Before I get into the signs of dating a pathological liar, I want to give you some background on my own personal experiences with lying.

I was never a pathological liar but I definitely used to be a compulsive liar.

Early in my childhood, lying became a habit that soon became a way of life. I had well-intended parents who taught me not to lie but in my little mind, there was no other choice. As I grew up, so did my self-deception, insecurities, and ability to paint an entirely different picture than, unbeknownst to me, most people could see right through. The lying continued well into my teens and early twenties. I didn’t have the awareness that I do now, but I knew the difference between right and wrong. The extent to which we will justify the wrong of lying in the name of emotional survival is incredible. I had to lie.

Without lying, everyone would be in on the joke that I embarrassingly tried with all my might, to be the only one in on…

The fact that I was a joke.

There are a million reasons why I felt like I had no choice but to lie at such a young age, and there are a million more reasons why I continued to lie as a teenager and young adult.

A lot of them had to do with the atmosphere I grew up in. A lot of it had to do with being around certain family members who were so insecure themselves, they got satisfaction from being the “Gotcha!” police and shaming me to others behind my back in the name of expressing concern. They did this instead of having a genuine concern to ask me if I was alright. And when I was a child especially, they never asked if they were doing anything or creating an environment in which I did not feel safe in being able, to tell the truth.

If you’re lying, you’re lonely.

The root of the weed that lying is, will always be the liar’s belief that they are not enough. And there is no lonelier place to be than the space of feeling like you have no worth.

If I didn’t feel like my truth was so pathetic and I wasn’t so ashamed, I would never have felt the need to compulsively lie. 

Anyone who lies habitually is on a self-made life raft that deflates very quickly until another lie is told.

Living one life is tough enough but when you lie, you have to keep up with multiple lives/identities. These identities are birthed by your shame, anger, fear of rejection, fear of judgment, and pain. The funny thing is, I lied to keep people around when all it did was turn off the right people, trigger my abandonment issues, and attract toxic people who exploited the very insecurities that required me to lie on the compulsive level that I was.

How I stopped being a compulsive liar is another post for another time. I basically started to become more scared of the effects of my lies than people just knowing the truth. I got so sick of myself, the drama I had created, and my own bullsh*t, that the truth started to become less scary. I realized that although people may be hurt, disgusted, happy, sad, etc., from hearing my truth… At least they’d respect me for being kindly (never brutally) honest in my communication. I then started to attract better people and better relationships in my life.

By taking this step to improve myself, I had simultaneously improved the relationship with myself. Over time, I started to build respect for myself.

Self-respect and compulsively and/or pathologically lying cannot coexist.

When it comes to dating and any kind of relationship, the level to which you deceive yourself will always mirror the toleration you have for others deceiving you.

If you engage in self-deception, you will be that much more susceptible to excuse others when they lie to you.

You will hold onto the perceived “truth” of their lies because deep down, you don’t believe that you are good enough for the truth. And so, you work harder to understand them instead of folding and getting the f*ck out of Dodge.

We all lie from time to time. According to a study at the University of Massachusetts, sixty percent of people cannot even have a 10-minute conversation without lying at least one time. However…

There’s a big difference between dating someone who has occasionally lied and someone who is a compulsive liar or even worse, a pathological liar.

When lying gets out of control, it is referred to as compulsive. Or, the person could be a pathological liar. Although the definitions are fluid, I do think that there are differences. Either way, a relationship with a pathological liar or a compulsive liar will be the worst relationship of your life. The relationship that you have with them will be just as bad as the one they have with themselves. You can never “rescue” a liar. You can only get away. It is impossible to have a genuine connection, relationship, or any kind of intimacy with these people.

A Compulsive Liar vs. A Pathological Liar

A compulsive liar will habitually exaggerate and embellish in an effort to be seen, heard, and feel important. A pathological liar will lie, and then when you realize that they’re lying and call them out on it… they will continue to lie. 

Upon being called out, a pathological liar will reveal more unbelievable details within their obnoxious stories. Even when they are presented with irrefutable evidence and all of the proverbial receipts, they’ll keep it going. And it will make you feel crazy.

A compulsive liar lies to feel more important. A pathological liar lies as a form of manipulation to get their way while robbing you of your ability to trust. They are manipulative, clever, sheisty, crafty, and most of the time, have their own selfish agenda and a self-serving a goal in mind when they lie. Everyone is a ladder to them. They are empathetically bankrupt and have no concern for the feelings and emotional well-being of others – even their romantic partners, family, and friends.

