Lying vs. Misleading vs. Dishonesty: 16 Things To Consider (Are They the Same?…)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Lying, misleading, and dishonesty are all equally bad in different ways, but not many people know the differences between them or the consequences of each. What makes a lie different from being misleading? 

Lying, misleading, and dishonesty are all viewed as different things. For example, lying is considered to be bad, whereas misleading and dishonesty are viewed as lesser evils and are often used in certain scenarios such as in court and in the business boardroom. 

But in reality, lying, misleading, and dishonesty are all the same thing, just named differently – and if we are honest about it, they’re all bad/damaging.

In this article, we’ll be talking about the facts surrounding lying, misleading, and dishonesty and what could happen when someone uses either of the tactics too often. 

1. Lying Causes Distrust 

By continuously lying to people, you stand the chance of losing their trust, whether it’s family, friends, or colleagues. People will learn never to expect the truth from you as you have proven yourself to be a liar – or at least second guess you when you tell them something. 

You know “that girl” at a party that everyone says to take what she says “with a pinch of salt”? That could be you if you consistently lie. This could put you in a terrible situation further down the line.

2. Lying Destroys Relationships 

When you begin a relationship with anyone, whether it’s a new friend or a romantic partner, the basis of the relationship needs to be trust and truth. If you build a new relationship on a lie, it will eventually crash and burn, and more than one person will be hurt in the process. 

Trust and honesty are important in a relationship, and if you lie, you could be caught out and show yourself in a poor light.

3. Lying is Deceptive 

By lying to someone, you manipulate their emotions and how they react to certain things. For example, if you raise your child by continually lying around and to them, they will come to learn that adults cannot be trusted and will always lie to them.  

Absolutely nobody likes to feel like they are being deceived or manipulated. 

4. Dishonesty Isn’t Necessarily a Lie 

Not many people view dishonesty as a complete lie, as sometimes people are dishonest to protect someone else. And typically, people confess to their dishonesty further down the line. However, lies are usually denied and maintained and are generally only discovered when the liar slips up.  

5. Dishonesty Can Be Just as Bad as Lying 

We previously mentioned that some people don’t view dishonesty as a negative thing, but the truth is that dishonesty can be just as bad as a lie. 

In some cases, dishonesty can lead to someone losing their job or being arrested for something they didn’t do. And even when the person behind the dishonesty confesses to it, the damages cannot be undone. Honesty is the best policy – these are words to live by.

6. Lying Could Spare Someone’s Emotions 

There are few exceptions when it comes to lying, but we can all agree that there are times it’s better to lie to someone than tell them the truth. 

One such example is telling a child the family pet passed away. Unfortunately, some children aren’t emotionally ready for such truth, and a lie would be better (such as telling them the pet went to live on a farm). 

7. Dishonesty Could Make You Untrustworthy to Others

Even if you confess to your dishonesty after a while, people will eventually learn not to trust you to give them the truth. This can be incredibly problematic in the long run, especially in a work environment. Once trust is broken, it is very difficult and hard to get back.

8. Misleading Someone Could Endanger Them 

By intentionally misleading someone, you could end up putting their lives or well-being in danger. 

For instance, selling someone a product you know to be harmful simply because you need to make a sale. The product could harm them physically or financially. This can also be said as telling someone something is safe when you know it is not. 

9. Dishonesty Might Occasionally be Helpful 

Sometimes a little dishonesty can be a good thing. What we mean is, if you’re planning a surprise party for someone and they get wind of it, it’s okay to deny that said party will be happening in order to keep the element of surprise alive. 

10. Lying Will Catch Up to You 

When you lie about something, especially something serious, someone will eventually discover the lie, and it could end very badly. 

An example of this is lying on your resume to get a job. You could be absolutely amazing at what you do. Still, if your employer discovers you lied, you won’t only be fired, but you may be blocklisted from working in the industry again. 

11. Misleading Could Build Distrust 

If you constantly mislead people, whether to keep them from learning the truth about something or to sell them a product that you know isn’t good, you will eventually earn a bad reputation, and people will slowly stop trusting the things you say or do. 

12. Intentional Misleading Can Harm Your Mental Health 

Let’s say that you’ve invested in a product and are now running your own small business, but the product isn’t as popular as you expected. So you’ve started lying about the product’s properties, and people have started buying it. Eventually, the constant dishonesty will wear you down mentally and eventually cause a break. 

13. Lying Can Become Habitual 

If you find yourself lying about little things because you feel they won’t harm anyone, you may end up developing a rather nasty habit. We’re talking about compulsive lying, which is when you cannot stop yourself from lying, even though you know you’re lying.

14. Misleading Isn’t Considered the Same as Lying 

Some people view misleading as a half-truth rather than a lie. For example, someone could say, “my parents jumped on the roof,” implying their parents have perished. But in reality, their parents jumped on a trampoline on the roof and are very much alive. 

15. Lying Can Be a Necessary Evil 

Sometimes lying to someone is needed, regardless of how bad lying is. 

For example, lying about a grandparent’s death could be necessary for young children who don’t understand what death is. Of course, the best thing to do would be to find a way to tell them the truth in the least possible shocking way. This will depend on your child’s age and how advanced their emotional maturity is.

16. Lying Could Destroy Confidence 

By lying to someone about the way they look, you could destroy their self-confidence and make them incredibly self-conscious. 

Imagine if you tell a lie about the way someone looks, but someone else tells them the truth, and it completely breaks them down? Often, if someone asks you how they look, it is because they trust you to protect them from situations that may make them look bad or feel back about themselves. 

If you lie and it comes out in a negative way like this, it could make the person you lied to feel like they can’t trust you while their confidence will be entirely destroyed.


Dishonesty and intentional misleading can be just as harmful as any lie. There are times when you need to lie or be dishonest, but you need to consider the long-term consequences of the lie. 

Being wary of lying would be a great step in the right direction. After all, honesty is the best policy is not just a saying or quote; it’s great life advice that could help you enjoy a more drama-free, comfortable lifestyle.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.