How To Tell If Someone Is A Compulsive Liar: 10 Signs To Look For (2023)

We all tell lies – it would be a lie to say you didn’t! In fact, Robert S. Feldman, a psychologist, and researcher from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, concluded that 60% of us would tell at least one lie while engaged in a 10-minute conversation. You might say that is not so bad. After all, most of the lies we tell would probably come under the heading of "harmless fibbing" or "white lies." Plus, we tend to feel it is OK to tell little white lies sometimes, like when we want to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or when lies could keep someone out of harm’s way.

Those scenarios are completely different, however, from what happens in compulsive lying. The compulsive liar seems to lie to everyone about everything, and being around them can be both a pain and a strain. It can also be dangerous, depending on the extent of the lies they are telling, and if you mistakenly believe and act on them. It is, therefore, important for you to be able to spot a compulsive liar and gain tips for dealing with a liar.

It is also important to identify pathological liars, which many could argue are far more dangerous. Pathological liars also have a habit of lying compulsively but with the explicit intent to harm and manipulate others. Pathological liars are often less aware of their lies and symptoms, refuse treatment and help, and have difficulty holding jobs or a relationship because of their lies.

In this article, you will learn the difference between a pathological and compulsive liar, why compulsive and pathological liars lie, how to detect each liar, and some tips to deal with a pathological liar or compulsive liar. It can be hard experience if you're dating or married to a compulsive liar which is why you will also see how professional help and online therapy can help someone who is lying compulsively or people who are dealing with or have a relationship with a pathological liar.

Compulsive Lying Is Not The Same As Pathological Lying

First, we need to define what a compulsive liar is so that you may learn how to identify compulsive liars based on their form. The terms compulsive liar and pathological liar get thrown around a lot without many people understanding what those terms mean. Furthermore, many people believe that pathological and compulsive liars are the same thing. Compulsive lying and pathological lying are two different problems. Let’s explore each one in depth.

What Is Pathological Lying?

Compulsive Lying Is More Common Than You Think - Learn The Signs

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The underlying cause of pathological lying remains unknown, perhaps due to a lack of sufficient research. However, it has been suggested that the condition may be linked to and developed to deal with trauma experienced in childhood. Some researchers have also found a link between pathological lying and brain injuries as well as alcohol use.

It has also been suggested that pathological lying is a learned behavior. People get into the habit of lying because they were never really taught that lying is bad and unacceptable by parents and other authority figures. Also, people with a history of addiction tend to lie to cover up and maintain their addiction through pathological lying.

Pathological lying has also been associated with various personality disorders and mental disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. While some experts believe that these conditions may cause pathological lying, others believe that pathological lying itself may be a mental disorder. However, there is no conclusive evidence at this time to say one way or another.

Pathological Lying And The Brain

Some studies also indicate that irregularities of the brain and spinal cord might trigger pathological lying. For example, a study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry found that pathological liars contain more white matter than people who are not pathological and compulsive liars. White matter makes up half the brain’s volume and is essential for proper functioning. It helps all parts of the brain connect and communicate with one another, which helps with cognition and motor functioning. But if white matter is so essential for the brain, why does more white matter lead to pathological lying?

Previous research found that more white matter (especially in the prefrontal regions) tends to lead to improved cognitive functioning and thought processing, especially if that white matter is in the prefrontal cortex. People with mental disorders that affect their cognitive functioning (such as ADHD, schizophrenia, and autism) have less white matter than average. So it would make sense to think that having more white matter will lead to greater thought processing, cognition, and mental health.

The interesting thing is that deception and lying are thought to be highly cognitive acts and signs of social intelligence. They require greater activations of the prefrontal regions (a region that has a lot of white matter) because it has more of a thought processing cost and longer response times than telling the truth. Some studies even suggest that deception and lying are evolutionarily advantageous amongst some animal species and are signs of social intelligence in those species. Therefore, lying seems to be a survival skill that takes up a lot of energy and pays off often. Because of this, pathological liars may need more white matter than average to pull this off.

Therefore, it is believed that the reason pathological liars have more white matter than average is that white matter gives them the advantage, additional thought processing, and social intelligence to lie. People with less white matter struggle with lying simply because they don’t have enough white matter to help them with this task. Pathological liars have enough white matter to activate their prefrontal regions to accomplish their lies and deception.

So while one would think that having more white matter is a wholly good thing, it may actually encourage deception and pathological lying. Sometimes brain processes that are evolutionary advantageous, require more thought processing, and help develop social intelligence can actually be a harm according to societal standards and morals.

Is There Treatment For Pathological Lying?

Psychologists and psychiatrists are trained to identify pathological lying, and it is always beneficial to the pathological and compulsive liar to seek treatment for their condition.

Before pathological liars can get treatment, they must receive a diagnosis based on their symptoms. Psychologists and psychiatrists refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) when making diagnoses of any mental disorders. Pathological lying is not currently listed in the DSM-5 as a stand-alone mental disorder. However, it is mentioned that lying is a symptom of several other recognized disorders, including factitious disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

So, while there is no formal treatment for pathological lying, there are options available to reduce this behavior. The diagnostic process may uncover symptoms of a mental disorder, such as those mentioned above, which the client was unaware that they had. If this is the case, the therapist will work with the client in developing a treatment plan which addresses all of their symptoms, including the persistent lies.

The most common treatment for pathological lying is psychotherapy (or talk therapy), aimed at helping the client understand the condition they are suffering from and its negative effects on all aspects of their life. In cases where pathological lying is diagnosed as a symptom of another disorder, a medication approved for that disorder may be prescribed as treatment. Medication is not normally used; however, as a direct treatment for pathological lying behavior.

A therapist’s training and experience help them be particularly good at figuring out when someone is lying. However, the very nature of pathological lying means it may be necessary for the therapist to verify information with loved ones. This will ensure time and effort are not spent trying to differentiate the pathological liar’s truths from lies.

As with most other conditions, the pathological liar must recognize that they have a problem and want help resolving it. The client is more likely to be cooperative and receptive to treatment if they attend the therapy sessions willingly instead of coerced. However, pathological liars are rarely self-aware of their own lies. It is hard to provide treatment to someone who does not believe they have a problem. The few pathological liars who are self-aware may not be open to treatment or therapy, especially if they have a difficult disorder such as narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial disorder. It is not impossible for a pathological liar to seek treatment, but it is notoriously difficult.

In addition to providing treatment to pathological liars, therapists may also suggest those who are in a relationship with a pathological liar seek therapy and treatment themselves. They will get the chance to open up about the effect their loved one’s pathological lying behavior is having on them, as well as learn coping strategies and construction techniques for responding to the liar’s behavior. Therefore, treatment for pathological liars may be a group effort or family affair.

10 Signs Of A Pathological Liar

  1. Pathological Liars Have Unusual Body Language For A Liar

A pathological liar usually does not behave in the way we normally expect a liar to behave. For instance, we tend to associate a shifting gaze or the inability to maintain eye contact with telling lies. The pathological liar, however, will easily maintain eye contact as they tell their lies and stories. They also will not trip over their words or show any signs of anxiety or stress. They will have the aura of a confident, honest, and truth-telling person, which is why many people often think pathological liars are telling the truth.

Once you are aware that someone is a pathological liar, you may be surprised to realize how relaxed they are when they lie – because it is so natural to them. This is in contrast to the notion we normally have that a liar is fidgety and nervous.

