What’s the biggest fib you’ve ever told? Perhaps more interestingly, what’s the little porky you find yourself telling again and again… and again?
If you find yourself breaking out in a cold sweat as I hazard a guess that you regularly shave a couple of years off your age, swear you only have “the odd drink” or claim to have never slept around in your life, don’t panic. It’s not that I’ve developed a psychic ability overnight, it’s just that you’re amongst the majority, guilty of telling the three most common falsehoods told over the course of a lifetime.
No, it’s not that the ‘dog ate my homework’, or ‘your bum doesn’t look big in that’. Statistically, it seems we’re more likely to fib about our age, alcohol consumption and the the number of people we have slept with than anything else, according to a recent poll to mark the launch of new TV channel Really.
They say a lady never reveals her age – well 36% of those polled for the survey admitted to regularly lying about their age, citing reasons such as buying alcohol when below the legal age (68%) and decreasing their age to qualify for discounts (31%). And one fifth of the poll admitted that they regularly shave a few years off their real age to appear more attractive to the opposite sex.
The second most popular lifetime lie centres on the thorny issue of just how much alcohol people consume, with more than a third of the respondents claiming they have consistently lied about how much they drink on an average night out (and that’s only those who admitted to it!!). Younger participants boasted about their drinking prowess while the older generation was far more likely to play down the number of units consumed.
Number three on the list of most common fibs was sexual history, with nearly a third of men (29%) admitting they increase the number of notches on their bedpost to impress their friends and 45% of women claiming they reduce the number to protect their moral integrity. And then there’s the 36% of respondents who admit to cheating on a partner (over half of whom don’t confess their sin). Ouch.
They say that size matters, so it’s no surprise that we spin a few yarns about our physical appearance too (33% of respondents, in fact): one third of women lying about their dress size and 21% of men even going so far as to lie about the size of their manhood. Yes, it’s all about perception these days, which is why it makes sense that 31% admitted they would lie about their job, even if it was in a minor way just to impress someone. And one in four would even falsify their job title. And how two-faced can people be when it comes to climbing the career ladder – 16% of respondents admitted they would let a secret about a colleague slip if it was to reinforce perceived opinions about someone with the vast majority of people owning up to ‘embellishing’ their CV.
In a blow against stereotypes, the survey surprisingly revealed that men are the biggest gossips, with 20% admitting that they generally can’t keep a big secret for more than one day compared with a mere 6% of women.
Both men and women are more likely to blab secrets if they are about other people and the more sensational the gossip is, the more likely we are to tell someone about it. A friend who is having an affair is the most juicy secret that we can’t keep – 24% admitted they would have to tell somebody else within 24 hours, while 19% will tell all if it’s a secret about someone else’s sex life (compared to only 6% who will let the cat out of the bag if it’s a dark sex secret about themselves).
The gender gap was also highlighted by the fact that one in four men admit that they lie about holidays taken and exotic places visited to impress people, compared with a mere 7% of the women surveyed.
So the next time you feel your pants is in danger of going on fire from all those tall tales you’ve been telling, relax. Everybody’s doing it.