Why do people lie, anyway? Much of the time, the reason someone lies is simply to preserve their own self image. They did or said something they don’t want to be called out over. They feel guilty and want the bad event to go away.
Then, there are those who lie consistently and seemingly without any guilt whatsoever. Narcissists and sociopaths are well known as notorious liars. Since they thrive on their own self image, they often live a life of lies.
They start off telling one, small lie. Seeing how that lie could be discovered, they are forced to create a complicated matrix of false narratives to protect the initial lie. A thousand other details must be suitably altered to make their story fit. The result is an elaborate web of lies stretched across their existence like a knitted spiderweb that will fall apart when someone finds just…the…right…thread to pull.
Do you know someone like this?
Maybe that person is the one you decided to spend the rest of your life with. Webs of lies can be so thick and convoluted they may not be uncovered for many years. By then, possibly rings and vows have been exchanged and you wake up to find yourself married to a liar.
Luckily, most people tell the truth most of the time and almost everyone, at one time or another has told a “white” lie – Usually to avoid hurting someone over an inconsequential matter (Do I look fat in this dress?).
The Truth About Lying
It’s important to delve into WHY someone might lie to you. Believe it or not, sometimes we can attract liars because of some very positive aspects of our personality. Is lying ever right? In most cases, many would say no. It takes away freedom of choice for someone to make decisions about their lives based on factual evidence. On the other hand, do you want to know details which will only wound you psychologically or spiritually? It depends on the individual. Some want the big, ugly truth. Some would prefer not knowing.
We could spend days going over the moral aspects of lying and why people do it. In the end, lying comes down to two things – Who they are and who you are.
First, let’s examine the worst kinds of liars:
Chronic and Pathological Liars
These are the liars who have a pathological condition. They can live in a healthy environment with open communication and still lie all the time and may never stop without serious psychological intervention and care.
The Woman Who Can’t Be Herself
She loves you more than her own integrity or self respect. She lies because she can’t bear the thought of someone thinking poorly of her – Especially you. Her life revolves around other peoples’ image of her. What if you knew who she really was? Maybe you wouldn’t like her. She lied to get you because you were someone she really wanted. Maybe you were an amazing, fascinating person to her – A philanthropist. And she lied telling you she was into charity work. She told you she went on a mission trip to Africa. She fed and sheltered the homeless. You love wine – She lied and learned varietals so she could fake her way through a conversation with you. You’re into sports – She lied and said her dad used to be best friends with Tommy Lasorda (Then, she’ll keep you from meeting her dad). You tell her you wouldn’t date a girl who smokes – She’ll hide it from you and smoke whenever you’re not around. This girl wants you in her life, but she is carefully concealing who she really is because her own self worth is desperately low. She tells all these lies to keep you because she has a psychological problem. You can’t fix her.
The Compulsive Liar (Narcissist)
She lies for attention, but won’t consciously admit to herself this is the reason she lies. She opens her mouth and out it comes. Maybe she would feel bad about it, but most of the time she doesn’t because she views the lies as innocuous truths. She’s like an adult who still has an imaginary friend. She believes if she repeats the lies enough times, they become true. Yes, she really dated George Clooney once. Her stories are entertaining and she believes them herself. She’s a great storyteller, very compelling and detailed to the point she can have even the biggest skeptics eating out of the palm of her hand. She feels insecure in a world full of interesting people and lies to make herself seem more interesting. There’s really no other reason why. Chances are she knows she’s lying, but she buries this knowledge deep down in her psyche and continues making up tall tales. She doesn’t know how else to show the world that she, too, is somebody special, so this will do. This disorder goes hand-in-hand with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This person may cheat on you because she cares about her own gratification above all. But she won’t want you to find out because it would damage her self image. It’s vital that you think she is wonderful on all levels and that everyone else does, too.
Sociopaths & Psychopaths
This is the worst case scenario. These people are less than 4% of the population. The female sociopath won’t really love you. She just wants something from you or likes to play games for the thrill. There is likely something you can provide for her that she wants badly enough to tell a whole web of lies just to get close to you. Sure. She’s only slept with two guys. Of course! She loves all the same things you do. She will tell you she loves you and sleep with your best friend. She has zero conscience. She doesn’t even feel bad about it. None of this really hurts you, right? She lies to be whatever you need until she’s done using you. She’s not lying like a compulsive liar lost in fantasyland. She is lying for a malignant purpose. Either to get something from you or to harm you psychologically…For no other reason, but that she finds it amusing.
