What Are You Pretending?

People love to pretend. We pretend all sorts of things like knowing what we're talking about and knowing what we're doing, like knowing what happened in the past and knowing what's going to happen in the future. We pretend things don't bother us, when they do. We pretend we aren't late, when we are. (Ask someone who is late if they are late and watch what they do.) We pretend we have more income than we do, and we end up in debt.

Ask someone who IS late if they ARE late and watch what they do.

But what's worse is we love to pretend that we're not pretending! We often go to amazing lengths not to admit it. Likely, the reason for this behavior stems from our innate needs to “look good” and to “be right,” no matter the cost. Even if intellectually we know that the truth will set us free, it doesn't seem to make a difference in having us fess up. We'd rather pretend to look good than to tell the truth.

What Are You Pretending?

One of my favorite pretense stories is of a man who, as a teenager, pretended he was sick one day so he could stay home from school to hang out with his girlfriend. He moaned and groaned and said his stomach hurt, when it didn't.

What Are You Pretending?

His parents, believing his pretense, were so concerned that they took him to the emergency room. There, for fear of getting in trouble, he continued his pretense, and was promptly diagnosed with appendicitis. Rather than admit he was pretending, rather than look bad, this young man actually went under the knife! The costs associated with having the unnecessary surgery were not enough for him to outweigh looking good, so he didn't tell the truth. And off to the operating room he went.What Are You Pretending?

Inside his body cavity, the doctors found his appendix to be un-inflamed. However, they removed it anyway, since they were already in there, and they sewed him back up. The whole thing was medically chalked up to bad gas.


For decades, the man kept this secret. He never told anyone the real reason he had his appendix taken out, or the part about the bad gas. In order keep up the pretense, he'd tell people the whole story, including all the juicy details: He had to have his appendix taken out because he'd gotten so sick one day that he had to be rushed to the hospital. And then he'd “proudly” show off his scar.


All the while, though, his self-esteem was taking a hit. Every time the word appendix came up, every time surgeries, emergency rooms, hospitals, doctors, staying home from school, or scars came up, he'd feel the shame of his pretense. Still, the cost of that shame was not enough to make him quit pretending.

He'd feel the shame of his pretense, but yet, the cost of that shame was still not enough to make him quit pretending.

It wasn't until decades later at a weekend workshop, where he was learning how much people love to pretend, that he finally admitted the truth. And the reason he did it? He was willing to tell a room full of strangers his big secret because he was sure that his was the biggest pretense in the whole room, and that would make him look really good!


To his surprise, finally acknowledging the truth set him free. He no longer felt shame, his integrity was restored, and his honesty made him look good -- genuinely good.What Are You Pretending?


To me, the saddest thing about loving our pretenses so much is that we really believe they make us look good. From the outside, from the perspective of others, what truly makes us look good is when we are honest and authentic and can be trusted to tell the truth. Even when it's hard.

What are you pretending? Have you pretended it long enough?


What Are You Pretending?

Caren Field (MA, LLPC) is a professional individual and couples counselor with a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has been in private practice since 2007. Her latest project, a series of workshops called Liberating with Honor, is designed to teach people how to heal themselves (and others) from past injures and how to set themselves free!

Register for the LWH workshops via teleconference HERE.


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  • Good take !

    It's far too easy to lie.
    But at times , hard to he completely honest with ourselves.
    We shouldn't live under false pretenses to be more accepted in society.
    We should instead love ourselves and become more accepting of our flaws.
    It is what brings you closer to true happiness (state of contentment with oneself)

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What Guys Said 12

  • I pretend that it doesn't bother me when I get passed up for promotions when I have worked my ass of to earn 3 degrees (Associates, Bachelors and a Masters) to people who have no degree or lesser degrees. I feel I have done my time "in the trenches" and now they tell me I'm not qualified.

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    • That's annoying. I'm sorry.

    • Thanks, I guess the good news is, I try not to dwell on it to much and end up keeping my eyes on my future horizon.

  • I guess the only thing I can think of atm is when I pretend I DO know what someone's talking about. I'm a bit of a know-it-all and generally I can gather info from context, but I'll definitely be one to smile and nod if I'm told about whatshisface or whatnot when in reality I'm thinking like 'huh, who, what?' cx

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    • Haha That's so relatable!

    • cx good to know I'm not the only one, oops.

      Yeah. I try to be very honest and I'm getting better at admitting I have no clue what someone's talking about, but still a work in progress lol

  • Lol... I don't pretend that I was so piss poor with women that I paid for prostitutes. Im assuming for first dates however (if ever I get them) that I should 'pretend' that I didn't have them. I fully agree with this advice but some people have to fake it to make it.

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  • Yeah, well, I had the opposite issue. I came home from HS with abdominal pains and didn't want ot sound whiny or like a hypochondriac so I just laid in bed sick for three days - and almost died from a burst appendix. I spent years angry with myself for the procrastination and social disengagement that caused my disfigured gut and digestive problems.

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    • You pretended you weren't in pain. Pretending is no good! I'm sorry that happened to you.

