Social Question

Jude's avatar

How do you deal with a perpetual liar?

Asked by Jude (32134points) February 12th, 2010

Say someone close to you lies a lot…

Do you cut them out, put up with it, or maybe call them out on it? How do you deal with it? If it’s a family member, what are you supposed to do?

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52 Answers

Kiev749's avatar

i turn them on it and watch them burn. eventually they will learn to stop.

Facade's avatar

Call them on it. Embarrass them. Ask them “Why do you lie so much?” They’ll stop.

cookieman's avatar

I had this problem for years with a very close family member. Bear in mind, I wasn’t the only one she lied to.

I say:
A) Ignore it BUT if it continues…
B) Call them on it BUT if they deny it or become defensive and hostile, then…
C) You could enlist the help of other folks she lies to BUT
D) This may backfire and become a big thing, THEN
E) The liar will continue this pattern until you’re finally fed up AND
F) Start to pull away from them and end the relationship BUT JUST THEN
G) They’ll call you out of the blue and tell you to fuck yourself and they never loved you anyway.

If A through F happens…I’m really sorry, but at least you tried.
If G also happens…you’ve met my mother.

JLeslie's avatar

I call them out on it, because I am not stupid, and I don’t like being played. If they are pathalogical, I mean they really just can’t stop, I have limited interaction, and I would never trust them with anything important. Not with planning, not with money, not with secrets, nothing.

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

Tell them to run for Congress and put their talent to good use !

jfos's avatar

This may take some preparation…and pardon the use of “they” instead of he/she…

Next time they lie, spray cold water on them. Do not spray cold water on them if they do anything else. From then on, whenever they lie, maintain the cold water approach. Eventually the person will link lying to being sprayed with cold water, and will therefore not want to lie.

Kiev749's avatar

@jfos i love the pavlov’s approach… is it effective?

cookieman's avatar

@jfos: Was your dog lying to you again?
@Pretty_Lilly: GA

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

If you can deal with the bs without it affecting your life negatively then go with it…yeah right…call them out on it.Life is too short to live with that aggravation:)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’ve learned with family members to not expect them to be who I think they should be just because I ideally want them to be the first line of love, support, compassion and honesty. Like anyone I don’t feel secure with, I put them in the realm of acquaintances rather than friends or loved ones.

cookieman's avatar

“I’ve learned with family members to not expect them to be who I think they should be just because I ideally want them to be the first line of love, support, compassion and honesty.

@hungryhungryhortence: This should be a bumper sticker. GA.

On a really wide car

Jude's avatar

Woah, @cprevite sounds as though your Mom and my bro are members of the same club (Jon Lovitz, anyone?)

He gets defensive, if you call him out on it. Then he stirs the pot (causes trouble within the family) – bring on the drama. If you decide to keep your distance, you’re dealing with a pity party – his pity party.

Oy vey.

noyesa's avatar

I call people out on it when I think it’s going to do any good, but unfortunately with a lot of people it’s not that simple.

My mother is a compulsive liar. She will lie, get caught in the lie, and try to lie her way out of fault/embarrassment.She honestly believes her own lies; I guess you have to when you tell so many.

I have another friend who just doesn’t seem to hit rock bottom. Rock bottom for me is a good day for him, but he never learns. He’s been kicked out of more than one college, never pays his rent, can’t keep a job, and every time I’ve been straight with him about it (I’m the only one of his friends who does, the rest are all idiots), he just tries to explain it all away.

I’ve told him I don’t believe his rationalizations and that he needs to own his faults, but he instead just continues trying to push the blame off on other people. There’s nothing I can really say to convince him that he’s hurting himself and nobody is buying his bullshit.

Then there are other people who don’t lie to me anymore. Most of my good friends know that I have one of the most finely tuned lie detectors ever made. I can sniff a lie from a mile away. Additionally, I’m really good at lying (I never lie, though) so I’m the type to entertain a lie and get someone ravelled up in it and have them trip over their own lie. They don’t lie to me.

cookieman's avatar

@jmah: It is really sad and frustrating, but @hungryhungryhortence hit the nail on the head. I wish I heard that advice fifteen years ago.

