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What to Do When Your Loved One Is a Chronic Liar

What to Do When Your Loved One Is a Chronic Liar

Nobody likes a liar. It doesn’t take a statistic to know that is a fact. For the most part, spotting a liar is simple, and we can easily disassociate with that person. But sometimes the person who lies, and lies often, is a relative. While everyone lies at some point, trying to love someone who lies in a chronic way can be challenging. This means they lie almost as a reflex. A chronic liar is a compulsive liar, or someone who lies out of habit as a natural way to respond to questions. Most of the time, the lies are pointless and it can be difficult to understand why they felt a lie was necessary. Thankfully chronic liars are not dangerous or manipulative, but certainly frustrating [1].

It can be difficult to spot when love is involved

Sometimes the lies may be so grandiose that it’s obvious a person is lying. Other times, it can be difficult to spot because you are so personally involved. For the person doing the lying, it can provide an escape from discomfort and help them to feel safe. More so, chronic lying is usually a symptom of a personality disorder such as narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.

Confrontation typically feels like the right thing to do if you’re suspicious that your loved one is lying, but that can be tricky. In fact, there isn’t much reward in doing this, as they will most likely continue to lie and the strained relationship will only get worse. With the hesitation to confront someone you think it lying, you can start to feel paranoid and wonder if you’re being overly-suspicious. No relationship can function in this scenario.

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It’s like you aren’t worth the truth

When you are in love with or related to a chronic liar, it is not just frustrating, it’s hurtful. It can make you feel like you aren’t worth the truth, and that impacts every aspect of a relationship. More so, it becomes impossible to trust that person, since you know he/she lies compulsively. For the liar, chronic lying is an addictive behavior that provides comfort, but for the one being lied to, it provides pain and confusion. Because of these factors, a healthy relationship is very hard to accomplish.

Though it may provide a release to the liar, it will never feel comforting to be lied to. In fact, it can make you so jaded that you could start to wonder if everyone is lying to you. It can make you feel crazy and weak. Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S says is well [2]:

…it’s the destruction of relationship trust caused by the constant lying, deflecting, secret keeping, and misplaced blame. And this pain is exacerbated if/when the innocent partner is made to feel as if he or she is misperceiving reality and therefore crazy, weak, damaged, etc. In other words, it’s not the [chronic lying] that wreaks the most emotional havoc, it’s the…ongoing denial of reality.

What to do about a chronic liar:

Obviously, the last thing you want to do is cut ties with a family member, but unfortunately, you may have to. Thankfully, that’s worst-case-scenario. Before it comes to that, the following steps may help you deal with the situation.

Educate Yourself

Unless you understand chronic lying, you won’t be able to adequately approach or confront one. Don’t worry, you don’t need to get a psychology degree, but you should do a little research. If you better understand what motivates a chronic liar, you will more easily be able to talk with one [3].

Start Small

When you’re having a conversation with a chronic liar, don’t immediately confront them about huge lies they have told in the past. Instead, listen closely to the details of the exchange and pause the conversation to ask about a detail you feel is a lie.

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Offer Help

If you’re very close to the person, talk to them about therapy. Politely recommend they get help in addressing their need to be dishonest. If they say no at first, don’t push! Be patient and try again later.

Be Patient

Remember that this person did not become a chronic liar overnight. Therefore, they won’t become honest overnight, either. Show the person you truly care about helping them by being patient, kind and gracious [4].

Take Note

While it may seem like a terrible thing to have to do, keeping a journal, or even notes in your phone, can help you confront the lying loved one later on (and in detail). This isn’t meant to give you all the power and make the liar feel small, but rather to provide an accurate and detailed account of the lies he/she has told in order to potentially illustrate how outrageous they are.

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Remember the Love

When the chronic liar is a relative or spouse, it can become very easy to focus only on how upsetting it is that they lie all the time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t do either of you any good. Try to focus on the relationship, not the rage. If you truly want to make the relationship work, you have to keep the attention on the quality of the relationship, not just on the quantity of lies.

Ignore Them

Here’s the thing, when a chronic liar is talking, it’s usually hard to pay attention anyway. You know half of what they’re saying is utter nonsense, so why even pay attention. Sure, we are supposed to be considerate of other people and pay attention to what they say, but no one encourages you to entertain a liar. If they aren’t going to respect you, you don’t need to respect them. Granted, this isn’t an invitation to be cruel to them, but rather an opportunity to tune out the ridiculous claims.

Confront the Pattern

If your loved one says something you know is not true, politely ask if the story is as true as the story about [insert equally untruthful story here]. They will have two choices: They can either own up to the lie, or try to convince you that both stories are fact. Even if they choose the latter option, stay calm. You still subtly let them know you’re onto them without having to be mean.

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All of these tips are purely unbiased. When you are in a relationship with someone who lies as easily as they breathe, it can be very hard to be patient, offer help and ignore them. However, the most important thing you can do is respect yourself. If you find the relationship is so toxic that it is negatively affecting you, even when you’re away from the liar, you may have to cut ties. While no one ever wants to end a relationship with a relative or a spouse, etc., sometimes it’s the only way out. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilt if this is the case for you. As long as you did everything you felt you could do to try to make the relationship work, then it isn’t quitting. Instead, it’s respecting yourself enough to keep your own mental health in tact. And don’t be afraid to seek solace in other, honest relatives. Remember that you aren’t the only one who speaks to the chronic liar, which means you aren’t the only one being hurt by the dishonesty. Don’t suffer alone, and don’t allow yourself to feel crazy or paranoid. You deserve the truth, and you deserve happiness.

Reference

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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