When The Dance of Deceptionwas published, Lerner discovered that women were not eager to identify with the subject. "Well, I don't do deception" was a common resonse.
We all "do deception", often with the intention to protect ourselves and the relationships we depend on. The Dance of Deceptionunravels the ways (and whys) that women show the false and hide the real -- even to our own selves. We see how relationships are affected by lying and faking, by silence and pretending and by brave -- but misguided -- efforts to tell the truth.
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March 28, 1997
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Excerpt from The Dance of Deception by Harriet G. Lerner, Ph.D.
When I was twelve, I told a lie that grew to epic proportions. I told my friend Marla, who lived across the street from me in Brooklyn, that I had been contacted by a man named Tony who came from another planet. Since first grade, Marla and I had been on-again, off-again best friends.
I told Marla that Tony told me to find a date. Since no one had asked me out yet (and I believed that no one ever would), Marla had to fix me up with a blind date because Tony said that something bad might happen to me otherwise. Marla, who could accomplish almost anything she set her mind to, went about this project with her usual vigor and enthusiasm. The blind date came and went. Tony did not.
A few minor characters from the same planet were added to the drama, as the personality and presence of Tony grew and became part of my deepening friendship with Marla. Tony emerged as a good-hearted, playful fellow who told me funny things that I could tell only Marla ' and that she could tell no one. At a time when my other girlfriends were dropping one best friend for another, my special status with Marla was secure. Tony stabilized our friendship and strengthened our sense of camaraderie and commitment. And I was in charge ' an active director and orchestrator of the threesome: Tony and Marla and me.
I don't remember how often Tony visited or how long he stayed around, but I think it was at least a year before I let him drift out of our lives. Years later, when Marla and I were both graduate students in Berkeley, California, I tearfully told her I had made Tony up. Until then, we had both walled off the Tony business, not bothering to reflect on it or even to remember. Marla protected me and our friendship by choosing not to subject this interplanetary drama to close scrutiny. After all, anything is possible. When we finally talked about it, Marla was lighthearted and forgiving, as I hoped she would be with our long history of friendship binding us together.