How old is your brother? I could hook him up with my Mom. They’d be great together.

JLeslie's avatar

@jmah In that case no reason to tell him again he is a liar. Just have limited interaction. So, are you saying the family tends to believe him? Or, do they have his number also?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@cprevite: I spent a lot of frustrated and unhappy years trying to figure out why family didn’t want to honorable, reliable, etc. etc. and it just about did me in during my late 20’s until through a lot of exasperation I finally let that focus go but it was so hard to take to heart. People had told me, counselors had suggested it to me but until I wore myself out, I wasn’t the type to feel/believe in the advice. I wish a lot of us didn’t all have to learn the hard way how to be happier.

Jude's avatar

@cprevite, he’s 45. He digs the older ladies, though. Cupid, maybe, we have a match?

@JLeslie, we’ve had his number for awhile now. Unfortunately, he hurt his back 5 years ago, and is unable to work. He is in constant pain, is dealing with depression and has not much going on in his life right now. He likes to cause drama, and when you call him out on it, he lies. He lies about a bunch of other things, as well. I think that we all put up with it because, A. we feel sorry him and B. it only makes things worse. I mean, is it really worth it bringing it up? He only gets defensive and gets us to feel sorry for him.

It’s exhausting. I chose to have limited contact with him, though. But, if I were to shut him out all together, I’d feel bad.

noyesa's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence I’ve never read something I indentified with more. I generally consider myself over it but the string of actually getting burned by the people you thought were there for you never really fades completely.

IBERnineD's avatar

My sister is a fan of hyperbole to say the least. There have been times she has lied about something I did, in front of her friends. I’ve said, “I don’t remember doing that.” to which she replies, “Oh you were probably too young to remember.” or “Really? Because I totally do!” (just as a side note: I have an insane memory, I still remember who my best friend in kindergarten had a crush on! [Christopher Cheery]) Anyway it got to the extent most recently, that way she was presenting me to people, many I am friends with, got to be close to completely fabricated. Luckily I have talked to those people and they have told me, “We take what your sister says with a grain of salt. We know you.”
After all this what have I learned is the best tactic? Call them on it, but don’t expect them to stop completely. That may just make them stop while you are around. What I am doing now, is just distancing myself, because it’s frankly the only thing I am able to do, considering other issues I have with her. (issues that are going to take years to change.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I wouldn’t be able to deal with a blatant liar – after calling them out on it, I’d never depend on them again.

tinyfaery's avatar

Unless the lies directly impact my life, I just smile and nod and don’t trust anything that person says. Unless the person doesn’t have any redeeming qualities, I just let it go. Everyone, lies.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery House said so – must be true

MissAusten's avatar

@cprevite Maybe your mom could fight my mom for him? She can’t stand her husband anyway.

@jmah My mother is very, very similar to what @cprevite described. She lies about things so often that I generally discredit everything she says. For years I drove myself batty trying to get her to be honest, admit to lying, and possibly apologize. We’d have horrible fights over the phone that accomplished nothing other than giving her more ammunition for her guilt trips. She tells big, horrible lies (like claiming my in-laws were abusing my daughter and stealing money from my husband and me) and small, pointless lies (like telling me she is going to rent a car and drive but telling my brother she is going to fly when taking a trip). She will even completely lie about something I personally saw with my own eyes, and if I question it, she lies more, becomes defensive, cries, hangs up on me, and later claims to have no memory of the conversation. I’m so glad we live so far apart, because I could not have a relationship with her if we lived near each other.