  1. Pathological Liars Have Complicated Lives

Quite often, the lies the pathological liar tells have already led to broken or toxic relationships and lost jobs. Despite a pathological liar’s best attempts to lie, the truth eventually comes out. At work, pathological liars will quickly gain a reputation of telling nothing but lies, which will significantly reduce their work performance and relationship with their coworkers. In a relationship, a partner will quickly realize the person’s embellishments don’t make sense or add up and leave. This means that a pathological liar often bounces from relationship to relationship and job to job because of their lies.

So if the person has been married multiple times, seems to be always in and out of romantic relationships, and is constantly changing friends or jobs, it may be a sign that they are pathological liars.

  1. Pathological Liars Retell Things Told To Them In Confidence

It is hard for the pathological liar to keep a secret. Plus, they are likely to embellish the story and sprinkle in lies as they pass it on to others. So if you know or are in a relationship with a pathological liar, you may find that other random people know stuff about you that you never told them.

A pathological liar also loves gossip and will tell anyone anything they know about other people--with a bit of embellishment of course.

  1. Pathological Liars “Steal” Other People’s Stories

It is not uncommon for the pathological liar to take another person’s story and turn it into their own. Their tendency to do this increases if the story is likely to gain attention or sympathy. They may even be quite blatant about it. For instance, upon hearing a co-worker say their house was broken into, the pathological liar might come to you with an extravagant tale of how they were recently the victim of a break-in.

  1. Pathological Liars Are Quick Thinkers

Pathological liars get into the habit of lying to cover up inconsistencies in past lies – and they get very good at it. They seem to be able to make up an explanation without any effort or stalling. Furthermore, they become quite skilled at telling different lies (or different versions of the same lie) to different people.

  1. Pathological Liars Are Defensive

If you point out the discrepancies or lies in their story or frankly say that you think they are lying, the pathological liar will tend to become defensive. This may include insisting that they are telling the truth (even if there is evidence against them) and pointing the finger at someone else as the reason they had to lie. Anger is another common reaction a pathological liar will give when confronted with the truth. They may angrily accuse you of not being their friend if you don’t believe them or insist they know the “facts” better than you do.

  1. Pathological Liars Seem To Lack Empathy

Many pathological liars seem to have no regard for how their lies affect others. They will keep on spinning the lie even if they make someone else uncomfortable or hurt in the process. This lack of empathy may stem from the fact that the pathological liar is focused solely on satisfying their internal motive to lie.

  1. Pathological Liars Staunchly Deny The Evidence

Showing the pathological liar irrefutable facts in an attempt to get them to tell the truth does not always work. They may say you are mistaken, or you are mixing up events, and their version did happen. They may accuse you of making up lies as well. In the end, the pathological liar will likely just come up with other lies to make their original one seem more plausible.

  1. Pathological Liars Avoid Questions

Questions threaten the illusion the pathological liar is trying to create with their lies. If you ask the pathological liar questions to clarify their story, they most likely won’t answer directly or become defensive about you doubting them. What’s more, if you press them for a straight answer, the pathological liar will probably make up another lie in reply.

  1. Pathological Liars Have Inflated Self Esteem Or Are Narcissistic

Pathological liars are often narcissists who use lying to deceive and manipulate others. They don’t respect the needs and boundaries of other people and believe they can use any person they want to obtain their goals. This shows a conflated sense of self esteem as they don’t see others as equal to them. Other people are just pawns to use, and lies are just a tactic to use them.

(Video) How To Spot A Pathological Liar

What Is Compulsive Lying?

At first, compulsive lying can seem a lot like pathological lying. A compulsive liar has a problem of lying compulsively to everyone, whether it be a partner, family, friend, or coworker. They may lie to save face or to entertain with elaborate stories.

However, the difference between compulsive lying and pathological lying is the intent. While a pathological liar often uses lies to manipulate others, a compulsive liar usually does not have this aim. In fact, lying compulsively is more of a very strong habit and coping mechanism developed from childhood. For whatever reason, compulsive liars struggle with telling the truth and lie because it seems like a better option. If they have a goal in mind, it is often not malicious. Below are some examples of reasons why a compulsive liar may lie.

  • To avoid hurting someone’s feelings
  • Because telling the truth is more awkward or difficult
  • To belong to a certain group
  • Because it is a habit
  • To combat their low self-esteem

But many times, there is no apparent reason for the lies, which can confuse any person who realizes they are lying. Lying becomes a habit, and even if the person wants to stop, they often find it much easier and more comfortable to lie than to tell the truth.

Unlike pathological liars, compulsive liars are often aware of their lying habits. However, the lying habits may become too routine to fix easily, or they may convince themselves that there is no harm in it. For example, they may believe that these are all just white lies that don’t really matter. But even consistent white lies can be a problem and ruin the life of the compulsive liar.

Causes Of Compulsive Lying

Though the exact cause of compulsive lying has not been found, there are a few hypotheses on why compulsive liars lie so much.

The most popular hypothesis states that compulsive lying is a habit and coping mechanism developed in childhood. The compulsive liar probably lived in a home where telling white lies was common and encouraged. Telling random lies may have been so common in normal communication that the compulsive liar picked up the habit and now struggles to stop lying and begin telling the truth.

There are occasions where telling lies helps avoid hurting someone’s feelings or can avert danger.

For example, someone with anxiety or low self esteem may lie in order to get out of a social situation or to make themselves seem more interesting than they believe they are. In situations like these, compulsive lying could be associated with an underlying psychiatric condition, but it is not as common as with pathological lying.

Some researchers note that compulsive lying is more common in people with ADHD, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. However, this does not mean lying is a symptom of each mental disorder. There are many people with these mental disorders that do not have an issue of telling lies compulsively, so it should not be assumed that lying is a symptom.

And as for the relationship between the brain and white matter with compulsive lying, there currently isn’t a known relationship. As of right now, there is no research that shows whether compulsive liars have more white matter than people who don’t lie. Because compulsive liars are often considered synonymous with pathological liars, it is possible that the medical literature and studies on white matter incorporated compulsive liars without realizing it. Therefore, though there is a possibility that compulsive liars have more white matter, there is no way to know for sure.

But from the research that is available, it is understood that lying takes more thought processing and cognition to achieve. Therefore it requires more white matter than normal. A pathological liar may have no problem telling lies because they have so much more white matter to help them. But since compulsive liars still get anxious and awkward when telling lies, this may indicate that they don’t have more white matter but that lying is just a habit. But since there is no conclusive research on this, there is no way to know for sure right now.

Is There Any Treatment For Compulsive Lying?

Just like pathological lying, compulsive lying is a symptom or issue that needs treatment. Luckily, compulsive liars are usually much more self-aware of their problem with lies and may be more willing than pathological liars to find treatment and seek professional help.

Still, you may need to persuade the compulsive liar in your life to seek treatment. They may be hesitant and not ready to seek professional help. However, they do have empathy and want to develop healthy relationships. Therefore, talk with them about how their lies are affecting your relationship with them. Show your love and concern for them and emphasize your desire and need to establish a healthy relationship by having them drop the lies and tell the truth. Make sure to stay calm throughout the situation, even if you catch them lying. This could be a very difficult conversation to have, and you may have to have it a few times before you turn them around. Some compulsive liars may not be ready to admit their problem, but some will recognize the issue and agree with you right away. They may begin to feel guilt during this conversation and begin to explore counselors and other treatment options.

The best treatment for compulsive lying is by going to therapy. A person lying habitually can find professional help either with an individual therapist or in couples counseling. Couples counseling is best for compulsive liars whose habits and lies are creating toxic relationships. However, they may still need to work one on one with an individual therapist to get to the core of their lying problems.

