Gone But Not Forgotten
Jul 31, 2005
Hi all, I know it might not be exactly fortean but definitely a human condition topic, but does anyone know much about the psychology of compulsive lying? I have long been intrigued by it as i have been on the receiving end of this behaviour in the past and never quite knew what to make of it. Is it just plain attention seeking (seems likely and yet not likely, aagh!) or is it a make-the-world-seem-better-by-creating-illusions sort of thing?
I am a compulsive creature myself in some ways ie sticking rigidly to routines and having particular ways of doing things, my habits are often screwy but not to the point where they impact heavily on my life. Still with the knowledge of why these compulsions take me, i have never fathomed compulsive lying. It just seems to cause so much damage and hurt, my boyfriend unfortunately had a long term relationship with a CL and it has really affected him.
In my experience people who do it range from the nervous type who lies to make themselves look more interesting to the quite cuckoo who just doesnt seem to have much grasp on 'reality' as such.

What do you all think? Any ideas would be gladly appreciated, but no fibs!! hehe.

Smiles and little furry kittens to everyone. :miaow:
Minkycats, I'm intrigued by your name...I have recently adopted two kittens, one of whom is named Minkey!

Back to topic...I had a boyfriend once who was a compulsive liar. He would tell me stupid lies about totally inconsequential things in the middle of some discussion. Took me a while to catch on, and when I'd call him on it, he'd just laugh and admit it.

Now, the backstory, which might shed some light on why he lied so blithely: he was also a gambling addict. He was quite in the habit of lying about his whereabouts when he wasn't where he was supposed to be, which was, well, most of the time. He actually concocted this story (which he told to his coworkers as well as me) that he was undergoing counseling with his brothers, after the death of their mother, which is why he was out of his office so frequently. Turns out he was just over at the horse track. Nice, huh? He also stole a large sum of money from the company to cover some gambling debts, and covered his tracks quite cleverly, and got away with it for awhile. Got caught, ultimately, of course, and went away on a federally-sponsored "holiday," if you get my drift.

I don't know if lying about silly, meaningless things was some sort of amusement for him, or if it was so ingrained because of his need to cover his gambling issues.

Probably didn't answer your question, at all, :spinning , even a little bit...but the CL thing is fascinating to me too.

Personally, I'm a lousy liar. Two seconds after the words leave my lips I burst into hysterical laughter.
hey mewofur! ta for replying, its a saturday night and as i live in bonny wales, not a lot is happening!

Your story sounds a lot like my experiences, it doesnt exactly cause monumental damage but its very vexing all the same. alas my poor boyfriend is not so lucky and had some excruciating times with his ex, very messed up stuff there.

I do wonder whether or not all cl's know what theyre doing, as you said, yr ex would admit to lying, in my experience that only happens when someone really has no way out of the lie. One thing i have noticed is that these folk do tend to play a victim, one girl i knew quite obscenely flouted the 'fact' she had been sexually assaulted, and any time you asked her even how she was (like, hiya, how are you? stuff) she'd descend into a plethora of tales about which antidepressants she was taking and so on, nightmare! the weird thing is, and what i really cant make out, is if these people believe that other people believe them, or if that really doesnt matter to them.

I am admittedly mostly interested in this because i want to give some help to my b/f, because he is as confused as i am about the entire thing, and obviously is more affected by it than i have been. Poor fella.

Oh yes, minkycats, thats just a mishmash of animal names im afraid! I have a preoccupation with things weasely, so mink are in there, and being something of a mad cat lady i have to get the word cat in too :) How old are your lovely new kittens? I am getting a new one myself soon, well, when i can afford it! Theyre the best, already got one and he's a lovely thing, if completely mad.

