Lying is natural human behavior. Many of us have lied at some point in our lives, whether to avoid hurting someone or get out of trouble.
However, compulsive liars lie out of habit, without intent or motive. They may lie spontaneously and automatically, without even thinking about it, and for little or no reason.
Compulsive lying or mythomania may or may not be associated with a mental disorder, although people with the following conditions are more prone to compulsive lying:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Substance dependence
7 ways to reveal a compulsive liar
While more than 80% of lies tend to go undetected, here are a few tips and tricks that may help you determine whether someone is lying to you:
- Ask neutral questions: Start with a few basic, obvious questions and try to get a sense of their pattern of speech, tone of voice, and eye contact during the conversation.
- Observe body language: Take note of their facial expressions and body language when lying.
- Listen carefully: Changes in tone, cadence, or sentence structure may signal that they are lying.
- Throw in the unexpected: After a while, throw them an unexpected question that does not give them time to plan an answer.
- Look for inconsistencies: Point out any inconsistent or vague stories that seem to be manipulative or contradictory.
- Look for changes in behavior: You may notice a sudden change in the way they normally act, for example, a sudden nervousness or sweating when talking.
- Trust your instincts: Sometimes an intuition or a gut feeling are the only reasons that assure the stories heard are manipulated ones.
What are the signs of a compulsive liar?
You may not have a sense to judge someone’s trustworthiness, but trying to notice, trusting your instinct or closely monitoring these signs could help point out someone who is trying to deceive you.
- Touching the face, mouth, or throat often: This type of body language can indicate that someone is lying.
- Pausing before an answer: An abnormal pause to an easy or obvious answer may indicate that they are trying to keep the lie going.
- Change in speech patterns: Repeating phrases or stammering may be a sign they aren’t telling the truth. Using a lower or higher pitched voice may also indicate that they are lying.
- Avoiding eye contact: Glancing at the door or a watch is a subconscious way of avoiding eye contact.
- Not blinking: Some people will overdo it and stare at you without blinking to prove that they aren’t afraid of making eye contact.
- Contradictions: Compulsive liars tend to forget the previous lies and contradict their own stories.
- Non-verifiable details: They may provide you with details that cannot be cross-checked.
- Fake emotions: They may fake a smile or yawn to avoid getting caught lying or to cover up a hole in their story.
- Too many details: Providing too many unnecessary details can be a sign of a crafted lie.
- Talking too much or too little: Compulsive liars may try to cover up their lie by talking either too much or too little.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Dan Brennan. Signs of Lying. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/signs-lying
Louise Chang. 10 Ways to Catch a Liar. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/10-ways-catch-liar
Compulsive Lying. GoodTherapy: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/compulsive-lying
Top How Do You Reveal a Compulsive Liar? Related Articles
ADHD Symptoms: What Makes Them Worse?ADHD symptoms get worse with bad habits. Watch your lifestyle so hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness, fidgeting, inattention, and other symptoms associated with an attention deficit hyperactivity diagnosis do not get worse.
Adult ADHD QuizWhat are the symptoms of adult ADHD? Take this quiz to learn what it means for an adult to suffer from ADHD and what can be done about it.
What Is Bipolar Disorder? Symptoms, Manic Episodes, TestingBipolar disorder (formerly "manic depression") causes extreme mood shifts and manic episodes. Learn about bipolar 1, bipolar 2, and the meaning of bipolar disorder. Our experts define bipolar disorder, discuss bipolar symptoms, and describe bipolar medications that can help.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity. Originally thought to be at the "borderline" of psychosis, people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat Depression?Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) uses cognitive strategies to help people change patterns in the way they think and behavioral strategies to help people change behaviors that aren't helpful. CBT can help people with mild-to-moderate major depressive disorder.
How Does Depression Affect a Person's Behavior?Depression — a serious mood disorder — is the most common mental health disorder. It can interfere with your thoughts, your feelings, and daily activities like sleeping, eating, and working.
Mental HealthMental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
What Is the Difference Between a Pathological Liar and a Compulsive Liar?A pathological liar lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little awareness. A compulsive liar lies out of habit.
What Are the 9 Types of Mental Disorders?Mental disorders like physical disorders have a spectrum ranging from mild to severe.
What Are the Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy. It helps people manage their emotional and behavioral problems by changing the way they perceive the world and react to it.
What Does It Mean to Be a Pathological Liar?Pathological lying is often a warning sign of antisocial personality disorder (commonly known as a psychopath). A pathological liar is usually considered manipulative, selfish and cunning. Pathological liars have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others.
What Is a Person with Bipolar Disorder Like?Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by changes in mood, energy, and the ability to function. People with bipolar disorder often display extreme, intense and disturbing emotional states known as mood episodes. Extreme happiness or excitement (mania) and melancholy (depression) are typical symptoms of mood episodes. People with bipolar disorder can also have normal moods sometimes.
Mental Health: Where to Get Mental Health HelpWhen you think of mental health, lying on a couch in a therapist’s office may come to mind. But there are other options, and some are low-cost or even free. Here’s what you need to know.