Being played by a pathological liar

I think of myself as a good judge of character. I usually trust my gut and can often feel when something isn’t right. If something doesn’t make sense, I question it. While I generally trust people and look for the good in them, I am also skeptical. I am not easily fooled.

But he did it. He spun plausible stories, so even when his explanations were a tad over the top they seemed believable. He even admitted things sounded crazy. His voice was so convincing, I decided he would have to be a very good actor if what he was telling me wasn’t true.

He was. It turned out he was a practiced liar. So much so, his family members repeatedly encouraged him to get psychological help.

How do I know? After talking to him daily for nearly a month, going out on a few dates and his expressing his deep connection to me, I didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. The last time we spoke he said he’d call me back in an hour. He didn’t. I became concerned about him. A week before that last conversation, he’d totaled his car and was in the hospital for a few days. I was worried that he might have had a complication and was back in the hospital.

I left him a few voice mails and emails trying to see if he was okay. When I didn’t hear back, I imagined him in a hospital bed. I knew where his sister worked, so finally braved calling her to see if he was all right. She was sympathetic and helpful.

“My brother is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. But he is not all that he has led you to believe.”

“What do you mean?”

“He embellishes and fabricates.”

“He lies?” I wasn’t surprised, just wanted to confirm.


We went through the things he had told me. Some were true, others weren’t, and some she wasn’t sure about. Yes, he owned a Lexus as he told me, but she didn’t know about the other car he supposedly rolled. She hadn’t heard he had been in accident in the last month, even though they talked just last week. She confirmed he wasn’t married and didn’t have a girlfriend. When I asked what he really did for a living, she said what he told me is what he had told their mother, but they weren’t really sure. Yes, the story he shared about his past girlfriend was true. But the cousin he told me died in his arms was still alive. And she had no knowledge of his being offered or taking a job out of state.

He is really eleven years younger than he told me. Instead of his being seven years older than she, he is really three.

I shared with her, “I found a listing on the Internet in his name in his town for a driver’s license suspension in 2004. He denied it was him.”

“That was him.”

“Odd thing to lie about.”

The things he lied about were strange. People usually lie to get out of something and/or to present themselves as someone they aren’t. So why would he lie about his cousin’s death and the age difference between him and his sister? I can see why he might lie about the job, but he spun an elaborate tale about that.

“My mother, father and I have all told him he needs to get psychological help for his lying. He hasn’t sought any. He learned to lie at an early age as a way to survive in our tough childhood neighborhood. Now there’s no reason to lie, but he still does it. We don’t know if he’s bored and this makes life more interesting, or why he does it. We don’t believe most of what he tells us until we have proof.”

While I felt foolish to be duped, I was actually relieved to get answers. I like mystery movies and when the riddle isn’t solved cogently, it’s unsettling. My feelings for this man had dissipated but I wanted to close the book having some questions resolved. Don’t we wish every man who says or does something that doesn’t make sense had such a forthcoming sister to tell us the truth?

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18 responses to “Being played by a pathological liar”

  1. kiriecat Avatar

    I’m so sorry – that must have felt awful. I remember reading your blog about the cousin – and not jumping to conclusions. So he was scrambling to find an excuse for not calling and made it all up – what a talent to be able to tell such a story off the cuff. It’s just too bad he can’t channel that into something useful instead of hurtful. I’m guessing he thinks his life is boring and needs to embellish to feel “interesting”. I guess you should be glad to find out now instead of later that he truly is not who he presents himself to be – or you think he is. Some liars are very good. I’ve always held to the idea that it’s much easier to tell the truth since you have to think less. It can get hard to remember what you told someone when you lie – and pathological liars can make you think you’re the one that’s crazy. I’ve been there – I was married to one for 22 years.

    Yep, family is great. Once you’ve met the brood you can count on them to expose the truth. I guess that’s why we wait to introduce our men to our family – and they wait as well. I’ve met my Prince’s whole family – and ex family (he has grandchildren and he takes me to their birthday parties). He doesn’t hesitate to leave me alone with his friends and family which gives me ample opportunity to ask about anything. I don’t think there are any surprises for me. We’ve been dating just over a year now and he is the most open person I’ve ever known. I am truly blessed.

