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4 Situations When You're Totally Supposed to Lie

#2. To Children

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In all likelihood, lying to children evolved as a pastime for parents, just to see what kind of stuff they could get the little chuckleheads to swallow, and then afterward they'd get together with other parents and laugh about what suckers they'd spawned while eating their lunch snacks. The Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, their potential to succeed ... we just cloak children in lies and see how long it takes them to figure it out.

In more subtle ways, it's just so much easier to lie to kids under the guise of protecting them, which is often a way of saying that it makes you uncomfortable to tell the truth. If little Billy walks in on Mommy getting railed by Daddy and Daddy's friend Julio, then asks what's going on, odds are no one is going to explain a Chinese finger trap to Billy. They'll just say he's sleepwalking, or Mommy's losing a really weird game of Risk. Sex, death, and any mildly complex math is much easier to explain to a child with a lie than with the truth, and it's so commonplace that some people would argue that the weird people are the ones who would tell kids the truth rather than shield them from life's myriad horrors and perversions.

If you really want your mind blown on this particular subject and the potential moral quandary represented by telling a child that no, the clown is not going to do anything bad to us, we're just in his basement waiting for a surprise party, you could look into something called Wittgenstein's ladder, which is basically a method of taking really hard-to-understand concepts and information and presenting them in a happy, easily digestible manner until such time as you understand them -- then you can ignore the bullshit part. It's lying to someone with the intention that they're going to recognize the lie eventually and learn something in the process, so it's actually beneficial to be deceptive. So feel free to tell your kids it's cool to taste the cat's bum, because they will eventually learn that the true lesson is that it's mostly never OK to taste the cat's bum.

#1. Sex

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If you haven't told a lie during sex, then you're doing it wrong, and all of your sexual partners are dissatisfied with you. No one ever told you that before? It's because they lied to spare your sad, truth-spewing heart the trauma.

Sex lies are the best lies ever and are a good 10 percent of the fun of sex in general, the rest of the fun being various squishes and oomphs. I don't mean the depressing lies, like "Yeah, I guess it's big enough" or "Sure, Felix is a manly name" -- I mean the dirty talk lies you'll toss out just to go along with whatever filth your partner enjoys.

I'm willing to concede that you may not even have dirty talk in your sex life, in which case I feel like it's OK to call your entire sex life a lie, one that you willingly live each and every time you scrub your nether grubbies against a partner's barely engaged fun zone. But for the rest of us, lying in dirty talk is all but essential. It's where you can say the most ridiculous, nefarious, depraved things and you're probably going to be OK so long as you don't cross into the realm of "cattle smeared with poop" or what have you that so few people really get off on these days.

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I don't know either, and I wrote this whole column. Not the cow, me.

No one takes the stuff you say during sex at face value. If you talk about how you want to hump on top of the Sphinx, it seems awesome in the moment, but it's not like you're expected to buy tickets to Egypt after you've finished and used Wet Ones to mop up your lovin's. Likewise, you can bring up how, yes, you've always really enjoyed the idea of being called a worthless man-hole and you'd gladly wear heels around the house when you clean up because it sounds fun and sexy.

Sex lies are the one and only time you can cut loose in life and just say any awful and/or awesome thing you can literally never say at any other point in time without making someone stop what they're doing and give you that look. You all know the look -- the one where their brow furrows just a bit, their stare is intense, the nostrils flare as they exhale just ever so slightly louder than is necessary, and they shake their head because you are disgusting and disappointing and they're trying to puzzle out which one is winning out.

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Felix Clay

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