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How to Deal with a Compulsive Liar in a Relationship


What Is a Compulsive Liar?

When your friend asks if you like their haircut, you do your best to find words to compliment even the worst haircut in the universe. Life is such a challenging thing that there is no other way but to tell a lie once in a while: to comfort or reassure someone, to avoid trouble or long and unnecessary explanations. However, there are people who are not limited to telling lies for the sake of comforting someone else. A compulsive liar is a person who lies without the slightest effort, for whom it is more natural to tell a lie than tell the truth. Lies can become such a big part of a person’s life that they are one gigantic falsification.

A compulsive liar feels a chronic, uncontrollable, obsessive need to lie. Even if a lie is obvious, even if it serves no purpose, and they are threatened with consequences. There are various signs of a compulsive liar that you should keep in mind.

how to deal with a compulsive liar

Signs of a Compulsive Liar

These are the things that distinguish compulsive liars from all other people who sometimes like to lie or just embellish the truth for one reason or another.

1. Exaggerations. How to tell if someone is a compulsive liar? Liars love to impress their listeners; thus, they often exaggerate the things they tell. They can say, for example, that they own a huge house, that they breed rare horses, which are the fastest in the world, that they often encounter various celebrities and regularly drink with them in the same company.

2. A compulsive liar often comes up with lies that don’t really make sense. Because of the nature of compulsiveness, they do it without any reason or purpose, they just do it, and their lies don’t necessarily make sense.

3. Compulsive liars don’t truly believe in their own stories. This is contrary to the pathological liars. The latter do it because they love to have the last word in any conversation, or because others have no chance to convict them of a lie. Pathological liars, on the other hand, don’t believe their own lies, but they feel like people want to hear certain things from them.

4. One of the easiest ways to identify a liar is to catch them lying. A compulsive liar tends to tell a story by adding some additional details and nuances to it, only then to retell to another group of people with completely different ones. There is no particular reason for it, it is just the way they do it.

5. Compulsive liars may admit to lying. As opposed to the pathological liars, compulsive liars may admit to lying when they are confronted with it, they may even feel and express a sense of guilt, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will stop lying.

6. Compulsive liars would gladly tell others what was privately told to them. At the same time, they exaggerate and distort everything they hear. Thus, you should never trust such a person with your secrets, especially important ones. It should be noted that compulsory liars are less likely to use such information for their own personal gain, but if you are dealing with a pathological liar – they can get you in a lot of trouble, which is why it is important to identify the nature of the problem.

Let’s summarize all of these characteristics of a compulsive liar. Being a compulsive liar is not a good thing by any stretch of the imagination, they literally feel compelled to tell a lie instead of telling the truth even if there is no reason for it. Even if there is no clear reason or any motive, they will still lie for one reason or another.

dating a compulsive liarIf you are a relative of such a person, and their lies cause you pain and discomfort, seek the help of a therapist, not only for yourself but also for a person who is suffering from it. However, this may not always be effective. First, in order for the treatment to be successful, a liar must be aware that they are lying. Secondly, they often manipulate. They can even try to manipulate a doctor and make them believe in their lies, tell them that they do not need treatment and that you want to harm them.

Sometimes it may turn out that they are not lying for entertainment, but because of mental illness. In such cases, it may require not only psychotherapy but also medication. Experts believe that the treatment of a liar will never be effective until they are aware of their shortcoming or they do not want to get cured. We’ve already mentioned quite a few differences between compulsive liar vs pathological liar, so let’s compare them.

Compulsive Liar vs Pathological Liar

In general, the difference between a pathological and a compulsive liar is quite simple.

The first group of people does it because they don’t have that much control of it, it is much rather about a disorder than about getting anything out of lying. Compulsive lying disorder is the cause of their suffering, and there may be lots of different reasons why they have it. They feel a strong sense of discomfort when they have to tell the truth.

This disorder is often developed during early childhood, during the most important period of one’s life. The main source of information and notions about the world that a child has are their parents, that is why if it was common for parents to lie during a person’s childhood, the latter may end up thinking that this is completely normal. And even if they don’t think that it is normal – they will still do it since they have been brought up this way.

On the other hand, a pathological liar is less likely to have this disorder, yet they are more likely to be psychopaths and sociopaths. They do things for their own personal gain, they lie because they want other people to act the way they want them to act. They have their own motives for lying. Now that we know the difference, let’s find out how to deal with a compulsive liar in a relationship.

How to Build a Relationship with a Compulsive Liar?

What is it like living with a compulsive liar? Is it even possible? There are quite a few things that you should know to establish a healthy relationship with a liar.

We can safely tell that pathological liars are quite different from compulsive liars and this is the most important thing that you should remember in a relationship. They don’t have any control of their lies, and it is quite unlikely that they will change just like that, without any external help. We will discuss the healing process later on, but let’s now focus on something else, how can one build a relationship with a compulsive liar?

Let’s first list all of the things you can do to make it easier for yourself.

First of all, make sure that you are facing a compulsive liar, not a pathological one. A relationship with a sociopath is one of the worst things imaginable. And to not waste your time, and most importantly, sanity, you should figure out the nature of lies of your partner.

Secondly, don’t take their lies close to the heart. Compulsive liars aren’t as good at it as pathological liars, thus, you are quite likely to catch them lying once in a while. But don’t perceive it as a way to cause you pain, it is their second nature, and they cannot battle it.

Thirdly, learn to identify their lies. It will be quite easier for you to interact with them if you know their “lying habits.” The nature of this disorder is quite unpredictable; however, you will eventually come to see some certain patterns of behavior, and it will make it a bit easier for you to interact with them. If you don’t know how to confront a compulsive liar – you have to catch them lying and have a conversation about it.

Ask simple questions. The less information you ask a person, the fewer lies you will get. This may seem childish, but there is no other way to put it, your partner is not a reliable source of information.

Now, let’s focus on the things that need to be remembered to prepare them for eventual treatment.

living with a compulsive liarMake them face their disorder/addiction. Yeah, this may not come as a surprise to you, but this issue may turn out to be as serious as an addiction to a person that is incapable of telling the truth. But to start the battle against it, the first step that has to be made is to point out their lies. And you don’t have to be aggressive about it, you have to be rational and calm. As in any psychological disorder, to battle it, a person must first realize that they are sick and that they need treatment. Thus, you should show your partner that you care for them, you love them, and that you will do your best to support them during the darkest of times.

But here’s the most important questions, "How to stop being a compulsive liar/ how to help a compulsive liar?"

Can a Compulsive Liar Change?

As it seems by some of the recent studies, pathological liars can’t truly change their ways. However, dealing with a compulsive liar is a lot easier. Nonetheless, even if a person is capable of changing, it will be a very hard and long process.

Compulsive liars need to face their illness and then seek help from a qualified therapist.

And once again, a therapist will point out the effect that their lies have on the people around them, which will only motivate them towards healing. Also, there may be some other underlying problems like BPD, BD, and ADHD. A person must not lie to a therapist, otherwise, it will only make the process longer and more complicated.

Couples therapy may also be quite beneficial in the healing process, there are various roleplaying techniques that are used in it.

The healing process is quite a complicated one, so remember this, it is possible for a compulsive liar to change, it is possible for them to heal and start living a normal life, but it will take lots of time, effort, and love towards your partner to help them out during this period. If you are dating a compulsive liar, then stay by their side and reassure them that they are capable of healing.

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