Though not as common as with pathological lying, compulsive lying is sometimes connected with trauma or an underlying psychiatric condition. If this is the case, a therapist can help the compulsive liar get treatment for that condition in the form of therapy, medication, or other treatment options.

So although compulsive lying is a significant problem that can hurt many people, the good news is that therapy and support can help end these endless white lies.

10 Signs Of A Compulsive Liar

1. A Compulsive Liar Lies Often

After reading the rest of this article, it should be obvious that compulsive liars lie consistently. They may come up with fictional stories and lies about their past, their hobbies, their relationship status, or anything else they think they need to lie about. However, it will be much easier to detect a compulsive liar, because they often show the typical stressors that accompany lying. In other words, they are not as confident as pathological liars in the stories and lies they create.

2. A Compulsive Liar Lies For No Apparent Reason

While pathological lying occurs with a goal in mind, compulsive lying does not. When you catch a compulsive liar lying, you may wonder why they did it in the first place. In many instances, there is no benefit or apparent reason for someone to tell white lies or create stories.

For example, perhaps one of your coworkers constantly makes up stories about traveling to different countries and having exotic vacations. Once you or your coworkers realize she is lying, you may be wondering why she should make up such stories and lies in the first place. There was no real benefit besides getting attention, and it only made her relationships with her coworkers worse. Compulsive liars often have no apparent reason for lying besides that it is simply a habit for them. A dangerous habit of lying consistently with a constant liar partner may destroy and end any relationship. In this example, perhaps it was too uncomfortable for the liar to admit that she had a staycation, or maybe she created stories to seem more interesting to her peers. Whether there is a reason or not, it is usually not clear or apparent to the people compulsive liars lie to.

3. A Compulsive Liar Gets Nervous When Lying

As mentioned before, you can probably spot a compulsive liar quickly because they are not comfortable when lying to others. Whether they are telling random lies or little white lies, they will exhibit the typical stressors of lying, such as avoiding eye contact and tripping over their words. And if they tell lies a lot, then you will notice these behaviors often.

4. A Compulsive Liar Apologizes When Confronted

If you need to discern whether someone you know is a pathological liar or a compulsive liar, then see how they react when confronted about telling white lies or other random lies. A pathological liar will deny they are lying and find ways to blame others for the situation. A compulsive liar may be aware of their lying habit and will apologize. They may even come clean with the truth and explain why they lied. And even if they don’t apologize, they will probably not be as reactive or manipulative as a pathological liar.

Keep in mind that these are generalizations. Not all compulsive liars have the self-awareness to understand their problem. However, they are typically more self-aware than a pathological liar about their lies and will probably be less reactive.

5. But A Compulsive Liar May Keep Lying Anyway

Unfortunately, even if they have good intentions to stop their lying behaviors, compulsive liars often have a difficult time stopping. Therefore, if you confront them and they apologize, you will very likely see them lying again soon after. Unfortunately, self-awareness does not magically fix compulsive lying, so the compulsive liar will continue to tell white lies until they seek professional help or work much harder at telling the truth.

6. A Compulsive Liar Shows Self-Awareness

As mentioned before, compulsive liars often realize that they lie often, while pathological liars have little to no self-awareness. However, compulsive liars may not know how to stop or may justify their behaviors. Perhaps they believe that they are just telling white lies that do no harm. Or maybe they think no one can tell they are lying, so they keep going. Whatever the case, compulsive liars are usually aware of their lies.

7. A Compulsive Liar Exhibits Empathy

This is perhaps the most important difference between a pathological and compulsive liar. While a pathological liar enjoys manipulating and deceiving others without any care or respect for them, a compulsive liar does care about people but still has a bad habit of telling lies.

Though it is the truth that compulsive lies tend to have no apparent reason, sometimes they do have an apparent reason, and that reason comes from empathy. For example, compulsive liars may lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or lie to prevent the person from being harmed. These are examples of prosocial lies that can be beneficial.

Of course, if someone is lying compulsively, then not all lies will be white lies. But you will generally get the sense that the compulsive liar is not trying to hurt you or deceive you in any way. You’ll wonder why the person lies so much and take appropriate boundaries, but you’ll rarely see any symptoms of narcissism or antisocial behavior.

8. A Compulsive Liar Tells The Truth As Well

A compulsive liar does not lie 24/7. There are many times when they tell the truth and can be completely honest when telling stories. However, depending on how much they tell lies, many people may not be able to recognize or believe them when they are telling the truth.

7. A Compulsive Liar Is Sometimes Open To Seeking Professional Help

If you are in a relationship with a compulsive liar or are closely connected with them, then you have probably considered having a long talk with them and encouraging them to find professional help. If you try this with a pathological liar, you will get nowhere. They don’t have the self-awareness to see they need professional help and that they are creating toxic relationships in every area of their life. But a compulsive liar may have more self-awareness and therefore be more open to seeking professional help to stop lying.

(Video) Liars Exposed!! 6 Signs To Tell If Someone Is A Compulsive Liar

8. A Compulsive Liar Has Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem often leads the compulsive liar to tell lies about their accomplishments, relationships, or abilities. Unlike a pathological liar, they aren’t necessarily narcissistic, but they may still need to come up with stories to boost their esteem and make themselves seem more interesting to other people.

The Difference Between Prosocial Lies And A Pathological Liar

After reading all of this information about compulsive liars and pathological liars, perhaps you’re worried about being a pathological liar yourself or thinking someone in your life is a pathological liar without proper evidence. At this point, it is important to understand that just because someone lies doesn’t mean they are a pathological liar. As stated at the beginning of this article, pretty much everyone tells random lies at some point, so it is a fairly normal part of being human. Though you should aim not to tell random lies, telling one occasionally doesn’t mean you are a bad person. Furthermore, if you catch a friend or coworker telling random lies, don’t immediately assume they are a pathological liar. Take whatever action is needed to correct the lies and behavior, but don’t be concerned unless the lies turn into a pattern.

Also, lying for a good reason or in a prosocial manner is acceptable, or at the very least understandable. For example, you may compliment someone’s cooking even if you don’t like it or compliment their appearance even if it is not to your taste. These are examples of white lies used to avoid hurting someone’s feelings and so they are not usually problematic. Though it is always best to tell the truth, it is understandable if you or someone tells white lies in these manners. Anyone who lies occasionally in this manner is not necessarily a pathological liar.

The difference is that a pathological liar's lies are based on malice or manipulation. They lie consistently, can’t keep their lies straight, but always have a justification or direct the blame when confronted. Sometimes, their lies can be seen as prosocial, but they often have a much darker intention behind them.

For example, think about Regina George from Mean Girls. There is a scene in the movie where she compliments a girl’s skirt, which makes the girl feel good about herself. However, once she is out of earshot, Regina mentions to Cady that it is the “ugliest skirt she has ever seen.” Though this white lie initially seems like a positive, it is clear that Regina used this lie to be cruel. She was not using this lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, she was intentionally hurting them behind their back.

Furthermore, we see multiple examples of her lying throughout the movie. When confronted with her stories and lies, she does not apologize or take positive action to correct her. Instead, this pathological liar continues to lie to everyone and creates new lies to justify her earlier actions, and continues to embellish her stories. Though the movie ends on a happy note, we do not see Regina improve her behavior and learn to tell the truth. As far as we are concerned, she continued to lie to everyone she knew.

So don’t immediately think that someone is a pathological liar just because you have seen them lie once or twice. Everyone does this. For someone to be a pathological liar, they must lie and come up with stories consistently and use those lies to hurt other people.

