5 Ways To Tell If You're Dealing With A Pathological Liar

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personality disorder
Love, Self

Their words sound true but your instinct says they're a liar!

Have you ever thought to yourself ... Hmmm, I think that person is a pathological liar

Well, you might be right. Hearing a white lie here or there is one thing, but being lied to on a regular basis is extremely frustrating and hurtful.

What is a pathological liar?

Pathological liars are actually addicted to lying and studies show that most people who lie this way seek attention. They tell unbelievable stories, they often exaggerate and sometimes they might even paint themselves as a victim to gain attention. Studies show that people with low self-esteem are more likely to lie in a compulsive way in order to make themselves feel better about what they have in life and about their accomplishments.

What is pathological lying?

It is an addiction. It is also known as compulsive, chronic or habitual lying. Compulsive liars feel pleasure by lying. Telling the truth is not half as much fun and can actually affect them with "withdrawal" symptoms, like with other addictions. 

Compulsive liars often find the truth almost physically uncomfortable for them and most pathological liars would even tell stories that are self-incriminating just to seek the attention.

When dealing with a pathological liar it is important to take note of the following:

It is important to establish a truth baseline. This is what they do when hooking someone up to a lie detector test.

So, how is this done without the machine? For starters, you want to observe them and their behavior under relaxed or stress-free conditions to see if you can detect obvious deviations. You could try to ask them a series of simple questions and observe how they behave when they have no reason to lie. Then, pay attention to the changes in their behavior that may indicate they're lying.

Here are the signs to look for: 

1. Watch for stress signals


Usually, it is pretty hard to spot a pathological liar, since they act very natural when they're lying, yet, they still seem a little stressed. Watch for certain stress signals such as rubbing their hands together or fidgeting. Do they have a forced or frozen smile? Do you notice any unusual breaks in their gestures? 

Our first response to stress is to freeze. So if you notice an unusual break this is a definite sign of lying.

2. Pay close attention to their eyes 


The notion that a person cannot look you in the eyes while lying to you is a myth! This may be true for some inexperienced liars, but studies show that pathological liars actually give too much eye contact, since they are trying very hard to convince you.

The signal that gives them away though is that their pupils dilate when they tell a lie. Also, their blink rate slows down while they construct and tell a lie, and then it speeds back up.

3. Keep track of contradictions


A compulsive liar tends to lie so much that over time their lies begin to contradict. Compare stories with mutual friends and the person you are suspecting of being a pathological liar. See if you notice that certain details have changed. Also, when asked something, most liars will avoid the truth by answering with questions by using quasi-denials.

4. Listen to their vocal pitch


Experts tell us that basic vocal pitch rises under stressful conditions because the vocal chords constrict. Body language expert Carol Kinsey Gorman also says, "Under stress, people may also experience an increased need to drink water and to lick or moisten their lips, as the autonomic nervous system downloads a rush of adrenaline, causing dry mouth."

5. Observe any of these actions


David DeSteno, professor of psychology at Northeastern University, discovered four gestures that can indicate someone is lying or hiding something. This specific cluster of nonverbal signals has been proven statistically to accompany dishonesty:

  • Hand touching
  • Face touching
  • Crossing arms
  • Leaning away

In short, it's not always easy to spot a pathological liar, so I encourage you to trust your instincts and make note of the signs above.