She will lie to become your dream. She’ll lie to become the reality you are seeking. And watch your bank account. Sociopaths are known for telling any lie necessary to get closer to a big payday.
Sometimes, they are even more sick. There is nothing they want from you. They just enjoy the game of deceit. They find telling mistruths exhilarating and love pushing the borders to see how much they can get away with and if they can break you down with their games. And when you catch them, they won’t care. You were just a toy mouse to them. It was only a game, after all.
You will know people like this by many different names: Sociopaths, narcissists, psychopaths, but they are all the same in that they manufacture their identity. When you find out who they really are, it’s usually too late and they are walking away with your wallet in their hands and your heart in their teeth.
Most lies are told to cover up for something. They will tell lies to either protect you or to protect themselves. Sometimes lies are to cover horrible things – But it doesn’t always mean that they have a psychological issue in which their lying is compulsive or liable to be consistently repeated in the future. The “normal” and typical liars will lie because they are afraid of your reaction or because of survival. They messed up – Sometimes big time. But they may learn from their mistakes and their conscience kills them over it.
You appear to be Mr. Perfect
She might lie to you because you simply intimidate the hell out of her. You are a good person whom she does not want to disappoint. You have your sh*t together. People like you. You have high expectations of those around you. You have good morals. She knows she doesn’t measure up to your lofty expectations, but she so desperately wants to. She wants to be someone who is good enough for you. She won’t tell you when she does something stupid because she’s afraid you’ll think poorly of her. She might hide purchases from you because she doesn’t want you to think she can’t control her spending. You are amazing and the type of person she wants to be more like. She’ll fake it until she makes it and lie to you with every intention of deserving you one day.
You are in Control
She lies to you because you have control over her life in some way that could influence basic factors of survival such as; You provide food, shelter, clothing, an income, etc. Her lies are told simply for survival. If she told the truth, would she lose any of the above? The fear is so great, she would rather lie to preserve her lifestyle.
She is Afraid of Your Reaction
She lies to you because you have an explosive temper and she does not want to anger you if she says something you do not like. What would you do if she told you that she had too much to drink with the girls? Would you scream at her and call her an irresponsible drunk? Would you physically harm her? Men who have explosive tempers are going to be lied to. Your reaction can mean all the difference.
She is Trying to Protect You
She lies to you because you are depressed and she feels like you can’t handle the truth of what she has to say. She is trying to protect you. For some reason, you may seem fragile to her and like you would not be able to withstand something she may want to tell you that would be painful for you to hear.
Stopping the Lies
Given all of the above information, it is now up to you to determine a few things – Is the lying pathological? Is it part of a personality disorder that you can not fix? If this is the case, you may have to demand that she seek psychological care. It may not be a situation you want to stay in because some pathological liars can never stop. You can give her repeated chances and walk away disappointed every time.
On the other hand, if she is the person who tells an occasional lie, think about how you reacted in the past. Has she ever told you a truth only to have you blow up in a rage?
To get an occasional liar to tell you the truth:
- Never confront a liar in public or in front of others. Even though you may feel they deserve it, this type of humiliation only causes embarrassment, can backfire and make you look like the jerk and can lead to retaliation.
- Respond with compassion instead of anger. Most liars avoid the truth because of the negative consequences that come with the truth. When they admit something they know you will not like to hear, remain cool. Do not retaliate. Do not lose your temper. Act as if it doesn’t matter. Even though you are furious, if you want to hear more truth in the future, check how you respond when truth is given to you. Then, discuss the situation in a calm, rational matter avoiding insults.
- Give them a chance to admit the lie with humor. When they tell you something you know is an obvious lie, laugh. You will instantly see their discomfort. Then say, “Okay, that’s funny. What did you really do?” It gives them a chance to feel they were just being a ‘fibber’ and that you will let them admit the truth with amusement instead of anger.
- Ask more questions and listen carefully. When you pretend you are completely stupid, you make them run in circles trying to cover up their lie. In the end, they may just break and tell you the truth because they are exasperated with all the questions.
- What did your mother do when you lied and she knew it? She would look at you and tell you, “I know you aren’t telling me the truth.” And most of the time, for those of us with a conscience, we’d break and admit the lie and take our punishment.
- Does the lie really matter? So you catch her in a lie that she saw a movie that she didn’t see. Does it really matter? Is this life-changing stuff? Pick your battles. If the lie is completely inconsequential, sometimes it is best to let it go.