What I did was decide to stop confronting her. We talk often, but I do not share personal things with her. When she is clearly lying about something, I change the subject or remind her that there are certain things I will not discuss with her. I’ve had to accept the fact that she will never change and just distance myself from her emotionally. I’d like to say she never gets to me anymore, but sometimes she still drives me crazy. Even my kids know I’m talking to Grandma when they see me hold the phone away from my ear, make faces, and act like I’m banging my head on the wall.

If she were anyone other than my mom, she would no longer be a part of my life. I do feel bad for her because she has created a miserable life for herself. She seems to believe everything she says, and I’m sure if she went to a psychiatrist she’d be diagnosed with something that would explain her behavior. I did try for a long time to get her to see someone, but she is certain she is completely normal. I put up with her within limits because I don’t want to make her more unhappy and I do want my children to be able to know their grandmother (although I would never leave them alone with her). I guess you have to decide what boundaries you want with this relative of yours and how much you are willing to sacrifice. I think if you confront a normal person with lying, you can make some headway. If you confront someone who has some kind of borderline personality disorder, you’re only going to drive yourself crazy.

MissAusten's avatar

@IBERnineD My mom also does that kind of thing. I remember coming home from middle school one day and telling her how a boy I knew from karate class had made some kind of joke about me in the hallway. Not in a mean way, just being silly, and I responded by reminding him that I’d beat him in our last tournament. His friends laughed, he laughed, no big deal. Over the years my mom has turned that minor incident into the following story: Two boys trapped me in a stairwell at school. One of them pulled a knife and threatened to use it to cut off all of my hair. I used my skills from karate class to kick them down the stairs. The never bothered me again.

When my mom recently told me that version of the story, I just said “I don’t remember that at all.” She accused me of making it up when I was in school instead of admitting SHE made it up. I couldn’t even bring myself to point out how I clearly could not have gotten away with making up a story like that, so I had to just shake my head and let it go.

MissAusten's avatar

I know, right?! I could fill an entire book with the crazy things my mother has come up with. The best stuff concerns her husband’s family. He has seven kids (adults now) from his first marriage to an Amish girl. The stories my mom tells about them are so completely off the wall, they make everything else I wrote seem tame. She really hates them. At the same time, it makes me wonder what she says to them about me. Maybe they are thinking of writing a book about their stepmother’s crazy liberal daughter!

noyesa's avatar

@MissAusten My mom does this about things that are even less significant than what you’re mentioning.

My brother and I got into a verbal argument once. That’s as far as it went. Next time I got my haircut (we go to the same place) the lady who was cutting my hair asked me if my brother was alright. My mom had apparently told her that I broke his nose and sent him to the emergency room. That actually did happen once, but apparently every time something (even minor things) happen, she tells everyone she thinks will listen that I fight for victory and beat the living daylights out of my own brother.

Anything that’s dramatic…

When my girlfriend and I started going out, my mom went and told everyone that she was evil and trying to steal me away from the family or something ridiculous like that. It’s stupid if you know how little the word “family” means to me and our entire family, really.

Within 5 minutes of meeting her, my mother had determined that my girlfriend (after a long day at work) had asserted that she was in control of me by yawning, as if to tell my mother she was unintimidated, and that she said she didn’t like the TV show we were watching to prove that she was in control of the relationship. It’s not just ridiculous in the “she’s trying to steal him” sense, but that it also implies that I was being stolen from my mother, as if I was a mommy’s boy or something. Couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Of course, mother doesn’t tell these things to me, she just tells it to everyone else. By the end of the month, which is about the time I get first wind of it, there were people that thought my girlfriend and mom had gotten into some kind of battle royale when they met for the first time.

If you let my mom know anything, you know that everyone is going to hear a version of the story. I cringe to think of what other people, that I’m not close to, think of me since the only things they hear about me go through my mother’s reality distortion field. Everything is a lie, everything is turned into something so dramatic you’d think I live on a soap opera. The only difference is that there’s no drama, no love, no involvement, just her running around trying to get people to feel sorry for her.