The Mental Toll Of Dealing With Compulsive Liars And Pathological Liars

If you have never dealt with a compulsive liar or pathological liar yourself, then you may be wondering what the big deal is. Everyone lies, so either just confront them or cut them out, right? Well, life is rarely this straightforward, and pathological liars can make things even more unnecessarily complicated.

The truth is that dealing with a pathological or compulsive liar can have a huge effect on your mental health and quality of life. Depending on who the pathological liar is in your life, you can experience a toxic relationship, issues with your mental health, or find yourself in a toxic home or work environment.

Toxic Relationships

Pathological liars and compulsive liars both have difficulty holding a healthy relationship. This is because their lies often lead to conflict, and they rarely take the blame or improve their behavior.

Furthermore, excessive lies, along with denial, leads to gaslighting and manipulation. These are elements of abuse, which means a pathological liar turns their relationships into toxic relationships. Many people in a relationship with a pathological liar find themselves drained, exhausted, and struggling with their mental health as a result.

Mental Health And Self-Esteem

As just mentioned, excessive lying can turn into a form of abuse. Pathological liars with malicious intent will use their lies to hurt the people around them emotionally. That’s because pathological liars who are also narcissists or are abusive in other ways will also find other tactics to destroy people’s self-worth. This is particularly true of pathological liars who have a mental disorder or personality disorder such as narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.

In extreme cases, these behaviors can lead to the development of a mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. When one is verbally abused and lied to over and over again, it can have a permanent effect on their mental health and self-worth. Even when the pathological liar is out of their life, the person may need therapy or other forms of professional treatment to heal the damage the pathological liar caused with their lies.

Unhealthy Living And Work Environments

Sometimes we find ourselves in environments with unhealthy people with few options on how to deal with their behavior. People who live or work with pathological liars or compulsive liars find themselves in this predicament. They may immediately spot the signs of a pathological liar or a compulsive liar but may not have the power to do anything about it.

Working with a pathological liar can not only make a workplace toxic but can interfere with the working process. For example, a coworker may have great difficulty holding a conversation with a pathological liar, knowing that the person is lying or trying to manipulate them. Supervisors may also struggle to get the pathological liar to work properly or take responsibility since the pathological liar may come up with stories and lies every time a task is submitted late or is subpar. A pathological liar may also create hostility and tension in the workplace, depending on the lies, stories, and drama they create with their colleagues.

Life can be even more difficult for people living with a pathological liar. This can include family and partners in a romantic relationship. People in this situation may also have difficulty holding healthy conversations with pathological liars or doing anything to keep a harmonious home. What’s worse is that very few people can just walk out of their home lives without some consequences, so they may feel stuck in their predicament, especially if the liar has no intention of stopping the lies and telling the truth.

How To Deal With A Pathological And Compulsive Liar

So now that you understand just how harmful being around pathological liars or compulsive liars can be, you’re probably wondering: how does anyone deal with a pathological liar? Well, it is not always easy or straightforward. However, we have a few tips to help you deal with a pathological or compulsive liar.

Stay Calm

When dealing with a pathological liar, it is important to stay calm. If you become defensive or emotional, they can use your reactions to defend their lying or other toxic behavior. Pathological liars use lies and other tactics to control other people and get certain reactions out of them. If you don’t stay calm, you could fall right for their ploy. Those who stay calm manage to have the upper hand when dealing with a pathological liar’s lies.

Expect Denial

When pathological liars lie, they often are not self-aware of their actions. Pathological liars may struggle more than average people with discerning fiction from reality. Therefore they don’t fully realize they are creating stories and lies. It is a subconscious habit that they struggle to break. So since they struggle to know when they are lying and lack the self-awareness to take responsibility for their actions, they will often deny that they have done anything wrong.

But that doesn’t mean you should tolerate it. Just because someone doesn’t realize what they are doing doesn’t mean they deserve a free pass. But if you choose to confront them about their lies, just know that you will probably be met with denial.

Be Supportive

When you first realize that someone in your life lies a lot, you should try to be supportive and figure out why they are lying. This can be particularly effective when dealing with a compulsive liar, as their lies may not be malicious, and they may be more likely to admit they have a problem and look for treatment. Therefore, by gently confronting them and letting them know you still value and care for them, you may further encourage them to find treatment and help for their lying.

However, if it is clear that the person is a pathological liar and harming others with their lies, then being supportive may not be helpful. You can certainly try to figure out why they are lying, but they will most likely remain in denial.

Remember It’s Not About You

When you deal with a pathological liar, it can be tempting to think that the problem is personal. Victims of pathological liars with low self-esteem may be quick to believe the pathological liar’s lies and think they did something wrong to deserve it.

But this could not be further from the truth. It is important to remember that this consistent lying is never about you. Pathological liars lie this way to everyone. It is simply just a subconscious habit they have that they can’t control. It is also possible that their lying is linked to a mental disorder. Therefore, remember that you are never to blame for a pathological liar’s actions.

Be Careful When Engaging Them

If you recognize that you have a pathological liar in your life, you should be careful when engaging them. Pathological liars lie to manipulate others and rarely take accountability for their actions. Therefore, they don’t act well when confronted with their lies and are often in denial. You can gently question what they are saying or correct them with the truth, but directly accusing them of lying or confronting them may just make the situation worse.

Create Boundaries

When someone lies persistently to you, it’s understandable if you can no longer trust them. After all, telling the truth and respecting others are essential for trust and building a relationship. Pathological liars also use their lies to manipulate others and control and harm their mental health. So whether the pathological liar in your life is a coworker, partner, family, friend, or roommate, you need to create boundaries as much as possible.

However, these boundaries are going to be determined by your situation and the liar in question. If you have to deal with a pathological liar every day, such as when living with them, it is going to be much harder to establish boundaries. But if you can walk away from the pathological liar or cut them out of your life completely, then dealing with the situation will be much more straightforward.

No matter your situation, here are a few ideas on how you can create boundaries and effectively deal with a pathological liar.

(Video) 10 Signs Someone is Lying to You

  • Correct their lies with evidence and truth
  • Limit your communication with them
  • Leave them or cut them out of your life
  • Talk to an authority figure (such as a parent, landlord, or supervisor) about the situation
  • Discourage and confront their lying behavior

Seek Professional Help

Even if you successfully remove yourself from a pathological liar, you should seek professional help or treatment if possible. Dealing with the lies of a pathological liar is draining and hurts your mental health, so therapy or counseling may provide treatment for dealing with the situation.

If you choose not to leave the pathological liar or can’t separate from them, speak to a therapist or counselor about the situation. They can give you some tips for dealing with the situation or creating healthy boundaries with the person.

Furthermore, dealing with a pathological liar can eventually lead to the development of a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety. If you believe you are experiencing a mental disorder, a therapist can help you find proper treatment. Some symptoms of depression include feeling hopeless, having low self-worth, experiencing fatigue, and having difficulty concentrating. Some symptoms of anxiety include feeling nervous and restless, having an increased heart rate, feeling weak or tired, and trembling or sweating.

If you are in a relationship with a pathological liar or a compulsive liar, you could try couples counseling to work through the lying issues. Couples counseling may be more effective to a liar who admits they have a problem and understands how it is affecting the relationship. But a pathological liar who won’t take responsibility for their actions in the relationship is less likely to find treatment in couples counseling.

Should You Still Be Friends Or In A Relationship With A Compulsive Liar?

