Or, more precisely, why men feel justified in lying to women.
About a month ago, a female reader asked me to lay out a few ideas concerning how she could modify her behavior in order to make herself more appealing as a relationship partner for a man. Consider this the first in the series.
Let's start with the junior high boy. He's interested in a pretty girl his age. He asks her to go steady. She tells him no, but instead of telling him the truth, which is that she's not interested in him, she concocts a story. Perhaps she tells him that she's not interested in going steady with anyone, perhaps she claims that her parents won't permit her to do so.
Either way, the lie is quickly revealed when, a week later, she is going steady with a more popular boy. She's forgotten her little white lie, but he hasn't.
Now we're in high school. The boy is standing right next to his girlfriend when she tells her parents that after the prom, she'll be staying at her friend's house. Later that night, when he's making out with her at the hotel, she assumes that he's forgotten that she lied right in front of him; it's not that he isn't glad she lied, but he's still aware that she did... and did so smoothly and without hesitation or remorse.
Then college. He's hanging out with a girl, she's just a friend. He happens to know she's slept with at least three guys that he knows of, one of whom is his roommate, which is why he's astonished when, right in front of him, she shyly confesses to only having had sex with her serious high school boyfriend in front of her current boyfriend.
Now he's married. He suggests a bit of the old rumpty-pumpty, but she demurs. "We'll do it tomorrow," she says. The next day, he's wondering if perhaps she's up for a nooner, or perhaps a little afternoon delight. She doesn't show any sign of interest, so he waits for her to bring it up. He's still sitting there, in front of the television, when she yawns, declares that she's exhausted, changes into her least sexy nightgown and slathers a creme pack on her face.
It's only when he hears her snoring that he realizes that she not only has no intention of having sex with him, she doesn't even remember what she'd said the day before.
Now, I'm not saying that men don't lie. And I'm not saying that women necessarily even realize when they are behaving in a manner that men tend to interpret, rightly or wrongly, as lying. What I'm saying is that at a certain point, men begin to believe that they have absolutely no responsibility to tell the truth to a woman because she has no regard or respect for it. This is especially true when telling women the truth of what one is thinking and feeling tends to meet with reliably negative reactions.
There are, of course, reasons to tell the truth even when everyone else is lying. Moral standards are not dependent upon the failure of others to observe them. But if a woman wants a man to make a habit of telling her the truth, she is going to have to work very hard to indicate that she is different than most of the women of his experience, and show him that she genuinely values honesty, both in herself and others. Men value honor, or at least respect it in others, but most have learned that they cannot expect to find it in women. That is why so many of them feel so free to treat women dishonorably.