Why do pathological liars lie?

Answered Jan 16, 2019

I’ve known some severe liars. People who were so bad that literally nothing that they said, about any subject, could be trusted.

Some reasons:

  • They want something from you (money, sex, drug-enabling, etc), and think that lying will manipulate you into complying. It may sound logical, but they often use obvious lies, without rational anticipation of the lie’s chances of working.
  • They want to avoid consequences for their bad behaviour, which was also pathological. Again, some of these lies are obvious.
  • Lying as a shortcut to social status. This can include the common boasting about money, accomplishments, etc. It can also include boasting about the cool things that they are “going to” do in the near future. They want that status and admiration immediately, without having to take the time and energy to do the work involved. I once had a neighbour who loudly boasted about how she was “going to” quit smoking and start up a healthy lifestyle, expecting immediate admiration. She almost forgot that she had a cigarette in her hand at the time. And no, she never quit or, exercised, or ate healthily.
  • A related point is trying to seem like a more interesting person. Out of fear that honesty will result in being perceived as a boring loser.
  • A related status issue is lying to a social clique or other group to push someone else down the hierarchy, as a way of reducing competition.
  • Constant fantasising. And saying things (sometimes quite casually) as if the fantasy were reality. Including things that are physically impossible.
  • Fear of the truth, with desperate attempts to avoid facing it. They lie partly in order to convince and comfort themselves.
  • Lying out of embarrassment over revealing what they really think. Such as holding bigoted attitudes, but refusing to admit it. Or having competition-based envy and hostility, but claiming that the hostility is due to the target being dysfunctional or bad.
  • Making up “rules” for how everyone else “has to” behave. Including in friendships, sexual relationships, workplaces, etc, etc. They don’t claim that it is their personal rules. They claim that, there are simply universal “rules” of all human interactions, which are coincidentally whatever they think serves them, practically or emotionally.
  • Minimisation. Claiming that their bad behaviour wasn’t really so bad, so you don’t have a position to object, or to impose consequences. Also, minimisation of the importance of other lies. Such as, “That was a white lie, so you don’t have any right to stop trusting me over it”.
  • Repetition. If they keep repeating it over and over, you will get tired of the conflict that you allegedly cause by refusing to believe them. And will be worn down into actually believing them.
  • Failure to anticipate any limits to your willingness to trust them and to continue interacting with them. No matter how many times you have caught them lying, they assume that you will stick around, and will desperately try to see them as trustworthy. They think that your desire to trust them is just as infinite as their inclination to lie. Including when they tell the same lie, yet again.
  • A related point is, “This time it’s different”. I once had someone repeat a previous lie, admitting that it had been a lie before, while insisting, “That was then, and this is a different time. So you have to trust that I am telling the truth this time, and don’t have the right to judge me for the previous time”.
  • A related mechanism is trying new angles. They will tell a lie, and you refuse to believe them. Then, they will immediately tell a different lie, which contradicts the first lie. They think that they can can just try a series of different lies, until they find the one that you are willing to believe.
  • Another related point is using your empathy or your desire to “help”them with their bad life situations (which are the result of their own bad behaviour). They assume that your empathy is endless, no matter how much they abuse it (and you). They try to use your empathy to keep you involved, while convincing you to buy into their definition of “help”, which is really enabling of their bad behaviour.
  • They are confident that you cannot prove that they are lying. Including when they lie about the content of previous conversations between the two of you. Or even things they said earlier in the same conversation.
  • They want to lash out. They will come up with anything to say that they expect will hurt you emotionally/psychologically. They may even admit this, to try to avoid consequences (e.g. you abandoning them).
  • Stimulant drugs. People using cocaine or amphetamine are notorious for compulsive lying. If they have been using for some time, they will compulsively lie even when they aren’t under the influence at the moment. Even other addicts (e.g. to sedating drugs) view these people as bad news.
  • Dominance games. If they lie, and you believe them, they have dominated you.
  • Desperation to pull you down into their loser mentality. I once had an acquaintance who insisted that, no employer will ever pay any employee more than minimum wage, so it is stupid to put forth any extra effort or skills. They claim they are trying to “help” you to avoid wasting effort, when they are really motivated by frightened envy/competition.
  • A related point is trying to minimise anything good in your life. They will lie to avoid the feeling that you may be winning some kind of competition. Including when you have zero interest in competing.
  • Covering up their ignorance. They don’t want to admit that they don’t know something, so they invent some convenient-sounding pseudo-information about it. This includes insisting that they know better than you (even if you have substantial relevant knowledge and experience).
  • Just world hypothesis. They are afraid of vulnerability, so they insist that, bad things only happen to those who deserve it. And look for ways to apply that to a given situation where someone else experiences adversity or victimisation.

What all of this comes down to is desperation for control. And desperate people do dysfunctional and often blatantly unworkable things.

Facing how things really are is like surrendering. Lying that things are some other way, is an attempt to control the situation.

Facing the fact that you won’t/don’t believe them is like surrendering to you. Lying with you believing them, means controlling you, even if there is nothing practical to be gained.

Do narcissists fear consequences?

Answered Dec 19

They don’t understand how consequences work.

The personality-disordered person expects that, she will do whatever impulsive action comes to mind, and that, everyone else will respond by giving or doing whatever she wants. The disorder prevents them from anticipating any negative consequences for themselves.