Also i am a rubbish liar too, i can be spotted a mile off because i start grinning like a mad eejit and saying things like 'my isnt the floor...errr.flat'

SORRY! Meowfur, not mewofur, that was a dumb mistake! aagh, thats what a day sitting in the sun does to you, grrrrrrr.
tho mewofur does sound like a cockney eastenders greeting, 'y'awright me wofur?'

maybe not eh? :oops:
Well, it's Saturday MORNING here in sunny Phoenix Arizona, where it will be 106 degrees in short order. Minkey and her twin Squid are about 8 months old now, and join my already overlarge family of 5 other cats and 2 dogs. I am currently reading the "Animal Collectors" post and will probably put in my (embarrassed :madeyes: ) 2 cents' worth soon.

(Just read your 2nd reply; :laughing: Meowfur's another one of my cats!)

I suspect your poor boyfriend is doing what MOST of us do in these cases, and therein lies the problem. He's trying to reason with an unreasonable character. It's hard not to do, and any of us who have ever had alcoholics or other type addicts in our lives probably have done it. And you may as well spit into the wind, for all the good it does. :headbutt:

Tell the BF not to waste his time, pearls before swine etc. etc. He is a victim, and presumably a normal person, and as such, will NEVER understand the crazy ex's motivation, or be able to "deal" with it or help her. You, or he, might want to read up on addictive behavior, and how healthcare (or law enforcement, maybe) individuals handle it. One thing I know for sure, you CAN'T get through simply from the goodness of your heart.

Best of luck.
i too was reading the animal collectors post with a feeling of slow dread! ah i reckon there's worse things you can be than a crazy cat lady :) 8 Month olds are a right handful! Still, theyre such lovely little critters, i've put up with a multitude of sins hehe.

You definitely have the right idea, pretty much similar to my own, that you really can't rationalise the irrational, in that its never going to be totally explicable, still the motivation behind it is so strange that i really wish i could grasp it!

i will endeavour to look up something about getting to grips with being a victim of someone like that. i wonder if the whole compulsive lying thing is being a victim of yourself in a way, in a similar way to as you mentioned, alcoholics (i have first hand experience of that wot with my mam being a drinker) it is incredibly frustrating and yet i can't help feeling sorry for some people coz i dont know if they've got control over it or not. if it is uncontrollable, which the notion of compulsion would say it is, then that is really awful even though the behaviour is probably more awful for those on the receiving end of it.

Ever a confusing matter :?
minkycats said:
it is incredibly frustrating and yet i can't help feeling sorry for some people coz i dont know if they've got control over it or not. if it is uncontrollable, which the notion of compulsion would say it is, then that is really awful even though the behaviour is probably more awful for those on the receiving end of it.

Ever a confusing matter :?

Try compassion, my dear, combined with the recognition that you can't save the world. And remember to have compassion for yourself, as well, as a victim who happens to care about the victimizer.
I suppose a lot depends on what kind of lies are being told.

Addicts of an kind will cover their behaviour with lies if they feel it will be disapproved of, but a true compulsion to lie (as in a reflexive or involuntary response) might be symptomatic of something else.

There are some disorders that might produce behaviour similar to this, for example, with the added complication that the events described might seem very real to the person relating them but which are 'obviously' untrue to the listener.
Unfortunately I know someone who lies like this too. Despite recognising that she has told some big ones over the years, at some point I decided to remain friends with her because essentially she's a good person. she just seems to have a screw loose so to speak. She has concocted elaborate lies about men she supposedly dated when in fact she never had romantic relationships with them at all. She has on more than one occasion claimed to be pregnant for guys who seemed to be losing interest, only months would pass and she would show no signs of actually being pregnant. She would cling desperately to these guys for any small amount of attention, and when they finally abandoned her completely she would suddenly announce that she "lost the baby" The thing is her stories were possible and so you couldn't actually be certain she was lying. Only after time one would notice a pattern to her behaviour and there would be physical signs absent to the point that you couldn't help doubting her. Then suddenly she wouldn't be pregnant anymore.
She lies about other medical conditions as well and I think she is somewhat of a hypochondriac. Many mutual friends tend to shy away from her because her behaviour seems "off" to them. I've always been disturbed by it and sometimes found myself wondering, while she's telling one of her unlikely stories, why she tells them and whether she realises others can see through her. I've even met her family and tried to detect whether some problem there may have caused her to behave the way she does. But they seem rather normal to me.
All I can do is hear her out but try not to encourage her lying too much. It's a strange thing to deal with and it has always bothered me.
I know people who lie about totally pointless things: not even necessarily to make themselves look good. I have a friend who has figured out I am interested in Fortean things, so often tells me absolutely incredible and patently untrue stories about the "spectres" and horror movie monsters he has seen. He can go on in this vein for hours, and seems to believe it when he's telling it, but they are constructed far too much like stories (but with silly inconsistencies) for them to be true. I refrain from saying "that's bullshit" too often as he seems to enjoy, but I do wonder why.
I'm meeting an acquaintance tonight who is a bit of a fantasist. Some of his stories may have a grain of truth, but some I know to be bullshit!

