How To Respond When You Find Out Someone Lied To You

How To Respond When You Find Out Someone Lied To You

Discovering that someone has lied to you can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience. How you respond to this situation can impact your relationships and your own well-being. So, if you’ve found out that someone has been dishonest with you, here are some constructive ways to respond:

1. Stay calm and look at the situation.

Finding out someone has lied to you can feel like a punch in the gut, but losing your cool won’t help. Take a deep breath and step back for a moment. It’s important to assess the situation calmly. Was this a little white lie or something bigger? Understanding the context and severity of the lie can guide your next steps. It’s about responding, not reacting.

Obviously, you’re probably going to be fuming or just really hurt (or both), but blowing up won’t take the lie back, nor is it going to get you an explanation or apology, so it’s best to ground yourself a bit before going any further.

2. Call the liar out and seek clarification.

It’s okay to call them out. Arrange a time to talk when you won’t be interrupted. Be direct but not aggressive. Say something like, “I found out about this, and I’d like to hear your side of the story.” Then, actually hear them out without calling BS before they even get started. Sometimes, what seems like a lie could be a misunderstanding. Or, it could just reinforce what you first thought: that they lied to your face. Either way, you need to know the truth.

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4. Express Your Feelings.

Let them know how their lie affected you. It’s not about making them feel guilty, it’s about being honest. You could say, “When you did this, I felt betrayed/angry/upset.” Your feelings are valid, and expressing them can be cathartic. It doesn’t matter if they don’t really care (and if they don’t, that should tell you a lot about their worthiness to be in your life in the first place) — it’s about getting your feelings off your chest and maybe giving them a bit of food for thought. In the future, maybe they’ll think again about bending the truth (or ignoring it completely).

5. Consider the Motive for the lie.

Digging into why the person lied can be a game-changer. It’s not about giving them a free pass but understanding their headspace at the time. Maybe they were scared of how you’d react, or maybe they thought they were doing the right thing and sparing your feelings. It’s complicated, sure, but getting to the root of it helps you see the bigger picture. This insight doesn’t make the lie okay, but it adds context and can guide how you handle things. It’s way easier to forgive someone who told a white lie because they didn’t want you to be upset than it is to forgive someone who outright deceived you for their own gain.

6. Evaluate your relationship with the liar.

Take a hard look at your relationship with this person. Is this a one-off lie, or is it part of a pattern? How important is this person in your life? Your next steps might vary depending on whether it’s a close friend, a family member, or just an acquaintance. It’s tough, but sometimes you need to reevaluate if this relationship is healthy or if it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Keeping toxic people around simply because you’ve known them a long time or because you’re related is ridiculous. If they can’t treat you with respect, they have to go.

7. Set Boundaries.

After someone lies to you, especially if it’s a biggie, there have to be some boundaries moving forward. Make it clear what you’re not okay with what happened and that you’re not going to accept a repeat performance. . It might be as straightforward as, “I need honesty in our conversations,” or something more specific. It’s about protecting yourself and ensuring there’s no repeat. Boundaries signal what you expect from the relationship moving forward. If they can’t hang, they can go.

8. Forgive them and let it go (if you can). 

Forgiving someone who lied to you is about you, not them. It’s letting go of the anger and hurt so you’re not carrying that baggage around. Obviously, forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget or that you’re okay with what happened. It just means you’re not letting it control your emotions anymore. If you can get to this point, it can be really freeing. However, you also shouldn’t feel like you have to rush the process. If it takes you a while to get over it, so be it.

9. Learn From the Experience.

Every tough situation has a lesson in it. What did this experience teach you about trust, communication, or your own boundaries? Maybe you’ve become more aware of red flags, or you’ve learned more about what you need in relationships. It sucks when someone lies to you, especially when it’s someone you really trusted and with whom you valued honesty and direct communication. However, maybe this helps you redefine the parameters of your relationship and brings you to a better, healthier place. Or, maybe it makes it clear that the liar has no place in your life. Whatever the lesson, learn it.

Phoebe Mertens is a writer, speaker, and strategist who has helped dozens of female-founded and led companies reach success in areas such a finance, tech, science, and fashion. Her keen eye for detail and her innovative approach to modern womanhood makes her one of the most sought-out in her industry, and there's nothing she loves more than to see these companies shine.

With an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and features in Forbes and Fast Company she Phoebe has proven she knows her stuff. While she doesn't use social media, she does have a private Instagram just to look at pictures of cats.