I think I am in love with a pathological liar

How do I distinguish between a compulsive liar who lies out of fear and a seemingly pathological liar who maliciously leeches off society?

Here’s the shortest possible summary of my situation: I’m a 26 year old male with average looks and a low income, but two years ago when I was living in China, my income was the highest around. I met a girl who I fell much more deeply in love with than I could ever have imagined.

I considered possible reasons for my infatuation that included, her different ethnicity although no one calls her pretty; Stockholm syndrome (i.e., it was a fearful environment in that everyone was lying to me, there was a military camp outside my window, and at first I couldn’t understand the language and culture); her emotional power that seems supernatural, if she is upset or happy the whole room thrums with her feelings, they go into me and make me feel fully alive; I don’t know how she does it, but when I am with her I feel better than any other time of my life. She’s a lot like using drugs.

It’s possible that I’m in love with her lying. I left graduate school in Math and Science out of boredom; specifically I didn’t like the idea that Science can explain everything so I moved to China and found the most confounding person of my life. Lies include saying she was six years younger than reality, big events from her past, her sister’s occupations, and everyday things. I questioned my sanity and reality. She is a liar, there’s no question about that. There is also no question about the fact that she doesn’t care about the suffering her lies cause me. She thinks it’s my problem. She qualifies her acknowledgments of past lies with "I want to help you ...", but she has no intention of straightening out reality for me. What she says then is also not based in truth.

She is an expert at control and manipulation, smarter than me. There’s the doubtful story of her ex-boyfriend who killed a man but escaped the police by using money. She repeatedly threatens suicide. She can cry and wreath her body in the creepiest and most terrifying ways imaginable (at times I get the feeling that her displays are deliberate). If I talk of breaking up she threatens my life both directly and indirectly by engineering a situation where after all things are considered staying is my best option.

I have a difficult time reconciling her manipulative treatment with her love for me, but at the same time I feel it’s truer, deeper and stronger than anyone else could love me. If she understands where I’m coming from, she will do anything for me. The empathy is at times unbelievable. At times, we truly live for each other. But, she doesn’t seem to take my complaints about lying seriously. I get the sense that she views me as a little crazy, with a tendency towards interrogation and a fanatical obsession with the truth, and also the sense that she enjoys the power that her self-granted lying privilege gives her. Anyway, if I could spend the rest of my life on an island with just one person, it would be her.

Only problem is this: I don’t want to be axed by a violent sociopath. She doesn’t really fit the criteria, but her lying, manipulation, threats, and emotional power frighten me. I am working on coming to terms with her fantasy world of lies, after all its kind of fun. But there’s nothing at all fun in the fear that our relationship has produced. Judge a tree by its fruit, unless that tree is not consistent; producing the most rotten fruit one second, followed by the sweetest of all the next.

No matter how I look at this situation, I can’t find a consistent viewpoint. Please shed some light if you can.

Putting his faith back in Science,

Response:

To begin with, it seems like you are fairly aware of what’s going on. From our point of view, it sounds like your attraction to each other is based on some form of emotional game playing.

Does she like to play games with your emotions by doing the things you fear the most: being manipulative, cunning, and being cavalier with the truth? And do you enjoy catching her in these types of games and forcing the truth out of her? This type of game playing can be very seductive for some people (see ludus).

Such emotional game playing can be tremendously stimulating and it creates a very deep connection on some level. And you are exactly right—for some people this type of excitement is like a drug—it can become addictive—blind to reason.

In some relationships, people feel so close to each other because they are so good at pushing each other’s buttons—it creates a genuine sense of understanding and closeness. If this pattern of behavior describes your relationship, then what you see now is what you’re going to get. Your future with her will be no different from your past.

In fact, your game playing may escalate over time as the two of you need more stimulation to fuel your sense of connection. But, on the bright side, if she hasn’t been violent in the past, you probably won’t have to worry about her resorting to violence in the future. Women, even women with sociopathic tendencies, tend to be a lot less violent than men (for more on “sociopaths”—which is not technically a clinical distinction, please visit LoveFraud).

So, is she a pathological liar or a compulsive liar? Making such distinctions is difficult to do (see types of liars).

In either case, the problem is not really about her, but it stems from your connection to each other. So, it may help you to focus on the dynamics of your relationship rather than focusing on what she contributes to it. In fact, focusing on a partner’s behavior often helps people avoid facing the truth. And generally speaking, the more you can focus on what you bring to the situation, the less likely you’ll be a victim of what happens.

 control issues | crazy love | dating compulsive liar | ludus | lying girlfriend | playing games | troubled relationship

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