Recently, I got back my scores on the SATs–I didn’t do very well. When my best friend asked what I got, I lied and said a much higher score. I don’t know why I did it, but now I don’t know how to take it back, and she keeps pushing me about why I’m not applying to “better” schools. What do I do? 

-Standardized Liar

You ‘fess up. Now.

Everyone tells white lies, and I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that…if that’s all that they are. Saying someone’s new haircut looks great may not be true, but it also doesn’t do any harm, and there’s no real benefit to making sure everyone knows when they sounded stupid or looked their worst.

But this isn’t really one of those lies, not because your friend is pushing about apps, but because your knee jerk reaction with someone you SHOULD trust deeply was to hide the truth.

That says a lot about your friendship, and about your self esteem, and you shouldn’t brush it under the rug.

If you want to keep the friendship, you should explain what you did. The only reason you need to offer is that you were embarrassed and told a lie, and that you’re sorry. Doing so has a bonus side-effect: if you want to get better at dealing with uncomfortable situations and rude questions (because it WAS a rude question), feeling the awkwardness-consequences of a knee-jerk lie will be a good reminder of what not to do next time.

And next time, you don’t have to just tell the truth, by the way. Even a friend should respect your privacy. So work on a better answer–good options are “I don’t really want to discuss that,” or “that’s not really your business.”

Lying is not a good defense. You might think your scores are embarrassing, but I promise you, getting caught out for having lied about them would be much, much worse.