NINETEEN out of 20 women admit lying to their partners or husbands, a survey on attitudes to truth and relationships has found.
Eighty-three per cent owned up to telling "big, life-changing lies", with 13 per cent saying they did so frequently.
Half said that if they became pregnant by another man but wanted to stay with their partner, they would lie about the baby’s real father.
Forty-two per cent would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, no matter the wishes of their partner.
And an alarming 31 per cent said they would not tell a future partner if they had a sexual disease: this rises to 65 per cent among single women.
In the poll of 5,000 women for That’s Life! magazine, 45 per cent said they told "little white lies" most days. The favourite untruth was "of course you don’t look fat", with "these shoes were only 10" in second place.
Jo Checkley, the editor of That’s Life! , said that while many women now lied to avoid hurting their partner’s feelings, covering up the truth about a baby could have far more damaging consequences.
She said: "Modern women just can’t stop lying, but they do it to stop hurting other people’s feelings. It could be argued that these little white lies simply make the world go round a little more smoothly. But to tell a man a baby is his when it’s not, or to deliberately get pregnant when your partner doesn’t want a baby, is playing Russian roulette with other people’s lives."
The National Scruples and Lies Survey 2004 found plenty of untruths were told over the Christmas period. A total of 78 per cent said they would pass off a second-hand gift as a brand new present, while half have lied about a Christmas card being "lost in the post".
Women will also lie to save people’s feelings, with only 27 per cent saying they would tell a man if he was hopeless in bed (although a third would tell their friends all about it).
Just over half would flatter a man if he asked them about his looks and only 46 per cent would give the "brutal truth". However, 61 per cent of women would want their partners to be "brutally honest" if they asked them "do I look fat?" or "do you think my best friend’s attractive?"
Elsewhere, 54 per cent admitted stealing sweets or chocolates; 23 per cent would "sneak a bottle or two" home if they were invited to a party by a well-off friend; 49 per cent would "kiss and tell" to the media for 25,000 if they had a one-night stand with a celebrity; and 38 per cent say they would marry purely for money.
Nearly half said they had faked orgasms and 55 per cent admitted claiming they were tired, had a headache, or felt ill to "get out of lovemaking".
Nineteen per cent of women with a long-term partner said they had cheated on him, while 30 per cent of all women have had an affair with a married man. Sixty-eight per cent said they did not trust their partner.
As far as trustworthy personalities are concerned, the woman with "the most honest face" was Fern Britton, the This Morning host. She was followed by the singer Kerry Katona (formerly McFadden), Sharon Osbourne of The X Factor and the Queen.
The "most honest male face" jointly went to Ant and Dec, the presenters of I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!, with Prince William second.
The results come in the wake of the controversy surrounding David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, and his former lover, the publisher Kimberly Quinn. They had a child, but she kept details of the affair secret from her husband Stephen, even taking her son to Corfu for a week’s holiday to bond with him this year.
Mr Quinn accepted his wife’s story, but she had covered up the fact she was accompanied by Mr Blunkett.
The survey questioned 5,000 women, average age 38, across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Top ten porkies
That’s Life! magazine has carried out its National Scruples and Lies Survey 2004 to find out the top ten lies told by women. They are:
1. "Of course you don’t look fat!"
2. "These shoes were only 10."
3. "The bus/train was late."
4. "I’ve got a headache."
5. "I’ve only had one drink."
6. "That dress looks good on you."
7. "The cheque’s in the post."
8. "You look ten years younger."
9. "You’re wonderful in bed."
10. "I love you."