Sophief's avatar

How do you know they are lying to you alot? I would probably watch their every move, check up on everything they did, and every place that they go. That isn’t healthy and does turn into a massive obsession. and through all that time, how do you know they are lying and it isn’t just in your head?

IBERnineD's avatar

@MissAusten Yeah exactly she creates these stories! It’s just that more recently she lies about things that change people’s perspective of me. I’m portrayed as a whiney, irresponsible, selfish, baby sister. Who has never had to do anything for herself, and gets everything she wants. This is so far from the truth. But she has been portraying me this way for so long that now she believe’s it’s true.

I won’t even go into how she portrays my other sister and even my mother.

Jude's avatar

@Dibley we catch him in lies all of the time. All.of.the.time.

Um, I’m not up to following my brother around, though and keeping tract of his every move.

It’s not in my head.

Sophief's avatar

I didn’t know it was your brother.

MissAusten's avatar

“I cringe to think of what other people, that I’m not close to, think of me since the only things they hear about me go through my mother’s reality distortion field.”

That is exactly how I feel whenever I go home to visit my family. I hear some things from my brother and grandma, but have no idea what my mom says about me or my husband’s family to her friends or her husband. When I first met my mom’s “stepkids,” they treated me like dirt. It was awful, and I couldn’t understand why I was being ignored and getting dirty looks from these people I’d only just met. Later I found out she’d been telling them stories about me, and it all made sense. It’s sad, because in a way I really hate that woman. I love her because she’s my mom, and I want her to be happy, but I pretty much hate her at the same time. She disgusts me.

partyparty's avatar

I would ask them directly ‘why do you have to tell lies all the time?’

Point out to them the minute they tell a lie ‘that was a lie wasn’t it’? Stop the conversation and wait for an answer from them. Don’t say another word untiil they have responded.

And I would do this each and every time they tell a lie to you.

cookieman's avatar

As sad as these stories are, it always makes me feel better that I’m not alone in the crazy-lying-mom department.

cookieman's avatar

@jmah: My mother has about twenty years on your brother, but that shouldn’t impeed their ability to date as she’d probably lie about her age anyway. ;^)

We’ll throw in @MissAusten‘s mom and they can have an orgy of untruths.

:: shudders ::

Cruiser's avatar

They lie because you give them opportunity to do so… ignore them…move them out of your life if you have to…Like someone said above Life is too short to put up with and or enable liars.

MissAusten's avatar

I’m going to have nightmares tonight!

Just_Justine's avatar

I just don’t understand it, people lying, even for none personal gain. Like someone said they obviously believe it. It’s a sickness and all sick people should be treated with kindness?

knitfroggy's avatar

My aunt lies all the time. Usually it’s just a story she is embellishing. She will tell a story about something that happened, and she makes the story way better and funnier than what actually happened. We all know she is full of shit, but she’s so fun that we don’t care. She lies about everyday stuff too. She was in a very abusive relationship for 13 years and has 4 kids from that. She and her kids were trained to lie by her batterer. So, everyone knows she lies and we all brush it off, because we love her and she doesn’t generally lie about important stuff. She has never told a hurtful lie or anything. Just story embellishment and detail omission is what I would call it.

MissAusten's avatar

@Just_Justine Yes, I think my mom is sick. That’s why I struggle with our relationship. If I thought she was just mean, or out for personal gain all of the time (sometimes it seems like her lies are designed to make herself look better compared to others or to generate sympathy), I would probably have cut her out of my life completely. She doesn’t know she isn’t allowed to be alone with my kids, and I go to great lengths to avoid having to tell her that. When she visits, or when we visit her, if she wants to take my daughter to a movie I either say “Sounds fun! Let’s all go!” or keep our schedules too full to allow it. I wish it wasn’t that way, but I can’t change it so I just live with it.

