It’s common knowledge that manipulative personalities tend to engage in a great deal of pathological lying and deceit. In fact, compulsive lying is associated with narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders – likely connected to the lack of empathy and propensity for exploitative behavior inherent in these disorders (Ford, King & Hollender, 1988; Baskin-Sommers, Krusemark, & Ronningstam, 2014).
How do they get away with their lies? Covert wolves in sheep’s clothing build a very convincing, charismatic false mask for society and often have a great deal of “social proof” in the form of enabling supporters who believe in their facade. They lead double lives and engage in con artistry under the radar, often going unnoticed for years.
Yet there are common lies narcissists and sociopaths tell their victims that, if translated to the truth, would expose the reality behind their actions.
Some of these phrases can be uttered by those who are not narcissists. However, when expressed by a predatory personality in the context of manipulation, the following statements carry a far different and darker meaning.
Here are twelve of the most common lies narcissists and sociopaths tell us, translated into what they actually mean:
1. I would never lie to you.
I am lying as I say this. You do know that an authentic truth-teller wouldn’t have to convince you, right? The reason I constantly have to tell you I would never lie to you is because I know you will eventually find the discrepancies between what I say and what I do. When you’re struggling to understand why I am acting with such cruelty, you’ll remember how I stressed to you that I am an honest person, a person of integrity and character – a person who would never do such things. You’ll be confused because my actions speak so differently than my words. Slowly but surely, I am brainwashing you into believing that I would never lie. That will create a conflict in you – enough reasonable doubt for whenever my lies come to the surface. You’ll want to believe in the person I pretended to be, rather than who I really am.
2. He or she was obsessed with me.
My past victims discovered my infidelity, my falsehoods and even gained a momentary glance behind the mask. They called me out, even tried to expose me. They tried to hold me accountable for my actions. Don’t be surprised if they reach out to warn you – but by the time they do, you’ll be convinced they’re crazy and obsessed with me. They’re just jealous of what we have – or at least that’s what I’ll tell you. They’re just stalking me because they want me back so desperately – couldn’t have anything to do with the pain I’ve inflicted upon them, right?
3. I was hanging out with friends.
I am busy grooming my primary source of narcissistic supply, an old flame or a new victim. I’ve got lots of “friends” in my harem who worship me and who need my time. Rest assured, there’s always plenty of ego strokes to go around for me. Any time I disappear, you can bet I am love-bombing someone and getting the attention I am entitled to. I am just that special. Don’t worry, you can be my “friend” too!
4. I am just so busy right now.
You’re my transitional target, not my primary one – something to keep me satisfied in between my two or more significant others. I am so busy sleeping with my boyfriend and girlfriend over the weekend, taking out my various affair partners out on weeknights and flirting with anything that moves in my spare moments. I simply don’t have the time to invest in you while entertaining so many others. However, I’ll be happy to keep you waiting for my attention on the sidelines so I can tap into your resources whenever I’d like. And who knows? Perhaps if one or two of my victims ‘bow out’ you’ll get to occupy a new position on my weekly rotation. How fun would that be?
5. It’s crazy how much we have in common.
It’s not crazy at all, it’s perfectly calculated. I’ve studied you and I am mirroring you, just like I have done with all of my other victims. I know your deepest wounds and desires, because upon first meeting you I poked and prodded to uncover your strengths, weaknesses, interests, passions and everything you’re missing from your life. Now I’ll “morph” into what you have always wanted in a partner – at least, for the time being until I get what I want. Then, I’ll take the mask off from time to time. Soon, you won’t be able to recognize the person you first fell in love with.
6. I miss you and love you. Just checking in.
I want to know that I still have control over you and your life. This is a test and I’ll often “check in” with you after I disappear for days, subject you to a hideous violation or silent treatment, or make you jealous by showing off my newest victim. I am checking in to see that I am still significant – that you still ache and long for me. I am sure you remember me. How could you possibly forget?
7. Cheating is morally wrong.
Cheating is wrong if you do it. I have very different standards for myself. I expect and demand complete loyalty and transparency from you. However, I am free to carry on numerous affairs, treat you like a side piece or lie to you about the fact that I am already “committed” to someone all while stringing you along for money, sex, companionship, praise – whatever else you have to offer me.
8. They mean nothing to me. You’re my one and only.
God, all this rivalry over me? Please, keep going. How absolutely exciting. I get so bored when I am in a long-term, committed relationship. It’s wonderful to create these love triangles and have so many people compete over me. I thrive on the validation and attention of so many admirers. I will never really “choose” anyone – I just enjoy the game of always choosing myself and my own needs first.
9. My ex was so dishonest and toxic.
I was of course the toxic and dishonest one, but you won’t figure that out until it’s too late. I betrayed my previous partners and they found out. Of course, by then, I had to discard them because they had seen behind the mask and they were no longer willing to invest in forgetting my crimes. And now, I have to do some damage control by convincing you that I am someone you should pity and take care of – someone who’s been hurt by others in the past. Feel sorry for me. Nurse me back to emotional health. Come closer. The truth is, I prefer to be the one inflicting pain.
10. I’ve moved around a lot – I love to travel.
I love leaving the places where my victims have me figured out and starting over. With each new destination comes a whole new life and identity where I don’t have to ever deal with the consequences of my actions or the people who know my true self. Once I’ve exhausted my numerous victims in each city and state, it’s time to pack my bags and go on a new “vacation.” I leave a trail of victims wherever I go.
11. I used to be a player, but now I am a changed man or woman. Now I want a meaningful relationship and a life partner.
Are you buying this bullshit? I hope so, because I’d like to sleep with you soon and making you think that we may one day be in a relationship is the first step to getting in your pants. I’ll fake some shame to go along with my reformed image. I am so deeply remorseful for all those I’ve hurt in the past and I’ve really learned my lesson – not! The truth is, I’ll never change.
12. I am truly sorry, I really am. This is not who I am.
This is exactly who I am and my behavioral patterns should have tipped you off by now. Sure, I’ll apologize from time to time to get these discussions over with and to make you think I really want to change or that this was a momentary lapse. I hope you’re buying it, because if you let me back into your life again, you’re in for one hell of a ride.
Here’s The Truth
If you’re dealing with a manipulative narcissist or sociopath, the only way to detach is go No Contact or limit your contact if No Contact is not possible in your particular circumstances. You must reconnect to the reality of the abuse and “translate” their words into the lived reality of their cruelty, manipulation and contempt towards you. Only then can you break free from their mind games, gaslighting and falsehoods – and live freely in the truth.
Baskin-Sommers, A., Krusemark, E., & Ronningstam, E. (2014). Empathy in narcissistic personality disorder: From clinical and empirical perspectives. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment,5(3), 323-333. doi:10.1037/per0000061
Ford, C., King, B., & Hollender, M. (1988). Lies and liars: Psychiatric aspects of prevarication. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145(5), 554-562. doi:10.1176/ajp.145.5.554
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