Anyone ever confronted a compulsive/pathological liar?

If so, how did it turn out?

I have never met a bonafied habitual liar–someone I knew for an absolute fact was a liar. A long time ago, I worked with a woman who everyone suspected with a compulsive liar because she would try to one-up you at every turn, and not in a way that would even be believable. Like, if you told her you went skydiving once, she’ll you tell she’s a certified professional skydiver who once skydived on the Moon.

Everyone I worked with had the same suspicion about this girl, and they would find ways to poke holes in her story. But there was never any smoking gun. Well, I take that back. Eventually she was fired because she got caught in a lie by the boss. But I don’t know if it was a pathological lie or the normal kind of lying that people get fired for.

I’m starting to suspect that another coworker (yes, THAT one ;)) may also have some lyin’ tendencies.

I’d like to hear other people’s experiences with this phenomenon. I’m not going to front and act like I don’t understand how people get caught up in a web of lies, because I totally do. People want to be liked and held in high esteem, so they’ll lie to “fake it till they make it”. Some degree of social deceit is expected and even encouraged. But I don’t understand lying about things that don’t need to lied about, or telling a lie that makes the liar look worse than if they had said nothing. I’d love it if someone can provide some insight.

(That’s the ticket)


I don’t have much insight, just popping in to say I’ve experienced the same. My step-sister (estranged herself from the family for no reason) was the first I dealt with when we were teenagers. She told a doozy of a story about Dad to her ex-husband, who was prepared to punch Dad when they first met, due to the stories. It took about 5 minutes for ex-brother-in-law to realize it was all bunk.

And various co-workers here and there over the years. My approach is to keep my distance and just leave them to dig their own holes. They always do.

Yes, I’ve known two of them. Basically, if asked a question, they would rather make up a lie than tall the truth. If then confronted with evidence of the truth, they would just shrug and be unfazed by it. They didn’t do it out of any malicious intent, and would probably tell the truth if it was a matter of some significant harm resulting from someone depending on what they said.

One of them was one of my best friends, and it was well-known among the circle of friends that he would routinely lie about things, and we just paid no attention to what he said. He was generous and helpful, and had influential contacts, so he was a good person to know. He just lied all the time. His wife was one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met.

Yes, her name was Linda.

It was a long time ago and I’m struggling to remember a lot of the details, but I don’t think I considered her a liar, exactly, just sort of fucked up in the head.

She worked for me for quite awhile. She drove me bonkers a lot of the time and I reprimanded her harshly more than once. But she was a good worker and she could be amusing, even when she was telling her exaggerated stories.

One guy I worked for when I was young was just full of shit all the time. He wasn’t even good at it, his stories were absurd, and when he fired someone over some bullshit incident he totally fabricated I quit. He tried to talk me out of it, said I was making a big mistake, didn’t even understand why I was upset about it. And then the kicker came, he wanted to tell me something I didn’t know about him. He said I wouldn’t believe it but when he was a kid he had a reputation for telling lies, he just kept coming up with whoppers and no one ever believed him about anything. At that moment my mind wobbled, I stared at him with some kind of gape-jawed WTF expression and the next thing out of his mouth was just incredible, he thought I didn’t believe he had ever been a liar and said “Yes, I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true, I used to be like that.” I remember shaking my head and walking away, I couldn’t believe he was so delusional that he thought I considered him to be an honest person, or that anyone else did. I recall some whacked out people in my life but that level of self-deception in anyone has to be the tops.

There was also a woman who was also constantly making up stories in an attempt to manipulate people. It wasn’t affecting me, it was occasionally entertaining, but it was really messing up her life since it was apparent that it was part of something like Borderline Personality Disorder. So out of sympathy I suggested she ought to get some counseling and try to get her life in order. After a brief screed about how good her life was she had an unusual brief moment of clarity she explained that she knew how messed up she was up but just never wanted to admit it. And then right back to the fantasy world she lived in. It was really too bad, she was someone with talent and potential who might have just needed some medication but she soon after spiraled out of control and after an arrest for beating up an old man (apparently she returned to drinking) she disappeared. That was kind of sad because I think she just had a treatable disorder.

Yes. Forgetting my grandmothers advice never to argue with crazy people I tried and got punched for my efforts. It wasn’t really worth it since everyone was on to him or quickly caught on; so in a sense it was no harm and no foul to those around him and I should have let it be. But I just had to call him once and --------- never again will I make that mistake.

Yes, a co-worker who was quite malicious with her lies. She was eventually fired, but not before she had caused a lot of trouble.

My mother and her sister aren’t so much liars as suffering from a degree of self-deceit way above normal. We will confront them on things that have serious consequences or which we find horribly irritating; sometimes it actually takes hold and they drop that particular issue forever amen. Sometimes it takes partial hold: they bring it back, but not with the same person. My aunt not so much, but my mother, the description “she lies even when she’s not talking” fits her perfectly, and often those lies are the kind with consequences: she’s got a new doctor so she takes twice the painkillers, goes to the hairdresser (and specifically, to the hairdresser who leaves her hair looking nice but not in an “I’ve gone to the hairdresser” kind of way), applies her makeup more carefully and subtly than usual - and then complains that the new, youngish, male doctor hasn’t taken her complains of aches and pains and morning stiffness seriously. Damnit woman, it was 10am and you were moving like you normally don’t until after lunch! Don’t double up on painkillers if you want him to see you hurting, genius.

