.
:shrug: :shrug: :shrug: :shrug:


No it’s not lying.

A little manipulative maybe. But not lying. Your point is actually to bring out ‘the truth’.

As a mathematician I care very deeply about the strict literal interpretation of statements when they are supposed to be relaying objectively true information.

But you are not dealing with legally binding information!!! Much conversation is about social niceties and about sharing feelings and impressions. Such language does not call for truths that could stand up in court!.

The commandment that forbids bearing false witness can be broken by stating the truth in a blunt, hurtful way. Sometimes the truth must be delivered sideways, which seems to be what you are doing.


I’ve done this too so I am biased. :wink: But I don’t consider it lying.


It’s not lying. But it is terribly childish.


Thank you everyone for your opinions. I suppose, the very fact that it’s manipulation is what is tugging at my conscience. At one point I will probably need to make a choice to stop it and make my boundaries clear.

I honestly don’t believe I’m being childish. When I was a child I would actually get angry and had the naive belief I could change the way she is and the comments she makes. I butted my head against a brick wall many many many times.

I felt that I could incorporate the philosophy that I would hear on Hear Mind and Strength (Catholic radio program) about how wives should not complain in gossip about their husbands. They should instead talk about their good attributes. Personal problems should be worked out in private together or also with counselors.

He isn’t my husband yet, but I just don’t want anything to come back and bite me in the derriere. :smiley:

Just FYI, I understand wanting to post a criticism of my actions, but constructive criticism does not involve relating me to being childish (it can come across as hurtful) and then not explain a helpful way of correction.

It might have been more condusive in conversation between two adults to reply in this manner:

‘What you are doing is wrong because of x, y, and z. But a way to fix it might be a, b, and c.’ Without using adjectives that degrade.


Actually, I deleted quite a bit because it seemed the simple statement covered it all. I’m sorry if it seemed abrupt. Based on your original posting, however, it really appears you do know you are behaving in a childish manner. Perhaps “adolescent” would be a better word. As you wrote

Yup, it’s silly . . .

Adults don’t play games with, or about, people they care about. I’m not sure your beloved would be complimented in your approach.


Thank you, IrishAm for explaining. It gives me much to think about.

I do still maintain, that using adjectives such as ‘childish’ and possibly a flippant different degrading comment ‘adolescent’ doesn’t really help.

Yes, the situation is silly. That doesn’t make me childish, it just makes me an adult that is not perfect and is not handling a situation correctly.

If you can try to see what I mean that would be most helpful. If you notice in my original post. I clearly explained a bad situation, with my mother as the main focal point. I avoided being disrespectful of her as a person even though I strongly disagree with her.

I clearly could have called her actions or her many different ‘names,’ but who would that have helped? Me? Her? My relationship with her? No one.

This thread is going off-track, partly through my own fault. Maybe we should leave it at that and I humbly request that any comments directed towards me that uses ‘names’ could be sent to another thread. Thank you.


I don’t think it’s childish. Sometimes you have to be creative when dealing with difficult people. It would nice if everyone was reasonable, rational and polite but the reality is that some are not at all any of these things.

With a “normal” reasonable person you could be direct and expect a mature response. With difficult people they usually are the ones playing games. Sometimes you have to beat them at their own game to keep the peace. Sometimes peace is better than directness.:wink: Personally I think “tell like it is” is highly over rated.:stuck_out_tongue:


“Tell it like it is,” can be a form of aggression hiding under the guise of honesty. To me, that’s more of a lie than feeding the truth in pieces.


I wouldn’t call it lying because

  1. what you do share is truthful and,
  2. she is not entitled to the information that you withhold.

I would also wonder if, in some cases, telling your mother (or anyone else) of your fiancee’s faults would be considered gossip. I have a Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John Hardon in which he defines gossip as “Idle talk, especially about others.The morality of gossip is determined by the degree to which time is wasted in idle conversation, by the failure in justice or charity committed against others, and by the damage done to people’s reputation by those who gossip”. Your fiancee is entitled to his good reputation but is your mother entitled to all the details of your relationship with him. Sometimes we need to talk about how others behave towards us so that we can better understand it and respond in a Christian manner. I don’t think that would be gossip but sometimes I think it can be a fine line between gossip and seeking help-- at least in my experience.
BTW congratulations on your engagement and upcoming marriage. God bless you both.


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