  • I pretend that I'm confident and happy when really I always feel alone and sad. Sometimes I just feel like my life is pointless but I still pretend that everything is fine. ( sorry to burden you with my problems)

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    • You are certainly not alone in that pretense.

    • I don't forgive you. Because you never gave me the chance to say I like you. :) Get over it, will you. We are all evil.

  • I lost contact with my friends when I was 12 and so far I had to pretend that I still had them otherwise I wouldn't know what my current schoolmates would do - either they would humiliate me or become ''friends'' out of pity and I needed neither.

    So I just putt up a facade of the shy, quiet, friendly guy and never got into any of the groups that my class formed. I was by myself and every body liked me for the warm nature I exhibited when in reality it was an act. And it worked. Four years with this class had passed and another four with the previous one and insofar I have pretended well enough that no one has found out. And I intend to continue as I'll go to highschool next year.

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  • Well once I had pretended that a girl likes me... And shoot I find my self in a friend zone... hahahaha 😁😁😜

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  • That picture at the top looks like a Facebook girl's wet dream.

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  • this is true. facts are facts and reality is no obstacle.

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  • Right now I'm pretending that I read your take.

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  • The only thing I can think of is that I pretend I don't think I'm good looking (I'm modest)

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    • Probably not the only one with that pretense, and it's probably not the only one you will find if you keep looking.

  • being religious

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    • Don't get me wrong. But out of fear many people also pretend to be a Satanists. Still, you made a good comment. :)

What Girls Said 20

  • I pretend I am super naiive and innocent in hopes of keeping what I have left of it. I pretend I am not interested in boys around my family. I pretend I am happy sometimes when my heart is aching and my mind is spiraling out of control. I pretend I am always super happy.

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    • Lots of people here pretending they are happy... what's the point?

    • Just because, you see how sad people are treated. They are looked down upon. They are ignored. Sometimes they are comforted. But I am usually happy, just when I have my off days because I am over thinking or something, I will hide it all in.

    • True. So true.

  • All people pretend to be is someone's friend or someone's enemy. Enemy means you sincerely hate somebody. Friend means you sincerely like somebody. Yet in our society nobody is sincere. They fake everything they do and everybody is wearing a mask. But science can make sure we can distinguish what should we like and what should we hate. Acting correct is called godly. Acting wrong is the opposite of godly but ugly or nasty. To look good people give others a bad name. This happened because of Christianity. many people wanted to have a good Christian name and get a good business. But they later became corrupt. They call Christians who are not real Christians in their bottom heart. They fell deeper and deeper into one crime after the other. They became the criminal underworld. This is how black becomes dark and black and the right hand the left hand etc.. It all began well. But it did not remain good. Holy people fell into corruption. They are in our world so corrupted you can not believe how far they can go. They hide their shame. What once had a good name has now a bad name. They hide their shame. First, they need to confess their sin before they can get out and be forgiven for their sin they committed as an act against God. Many have to much shame to do that. And that is why they are still hiding. They can not show their face anymore. They try their last trick to make the wrong look right. But they try that in vain. There is no use for them in trying that. Even tho that is what they are doing.

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  • It is common that people esp women pretending to have a good relationship with their boyfriend but in actual reality, their boyfriends and spouses have been terribly abusive physically and emotionally.

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    • That is common... and I'd suspect that their partners are pretending it's a good relationship, too. Sad.

  • i often find myself pretending i -dont- want to punch some racist sexist asshole bigot etc that im talking to.

    im sure there are more but the was follows me around. i pretend, to maintain veneer of civility in order to make other non annoying people more comfortable. and bc randomly punching peopler is illegal so it wouldn't help to be honest. and bc i have rot admit in certain situations id probably end yup in the er if they wanted.

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    • It might be good to keep pretending that you don't want to punch people... I think we've all been there.

    • yeah i intend to lol :)

      its oak i have a punching bag. i just sublimate with that ;p

  • @caren-field I pretend my heart isn't breaking every time I see my ex becuz I can't let him know how much power he still has on my heart. I pretend I know what will happen in the future and that makes me worry a lot. maybe I have been pretending too long. maybe I can stop now, but I'm scared of just being honest an being me. thanks for making me think about this

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    • You're welcome. And if thinking about it gives you some wiggle room, I'd call that freedom. Now you have a choice.

    • I have the same feelings about my own ex. She broke up with me and I didn't see her for 6 or 7 months. She has tried to recocile during that time via text, but I had steeled myself against simple text. Then, I saw her. I looked right into her eyes and said a simple hello. Somehow just seeing her caused me to become seriously suicidal. Seeing her new man didn't help either. Thank god the world's a big place.

  • i pretend i'm happy, i pretend i'm okay and that things don't get to me. That i don't care what happens and what will happen, what you say and don't say. I pretend i know what i'm doing and i pretend when i don't know what i'm doing. I pretend liking and disliking things. And after thinking about it.. my whole life is based on one big pretense,.

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    • Is it worth it?