He also uses an interesting phrase "What can't speak can't lie" (meaning 'There's the evidence, see for yourself'), which I don't think I've heard anyone else use.
We should make a distinction here between "habitual" lying and "compulsive" lying; though it can be very hard indeed to tell the difference as the results are so often similar.

If a behavior is compulsive, a psychological disorder is at work, which may have physical roots. We live in the alchemical age of psychological disorders, and compulsive behavior is not well understood. If you know someone with a psychological disorder, the first thing you have to do is analyze your relationship with that person, whether it's compulsive lying, pyromania, depression, outright sociopathy, or whatever. You have to be honest with yourself about the degree to which the disorder is destructive, the degree to which the other person is self-aware enough to do the work necessary to control the destructive elements, your ability to cope with the effects of the disorder, and your motivation for doing so. It's harsh, but sometimes you have to walk out of that life, for the other person's sake as well as your own. Sometimes, this isn't an option, or you decide that you are committed enough to this person to go the distance and cope; in which case, you need to bone up on the disorder and get your support networks into gear, because you're not going to be able to cope on your own. Eventually, the disorder will wear you down and you want to know who you can call on when that happens.

The habitual liar probably has all kinds of excuses and may even pretend to be under a compulsion, but he could stop if he wanted to. Adulterers, users of illegal substances, reckless and short-sighted individuals, and people who want to be liked or admired but don't have solid virtues to work with are examples of habitual liars. (I always distrust charming people!) In those cases, you have to evaluate the nature of the lies and their effect on you. If he's just telling tall stories to make you laugh and/or make himself look good, big fat hairy deal if the rest of the relationship works; if he's telling you he's going to rehab to cover up his visits to the crack house, you can't afford to put up with it and are entitled to hound him or put his clothes on the doorstep and change the lock as seems good to you. These people are more interested in how they look than in who they are, but they are not necessarily hopeless. Just don't think you're going to change them, because only they can do that.

Some people who seem to be lying, aren't. They are actively delusional, or at least fantasy prone, and don't have normal reality testing skills. This is not necessarily a psychological disorder per se, as you will often meet people who function perfectly well most of the time, but are committed to some untenable political, religious, or personal belief, and they will tell you patently untrue things with a clear conscience because they believe them. A good salesman will talk himself into the belief that the car he's selling you today really is the best on the market; if he loses his job at the Mercedes showroom and gets one at the Ford dealership, he will adjust his beliefs without skipping a beat.

And then there's people who modify their own memories, which is most of us. Reality is complicated, and cannot be conveyed in its entirety. We all suppress, enhance, and invent details when we give the narratives of our lives; this is normal and not blameworthy, but can be inconvenient in evaluating eyewitness testimony.

That's life.
thanks to everyone for your replies on this :) PeniG i really appreciate the response as i was a little confused on the somewhat blurred boundary between habitual and compulsive lying. As i've said before, i can almost cope with a compulsive liar because i know to all extents they can't help it, and it doesnt seem to be done to manipulate, it's just uncontrolled. Its the manipulation thing that freaks me out, how someone can tell horrible lies about themselves so people feel sorry for them, and also how people will tell lies to ingratiate themselves with others! ie friend finds out you're into fortean stuff, and all of a sudden has all the tales in the world about ghosts/ ufo's/polts etc!

