4 Signs That Someone Is a Compulsive Liar

Everybody hates a liar. It’s not so much that a liar has misled us; it’s the fact that many of them build lies upon other lies, and absolutely refuse to come clean in many cases. Is it a problem with communication? Is something broken in their psyche? Or do they simply think that they can seriously get away with whatever it is they have planned, just so long as they can keep up the ridiculous rationalizations?

It’s hard to tell, and there are a million reasons why an individual lies. We all do it, every day. Most lies are harmless, though. Others? Not so much. The question is, how can you tell if someone is telling more than just a white lie? What if you suspect there’s a pattern at play, and that an individual’s lies are a symptom of a larger problem?

The compulsive liar vs. the pathological liar

A man wears a 'Pinocchio' style nose, emulating the most famous liar of all time

A man wears a ‘Pinocchio’ style nose, emulating the most famous liar of all time | Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

You might be dealing with a compulsive liar or a pathological liar — and yes, there is a difference.

A compulsive liar is someone who lies… well, with compulsion. They have little, if any, control over it. Their lying is constant and habitual, and they seemingly tell lies for no reason at all. On the other hand, pathological liars do so with some sort of intent. They lie to get what they want through manipulation.

So, how can you tell if you’re dealing with one of these people? There are some tell-tale signs to help you spot them, and with a little effort it’s fairly easy to see a pattern of lying and deceit — be it of the pathological sort, or compulsive.

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