(NEW YORK) -- A new study finds that couples lie to each other an average of three times a week, using deception to maintain happy relationships.
Researchers say the white lies are harmless because the motives behind them are not necessarily bad.
The study examined how often people expressed affection toward their partners even when they were not genuinely feeling it -- otherwise known as deceptive affection. That included anything from complimenting your guy's haircut when you actually think it’s horrible to kissing him goodbye even when you're mad at him.
The researchers had as many as 57 participants -- one person per couple -- between the ages of 18-27 keep a week-long diary for the study.
“First we trained them on what is deceptive affection. Every time this occurred with their romantic partner they were asked to write down what they were actually feeling, what they expressed to their partner, and why,” said lead study author Sean Horan, assistant professor in the College of Communication at DePaul University.
The study showed that participants were faking their feelings an average of three times per week, according to Horan and study co-author Melanie Booth-Butterfield of West Virginia University.
“Although it's very common, the motives behind it aren't bad. The most dominant motives were to avoid conflict, negative feelings, and hurting your partner,” said Horan.
Deception, for the most part, was used to help maintain the relationships. The researchers say the little white lies are pretty harmless. “We don't always want to know the truth all the time,” said Horan.
The researchers note that if your motives for telling your partner a lie include covering up something major like an affair, you are probably doing more harm than good.
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