I suppose i just wasnt sure if the compulsive liar lied with malicious intent, but after PeniG's explanation i see thats not the case. I suppose the habitual liar would fit this category a bit more - apologies if i keep banging on about the whole vindictive/manipulative thing, its just that this is the sort of behaviour which i had in mind when i posted the question.

The sort of person who really doesnt know that theyre lying i can grasp, because its not within control nor does the person in fact think theyre lying. I do have to wonder what kind of person would intentionally tell hurtful untruths to supposed loved ones when they a) know they are not telling the truth and b) know they are hurting those people.
Would that fit more into the area of munchausens what with purposeful self victimisation? I am not up on the subject but it seems to come into that area in my mind!
Specifically to glamour_dust, i have to say that you sound like a very true friend, and your mate is lucky to have you as such! I dont mean that in a nasty way, its just very rare to meet a person who can really see past the gremlins in you and view the good aspcects irrespectively.

It sounds like she is of the nervous and not particularly confident type, and doesnt have a lot of self esteem, which would explain the fabrication of things to keep people close to her. Has she addressed the problem or does she assume you do not suspect? It must be quite draining and difficult at times as a friend.

PeniG said:
We should make a distinction here between "habitual" lying and "compulsive" lying; The habitual liar probably has all kinds of excuses and may even pretend to be under a compulsion, but he could stop if he wanted to. Adulterers, users of illegal substances, reckless and short-sighted individuals, and people who want to be liked or admired but don't have solid virtues to work with are examples of habitual liars.

Very informative; thank you! From your description here, PeniG, I guess my gambling addict ex was more likely habitual than compulsive. I hadn't thought to make the distinction before.

How do you come by this information?
I have a friend who I have known for quite a long time...at some point during adolescence it occurred to me that many of the fairly extreme stories she was telling me might not be true. I never mentioned it to her, but as I became aware of it it seemed more obvious...and more frequent than I would have imagined... Thing is, a couple of years ago I happened to ask her about something that supposedly happened in high school, I had thought in retrospect that it was unlikely, but was never quite sure...Anyway, she had absolutely no recollection of this thing happening, nor of even mentioning it! I was amazed!

I don't know if she was a compulsive liar as such. I only ever had suspicions that the things she was telling me weren't true. I mean, they were pretty out there..if you know what I mean...

But if she was a CL...is that a common thing? For CLs to forget their own lies? And this was a fairly important thing she was talking about...can't imagine that she would just forget about it...

Anyway, she doesn't seem to do it anymore...Perhaps it was just a teenage attention seeking thing...
I've known quite a few people who habitually shovel out the bullsh*t, and like mossy_sloth's experience, when reminded or challenged later they would either 'forget', deny it angrily, or spin more lies to skirt around it. Most baffling.
Leaferne said:
I've known quite a few people who habitually shovel out the bullsh*t, and like mossy_sloth's experience, when reminded or challenged later they would either 'forget', deny it angrily, or spin more lies to skirt around it. Most baffling.

sounds just like my mother-in-law. she would say the the most awful things -- in front of witnesses, then completely deny it, play the victim, and get horribly angry if anyone repeated what she'd said. it turned out she came from a family of liars. lying was an accepted part of daily life.
I've been rereading Peni's excellent post and trying to figure out which would apply to my former friend M. I met her when she was a law student (make up your own joke ;) ). I was about 26-27 and she was about 41 then. As I got to know her, I "learned":

- her mum was Scottish, dad was status Indian but lost that status when he enlisted in WW2 (yes, they did lose their status, don't ask me why) in one of the UK armed forces and wound up on Churchill's staff (!)

