Dealing with Liars

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Mandy has been working in the mental health field for more than eight years and has worked with a diverse group of clients. These range ...Read More

What Do You Do When You Suspect Someone is Lying?

If you suspect someone is lying to you, do the following:

  • Remain calm: Take a deep breath and maintain composure.
  • Listen actively: Pay close attention to verbal and non-verbal cues.
  • Ask clarifying questions: Seek clarification without accusing.
  • Gather evidence: Collect relevant information to support your observations.
  • Address privately: Discuss your concerns in a private, respectful setting.

Occasional dishonesty typically involves isolated instances of lying to avoid consequences or to protect oneself. Or, we may tell a lie when we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. However, compulsive or pathological lying is characterized by a consistent pattern of dishonesty often rooted in deeper psychological issues. While occasional dishonesty can be addressed through communication and accountability, compulsive lying may require professional intervention and support.


If you are dealing with a loved one who is lying to you, you need to remain objective, observe their inconsistencies and body language, ask direct questions, validate their feelings while addressing the truth, and set boundaries and expectations for honesty and integrity.

Identifying Compulsive Lying

Compulsive lying is a behavior in which individuals habitually fabricate stories or exaggerate facts, often without a clear motive. Signs of compulsive lying include:

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  • Persistent inconsistency in stories
  • Difficulty maintaining eye contact
  • Unnecessary elaboration in storytelling
  • Defensive behavior when questioned about inconsistencies

Compulsive lying can stem from various psychological factors like low self-esteem, a need for attention, or underlying mental health conditions like antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.

How to Confront Deception That is Not Compulsive

If you suspect someone has lied to you and that it’s a one-time thing or situation-specific, here are some strategies for approaching them:

  • Prepare yourself: Take a moment to calm down and gather your thoughts before addressing the situation.
  • Use “I” statements: Express your feelings and observations using phrases like “I feel” or “I noticed” to avoid sounding accusatory.
  • Seek clarification: Ask open-ended questions to encourage honest communication and give the person a chance to explain themselves.
  • Focus on behavior, not character: Address the specific behavior or action that led you to believe they were lying, rather than attacking their character.
  • Use active listening: Pay attention to their response and validate their perspective, even if you disagree.
  • Offer support: Provide an opportunity for them to come clean and offer support if there are underlying issues contributing to their dishonesty.

When dealing with deceit, it’s important to prioritize emotional self-care. Setting boundaries allows you to protect your well-being and maintain healthy relationships. Remember to take breaks when needed, seek support from trusted friends, and engage in activities that help you feel grounded and resilient. By setting boundaries, you signal that honesty and respect are fundamental in your interactions, fostering trust and integrity in your relationships.

Dealing with a Compulsive Liar

1) There is no point in confronting them. All they know is how to cover their tracks. Even when confronted with evidence they will find a story to validate their side. They cannot admit to wrongdoing so it is a pointless exercise. Instead, accept that you are dealing with someone who is dysfunctional and who does not think like the average person. Once you stop trying to change them and accept them for what they are they become easier to deal with.

2) Take whatever they say with a pinch of salt. Don’t be taken in.

3) Limit your time with this type of person if at all possible. They project negative energy and have dubious morals

4) Be wary of opening up to individuals like this, in general they are less likely to be trustworthy as they tend to lack empathy for others and will use information for their own gain.

Some people lie out of genuine insecurity, I am not referring to this type of person. The above refer to someone who consistently lies and seems to have no idea of the impact of their lies nor empathy for their effects. They tend not to have many genuine friendships and don’t seem to understand the rules of genuine human interaction. They really are a special, unsavoury breed!

The Psychological Impact of Being Lied To

Being lied to, especially in the long term, can have many emotional and psychological consequences, such as:

  • Feelings of hurt and betrayal, especially if the deception comes from someone close to you
  • Loss of trust, making it hard to believe people in the future
  • Confusion and doubt about the sincerity of relationships and interactions
  • Stress and anxiety

However, you can take some steps to rebuild trust and manage your stress, including:

  • Engage in open and honest communication about the situation
  • Set expectations for honesty and communication moving forward
  • Practice forgiveness so that you can move forward
  • Focus on self-care and emotional well-being
  • Reach out to loved ones and therapists for guidance and support
  • Give yourself time to rebuild trust
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