Compulsive liars are uncomfortable with the truth and will lie for what seems like no reason or end goal. Pathological liars have an agenda. BOTH feel incredibly small and operate on their own level of insecure delusion. 

You will never be able to tell when they’re being genuine/honest and when they are bullsh*tting you because unlike a compulsive liar, there are far less tell-tale signs with a pathological liar. These people are much bolder and more skilled. They lie about things you would never imagine someone could ever or would ever lie about. This type of narcissistic gaslighting distorts your reality while messing with your emotional GPS.

Here are 10 signs that you’re in a relationship with a pathological liar…

1. No matter what a pathological liar claims, they are all about themselves

It doesn’t matter how much they try to come across as empathetic and selfless. A pathological liar tells very theatrical stories (they are great storytellers even though their stories always change) and can be very grandiose. They love feeling like the big man/woman on campus and they get off to triangulating, creating drama, and instilling jealousy. The more people they can get to fight over them and fight for their attention, the better. They are highly narcissistic and at best, have sociopathic tendencies, if not full-blown sociopathy. To you, it will seem like they pedestal everyone but you.

2. They are highly competitive and have an intense fear of failure

They may not seem outwardly competitive but internally, they have to win at all costs. Your success is NOT theirs. When you win or accomplish anything, they congratulate you but passively downplay it.

When you get a great gift, they passively criticize and devalue it.

For them, winning is a matter of emotional life and death. They have to lie because they don’t believe in themselves enough to get real, be honest, and actually have the courage to become what they fabricate. With a pathological liar, failure is to be avoided at all costs because it affirms the failure that deep down, they feel like they are. And when they do fail (which is more often than you think), they never learn from it. They just point fingers.

3. Very low self-esteem

These people are cocky, not confident. There is a huge difference. And remember, cocky people do everything to appear to be the toughest, most secure, and the most desirable but they are the weakest, most insecure, inflated, and fragile. They hate who they are.

4. They are attention seekers

They constantly need an ego boost and will flirt with anyone or anything that gives them a morsel of attention, validation, or response.

5. A pathological liar will lie in ways that you would never expect

They have no problem throwing others (even their own friends, co-workers, and family members) under the bus to keep their lies going.

6. They use just enough of the truth to hook you into believing them

A pathological liar will provide explanations that are sprinkled with just enough of the truth to mind f*ck you into the paralysis of silencing your intuition and staying with them.

7. If they ever do admit to their lies, the pathological liar is usually still lying and creating new lies during their confession.

Although most pathological liars do believe their own lies, some do come clean. Don’t buy into it.

The only reasons that a pathological liar would ever admit to lying is to mind f*ck you more into “proving” that they are capable of telling the truth (even if you have to drag it out of them). Or, they admit to a lie to appear human, empathetic and vulnerable in an effort to “start fresh” and “rebuild” the relationship with you.

Recently, a pathological liar told me, after admitting to some seriously disturbing lies, that he was now totally incapable of telling a lie… ever again.

Not only is that unreasonable, but it’s yet another indicator of pure delusion. I would have so much more respect for someone who admitted to lying and expressed that they know they will naturally still struggle (because this has been a life-long habit) but they need the love, reminders, and support from loved ones to stay on track.

If there is ever a “coming clean” moment, it’s generally to gain sympathy and always a tactical admission, never empathetic.

8. The relationships with their friends and family are unstable

With a pathological liar, there is always some sort of drama, jealousy, misunderstanding and falling out going on in their lives. These people also like to think that they have a ton of jealous “haters.”

9. They lie about the smallest things and also, things that are so big and defamatory, you’d never believe they’d have the guts to actually lie on that level

If someone is going to lie about the most minuscule and dumb thing that serves no purpose, they are most likely going to lie about other things that are bigger.

Keep your antennas up and know when to fold.

If they’re going to lie about big things that could potentially damage the reputation of others, believe me when I say, they’re lying about the small stuff too.

10. You feel crazy, guilty, uncool, “too harsh,” pathetic, and like you need to “get a life” when you’re around them

Pathological liars are masters at distorting your reality, murdering your ability to trust, and then shifting the blame on you for being “crazy” while you try to attain verification on their ever-changing stories.

Bottom line: you.deserve.more. 

Give one fraction of the love to yourself that you are giving anyone who tries to control your emotional weather via lies and you will no longer miss them.

