Lying On Your Dick, Explained

@badgalriri Instagram screenshot
@badgalriri Instagram screenshot

On Sunday, TMZ Sports caught up with neck tattoo model Matt Barnes outside of a celebrity softball game, asking him about his rumored relationship with Rihanna. Barnes didn't explicitly confirm a relationship, but he didn't exactly deny anything either.


For the billions of people unaware of a Barnes/Rihanna romance, it's very likely you'd come away from that clip thinking they were dating or sexting or something. But, the one person other than Matt Barnes who'd definitely know if Barnes and Rihanna are dating (Rihanna) had a decidedly different reaction to this news:


Because, according to Rihanna, not only are they not dating, they don't even know each other. Basically, Matt Barnes was just caught lying on his dick.

Naturally, this story has caught fire on social media. I first learned about it yesterday, when I saw Barnes' name trending. Which made me assume he'd either gotten arrested or eaten by one of his tattoos. And, from what I've seen on Facebook and Twitter, one of the more popular responses to this story has been a question: Why would Matt Barnes — or any man, rather — lie about sleeping with someone? If he actually wanted to — and had a legitimate chance to — be with Rihanna, doesn't he realize that lying about it (and having her catch the lie) is the worst thing he can do?

Fortunately, I have an answer. But, before we get there, let's take a quick tangent.

What made Barnes' lie believable is the fact that it was believable. Which is the first and only rule of lying on your dick. The way he answered the questions made it seem like he was attempting to be coy and discreet, a ploy that makes people believe you're reluctantly volunteering information. Which, in turn, makes people more likely to believe what you're saying is truthful. Veteran dick-liars have perfected this behavior. Instead of plausible deniability, it's plausible acceptability. Also, the lie was a realistic one. If Matt Barnes said he and Michelle Obama or he and Ava DuVernay were in the beginning stages of a relationship, we'd immediately call bullshit. And if bullshit didn't pick up the phone, we'd text bullshit and then send bullshit a follow-up email. But Barnes is tall, handsome, rich, somewhat famous, skeevy, and light. And, from what we know of Rihanna's dating history (Chris Brown, Drake, Matt Kemp, Leo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher, etc), she likes them tall, handsome, rich, famous, skeevy, and light. So Rihanna and Matt Barnes hooking up isn't all that far-fetched.

Anyway, why would Matt Barnes lie about dating Rihanna and jeopardize any chance he has with being with Rihanna? Well, the answer is easy once you realize it's not really about Rihanna. It's well-established that men who have proven in one way or another that they're been with multiple attractive women often see a boost in their social status. Because, if he's able to attract these women — women who can have practically any man — there must be something very special about him. A big bank account, a big personality, a big dick…whatever. If people believe Matt Barnes has slept with Rihanna, it gives him an extremely valuable commodity: social proof. Perhaps this knowledge means nothing to you or me, but for certain social circles, the assumption that Barnes was able to bag Rihanna — who, all things considered, is probably the country's most eligible bachelorette — makes him 1,000 times more attractive to women in those circles and 1,000 times more worthy of reverence to men in those circles.


Of course, this backfired on Barnes. Who probably assumed Rihanna wouldn't call him out as quickly, publicly, and harshly as she did. So instead of social proof, he gets…whatever the opposite of social proof would be. Let's just call it social poop.

(Unless, of course, you believe Rihanna is lying. And her brutal takedown is a hit dog hollering. Which, well, would be another topic for another day.)

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Damon Young

Question: Is it a "Thing That Needs To Be Discussed" that Rihanna's public dating history has been predominately light and White men?