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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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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

Do you feel that you can become a better person, but your personality is hindering you from doing so?

Are you one of those people who is making a conscious effort to change, but no matter how hard you try, you remain a prisoner of your personality traits?

Don’t lose hope – it is indeed possible to change your personality!

Personality Crisis

According to the widely accepted model of personality with over 50 years worth of research and study, there are five dimensions of our personality, known as the “Big Five:”

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  • Extraversion: People with high levels of this personality dimension are much more outgoing and tend to be more comfortable in social situations compared to others.
  • Agreeableness: Your level in this dimension determines whether you are more cooperative with other people or competitive (even to the point of being manipulative) with other people.
  • Conscientiousness: Thoughtful people who have high levels of this trait dimension are much more detail-oriented and driven.
  • Neuroticism: Moodiness and the propensity for sadness are associated with people who possess excessive amounts of this personality dimension.
  • Openness: Imaginative and insightful people are very receptive to change and new experiences, whereas those who are not are much more stubborn and reluctant to try out new things.

These personality dimensions are further shaped by our genetics and our upbringing, the latter of which also involves our living environment and culture. These factors ultimately help shape your personality as you grow up, some of which could lead to personality disorders.

However, your personality is never fully set in stone. In fact, it is not uncommon for adults to tweak their personalities as they prepare themselves for new challenges and life situations. For example, stubborn partners will find themselves making an effort to become more cooperative with their loved ones if they want their relationship to work. While these instances may not necessarily lead to positive results, it is evidence enough that changing your personality is not impossible.

The question that begs to be asked is this:

How Much Effort Are People Willing to Put in to Make That Change?

According to a recent study at the University of Illinois, only 13% of respondents were satisfied with their personalities – most of them wanted to change for the better. However, instead of encouraging these people to get help from experts or take courses, R. Chris Fraley and Nathan Hudson conducted different tests instead to see if the respondents can quantify their personalities to make the necessary changes. The results of the test were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which you can view here.

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The first experiment involved an introductory psychology class, who were educated about the Big Five personality dimensions and asked to grade their personalities by filling out a rating form. They were then asked if they wanted something to change in their personality over the 16-week period of this study. To do this, they needed to find a way to change their undesirable personality traits using goals and metrics to track their progress.

Among the 135 participants, half joined the “change plan” condition, in which they were given writing assignments over the same period to assess the changes they need to make for their personalities. Every week, they were also required to complete additional writing assignments to evaluate their progress further. The other half were not asked to write – instead, they were placed in a controlled setting and were provided feedback about their development.

The second experiment involved roughly the same number of participants. The only variable that Fraley and Hudson changed is that, instead of focusing on personality traits, they targeted daily behavior related to the traits that defined their personalities.

The result of both experiments demonstrates the capacity for people to make breakthroughs with their personalities. Participants were able to make strides by getting better scores on personality traits that they wanted to improve. However, the comprehensive change plans only had a modest impact on the actual changes in personality. Also, the 16-week period for the study was not enough for the participants to make the drastic changes one might expect.

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Steps to a Better You

Now that you are aware that you can still change your personality, below are some proactive steps that you can take so you can make the change as early as possible.

1. Do not let “labels” define you

You are not a shy and timid person. Nor are you a cold and callous one. You are simply a person full of potential to change and become a better version of yourself every day. You can be anything, as long as you put your mind to it.

2. Do good deeds

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Getting rid of a terrible personality can start with doing something good. A study published in Motivation and Emotion suggests that engaging in acts of kindness allows you to overcome anxiety. Letting the focus from yourself shift to others leads to more opportunities for social engagement.

3. Just wait

If you cannot force change, then let it come to you. According to a study conducted at the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics, change that naturally takes place is not out of the question. The more you undergo transformative experiences in life as you grow older, the more chances that changes in your personality take place.

At the end of the day, change is inevitable. As mentioned above, our personalities are shaped by our experiences in life. By exposing ourselves to positive experiences that we can live by and keeping an open mind for our own identities, there is no doubt that change for the better is indeed possible.

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/GmoHIZ61eMo via unsplash.com

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