Later, when the negative consequence has just been imposed, they still refuse to draw the connection. And will insist that, the negative consequence is due to someone being mean-spirited towards them. And “wasn’t” really a reasonable reaction to the disordered person’s abusive behaviour.

This prevents them from learning from past negative consequences. They will do the exact same abusive behaviour again and again. Fully expecting that, this time, everyone else will cooperate.

They can feel fear, but they often cannot apply that to decision-making.

I might say, “If you do XYZ behaviour, then I will respond with ABC negative consequence”. And the behaviour is obviously abusive, and my response is simply removing myself from abuse-range.

What they hear is, “Blah, blah, blah, I am going to harm you, and deprive you of what you are entitled to”.

Also, some personality-disordered individuals view everything as a dominance-fight. If you set a rule by stating action→consequence, they will view that as you attempting to dominate them. So they will feel compelled to violate that rule, to prove that you are powerless to enforce it, and powerless to impose consequences. So that they can take the dominant position.

Personality-disordered people are also profoundly lacking in empathy. This isn’t simply that they cannot “feel your pain”. It is that they cannot anticipate or understand your motivation for responding negatively to their actions. Or your motivation to impose negative consequences.

They also lack the empathy to understand anyone else’s perspective on consequences. They will never respect your right to control your own behavioural choices, based on rational anticipation of consequences.

Will abuse continue in every relationships the abuser enters into?

Answered Oct 24

Yes. They are abusers. It’s what they do. It’s who they are.

They abused someone before getting involved with you? They will abuse you.

There is nothing so special about you that it will change an abuser into a nice person.

They abused you, and then moved on to another partner? They will abuse that person.

There is nothing so special about the next person that it will change the abuser into a nice person.

Sure, there may be a temporary period of acting nice to lure you in, or to lure in the next victim. But that is all a game, just to manipulate you/them into getting emotionally invested.

Then, the abuser shows her/his true colours. Which stay true with each and every partner they will ever have.

Once an abuser, always an abuser.

What did it take for you to finally leave an abusive relationship?

Answered Oct 24

Real conversation:

Me: “We have had these arguments over and over and over. I do not consent to anything being stuck up my anus. I will never consent to anything being stuck up my anus.”

Idiot: (With stone-cold personality-disordered expression) “It’s going to happen”.

Me: “You need to decide if you can be happy in a relationship where that does not happen, because, if you can’t, then the relationship is over right now”.

Idiot: “Whine! Whine! Whine! Oh gawd, I am a victim of you and your hangups! Whine! Whine! Whine!”

Me: “The relationship is now terminated”.

So, at that age and point in life, the breaking point was the idiot directly stating the intent to sexually assault me. The whole “relationshit” was about five months of gradually escalating conflict up to then.

An important point was the choice of words: “It’s going to happen”, as if a violent sexual assault was an event that just inevitably “happens” without either party having any control, or any responsibility.

I really should have bailed out before that, due to the person’s generally obnoxious, negative, controlling attitude. In retrospect, the red flags were there right from the beginning.

On the bright side, that situation helped to cure my expectations of rationality in other people. Sexual relationships are a major focal point of their senses of entitlement, and belief that they can do any bad behaviour they want, without any negative consequences. Many people seriously believe that, a sexual relationship (or even a platonic “friendshit”) is literally a license to commit ongoing acts of violent crime.

This is also important for anyone evaluating prospective partners. Vital points include evaluating their senses of entitlement, and also looking for any fixations on particular sex acts, fetishes, etc. Because they will never stop pushing those fixations onto you.

The anal obsession seems to be quite common, and they will keep it up for weeks, months, and even years, making the relationship into one long argument about it. When they get sufficiently frustrated and tired of arguing, there is a high risk of physical violence.

Regardless of the particular form of abuse, as long as the relationship is going on, the abuser simply cannot grasp that the target has the right or ability to leave. This includes situations where the target is not in any way financially or materially dependent on the abuser, and can even be a situation where the abuser is dependent.

After you terminate the relationship, you should cut off all contact with the abuser. Because any conversation will be all about trying to manipulate you into getting re-involved.

When I scan over local and national news headlines, and see something like, “Woman found dead in her home, stabbed fifty times”, my first guess is that the perpetrator was someone known to the victim, and most likely an estranged spouse or partner.

What does a narcissist mean by, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”?

Updated May 21

This sounds like something they would say after you had just talked about the negative impact that their behaviour has had on you.

To some extent, it is a deflection, to avoid engaging the specifics of what you had just said. But it is mainly a part of the relentless manipulation and gaslighting.

What they really mean is…

“It is unfortunate that you are so dysfunctional, deluded, immature, irrational, unstable, and ungrateful with your failure to appreciate the wonderful way in which I have treated you”.

Trying to understand or analyse one of these people is only useful to the point where you can recognise the presence of their personality disorder. After that point, it just becomes a waste of time and energy.

At that point, the bottom line is to just disengage. If you feel you have to interact in a workplace, then disengage emotionally. If they are only in your personal life, I recommend disengaging entirely.

The main lasting value of analysing these kinds of statements is so that you can recognise the next personality disordered person that you meet in the future.