Compulsive Lying Is More Common Than You Think - Learn The Signs

Speak With A Board-Certified Mental Health Expert Online

There is no doubt that it can be mentally and emotionally exhausting having to deal with someone who lies constantly. You can offer support to compulsive liars by pointing out that you are aware of their lies. This might lead them to self-awareness so they can take the first steps toward getting help.

However, if the compulsive liars in your life refuse to admit they have a problem and refuse to seek treatment, you will have to decide whether you can continue the relationship. In fact, putting an end to the relationship may be the best thing for your mental health.

If you decide to remain their friend or remain in a relationship, then here are a few tips on how to proceed:

  • Remember that they are not lying ALL the time. Learn to distinguish their truths from their lies so you can support them when they are honest and telling the truth. If you are positive around them when they tell the truth, it might just encourage them to do it more often.
  • Set boundaries as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. You might, for instance, say it is off-limits to include you as a part of the tales they tell. You should also make it clear you are not going to corroborate any of their stories.
  • Avoid being an enabler to their lying. Maintain your stance of disapproval for their lying tendencies. Do not laugh it off or begin to offer excuses to others why the compulsive liar is the way they are.
  • Keep encouraging them to get help. The bottom line is that the compulsive liar is unlikely to kick the habit all on their own – they need professional help to do so.

There is no consensus among mental health professionals about whether pathological lying is a symptom of various mental disorders or is a disease all on its own. That, however, does not stop a person from being affected by the condition and having to deal with its consequences of it.

If you are struggling with being a compulsive liar or if you have a loved one who you feel needs help for their pathological lying habit, do not hesitate to reach out to a therapist for help right now.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How can you tell when someone lies to you?

There are a few key ways to tell when a person is lying to you, but it’s worth noting that not everybody who lies will exhibit these signs. For perspective, certain types of lying, such as pathological lying, where a person lies compulsively, may be extremely difficult to spot. That’s because pathological liars are extremely confident in their lies and may even believe they are telling the truth. However, some common signs of lying include changing head positions quickly, breathing changes, repeating words or phrases, providing too much information, covering the mouth, and standing very still.

Again, there’s not really a way to be completely sure that a person is lying to you unless you know the truth for a fact. Additionally, a person with the habit of lying may have become extremely proficient when telling lies, and the signs of lying may not be visible. In some cases, a pathological liar may be quite obvious. Perhaps you were with the person at a location, and they blatantly state you were in another. In this situation, pathological lies are easy to spot, but pathological liars are typically experts at learning how to lie pathologically. Pathological lies can be disguised, and a pathological liar may quite easily be confused for the truth. Recognize the signs of pathological lying, or another type, in the person you are talking with so that you can learn how to spot pathological lies when they occur.

What causes people to lie?

There are several reasons people may lie, some of which could be genetic such as pathological liars. At some point in their lives, most people have lied out of embracement or some other reason. And sometimes people lie simply because the truth is uncomfortable to admit.

However, there is also a medical reason. Pathological lying, for perspective, is often a symptom of an underlying mental health problem, and the pathological lies are typically uncontrollable by the person telling them. People who lie pathologically cannot control these urges, and there likely isn’t even a reason for the lie being told in the first place. Habitual liars are similar in that they become used to telling lies, making a habit of lying not having a single cause. Whether a person is a pathological liar, white liar, habitual liar, or another type, it’s important to seek help from a licensed therapist if you believe an underlying psychiatric condition may be the cause.

Is compulsive lying genetic?

Based on new research, there seems to be evidence that compulsive and pathological lying have underlying genetic causes. A person who happens to lie pathologically will often do so when there is no clear reward or reasons. However, lying is a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition in many cases, and that problem could certainly be genetic. However, not all types of lying are genetic, but pathological liars may be experiencing the lying symptom or disease due to genetic reasons. Remember that not all signs of lying have genetic roots like a pathological lying symptom and that pathological liars are an exception. Pathological lying is not believed to be the only form of lying with a genetic component, though, and research is still being done. Additionally, not all pathological lies or liars have a genetic root, though many pathological lies seem to be traced back to an underlying psychiatric condition.

Can a pathological liar change?

In general, those who exhibit the signs of being a pathological liar typically don’t view themselves as needing change. However, some pathological liars end up in legal trouble and undergo treatment, whereas some pathological liars rely on their friends to seek the treatment they need. While living with people who lie pathologically can be difficult, treatment can help identify lying symptoms or disease. Getting a pathological liar to stop lying and tell the truth on their own is extremely challenging, so it’s best to rely on a professional with experience in pathological lying. A pathological lying symptom can be frustrating. Knowing someone is telling a pathological liar, but spotting the signs of lying and communicating with the person about how you feel can also help them recognize their own triggers.

How do I stop being a compulsive liar?

The best way to stop being a compulsive or pathological liar is to seek help from a mental health expert. The signs of lying, pathological lying in particular, often stem from an underlying psychiatric condition. To lie pathologically is often uncontrollable, but pathological lies can eventually get a person into trouble. The best way to stop lying and tell pathological lies is to seek a professional's help. With that said, some of the best ways to stop the lies and reduce a pathological lying symptom are to examine your triggers, think about the lies you tell, take it one day at a time, and focus on trying to tell the truth without telling a whole story or sprinkling in lies. When it comes to pathological lying, a pathological liar will often tell a lie to tell a lie. By limiting the length of stories or explanations, pathological liars can reduce the chance they will tell a lie.

What makes someone a compulsive liar?

A compulsive liar is someone who lies habitually. They may lie compulsively to avoid confrontation, as a defense mechanism, or just because they find telling the truth to be awkward or uncomfortable.

Compulsive lying often begins as a coping mechanism developed in an environment that may be dangerous or require lying in order to live in. Therefore, lying becomes a habit and a comfort, while telling the truth becomes uncomfortable.

However, a compulsive liar is usually not manipulative or deceitful. They are not trying to obtain something or control a person by lying compulsively. A manipulative liar is a pathological liar, which can be far more dangerous.

That doesn’t mean that dealing with a compulsive liar is easy. Consistent lying is a key component of toxic relationships, so even if the liar does not have malicious intent, they can still cause great strain and problems within their relationship. But if the compulsive liar is self-aware of their lying habit and is willing to seek professional help, they can get treatment through individual or couples counseling.

Is compulsive lying a mental illness?

Compulsive lying in itself is not a mental disorder. However, the act of compulsive lying has been observed in people with certain mental disorders, including ADHD, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

(Video) 10 Signs of a Pathological Liar & How to Respond

However, compulsive lying is still a problem as it can affect the well-being of the friends and family of the compulsive liar. Though compulsive liars usually don’t have a malicious reason for lying, it can still be hard to trust them since they lie repeatedly. Lying compulsively makes it very hard to establish long-term relationships and enjoy a wide social circle.

What is a pathological liar vs. a compulsive liar?

Some people believe that a pathological liar and a compulsive liar are the same things. However, they are two different types of liars. Essentially, a pathological liar is a liar who lies incessantly to get their way. A compulsive liar is someone who lies out of habit but does not necessarily do it to be manipulative or deceitful.

A pathological liar is a bit more dangerous than a compulsive liar because they do so to manipulate people or get something they want. They are extremely manipulative and often have little regard or respect for other people.

Pathological liars are also more likely to have a severe mental health condition or personality disorder, such as antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or narcissistic personality disorder.

Though they are manipulative, it is important to understand that pathological liars may not be aware of their lying. A pathological liar may lie about elaborate stories, constantly changing the details and people involved, without awareness of what they are doing. They struggle to keep their lies in order. However, unlike compulsive liars or other people who lie occasionally, they pathological liars can be extremely confident when lying, even giving direct eye contact when talking with another. This can make it seem like they are being honest and telling the truth when they are not. Therefore, many people who know pathological liars often have a hard time discerning truth from fiction with them.