- she went to the 1972 Olympics, competing for Britain in the high jump, but never actually got to compete because after the terrorists struck they sent all the young'ns home (she would have been about 16) (don't ask me how someone from Nova Scotia wound up on the British team)

- she enrolled in the Royal Navy (GB not Can) herself and was a chemical weapons expert in the Falklands doo-dah (although her daughter would have been about 6 wks old when the war broke out; I don't know if they'd have sent out a woman with a child that young at home)

- at one point she was an automotive journalist, then worked for one of the major car companies but quit in disgust when they wouldn't make her a vice-president because she didn't have a degree (why the hell did she do film studies then?!) She *did* know a fair bit about cars but was mysteriously hazy about which journal she actually worked on. One of my friends wondered if it was one of those "Auto Trader" mags you get free at the corner store or in laundromats.

- her partner/husband was a native liaison officer, or some equivalent position, in a pen in Nova Scotia, yet he wouldn't transfer to Kingston (Kingston is to penitentiaries as Las Vegas is to light bulbs) because he didn't like the town. It baffled me why she always had to be home at 9 p.m. when he phoned

- her previous husband was a Scot in the Royal Navy (there's that damn British military popping up again!) and their daughter went to the same daycare as Prince William! (Wills was in daycare?! wtf?!)

- she was hard to track/trace because she went by a variety of names, e.g. we all knew her as Maggie Fletcher-Ridoux, her father's last name was Martin (I made a point of asking him his last name when I met him, and btw he was a real sweetie--never had the nerve to ask him about Churchill though), her phone was in the name of Patricia Brown (I think Patricia was a middle name) etc. I asked her teenage daughter once where she got the Brown name and she smiled sadly and wouldn't tell me.

It's all very Forrest Gump-ish and we never believed a word of it. Re: her husband working at the pen in NS--another friend, who went to law school with her, finally snapped one day as we were discussing the oddness of it all, and told us that the guy was actually in Collins Bay Penitentiary here in town (same one where my bf worked for 15 yrs) and was doing time for accessory to murder! When Maggie or whatever her name was said she was going back to NS to see him, she was just lying low in her apartment, not answering phone or emails, before suddenly reappearing with tales of her wonderful vacation. She had to be home at 9 p.m. when he phoned because cons can only call collect, even though Collins Bay is local; perhaps she was billed the equivalent of a pay phone call, I dunno. I don't get a lot of calls from convicts and frankly I prefer it that way. ;)

The friendship only lasted a year or two. When the ice storm hit in 1998, I wound up staying at her place for a week. Hers was the only place I could go to because she was the only one of my friends who never lost power in her part of town and could accommodate both a cat and a smoker (she smoked). She'd taken Sam for a week or so when I was away for Christmas and he became great buds with her cat, so at least I didn't have to worry about him. Needless to say it drove me crazy; her lying and her overbearing ways were driving me crazy. After my neighbourhood got power back and I could go home, I found out from another friend that M. had been telling people that *I* was claiming to have given people money to make up for their losses in the storm! When I asked the person (who was totally reliable) where in the hell I'd get the money to hand out to people and why I would do that in the first place, she just shrugged and rolled her eyes.

M. was a classic example of a person who was always reinventing herself. She was bright and superficially charming and always had a stock of entertaining stories. OTOH she was also overbearing and tried to dominate social gatherings, i.e. once when a bunch of us were at a bday dinner held in my honour, she dismissed our plans to go to someone's house to watch a video and started recruiting people to go to a pub after--and she didn't even drink! She was very controlling; when I was staying at her place, she'd go out for the day and leave me alone, unable to go anywhere even though the mall next door was open, because she wouldn't give me a key. I actually spent a night there longer than I wanted to because she came home from work one day, told me my place had lights again, then said I'd be staying another night because it would be too cold. Her teenaged daughter saw the look on my face and smiled sadly. I didn't argue with her because (a) I was young and (b) I had no money with which to call a cab, and it seemed easier to just take a deep breath and endure another night, then go home and forget about her forever. She was constantly screaming at her daughter too. She had a computer in her room which she let me use, but she'd stay in the room while I was emailing my bf and say things like "Oh, you said 'Hi sweetie'! That is so awesome etc." and when I shut the computer off and left the room, she spent the rest of the night alternating between chiding me for my petulance and apologizing for being nosy. Unfortunately the building wasn't high enough for it to be fatal for one of off to go off the balcony so I just sucked it up. (man, I was young then! I'd never put up with that kind of crap these days!)

