Don’t you wish liars’ pants really did catch on fire? Of course, since we all lie, it probably isn’t a good idea. It sure is a fun visual if you’re in Revenge Mode!
For a compulsive or pathological liar, lying becomes second nature. That’s how Sociopaths pass Lie Detector tests – they’re so good at believing their own lies, their bodies don’t register the normal reactions when they lie.
Lying just feels comfortable and right to a compulsive liar. It’s as easy for them to tell the big whoppers as it is for them to tell the little white lies. Lying is actually addictive – it’s an escape hatch when telling the truth or facing the truth is too painful or difficult.
Not everyone who lies is a compulsive or pathological liar, but compulsive and pathological lying are usually symptoms of other personality disorders, i.e., Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Narcisissistic Sociopathic Disorder. Unfortunately, there is no cure for a Narcissistic Sociopath. How could there be? They would never, ever be capable of seeing their behaviors for what they are.
It’s been my experience that compulsive liars usually also lie when telling the truth is just as easy. The lying is so ingrained in them that they don’t even know how to distinguish between what’s a lie and what’s the truth.
When you’re in a romantic or intimate relationship with a compulsive liar, it’s especially painful.
We all have heard the old adage “Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies” – that’s the most common reason for lying. Too many pointed or direct questions. I wish I had a dollar for every time Walkaway Bob would not answer my specific questions. It was SO FRUSTRATING!
In the end, I turned it into a game. I would purposefully frame questions so that the answers were either yes or no. He would prevaricate, lie and dance around the question then I would smirk at him and say, “It’s a simple yes or no question, Bob“. Only the game wasn’t much fun and I tired of it very quickly. Seriously!
Sometimes people lie because they are anxious or afraid of their partner’s reaction. I admit I learned that tactic when I was married to GP. Since he had a hair trigger on his Rage Mode, I admit I lied quite often in order to maintain at least some minimum amount of calm in our household. There came a time in our relationship when my physical safety depended on my ability to lie to keep him calm. If you’re reading this thinking something like “he was in total control of her at that point”, you’re right.
Sick isn’t it? You bet!
It’s interesting what lovers will lie about before they are married, living together, etc. Studies show that lovers will consistently lie about these things:
- Past Relationships – these lies are not only outright lies but lies of omission as well
- Alcohol/Drug Use or Abuse
- Debt or Financial Issues
- Keeping Your Secrets – just know that their friends are hearing your secrets
- Where They Are & Who They Are With – do I need to explain this one?
- Why They Can’t Spend Time with You – well, it could be because he or she is already married or in a “committed” relationship elsewhere
- Activities – they say they like activities you like when they really don’t
- Contact with Former Spouses/Lovers – they just conveniently FORGOT to tell you they ran into their ex the other day or got a text from a former lover
- Feelings About You – particulary your habits or appearance; feelings about your friends or family members
- To Protect Their Own Privacy – everyone has skeletons and not all of us are happy putting them on display for the world to judge
- Putting You Down in Front of Others (Walkaway Bob is a master at this one) – then when you call them on it, they say “I was just kidding” and “Wow you need to learn to take a joke”
- Their Level of Commitment to You – they say they love you, want to marry you, have kids, etc., but they really don’t – they’re just telling you what they think you want to hear
- Why They Can’t Spend Time with You – they’re working late, have to help a friend or have to go home and spend time with their other family
- Online Activity – this can be anything from emails to chats to online dating sites to a full blown pornography addiction
- Religious Beliefs
- To Gain an Advantage or to Con You – the most frequent lie in this situation is “I love you” which, in Walkaway Bob’s case, was said instead of “I’m marrying you for your inheritance“. (Guess the joke’s on Walkaway Bob, though because both of my parents are still alive!)
A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. Oscar Wilde
In other words, the truth hurts. Well, as a matter of fact, sometimes it does. And if you confront a compulsive liar or endeavor to faithfully tell the truth, you’ll find that very few people can handle it. (Yes I know there’s an Al Pacino quote you’re thinking about and it’s very accurate!)
Not many of us can handle the truth 24/7.
But let me add this, if you’re a Female and you boldly tell the truth with any regularity, you will be cruficied for it and labeled a Bitch. Funny isn’t it, how in our society men who are agressive, bold and forthright are admired for their leadership qualities but women who exhibit the same qualities are cruel “bitches”. But that’s another subject for another day.
If you decide you’re going to confront someone about their lies, it’s best to address the core issue and not dwell on the fact that a lie has been told. Keep the conversation on the issue – if someone lies about where they were at a certain time, for example, keep the conversation about where they were. Don’t go off into the woods about how they lie all the time, etc. Stay specific on the actual subject.
Don’t say things like “I know you lied about …” or “Why did you lie to me about …”. Do say things like “I found out that … and I would really like for us to talk about it”. Feel the difference between the two? The first is a confrontation that will cause them to become defensive. The second is less threatening.
Be as calm and rational as possible. I learned this from my father, a corporate attorney. He could eviscerate anyone without ever raising his voice and without ever losing his mind’s ability to process thoughts. Trust me, my childhood was sticky at times because of him! I know it can be hard to stay calm and rational when you’re hurting. Been there. Done that. Made the mistakes.
Do your best. That’s all anyone can ask of you.
Remember that a compulsive liar is really good at thinking on their feet – they will lie to cover up lies then lie some more. Trust your intuition. It won’t fail you. If something feels off to you, pay attention to that.
And whatever you do, if you’re an adult, don’t look at them and say “LIAR! LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE!”.