So what is a compulsive liar? As the name suggests, a compulsive liar is someone who will lie compulsively. From early on in childhood, compulsive liars find lying to be a great way to avoid confrontations or uncomfortable situations. Therefore, it becomes a defense mechanism and then turns into habitual lying.

Compulsive liars are usually not trying to be manipulative with their lies. In fact, they probably think their lies are just little white lies that are harmless. Also, unlike pathological liars, compulsive liars feel very uncomfortable lying. They are more aware of their lies and, therefore, may feel stressed or uncomfortable while telling lies. They will typically avoid eye contact, break out into a sweat, and trip over their words.

Though compulsive lying is not as malicious as pathological lying, this form of lying can still create toxic relationships. Their friends, family, and partners may become fed up with their lying as there is no clear motive or good reason for it, and they learn not to trust the person.

But compulsive liars may be more willing to seek professional help for their lying. When confronted with their lying, they are more likely to admit they have a problem. They may just need some professional help for their lying, because by adulthood, it can become a very strong habit. If you or someone you know is a compulsive liar, know that you/they can find help through individual or couples counseling (if the lying is damaging the relationship).

What's a narcissistic liar?

A narcissistic liar is another term used to describe a pathological liar. A pathological liar is someone who lies habitually to control the people around them, be deceitful, or has another goal in mind. Pathological liars lie to manipulate people or to gain something. This can make them incredibly dangerous people to be around, so it is important to create boundaries with these people as soon as you notice a pattern of lying.

The reason why pathological liars are also known as narcissistic liars is because this type of lying is most commonly associated with mental disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial disorder.

Pathological liars tend to create elaborate stories, but keep adding details that don’t add up, are inconsistent, or contradictory. However, when confronted with these contradictions or when accused of lying, the pathological liar will deny the allegations and insist they are telling the truth. In some cases, they may give a seemingly sincere apology, but soon after the pathological liar continues with their lies.

A pathological liar may not have the self-awareness that is critical for healing and treatment of this problem. That is why it is so difficult to help them or get them to stop lying. Lying is normal for them and it is so habitual that they can’t tell they are doing it anymore. When confronted, the pathological liar continues to lie and finds ways to blame the confronter and deny the truth.

But the issue is that pathological liars may not ever get confronted for their lies. Because they are so confident in what they are saying, it can be easy to believe they are telling the truth. They don’t show any signs of being stressed or anxious while lying and can even maintain eye contact. Because of this, many people interact with a pathological liar for years (or even develop a relationship with a pathological liar) without realizing they are constantly being manipulated by the liar.

How can you tell if someone is a compulsive liar?

The primary way to tell if someone is a compulsive liar is by catching them lying a lot. This can be easier said than done because it is not always easy to detect when someone is lying. However, a compulsive liar will show signs of discomfort when lying, such as avoiding eye contact, breaking out in a sweat, or tripping over their words.

You can also detect a compulsive liar when you realize that most of their stories don’t make sense or add up. Maybe the details of the stories seem off to you, or you notice that they keep embellishing or adding contradictory details to their stories. If this is a persistent pattern, they may be a compulsive liar.

However, it is important to understand the difference between pathological and compulsive liars. Pathological liars lie to manipulate people and get what they want. They have a particular goal in mind when they lie. However, compulsive liars are using it as a defense mechanism and to avoid confrontation. They are more self-aware of their problem, but it has become so habitual that they can’t stop. This doesn’t mean it is easy to live with or deal with a compulsive liar, but know that they probably aren’t trying to hurt anyone.

So if you know or are in a relationship with someone who has a habit of lying compulsively, but doesn’t seem to have a malicious goal with their lies, then they are probably a compulsive liar.

What are signs of pathological lying?

Everybody lies at one point or another but there are many signs that distinguish pathological liars from people who lie occasionally.

Intent/Cause: When normal people lie, there is usually an obvious reason. For example, they may be avoiding hurting someone’s feelings or may feel uncomfortable admitting the truth.

But a pathological liar will either have no apparent reason or motive to lie, or may do so with malicious intent. Pathological liars often aim to control or manipulate the people around them, so lies are just another weapon in their arsenal. It is possible that lies are also a coping mechanism developed from childhood, but no case report or study has found a clear cause for pathological lying.

Confidence: When telling their lies or stories, pathological liars will be fully confident in what they say. This is probably the biggest indicator that you are talking to a pathological liar and not an average person who is telling a lie. Pathological liars are not self-aware of their lies and stories and truly believe them. Therefore, they tell their elaborate stories and lies with full confidence. You will not see any of the typical symptoms of lying such as avoiding eye contact or acting nervously. Therefore, it is very common for people to believe that pathological liars are telling the truth, but not discover the truth for themselves until much later.

Frequency: Everyone tells a white lie now and again. Though nobody likes to admit it, telling lies is a very normal thing and may even be an indicator of social intelligence in our species. However, pathological liars lie all the time. No matter the situation or context, they will create stories and lies to manipulate people's emotions and seem like the most interesting person in the room. They will also lie to save face or put the blame on other people. When confronted with their lies, the pathological liar continues to lie to make their old lies make sense or justify their lies in the first place.

Signs of a severe mental disorder: Just because someone has a mental disorder does not mean they will become a pathological liar. Most people with mental health conditions and symptoms are normal, truth-telling people. But there are certain mental disorders and conditions that are often linked with pathological lying. Some of these disorders include narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. If you believe that the pathological liar in your life has one of these conditions, then look out for the following symptoms:

  • Lack of empathy
  • Shallow
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Other verbal and mental abuse tactics
  • Disregard for others’ boundaries or personal life

Turbulent Life: Most pathological liars after difficulty holding their lives together. They often jump from one job to the next because of their behavior and can seem to stay in a committed relationship. People in a relationship with a pathological liar learn very quickly to stay away from them, so the pathological liar may jump from relationship to relationship. Pathological liars may also have turbulent relationships with their family and coworkers.

What mental illness causes pathological lying?

As of right now, there is no known cause of pathological lying. But there are a few hypotheses.

Some researchers believe that pathological liars come from unhappy homes or had adverse childhood experiences that encouraged them to tell lies as a coping mechanism. Other researchers have seen an increased prevalence of brain injuries and substance usage in pathological liars and believe there is a link.

Other researchers believe that these persistent lies are a side effect of additional white matter in the brain. Typically more white matter is beneficial, and the ability to tell lies is seen as a sign of social intelligence, but pathological lying is always harmful.

It is also noted that many pathological liars also live with certain mental or personality disorders. These conditions include narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder. Persistent lies and the inability to tell the truth are common symptoms of these conditions. Unfortunately, treatment for the conditions and symptoms is rare because people with these disorders rarely lack the self-awareness or empathy to seek treatment for their lies in the first place. But even though there is a strong relationship between these conditions and pathological liars, there is not sufficient evidence to say that these conditions are the cause of pathological lies.

How do you find treatment for a pathological liar?

The truth is that it is difficult to find treatment for a pathological liar. When confronted with their lies, a pathological liar continues to lie even if they say they will change. They rarely have enough self-awareness to notice their symptoms and behaviors and therefore may not be interested in treatment.

Yet, treatment is still possible. With a lot of work and self-awareness, pathological liars can reduce and eliminate their lying behaviors.