Anyway, she continued her pattern of flitting from one thing to another. After finishing her law degree, she cast around for something to do and decided to take an MA in military studies at the Royal Military College (a program open to civilians). She started dating one of the officers from the college (never mind her husband rotting in Collins Bay), then abruptly quit to take a job in the far north. We figured she'd worn out her welcome here; certainly everyone had seen through her. I sometimes wonder where she is and what she's doing, and what she tells people about her time here in Kingston. Even her Indianness was in private dispute; her dad had a Scottish accent and looked about as native as I do (granted, that's not foolproof, there *are* blonde/blue-eyed status Indians walking around, but it just didn't add up). We figured she exaggerated a wee bit as to how much Indian she actually had, or perhaps she had been adopted. There's really no way of knowing.

She certainly was an enigma.
I too had a friend, D, who lied constantly. Until you've had this experience, it's hard to understand how bizarre it is.

This friend had lots of unusual 'experiences' too, including several pregnancies by men who'd hardly met her, and was well-known for her wild sexuality.

A mutual acquaintance once told me that D had told her all about our exploits, nudge nudge. My repsonse was a sigh. What crap was she coming out with now.........?

It seems that D and I had been having a passionate lesbian affair and my then husband had caught us in bed together. Instead of getting angry, he had joined in and we were now having regular threesomes.
(Where my 4 kids, all under 12, were when all this was going on is a mystery.)

This was news to me of course, and told the acquaintance so.
But mud sticks, as they say, and I wonder who else heard heard that story and, not knowing any better, believed it.

Liars are not worth wasting time on, no matter what their reason is for doing it. The first time I catch one out, their credibility is out of the window and I'm out of the door. ;)
blimey there really are some scary folk out there! Responding to escargot and leaferne in particular, (because i have a very bad short term memory and those are the last posts i read!) i was wondering how you actually felt as a result of these peoples behaviour? It seems to make people on the receiving end feel, although they realise it was all concocted, quite cheated and toyed with.

Given the circumstances and the nature of the fibs, i reckon you were both quite right to run a mile! Leaferne, your experience sounds a lot more freaky and controlling which is quite scary, especially as you said you were quite young at the time.
This is the same sort of thing as my b/f had with his ex, (he was only in his mid teens at the time) and knowing what a lovely person he is only hardens me more to people who tell habitual lies to extract sympathy/obtain benefit from people. Naturally when he tried to end it she was of the 'i've got nothing left to live for!' ilk but fortunately by then he recognised that was a con and got out :) needless to say she soon found someONE else to live for, gah!
It probably bothers me more than it does him coz i know he never did anything to deserve such a horrible person, still i know it bothers him at times too.

I suppose with things like this you do have to just take a big deep breath and try to ignore it - as it's unlikely we'll ever really fathom the real reasons behind the more vindictive fibbers behaviour. I do have a mate who i've known most of my life who know fibs for britain, on a stupid scale! It's never about anything amazing oddly enough, its just weird things like how she's said all these stupendously witty things to people and performed incredible put-downs to people when she is as shy as the day is long and wouldnt say boo! very odd, that and a multitude of tall tales which she comes out with when other people are around about stuff we supposedly did in school/college which i know never happened! It is all totally harmless and bizarre because its never cool stuff or anything, strange girl :lol:
This is a subject that particularly interests me. I have a friend of many years, who I met at Uni. Since we left we have followed more or less identical career paths, with the exception that his life seemed to be blessed with the most outrageous good fortune. Within 1 and a half years of qualifying he had attained a position that would take the most talented an average of 10 years to get to. Obviously I felt naturally envious when he would phone and brag about some award or big promotion he’d got , especially since I knew that ability-wise we are virtually identical (that is, average TBH). I put his success down to his influential family.