Little by little, you’ll start missing YOU – the you who honored and valued his/her gut instead of the person who allowed a pathological liar to piss on it while you kept telling your gut it was raining.

x Natasha

If you need further and more personalized help, please look into working with me here.

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16 comments

Reply

Powerful and honest words! First let me say that I have HUGE respect as always for your honesty and ability to engage in self inventory! After being in, not one but two relationships with a compulsive then pathological liar, I decided to really look at myself and try and figure out why I was in this painful pattern of tolerating such behavior. For me, it was fear and an incredible lack of self worth .. then a loss of self respect. So I tried to “understand their pain” and why they would act this way. I played caretaker and wanted to “fix” the situation, them, and of course a good person forgives, right? I lost myself, made excuses for them, and then started to lie to myself and others. I finally walked away from it all.. the drama and pain that goes along with these types of relationships is gone. It was hard work and still is but I have learned setting boundaries does not make me a harsh person… just one that values her self respect.
Thankful for you and this tribe !
Judy

Reply

Thanks sister 🙂

Yup, I did the same. And I did this to others when I used to compulsively lie. It was terrible. I agree that for both parties, a lot of it is fear and a painful lack of self-worth.

Yes exactly – boundaries are there to protect you and anyone who views them as harsh, most likely has none (ourselves included).

Thank you for sharing, for being a part of this tribe and for being YOU – just as you are.

Big love to you Judy. XOX

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What an awesome article Natasha! I’m approaching the one year anniversary of being free from this type of person and when I read your article, with the perspective of time, it is absolutely on spot with accuracy! Thanks so much for all your support this last year, best one yet!

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YAYYY 🙂 Happy it helped! Thanks K.M.

Love you XOXO

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Thank you for every word of this, Natasha!! Yesterday I was being remorse-bombed nearly into submission by my emotionally-unavailable, narcissistic ex after the fourth week of me enacting airtight no-contact; I took a look at PMS and read a bunch of past entries to shore my resolve. Reading this today was like gulping from a firehouse while the embers of emotional weakness were smoldering in my emotional basement (I’m not good with metaphors). If I was a tattoo person, I’d have “the level to which you deceive yourself will always mirror the toleration you have for others deceiving you” inked on my arm today. A gift from the universe!!

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I absoluely love your metaphor Susan :)!! & I love YOU.

So happy that this post (and the blog) have helped. You are never, ever alone.

All my love to you soul sis. xx

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Yes yes yes yes and yes. My ex ex was a pathological liar. At the beginning I caught him in the ‘little’ lies. Then the big lies. Then witnessnessed the lies being told to others. The question is…. why the F did I stay? I explained away the lies over and over for years and accepted his excuses when I called him out. Pathetic. Until I didn’t. The last lie was it for me. I walked out. Told him to donate anything I left behind and never looked back. Many wasted years but to this day it still feels empowering to have walked out. (Calmly btw) Just like that. 100% Red Flag. Run.
Don’t walk.

Thank you for your honest post Natasha.

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Good for you Sonja. Thank YOU so much for sharing and for connecting with me and my experiences, feelings, and pain.

I have been through the same and looking back, I really do feel like making an excuse for deception is no different than a lie.

So proud of and happy for you. Thank you for being you. Love you XOX

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Dear Natasha,
How on earth did you find out I was reeling precisely from this?! No words to convey what I went through. Only that I escaped.
Love you for being you.

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Anne,

I am so happy that it served you and that you got out/flushed. Love you too! xx

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I’ve been so confused by my ex’s lying ways ever since we broke up seven months ago. Nothing I’ve read has clarified his insanity to me, and somehow let me off the hook… finally!…like this article did. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts. I feel more peace tonight than I have in well over a year. The universe blessed me with you tonight. All my best wishes to you.

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The best gift you could ever give me is your peace, happiness, clarity, and love. Thank YOU from the bottom of my heart Gail. I am so happy and honored to help. XOX

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Beautiful, Natasha. Written with love as always. Xx ?❤️?

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Love you xxxx

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Helllo Natasha.
This was excellent! It is easy for me to see this type of person now. It was the definition of most of the boys I dated. I say boys because that is what they were. Not real men.
Thank you so much for all you share. Love you and wish you a Happy Valentines Day. ????❤️❤️
You are a blessing. ?

Reply

Linda! I miss and love you <3 So happy that it's now easy for you to detect this toxicity. Can't wait to hug you sister.

It takes one to know one 🙂 xox

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