If it’s something with no direct consequences, we verify with each other that yep, she’s been smoking something funny.
Grandpa was a superb salesman. In his case, the lying was definitely on purpose.
I’ve also had some coworkers who were of the poisonous liar kind. In most cases, their bite lost power as soon as people realized they were poison. A particularly bad one: people come congratulate me on starting to date another coworker, Francisco. “I’m dating Francisco?” “Well, yeah!” “Don’t you think I would’a noticed? I’m reasonably sure I haven’t noticed. Who’s your source, Her?” “Uh… yeah?” “Just last week she was saying Francisco is gay. She should make up her mind already.” That particular story was just an attempt at dominating conversation, but a few like those made her lose all believability.

Sort of. He was a friend who was telling boastful stories about himself which were obviously gross exaggerations. Then there was one night when we were all squished into an overcrowded car, someone noticed a police car and said we should try to avoid it. Our friend said “Especially since I’m a wanted man.” Myself and another friend replied (I can’t remember who said what): “Oh yeah, in 43 states right?” “Yeah, and 12 countries in Europe!” Everyone else laughed, and our friend the pathological liar just said nothing.

Didn’t stop him lying, though.

I’ve always found it pointless to confront liars. Knowing that they are lying, but them not knowing that you know, gives you power.

I was married to one. As an example of the pointless stuff he’d lie about… once he made brownies to take to work (he liked to bake). At the end of the day, I asked how the guys had liked the brownies. He told me glowing stories about how much they liked them. I went to his car later that night to get something in it and the brownies were sitting there in the car.

I also worked with a pathological liar that tried to say he’d given me a shift that he missed. (He said he didn’t show up because it was MY shift to work.) Fortunately, the boss already had his suspicions and the guy ended up fired for his stunt because I was well known to not only be conscientious, but to go above and beyond to even help others out. There just was no way I would just not show up for my shift like that.

The common thread in all the pathological liars that I’ve known is that they were also alcoholics. Even sober (no longer drinking alcoholics) seem to still lie about the most stupid stuff for no reason at all.

 I agree with you. There is an unquestionable link between lying and alcoholism. By far not all alcoholics lie but a lot of liars are alcoholic. I have known and grew up with several pathological liars. I cringe with embarrassment hearing their stories and watching others suffer through them with a straight face knowing full well they are full of shit. 

My exwife used to lie about horrible things that people had done to her in the past. She was always some kind of victim and destroying the reputation of others was no issue at all. We didn’t stay married long.

Years ago a fifty-ish woman worked for me. When Bush (shrub) was running for reelection, she told everyone that we could all go to the inauguration with her (they were related somehow). When someone pointed out that they’d love to go, but couldn’t afford it, she laughed and said that of course it was all on her dime. Meanwhile, there were clues that she was struggling by, paycheck to paycheck.

The lies gradually grew. Each one was maybe-believable, but there were new ones every time you turned around. She told us she owned jewelry stores in Georgia (where she was from), but she had instructed the manager of the stores to give the profits to “the poor children”. She told us she had cancer in her belly, but it wasn’t real bad or anything, then would pull up her shirt to display her potbelly and say, “see?”.

When Bush won, she sadly informed us that there was a schism in her family over inconsequential things, and so we could not go to the inauguration. When she borrowed some cash from me for gas, she was ashamed to admit that her huge inheritance was in limbo because the lawyer handling the estate wanted to “take her to bed” and she refused, so he was keeping the millions.

We all talked and laughed about these stories behind her back, but nobody dared call her out since we were hooked on the tales. One day she no show/no called for work. Never saw her again. Her packet of W-2s that year came back stamped “no forwarding address”.

My roommate freshman year in college. By the time this guy was 18, he had already been flying commercial airliners, flown helicopters for the National Guard or some air search-and-rescue outfit, worked on oil rigs off the coast of Libya, had scuba-dived with Jacques Cousteau, you name it. Nobody ever called him on his BS, we’d all just roll our eyes when he started in on a story and see what kind of whopper he’d come up with this time.

A woman at work that just got fired. Not only did she lie about everything, but her excuse was “So-and-so told me so.”

Guy I worked with doing the Armored thing claimed to have been an Army Sniper and that his previous job was driving for some big country star.

We all knew he was full of shit and his last name became a term for big improbable lies.

When we went to the range to take the test for our concealed carry licenses, it was abundantly clear that he’d never handled a firearm in his life. Damn near got kicked out of the range for unsafe handling.

And of course, if you drove tour buses for a big country star, why are you taking a job as an $11 security guard?

When he left, he claimed he got a job as a Fleet Manager for a large trucking company. :rolleyes:

Yes, it normally doesn’t go well. If you’re expecting some sort of revelation or confession, you will not get it. You will get what you have always gotten from them…more lies. Better just to cut them out of your life, whether that means their employment, friendship, etc. and move on.

Just kinda fell out of friendship with him, so never really confronted him. His lies were innocuous anyways, and he was a ninth gtader when I was a seventh grader.

He wound up in the alternative chool., I believe.

Briefly dated a girl in college. If you asked her the weather on a bright sunny day, with both of you sunbathing, she would tell you it’s raining cats and dogs.

Lies both big and small, consequential and utterly trivial. She was some European princess and affected a vague accent. At times and with some people. The strangest thing was to hang out with her in the student union and watch her interact with people. The accent would come and go.

She claimed to be an orphan and staying with her single aunt or something. I picked her up once and was surprised to see a sports car in the driveway and a middle aged man in the kitchen. Even more surprised when she casually said “Bye Dad” on the way out. That was early on. It wouldn’t have surprise me even the next day.

A couple of dates later, I finally had enough and when she said something about her (new that day) 2" nails (they’re real! Really!) I grabbed her hand and lifted up her fingers and showed how they were glued on. Her response: “No, they’re real.”