Anyway, I started getting a niggle of doubt. Things were simply not adding up. So, after one particularly staggering claim, which left me in a state of complete disbelief, I started to do a bit of poking around. Being in the same job, it’s a small world and so it wasn’t too difficult.

I discovered that he is an absolute accomplished liar. In fact, (and I can’t really go into any detail, but I hope you can appreciate), it was far worse than I could have ever imagined. This person I had known for so long was fabricating his whole life in the most shocking way. I’ve tried subtlety catching him out…he’s an answer for everything. A certain percentage of what he says is true, which seems to allow him enough cover to elaborate his stories.

This kind of thing is really mind-blowing and has you questioning your own sanity. As others have said I don’t honestly know if he comes under the category of compulsive liar. He seems to me to be of the Jeffrey Archer types. By that I mean, those that believe they can shortcut hard work by creating a false world around themselves, that by making others believe something then it will become in effect true. But how many of them are out there in the world- in high ranking positions, well-paid jobs.. I don’t care to know.
To be the subject of a liar's stories is certainly disturbing.

Another ex-friend of mine, K, whom I dumped a few years ago when her alcoholic behaviour became personally threatening to me, recently told my sister-in-law how K and I had got very drunk together at her house recently.

The reality is that I'd had to go round to K's house to 'rescue' someone whom K wouldn't allow to leave. K was so drunk and alarming that I considered calling the police to get us out of the place safely.

Maybe K did believe that she and I had got drunk together. More likely she was so drunk that she had no idea what had really happened and made a guess. Who knows?

In the end, you have to remember that liars are addicts just like drinkers are gamblers are, and any support you give goes straight to the addiction, not to them.

It's no use arguing the toss with them. Why waste time trying to figure out whether they're telling the truth or not? You'll never be able to trust them. Sack'em off. ;)
drbastard, (a charming name you have there ;) ) part of your post really made me think about somthing. You said you have subtly tried to get this person to admit to lying. It just made me wonder why dont we just say 'you're telling big stinking fibs!' Are we made to feel so uncertain that we dare not do it? I know a lot of people who do this tell lies just enough to be true or just so crazy you can't make out if anyone would make it up!

Having said that i wonder what it would do to the person, again it all depends if its compulsive, habitual or the person doesnt even know theyre lying. Has anyone tried this?
Great thread!
I think everyones had experiences like these, I certainly have anyway. I had a friend once who used to tell the most outrageous stories about where they were and whom they were with when they werent with any of the rest of the group. According to her, she had liasons with the most gorgeous men, ate at the best restaurants and had the best social life imaginable. I caught her out once and she actually got up and left with disgust, never to be seen again :shock:
There certainly are some strange people in this world :roll:
There are several reasons why liars aren't challenged.

One is that their lies are usually both plausible and unimportant enough to pass muster. So D's lies about my racy sex life would have gone unremarked as spicy background gossip had not a tactless mutual friend asked me outright what had gone on.

Another is that lies are embarrassing. It takes an enormous amount of cheek to tell someone to their face that they are telling porkies.

Further, some liars are backed up by others, as in the case of the 'family of liars' mentioned earlier. A relative of mine causes chaos with his lies and stories but his parents always defend him, saying that anyone who disagrees with him is themselves a liar or that, if he is caught out unqustionably in lies, he is just having a laugh, don't you have a sense of humour..... :roll:

Also, most lies have a grain of truth and it can be difficult to dispute that although A definitely happened, B did not necessarily follow on, and C was certainly unlikely.

Lies about you are not told to your face and so you are not there to challenge them before they are spread.

Finally, it comes down to your word against someone else's. Again, in the instance of D's lies about having threesomes with my ex and myself, we had all been seen once or twice out for a drink together, and she had babysat our kids. A certain kind of mind might extrapolate from this.
K had been a friend of mine for some years when 'dry' and perhaps most people who visit her house at night do drink there.