Psychotherapy is the ultimate form of treatment for this issue. A therapist can stay calm and help a pathological liar unravel their stories and lies and begin to discern the truth. They can also promote self-awareness so that the liar can see how their lies hurt their work, home life, and relationship with others. Even if the pathological liar continues to lie and make up stories, an expertly trained therapist will be able to see through the lies and gently question them until the liar begins to absorb the truth.

(Video) 10 Ways to Know if Someone is Lying to You

Couples counseling is another form of treatment that may work. Pathological liars often have difficulty holding down a relationship as their lies often ruin any relationship they have with others. Someone in a relationship with a pathological liar may suggest couples counseling as a solution and treatment for their relationship problems.

In some cases, if a pathological liar shows symptoms of a mental disorder, the therapist may prescribe medication to help them cope with the condition. This medication may help reduce the inner dialogue within the liar that encourages them to create these lies.

However, the success rate of any treatment depends on how dedicated the pathological liar is to the treatment plan. Many liars may give up treatment when questioned and confronted with the truth.


How To Tell If Someone Is A Compulsive Liar: 10 Signs To Look For? ›

For example, when confronted about something, they may reply with a murky statement such as "Would I do such a thing?" or even "I wouldn't do such a thing," rather than a straightforward "I didn't do it." Another indication of deception is using unnecessary words in a statement that make its meaning less clear.

How do you get a compulsive liar to tell the truth? ›

How to Get the Truth Out of a Liar
  1. Wait to bring up the subject until you are alone.
  2. Speak to them in a gentle tone of voice.
  3. Ask them about what happened in different ways.
  4. Downplay the lie that they're telling.
  5. Empathize with them.
  6. Remain silent.
  7. Share what you think happened.

What are the 5 signs that someone is lying? ›

  • A Change in Speech Patterns. One telltale sign someone may not be telling the whole truth is irregular speech. ...
  • The Use of Non-Congruent Gestures. ...
  • Not Saying Enough. ...
  • Saying Too Much. ...
  • An Unusual Rise or Fall in Vocal Tone. ...
  • Direction of Their Eyes. ...
  • Covering Their Mouth or Eyes. ...
  • Excessive Fidgeting.

How do you spot and deal with habitual liars? ›

Here are a few pointers to help you handle a conversation with a pathological liar:
  1. Don't lose your temper. ...
  2. Expect denial. ...
  3. Remember that it's not about you. ...
  4. Be supportive. ...
  5. Don't engage them. ...
  6. Suggest medical help.
Aug 27, 2018

What do liars say when confronted? ›

For example, when confronted about something, they may reply with a murky statement such as "Would I do such a thing?" or even "I wouldn't do such a thing," rather than a straightforward "I didn't do it." Another indication of deception is using unnecessary words in a statement that make its meaning less clear.

How do you trick someone into telling the truth? ›

6 ways to get someone to tell you the truth
  1. Go alone and bring food. It's a well-known fact that nobody confesses to a crowd. ...
  2. Take an empathetic approach. ...
  3. Don't ask questions. ...
  4. Cultivate short-term thinking. ...
  5. Stay in charge of the conversation. ...
  6. Be presumptuous, not accusatory.
Mar 10, 2022

How do you outwit a liar? ›

  1. Ask questions from the assumption of guilt. Ask questions based on a presumption of guilt, rather than innocence, and actively interrupt denials. ...
  2. Ask open then closed questions. . ...
  3. Ask about the story in reverse. ...
  4. Ask unexpected questions (about unexpected detail). ...
  5. Maintain eye contact.

What are the red flags that someone is lying? ›

When it comes to detecting lies, people often focus on body language “tells,” or subtle physical and behavioral signs that reveal deception. For example, shrugging, lack of expression, a bored posture, and grooming behaviors such as playing with hair or pressing fingers to lips can give away a person who is lying.

Where do liars look when lying? ›

The direction of their eyes: A 2012 study published in Plos One debunked the myth people look to the left when lying. A study by the University of Michigan found when participants lied, they maintained eye contact 70% of the time.

Where do eyes look when lying? ›

Many NLP practitioners claim that a person's eye-movements can reveal a useful insight into whether they are lying or telling the truth. According to this notion, looking up to the right is indicative of lying whereas looking up to their left suggests that they are telling the truth.

What makes people habitual liars? ›

Research indicates pathological lying can occur because of low self-esteem and a false sense of self. People who lie pathologically may want others to view them positively, making things up to make them look better. Their desire to create a false sense of self could indicate that they are unhappy with themselves.

What is a narcissistic liar? ›

A narcissistic liar is a person who lies to get what they want. They are often charming and persuasive. But their primary goal is always self-promotion. They want to present themselves in a certain light and believe they can get away with it.

What is the difference between a compulsive liar and a habitual liar? ›

Unlike the compulsive liar, who generally knows right from wrong, a pathological liar lives with a false sense of reality. If confronted, they become defensive and never admit their lies. Some evidence from a 2007 study suggests that issues affecting the central nervous system may predispose someone to be pathological.

What are the facial expressions of a liar? ›

Tightened jaw and forehead

Liars also tend to tense up when they're not being truthful, and this can include tightening the jaw and forehead. Both are connected to the "mental effort and stress" associated with telling a lie, according to Wenner.

What do you say to catch a liar? ›

Playful comments that acknowledge the lie will usually do the trick. Whether it's “Hey, I think I just saw your nose grow a little bit” or “I need to get my prescription checked. When I looked at the scorecard, it said you shot 112,” this strategy gives the liar a chance to admit their slip-up without fear of reprisal.

What words are used when someone is lying? ›

Palter, Dissemble, and Other Words for Lying
  • Palter. Definition: to act insincerely or deceitfully. ...
  • Dissemble. Definition: to hide under a false appearance. ...
  • Prevaricate. Definition: to avoid telling the truth by not directly answering a question. ...
  • Mendacious. Definition: likely to tell lies. ...
  • Fib. ...
  • Equivocate. ...
  • Perjure. ...
  • Half-truth.
Dec 22, 2022

When someone doesn't tell you the whole truth? ›

In formal contexts, disingenuous can be used when someone doesn't tell the whole truth about something. Disingenuous is often modified by phrases like a little or a tad to show the speaker is being sarcastic.

When someone refuses to tell the truth? ›

Denialism is an expansion, an intensification, of denial. At root, denial and denialism are simply a subset of the many ways humans have developed to use language to deceive others and themselves. Denial can be as simple as refusing to accept that someone else is speaking truthfully.

What is a word to tell someone the truth? ›

The most common word for this is honest.

What is the best revenge on a liar is to convince? ›

Revenge Quotes

The best revenge on a liar is to convince him that you believe what he said.

How do you catch someone in a lie? ›

10 Ways to Catch a Liar
  1. Inconsistencies. Tip No.
  2. Ask the Unexpected. Tip No.
  3. Gauge Against a Baseline. Tip No.
  4. Look for Insincere Emotions. Tip No.
  5. Pay Attention to Gut Reactions. Tip No.
  6. Watch for Microexpressions. Tip No.
  7. Look for Contradictions. Tip No.
  8. A Sense of Unease. Tip No.
Mar 30, 2009

How do you prove someone is lying about you? ›

While not an exhaustive list, these verbal and non-verbal signs of deception are more common than some of the others we've seen.
  1. Premise. ...
  2. Verbal Indicators. ...
  3. No Response/Non-Responsive. ...
  4. Delayed Response. ...
  5. Repeating the Question. ...
  6. No Denial. ...
  7. Overly Specific/Overly Vague. ...
  8. Protest Statements.

