11 Shady Behaviors Of A Pathological Liar

11 Shady Behaviors Of A Pathological Liar

Ever dealt with someone who just can’t seem to stick to the truth? It can be a real rollercoaster. Pathological liars are in a league of their own when it comes to bending the truth. It’s not just about telling a fib here and there; it’s a whole pattern of behavior. So, here’s a look at 11 behaviors that might signal you’re dealing with a pathological liar.

1. They’re always changing their stories.

Think about a story that morphs every time it’s told. One day, it’s an adventure with friends, the next, a solo journey. Pathological liars have a knack for reshaping their tales to suit the audience or the moment. It’s like they have a mental editor constantly revising the script. This isn’t just forgetfulness; it’s a deliberate twisting of reality. It makes pinning down the truth feel like trying to catch a cloud – impossible and a little bit maddening.

2. They lie about really silly things.

Now, this is a strange one. Why lie about what you had for lunch or the color of your socks? For the pathological liar, it’s like a reflex. These trivial untruths might seem harmless, but they’re like the tiny cracks in a dam – seemingly insignificant, yet indicative of a larger problem. It shows a comfort with dishonesty that goes beyond normal bounds. It’s not just about creating an alternate reality; it’s about living in it, even in the most mundane details.

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4. They’re totally unmoved when they’re caught out.

You’d expect someone caught in a lie to show some sign of guilt or embarrassment, but not pathological liars. It’s almost eerie how unfazed they are when confronted. It’s like watching someone calmly walk through a storm that would have people scrambling for cover. They might deflect, deny, or even spin another tale to wriggle out of the situation.

This unflappable nature can be disconcerting – it’s a sign that lying isn’t just a habit for them; it’s second nature.

5. Their web of lies tends to have many layers.

Uncovering one lie often leads to another with pathological liars. It’s like each fib is a doorway leading to a hall of mirrors – every direction you turn, there’s a distorted version of the truth. These layers can be intricate and well-thought-out, showing a level of premeditation that’s troubling. It’s not just about telling lies; it’s about crafting an entire network of falsehoods. The complexity of their deceit can be bewildering and reveals the depth of their disregard for the truth.

6. They tell tall tales to get sympathy.

Pathological liars often have a knack for storytelling, especially the kind that tugs at heartstrings. Their stories might be fraught with misfortune, bad luck, or unfair treatment, all designed to elicit sympathy. It’s like they’re the perpetual underdog or victim in their narratives.

These tales often have just enough detail to be believable, but upon closer examination, they start to unravel. The goal? To garner attention, care, and often, to manipulate the listener into offering support or concessions. It’s a tactic that plays on our natural inclination to help those in distress, making it a particularly insidious form of deceit.

7. Their body language rarely matches their words.

When words and body language don’t align, it’s a classic tell-tale sign of lying, and pathological liars are no exception. They might say one thing while their bodies tell a different story. For instance, they may claim to be confident about a situation, yet display nervous ticks like foot-tapping or avoiding eye contact.

This dissonance creates an uneasy feeling, as if two different languages are being spoken simultaneously. It’s the body’s subtle way of signaling that something isn’t right, even if the words sound convincing. Deciphering these non-verbal cues can provide clues to the veracity of their statements.

8. They’re uncomfortable with quiet.

For a pathological liar, silence isn’t golden; it’s threatening. In the absence of talk, there’s a chance for reflection, questions, or doubts to surface. To prevent this, they often fill every gap in conversation with more words, more stories, more fabrications. It’s like a magician continuously performing tricks, hoping you won’t notice what’s really happening.

This incessant chatter can serve as a smokescreen, obscuring the truth and keeping the listener off-balance. It’s a tactic to maintain control of the narrative and avoid the scrutiny that silence might bring.

9. They’re vague and evasive.

When asked for specifics, a pathological liar often resorts to vagueness. Their descriptions might be hazy, timelines blurry, or details inconsistent. This evasiveness is like a protective shield, guarding them from being pinned down to a verifiable fact. When pressed, they might change the subject, deflect with another question, or respond with generalities that reveal little.

This muddying of waters makes it difficult to discern the truth, and can be frustrating for those trying to understand or verify their claims. The lack of clarity is not accidental; it’s a strategic ambiguity designed to keep the listener guessing and the liar safe from exposure.

10. They have a history of deceptive behavior.

With pathological liars, deception isn’t just an occasional slip; it’s a consistent pattern that forms a trail through their history. It’s like connecting the dots in retrospect – the little white lies, the grand fabrications, the subtle manipulations. Over time, these instances create a mosaic that reveals a chronic inclination towards dishonesty.

This history often comes to light through inconsistencies in their stories, or when different people compare notes and find conflicting narratives. It’s not just a matter of a few isolated incidents; it’s a habitual behavior that has likely affected multiple aspects of their lives and relationships. Recognizing this pattern is crucial because it underscores the fact that their deceit is not situational, but ingrained.

11. They tell lies to make themselves look better.

Pathological liars often use deception not just to escape consequences or garner sympathy, but to paint themselves in a more favorable light. Their stories frequently cast them as the hero, the genius, the victim-turned-conqueror. It’s like they’re the protagonist of a novel they’re writing in real time, with each lie a tool to sculpt their idealized self-image.

This self-aggrandizement serves multiple purposes: it can boost their ego, win admiration from people, or even cover up insecurities. The lies are often grandiose, painting a picture of a life that’s more exciting, successful, or dramatic than reality. This behavior can be particularly misleading because it creates a persona that is not just untruthful, but often unrealistically flawless or heroic. It’s a form of self-mythologizing that can be both compelling and misleading to those around them.

12. Everything is always everyone else’s fault.

A hallmark of pathological liars is their tendency to deflect blame onto other people. It’s like a constant game of hot potato with accountability. Whenever they’re cornered or challenged, they have an uncanny ability to twist the narrative, pointing fingers away from themselves. This behavior isn’t just about escaping responsibility; it’s about preserving their self-crafted image of innocence or righteousness.

They might accuse people of misunderstanding, overreacting, or even being the real deceivers. This tactic can be particularly disorienting and frustrating for those on the receiving end, as it not only invalidates the truth but also attacks the credibility of those who challenge them. It creates a scenario where they are perpetually the victim or the wronged party, no matter the circumstances. This shifting of blame is a defensive mechanism, revealing a deep unwillingness to confront their own falsehoods and the damage they cause.

Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.