    • Boy you are a good faker. And does it work for out for you just great. Or does it suck. Well that is is just normal American language. For those who look up every word in a dictionary. And think the F^^^$% what is that all about.

  • I like to pretend that I am a stronger woman than I am. I know what is right and the level of confidence and backbone that I should have, but I struggle to actually build it.

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  • I pretend to be happy with my choices, just so no one would say I was wrong. I pretend to be strong in front of people, because I don't like to see them worry or pity me. I pretend to be the most positive person you'd see but honestly I'm not. I'm in doubt of a lot of things.. I see all the negative things coming but still I pretend to be this because to a lot of people I am who I portray I am. 😐

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    • Wow @mycsph, thanks for being so honest about that!

    • Don't. Be. That. Girl.

    • To bad only the government is reading all of this and will use it against all of us. They now know all our weaknessess and later they pretend and come as our saviors and we reject them and they eat us alive because they are angry as beasts who do not get it their way and we do not vote for their new slymball world order of fake selfish kabbalah users who claim to be the real out chosen Jewish people of god in the bible and have because of that authority rights while they can not vote on ordinary people who are in their eyes not from the same race and can not be jews and kabbalists. They call themselves also Satanists with the real God. While they give us the fake God Jesus. Who is Jupiter and not Saturn. Isn't that said that we all go to hell eternal and they go to heaven?

  • Sometimes I pretend like I don't know what someone is talking about - if they're crudely insinuating something overtly sexual - and they stop soon after.
    =)

    It's actually very useful.

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  • I pretend I'm happy when I'm not,,, I say I eat when honestly I'm battling from anorexia and have been diagnosed.. I have cuts up my arms and legs.. iv attempted suicide 3 times... Yeah I hide all of this with a fake smile and the classic "im fine"

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  • I don't pretend at all and that's not a pretending statement. I learned long ago that pretending only masks the problems and doesn't deal with them.

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    • ok. I follow you and your takes. They must be interesting. You see even I can learn a lot. I have a lot of pain and pretend I do not have pain. Even I start to believe I have no pain while I have a lot of pain. But suppressed. It is called the suppressed pain syndrome the SPS. I suffer from that.

    • Why are you inactive. Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. finally, one without a problem and then it is inactive here on girls ask guys. To pity.

  • Tbh, I can't pretend at all.
    I HAVE TO live in reality, even when it is totally soul destroying.
    Truth is everything to me, now matter how much it hurts.

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    • Satanists will not agree on that. They will tell you it is your duty to be 100% only being happy and positive or they nail you down.

  • LOL the truth will most definitely NOT set me free.

    If I behaved and spoke the way I truly felt, I'd have no job, no money and no home.

    Pretending to be nice and being polite to my employer is essential for survival. I swear like a sailor, but if I did that at work or to my parents - it wouldn't end well.

    I have strong views on controversial subjects that aren't PC (well, more like the way I express them isn't) - again, would cost me my job.

    And finally, I hate most people around me and only pretend to like them, because I need to keep my job.

    Until I become self sufficient and don't rely on others for my income, pretending is how I make it through to the next day.

    I'm not a nice person and I don't want to be one, but it's the only way to get ahead at the moment. Revealing my true self would be incredibly foolish.

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    • Which controversial subjects are you talking about? i'm nosy lol and curious what counts as controversial these days with the way people literally voice their opinion about any and everything.

    • Show All
    • Oh ok, I see.

      And yeah you're right, a work environment is pretty much a show for most people, I work in customer service and if I could tell people what a drunk, useless, dumb fuck they are being then I wouldn't have a job lol.

    • @GirlsLie

      Thankfully, I don't have to deal with customers. But it baffles me how some of my superiors even got their roles with the intellects they possess.

  • I pretend that I'm happy when n reality, I just want to break down.

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  • I'm pretending life is great, I always do.

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    • Haha, this is getting too funny. You are all too funny. LOL. :)

  • im pretending that i like how i look

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  • I'm pretending I'm pissing blood.

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  • I pretend that I'm happy

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  • I pretend i'm happy all of the time, while inside i'm at breaking point. I hold so much emotional pain inside.

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    • The truth will set you free!

    • Ok. You are welcome to email me and relief. I just never answer them back. That is all. And that is the best also for people. This is allowed for all who seek relief to email me. I ensure you I really read them all. Even in all details, I will not skip one detail. That is where is my email in the first place is for.

  • I pretend that I am interested in going to church, when really I am not. I was raised going twice a week, every week. I love the Lord, but it's really fear of eternal damnation that makes me go, not a love of church. Or the doctrine, or the people, or the comraderie. I would rather just stop going. I think doing things out of fear is more being brainwashed than anything else. I don't like that idea, either. But what if I'm wrong?

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    • What if you're not wrong?

    • Then I could have slept in on hundreds of Sundays lol

    • I thought the same way you do. Also, I was raised in this modern world. But it is better you fear damnation. Many do not and you know where they end up is in the deepest hell thinkable and they do not know it and hide it with drugs.

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