What are the worst lies in a relationship? ›

“One of the worst lies couples can tell each other has to do with the single most lethal relationship threat: The Other,” says Wendy L. Patrick, JD, PhD, author of the book, Red Flags. “Lying about spending time with another person is a death knell to a relationship, and a lie partners should never tell,” she adds.

Can liars look you in the eye? ›

Researchers say no. Science shows that liars do not avoid eye contact any more frequently than those telling the truth. The key thing to look for in eye movement is deviation from their baseline.

What do liars do with their eyes? ›

“Many people believe that if someone is looking them straight in the eye that this is an indication of a truthful exchange, but actually practised and habitual liars tend to use eye contact to fool you – they engage greater eye contact than the average person to do this,” Barnett says.

Do liars rub their eyes? ›

When someone is telling you a lie, they will often find it difficult to look you directly in the eye. To avoid eye contact they may rub their eyes. Men will rub their eyes briskly or look down when lying. Women are more likely to rub below their eyes or stare up whilst lying.

What does it mean when someone looks away while talking to you? ›

Individuals usually look away when they are thinking, hesitating, or talking in a non-fluent way. This behavior likely serves two purposes, the first of which is to shield themselves psychologically from the embarrassment of being judged for not proceeding.

Why do people tend to lie? ›

However, of the most common motives for telling lies, avoiding punishment is the primary motivator for both children and adults. Other typical reasons include protecting ourselves or others from harm, maintaining privacy, and avoiding embarrassment, to name a few.

What mental illness makes you lie? ›

Pathological lying is a possible symptom of certain personality disorders, including: borderline personality disorder (BPD) narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) antisocial personality disorder (APD)

Do liars get worse with age? ›

In other words, older adults are worse liars. Regarding lie detection, the researchers conclude that older adults have more difficulty differentiating lies from truths than do younger adults. In other words, older adults are also worse lie detectors.

What is a red lie? ›

There is the red lie, which is a lie one tells to hurt another person or get even.

What does a narcissist do when caught lying? ›

If you catch a narcissist in a lie and confront them, you will definitely face at least one of the Four D's. They will either deny, deflect, devalue, and/or dismiss you.

What do narcissists never tell you? ›

They will never recognize your hard work, they will only remind you how they played a part in your success. The ability to truly trust others- Oddly enough, narcissists are unable to believe what other people say or do.

How do narcissists treat their children? ›

Narcissistic parents are often emotionally abusive to their children, holding them to impossible and constantly changing expectations. Those with narcissistic personality disorder are highly sensitive and defensive. They tend to lack self-awareness and empathy for other people, including their own children.

Will a compulsive liar ever change? ›

Understanding what causes the lying is the only way to change a pathological liar's behavior. Treatment, which can include psychotherapy, medication, or both, will depend on whether or not the pathological lying is a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition.

Should you call out a compulsive liar? ›

If you believe you're dealing with a compulsive liar, the following tips can help you cope with the situation: Call them out: When you catch the liar in a lie, let them know that you know they are lying. However, keep in mind that this could make them resentful.

What are nonverbal cues that someone is lying? ›

Nonverbal Signs of Lying
  • Inappropriate eye contact, such as staring or limited blinking, may indicate dishonesty. ...
  • Odd eye movements, such as looking down and/or looking to the left or the right frequently has been associated with dishonesty. ...
  • Excessive blinking can indicate anxiety, which often pairs with lying.
Oct 26, 2021

What is the tone of someone lying? ›

People who speak with a rising intonation, reduced emphasis at the beginning of each syllable, and a slower speech rate are generally perceived as dishonest, according to a new study in the journal Nature Communications.

What are verbal cues of lying? ›

5 Verbal Cues That Mean Someone Is Lying, According to Lawyers and Therapists
  • They question your question.
  • They ramble.
  • They use more filler words.
  • They speak loud and fast.
  • Their story is inconsistent.
Feb 11, 2023

What is a worse word for liar? ›

falsifier, perjurer, prevaricator.

What is a deep word for lie? ›

synonyms for lie
  • deceit.
  • deception.
  • dishonesty.
  • disinformation.
  • distortion.
  • evasion.
  • fabrication.
  • falsehood.

Can a compulsive liar ever change? ›

Understanding what causes the lying is the only way to change a pathological liar's behavior. Treatment, which can include psychotherapy, medication, or both, will depend on whether or not the pathological lying is a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition.

How do you rebuild trust with a compulsive liar? ›

If you want to attempt to rebuild trust, here are some good starting points.
  1. Consider the reason behind the lie or betrayal. When you've been lied to, you might not care much about the reasons behind it. ...
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. ...
  3. Practice forgiveness. ...
  4. Avoid dwelling on the past.
Aug 9, 2019

What is the best revenge for a liar? ›

Revenge Quotes

The best revenge on a liar is to convince him that you believe what he said.

What mental disorder causes compulsive lying? ›

Pathological lying or lying compulsively can also be a symptom of antisocial personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder. People with these personality disorders may lie to gain sympathy or social status, or to preserve a false sense of self.

Are compulsive liars aware? ›

It is unclear whether a person who pathologically lies is aware of their deceit or is capable of thinking rationally about their lies. Pathological lying can make socializing difficult and lead to significant interpersonal problems with loved ones and colleagues.

What personality disorder is lying? ›

Pathological lying usually starts when a person is in their teens. They often continue the pattern for years. This behavior can be part of a personality disorder such as antisocial, narcissistic, and histrionic.

How do you set boundaries with a compulsive liar? ›

You can state your boundaries in this way: “I will not take any lying or dishonesty, whether verbal or nonverbal. A lie is a lie whether it is hidden or not. If information is left out intentionally, this will be considered a lie. Lying is painful to me and I will not allow it to be a part of our relationship anymore.”

What are the psychological effects of being lied to? ›

They alter our reality, reframing it through the agenda of the person who doesn't want the truth to come out. Being lied to makes you feel insecure – your version of the truth is discredited. It also makes you feel unimportant – the person lying to you didn't value you enough to tell the truth.

Should you forgive a compulsive liar? ›

If a person lies, and is unrepentant about it, you are under no obligation to forgive. If the liar is sorry, you still do not have to forgive. Generally it is a good idea to do so, but the choice is yours. Forgiveness is not automatic just because the other person is sorry.

What is a person who lies to get their way? ›

A liar lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little awareness. It is viewed as a coping mechanism developed in early childhood and is often associated with some other type of mental health disorder like an antisocial personality disorder.

What phrases do liars use? ›

Liars hedge their statements.

As far as I recall…” “If you really think about it…” “What I remember is…” Hedged statements aren't an absolute indicator of deception, but an overuse of such qualifying phrases certainly should raise suspicion that a person isn't being totally up front with what he or she knows.

Is silence the best revenge? ›

Silence speaks volumes

The best revenge is no reaction. Believe it, the silence and zero reaction really bothers your ex, and they consider it as the best served revenge. Nothing creates more curiosity than silence. Your ex would expect a vent or an angry rant from you, but don't give in.


1. Can you tell when someone is lying to you?
(University of Rochester)
2. ♂ 10 Signs That She Is Lying To You - This Will Tell You If She Is Lying
(Spoken Quotes)
3. 12 Signs Someone Is Lying To You
4. 5 Foolproof Ways to Spot a Liar
5. Pathological Lying Vs Normal Lying? How To Tell the Difference
(Dr. Tracey Marks)
6. 10 Signs That Someone is Lying: Jocko Underground 033
(Jocko Podcast)


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