@knitfroggy That’s how my mom was when I was a kid. A great story-teller, full of humor and drama. She could lie easily and well, but it always seemed harmless to me. For example, we’d go shopping and she’d remind me to pretend like my new clothes weren’t new if my dad noticed and asked. The lies I knew about then revolved around the “us against him” mentality, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized my dad wasn’t the “bad guy.” Sometime when I was in college she started to get more and more strange, more outrageous lies and behavior.

I consider myself (and my brother) very lucky that she was mostly functional when we were kids.

evandad's avatar

Don’t talk to them

babaji's avatar

A whole lot of “depends” here:
if there is a strong friendship….,then you could directly point it out, in various ways to help your friend. Through laughter or joking or tenderly etc.
If it is someone who is confronting to you and threatening to you in your job, you might point out some things either secretly or confidently to wherever it needs to be known.
If it is just a jerk in your path, walk around them and pay them no mind.
If this is something that are lies all about you, you might take a more direct approach to settle or correct the situation.
pesky brothers and other family members might take some creative strategic planning.

DrMC's avatar

I thought we were supposed to vote for perpetual liars!

ChaosCross's avatar

“Evil destroying evil”
No, it is not the same as “An eye for an eye”, it is not used in a vengeful way, it is used to show one would acts against you in some way their own medicine.

If you want my suggestion I would say that you lie back to him in a way that they know it, wrap you hands around something important to them so they can feel the threat, and then gently let go because you love them so much.

YARNLADY's avatar

My oldest son was diagnosed as a compulsive liar as a teen. We had him in counseling for a year, and he learned how to mitigate it, but not to completely get over it. I just had to choose not to believe anything he said that I couldn’t verify.

His lies were along the line of fake achievements and activities he never participated in, or famous people he falsely claimed to have met. His lies were very difficult to handle, because he did participate in unusual activities and meet famous people, but he would exaggerate to the point of a full fledged lie.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Accept them as a compulsive liar, but I doubt they’d be close to me anymore.

There is no ”supposed to” in this situation.
You feel however you feel about it.

Just_Justine's avatar

@YARNLADY my son also lies a lot, it’s an odd thing having been brought up in a family who never lied (well not never but you know what I mean). Honesty was a big thing. So it’s an odd feeling when someone you made, and love lies to you. He is a drug addict so I guess it is that? But I sense his make up is just different.

celeste's avatar

Man u guy’s hit the nail on the head my aunt lies all the time,she is beautifull and my family say’s i look alot like her (lol) but she married this guy when i was small and my family never liked him because he worked as a car sales’s men and she acted like miss hollywood and started asking for money from everybody in the family to pay there bills ,and people felt sorry for her because she was family.they had to move all the time ,renting homes that was way out there price range ,very high life with no money of there family has got tired of taking care of her kids, and her. she lies too everyone because she want’s too get money out of u.all these fake stories.sad her husband was robbing drug stories but went to jail and now there for stealing a rent a car,i forgot he left my aunt for another woman because he thought she would take care of him my .aunt seems like she has a mental problem or something she forgets what she said too one person then say’s something elese too another then when someone cathes her in a lie she goes off,rolles her eyes then goes and lie again on u ,two of her daughters work as a stripper,nothing is wrong with that,, but when u ask her where are they, how are they doing she says ,one run’s this club,very nice one, and the other work’s as a hair dresser and is in college.all lies lol she forgot she told my dad everything…well my grandmother is being taking care of by one of my aunt’s because of 3 strokes,well my super drama aunt now lives in my grandmother house. there with now her one daughter and new baby and again begging for money…sorry u guy’s for this long crap but i love her but me and my dad want’s too know what’s wrong with her,i mean this lady has 3 collges degress but fills like family should take care of her and her kids witch are grown.she has not worked in 30 years also all my family and there husband’s and wifes can’t stand helping her but fill bad for her .my dad say’s that when they where young she will lie then my dad would take up for her beliveing she was telling the truth….i avoid her but can’t avoid hearig her big lies sorry u guy’s…

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