Stop telling them I like things that I don't
November 8, 2012 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Portraying someone you love to another?

So the tendancy to describe or portray one person you love, like or admire to another person you love, like or admire, and to exaggerate or kind of coat the truth about one to the other so they will like each other. Is there a name for this?
It seems to be a problem in my relationship but I'm not sure how to define it so the one who is doing it will understand.
posted by southeastyetagain to Human Relations (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
"Glossing over"?
posted by unknowncommand at 9:35 PM on November 8, 2012

It's called lying or misrepresenting. If, for a random example, your beloved sister doesn't immediately like your boyfriend until you exaggerate the fact that he shares her interest in antiques, then you're lying to your sister in order to get her to like your boyfriend even though he only likes one type of antiques and it's definitely not the kind she likes. Is that what you mean?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:46 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hyping, possibly elision.
posted by rhizome at 9:58 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes, Birds of a Feather, I suppose that's it, but I don't want to sound overly confrontational. The person doing it is not malicious in any way and is probably doing it because of an insecurity or something. They do it frequently in many of their relationships. I was trying to wrap my head around the whole concept but couldn't find a way to google it or anything. I want to be as gentle as possible in calling this out.
posted by southeastyetagain at 10:07 PM on November 8, 2012

I think the key point is not the fact that both parties are loved, like or admired by the one speaking the 'mistruths' but that the speaker's motivation behind the exaggeration or coating of the truth is that each person like each other for a particular reason that suits the speaker. The speaker is looking to gain something from it, to the possible detriment of the other parties, even if the gain is only a sense of balance or control in the relationship between the two parties spoken of this way.

I'm not sure there is a word in English which will suit the situation although TBoaF's lying and misrepresenting comes close. However those words are loaded.

My suggestion would be to ask why the speaker needs to revert to those tactics. Point them to definitions of integrity and confidence.
posted by the fish at 10:07 PM on November 8, 2012

Well, I just googled synonyms for misrepresentation just in case you find one you feel is softer:

adulteration, coloring, distortion, exaggeration, fabrication, false light, falsification, lie, misstatement, mutilation, not a true picture, slant, story, stretch, tall story, twist, untruth

Some of these do seem less weighted (exaggeration, stretch).
posted by vegartanipla at 10:11 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hagiography is a related concept; descriptions of people that are more flattering than accurate. It doesn't have all the nuances that you're looking for, though... "stretching the truth" may come closer.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:14 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by Remote Network at 10:40 PM on November 8, 2012

I'd call it manipulation.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:49 PM on November 8, 2012

I like the above mentioned hyping. Hyping seems to be more about the speaker's enthusiasm rather than a blatant desire to deceive.
posted by Swisstine at 11:11 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This may not be a conscious choice, this embellishing.

I have done it in both of my relationships that ended recently (and spectacularly badly).

I suspect it's a mix of cognitive dissonance processing in the brain (which humans are notoriously bad at) and happiness synthesis ('the one I got is better than the others')

Not that these things are any less annoying, but again, I don't think it's on purpose.

please forgive me if not coherent. It's been an ouchy night.
posted by bilabial at 1:46 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Perhaps you acknowledge it:

"X, you know I have a tendency to overemphasize the positives when connecting people I like, but Y is a man who can walk on water and not get his feet wet." (Reverse X and Y when speaking to Y.)

The truth, wielded properly, can be a fine tool.
posted by FauxScot at 1:51 AM on November 9, 2012

Best answer: +1 for "hype," but also "overhype." Maybe "overstate"? "Get hopes up"?

It's the opposite of "managing expectations."
posted by lalalana at 3:05 AM on November 9, 2012

posted by tel3path at 3:22 AM on November 9, 2012

Response by poster: I think it's a combination of the mix bilabial points out, with a side of confirmation bias thrown in.
I want to point out what's going on, to the person who is doing it, because I think it's harming rather than helping, but I don't want to make them defensive.
posted by southeastyetagain at 4:32 AM on November 9, 2012

I always referred to that as spinning.
posted by kimberussell at 5:07 AM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

In real estate it's called puffing. - "Non-factual or extravagant statements and opinions made to enhance the perceived desirability of a property." I think it could easily be applied to people describing their great vacation, boyfriend/girlfriend, job etc.
posted by victoriab at 5:34 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Campaigning, is the phrased used among my circle.

When intentional it's just lying. When unintentional it's just biased.

Many people do not represent their partners accurately, Others simply don't see their partners accurately.

I don't know which is worse.
posted by French Fry at 6:30 AM on November 9, 2012

Hyping or puffing. Even when intentional, it is not lying or misrepresenting - it's attempting to increase the greater harmonics of the group.

For example. Let's say I have a dear partner and a dear friend. One of them loves cabbage. The other hates cabbage with a passion, but loves spinach. It would not be lying to say, "Oh, darling, you'll love him! He loves leafy green vegetables too!" Or, "He's so passionate about politics!" to two different people that would hate each other's politics if they actually started discussing them.

This is primarily, in my view, because these things really don't matter once a friendship gets going - but what is needed for a friendship is a jolly idea the other is a lovely fellow.
posted by corb at 6:43 AM on November 9, 2012

"Talking up" is the only option I can come up with that isn't hugely negative. It's what I'd use, because I can't really fathom a situation where emphasizing the nice things about the people you love is a bad thing. I think most interlocutors will understand that not talking shit about your friends or family is normal practice, not 'lying' or 'manipulative'.
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 7:06 AM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

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