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Am I Living With A Liar?

Are you worried that your partner is lying to you?  When your partner speaks do you find yourself doubting what they are saying?

Lying is a habit, it is a way of relating to other people and to yourself.  Once someone has developed the habit of lying it can be hard to break.  It can be hard to pin the person down, to find out what the truth is.

It’s not exactly their fault.  They have developed this skewed way of adapting to the world and to other people.  You may not be able to change them.  But you can try to follow your own hunch, your intuition that you are not being told the truth.  You can use that hunch to look after yourself.

Lying can be understood as a symptom of other psychological problems

For example, experiences that create shock or are traumatic are harder to process.  The person may try to deny what has happened.  In such cases, when it is too hard to adapt to what has happened, lying creates a pseudo adaptation.

In experiences of traumatic bereavement where the circumstances around a person’s death can be too difficult to accept, they may start to lie and produce a false, fictional account of who they are and what has happened.

Usually, given time and some attention, the circumstances may settle down, the truth of the death may become more acceptable. The bereaved person starts to recover a more realistic attitude.  The lying stops, the person can become more truthful about what’s happened.  A healthy adaptation occurs.

When lying becomes an embedded habit, a pseudo adaptation

In some cases, the denial of what has happened can lead to the habit of lying becoming embedded.

The person who is lying and creating a doctored version of events loses sight of what the truth actually is or was.  They become attached to a false version of life.

People who develop along these lines have a falseness about themselves.  They are charming, but they don’t ring true.

They may make a very good first impression.  But behind the good impression there are problems.  It can be part of a narcissistic issue.  For people caught up in problems like this, it becomes more important to maintain a particular impression than it does to be in touch with the truth.

Relationships with people who are in the grip of problems involving lying will be difficult.  Be careful.

In other cases, lying is used to defensively to cover up a problem the person does not know how to resolve.

When a partner is having an affair, they will lie to cover their tracks.  Throughout the affair the stories they tell have to be carefully maintained.

Lying and Betrayal

One of the painful experiences of betrayal, of finding out that your partner has been cheating on you is the realisation of all the lies you have been listening to.

The problem with lying, as opposed to telling the truth, is that you don’t have to remember the truth in the same way that a lie needs to be remembered.

If you make up a story to cover up something you have done, you have to remember to stick to the story.  You don’t have to do this with the truth.

Lying requires a certain amount of mental energy and memory.

The liar’s personality becomes restricted by the effort and energy that has to be continually available to maintain the impression of the lie as truth.  Sometimes you feel you can see the energy being drained out of the person’s life while they work to maintain the lies.

What is it like to be with someone who is lying to you?

Disconcerting – you have the sense that you can almost see the other person thinking through what they say before they say it.  It is like watching them very carefully navigate their way around their words, making sure that nothing gets said that would spoil the impression they are trying to maintain.

The impression of truth may be maintained but you, the person being lied to, may have the sense that the story you are being told does not add up.  Trust yourself.  If you don’t believe what you are being told, don’t ignore your intuition, follow it further.

Good relationships rely on honesty and consistency.  Lying undermines these things.

Am I Living With A Liar?

Toby Ingham

Toby Ingham is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and supervisor based in High Wycombe in England. Toby works on both a short and long-term basis with people who are trying to work through a variety of situations. Sometimes these relate to a specific event such as CPTSD, bereavement, divorce or redundancy, sometimes relating to a more general problem or behavior. He blogs on a wide range of psychological themes.

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APA Reference
, . (2019). Am I Living With A Liar?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Nov 2019
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