The best way to deal with liars is to keep your distance. They will never stop, and you can cannot help them to.
If you are stuck with working with an habitual liar, you have a constructive psychopath on your hands, and they will soon be the boss. :(
minkycats said:
drbastard, (a charming name you have there ;) )

:lol: Yeah I know, I'll be changing it when the board is more settled!

I understand exactly where you're coming from. However, although I admit this may sound rather strange, after agonising over it I realised that he's still been a good friend and of all the people I have ever known no one makes me laugh so much. So I took the decision to leave it and carry on as normal- except that now when he starts 'having an episode' (as I call it) I just take no notice. As 'mad as a barrel of monkeys' as he may be I have no evidence to think he'd do me any harm, and despite my name :lol: , I still retain enough humanity to not want to see him suffer, as I believe he would if I confronted him with it all. It's just not worth seeing that (and losing a friend) for the satisfaction of being proved correct. Maybe my approach is wrong- cowardly even- I don't know.

It's also extremely difficult to confront someone like that, as I have just noticed Escargot say. No one really teaches you how to deal with stuff like this!
drbastard I don't think you are cowardly at all... Deciding that someone's good qualities outweigh their bad ones, and not making it an issue of proving yourself correct...well I think that's quite admirable...
What I've found though, is that likeable as many liars are, they're not fussy about whom they hurt with their terminological inexactitudes. People who are close to them are likely to get sucked into their private world as stooges, alibis and other personal props.

And at the end of the day, as they say, you just can't trust them if everything they say has a 50:50 chance of being cobblers. :(
meowfur said:
How do you come by this information?

44 years of experience and a wide, eclectic reading habit. If you have to deal with a more than ordinarily dishonest person, I recommend a trip to your local university to poke around in the psych section, looking for usable theories and research. Even research done at the alchemical stage can be useful in getting a handle on your own situation and devising ways to deal with it, if only because you can compare your liar to those of other people. Also, talk to your support network - be honest with them! Everyone has a liar story and if they know you need the benefit of their experience, they'll tell it.

Although the distinction between compulsive and habitual behavior is an important one, it can be nearly impossible to make without professional help (and even then, it would depend on the quality of the professional). Just to make things more complicated, someone may have developed the lying habit to cover up an another compulsive behavior, and these people are likely to be lying to themselves as well as to everyone else. Still, they are capable of being honest about it, and until they do they are unlikely to make any progress with the primary disorder.

I have one person in my past who I am still not sure about, but it doesn't matter to me anymore, because I ditched him. The memories haunt you, though - you realize just how much of the world you take on faith and how short a distance you can see into anyone else. And most people lie once in awhile - out of insecurity or fear or convenience or loyalty. A lot of habitual liars are chronically insecure or afraid. Being untrustworthy themselves, they don't trust others to like them the way they are or forgive them for ordinary faults, so they commit the huge fault of dishonesty, cutting the ground out from under their own feet - because how can you continue to like someone when you realize they don't respect you enough to tell you the truth, or forgive them when you realize you can't believe them when they apologize and/or explain their behavior?

At base, both compulsive and habitual lying are selfish behaviors. Lies are not told for the benefit of the hearer, but of the liar. When the discovered adulterer says to his spouse "I didn't want to hurt you" he is lying again, because if he gave a shit whether he hurt her, he wouldn't have had anything to lie about in the first place. Maybe the shock of being discovered has made him face up to his problems and enabled him to behave better in the future. More likely it hasn't.

There are degrees of this behavior and we can't make blanket statements about what's best to do. It's up to each of us to decide what we can and cannot deal with. I wouldn't advise the husband of a habitual liar to ditch her, but I would discuss it with him as a practical option. He's the only one who can decide the limits of his own tolerance and judge the degree to which his wife has seen the error of her ways. But if he thinks he can believe her when she swears she'll never lie again, and doesn't increase his reality testing around her, he's lying to himself.