Is your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend a compulsive/pathological liar or a sociopath?
To begin with, it may help to understand the difference between a pathological or compulsive liar and a sociopath (see types of liars).
Ultimately, making this type of distinction may not be that useful. Because in either case, the outcome is typically the same: dealing with a compulsive or pathological liar is very difficult to do. And unfortunately, sociopaths cannot be changed (see lovefraud).
A compulsive liar will resort to telling lies, regardless of the situation. Again, everyone lies from time to time (see when lovers lie), but for a compulsive liar, telling lies is routine. It becomes a habit—a way of life.
Simply put, for a compulsive liar, lying becomes second nature.
Not only do compulsive liars bend the truth about issues large and small, they take comfort in it. Lying feels right to a compulsive liar. Telling the truth, on the other hand, is difficult and uncomfortable.
And like any behavior which provides comfort and an escape from discomfort (i.e., alcohol, drugs, sex), lying can become addictive and hard to stop. For the compulsive liar, lying feels safe and this fuels the desire to lie even more.
Making matters even more complicated, compulsive lying is often a symptom of a much larger personality disorder, which only makes the problem more difficult to resolve (see narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder).
Unfortunately, compulsive lying is hard for the person involved to see, but it hurts those who are around it. Compulsive lying, if not addressed, can easily ruin one’s reputation and his or her relationships (for example see why does my partner need to lie).
Compulsive lying can be dealt with through counseling or therapy. But, like any addictive behavior (and/or personality disorder), getting someone to admit they have a problem with lying is the difficult part. Sadly enough, getting someone to recognize that he or she has a problem usually requires hitting rock bottom first.
How can you confront a compulsive liar?
Take a look at several viewers’ different attempts to deal with a compulsive liar (see how I confronted a compulsive liar).
For recent research on the topic of lying, visit our blog.
- compulsive lying quiz
- how to confront a partner who lies
- forum for dealing with a compulsive liar
- lying and deception – articles, links and resources
Truth About Deception – back to our home page.