  2. luvs_chocolate Avatar

    It sounds like we met the same guy…except I was with mine for 5 years…I moved away from where he is but continued to see him “when it was convenient” for him. He told me his nephew was shot & killed outside a bar in South Carolina….but said he was unable to go to the funeral since he had been there a month prior (which was a lie) he hadn’t seen his mom for 18 yrs. I was going to send his mom and sister a sympathy card…imagine my embarassment if I had….but I would have found out the truth and shown his family what a liar he is. Two weeks ago on a Wednesday, he called me at home while I was at work, left a message on my answering machine…drunk as hell, I never returned his call, he called me again at 4:30 in the morning, now I don’t answer my phone at that time of morning unless its an emergency. I saw his number on the caller ID and ignored it. He called me a week later and told me he had been in the hospital for dehydration for a week…come on now I’m not a Dr. but I never heard of that, then he told me his daughter took him in at 9:00 that Wednesday night…if hes in the hospital how can he call me from his house at 4:30 in the morning and leave a message? I’ve had it, I am through playing these silly games with him. If he has someone else he should be man enough and tell me. I’m grown, I can handle it, it’s not the first time my heart has been broken.

  3. Sassy Avatar

    My ex-husband was a liar and cheater. When I confronted him with some of his lies at the end of our marriage, he replied that we “didn’t want to hurt me.” As if lying is so much better. I constantly look for honesty now, and feel it’s one of those real deal-breakers.

  4. hunter Avatar

    to DG

    …I am sorry to hear that he is this way….

  5. Catherine Avatar

    Please tell me this isn’t Prince Considerate…. if it is, then I see a reason why he is always so considerate, so you won’t call him on the lying. But lying about the things you referenced isn’t so considerate….

  6. Elena Avatar

    How horrible. Catherine took the words out of my mouth. I hope this isn’t the guy you were calling Prince Considerate.

  7. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Catherine and Elena: No, no, this is not Prince Considerate. He’s too, well, considerate to lie to me! Another guy.

  8. Catherine Avatar

    Relieved to hear that they aren’t one and the same man! That being said, lying is the one relationship deal breaker for me. Especially if it is about something big, or important. It shows a lack of character and an inability to be “real” which I find are directly correlated with maturity level. A little white lie, to boost someone’s self confidence aside, there is no acceptable reason for lying.

  9. Becky Avatar

    I was married to a man for 12 years who thought it easier and more convienent for him to lie than to tell the truth, even when it would have been simpler to just tell the truth. It absolutely destroyed my faith and trust in men and now I’m trying to rebuild that. He was so convincing that you would never believe that he could be lying to you. I suggested to him that he try and get some sort of counseling, but he looked at me like he thought I was nuts. I don’t think that he believes he has a problem, he has lied so much that I think he thinks the lies are truth. And, DG, it wasn’t just that he lied. He withheld information from me that he should have told me, but just didn’t and to me, that is the same thing. After we had been married for about 3 years, his mother told me he had taken bankruptcy twice and that they had helped him financially many times. So, family can help you discover more about the person – I just know that the next man that will be in my life I want to know as much about as I can – and I will surely take it very slow. I just hope that someday I can trust a man again after my experience.
    For your sake, I’m glad this wasn’t your Prince. Consideration is a valuable asset. As is honesty, full disclosure kind of honesty, loyalty. I think we are all so hungry for someone to cherish us that we tend to overlook lasting qualities that we should be on the lookout for. We all need to have our eyes wide open in any relationship and not be looking at someone through rose colored glasses. Alas, easier said than done.

  10. Mitsy Avatar

    The guy I dated for 3 1/2 months in 2006 was also a liar and his sister was also the one who clued me in on just what kind of guy he really was. He did his share of lying to her as well. It’s very sad and disappointing to find out that a guy is not what he seems to be. But someone who lies about stuff that gives them no kind of gain whatsoever do fall into the pathological liar category. The story of the cousin dying in his arms sounds like a fabricated tale if I ever heard one. I’ve been around men like this before, although cannot say I have dated someone who made up such outlandish lies. Mark’s stories (lies) were really to make himself look better, but a lie is a lie. You cannot ever trust someone who lies and starts believing those lies themselves.

    There is a woman in my hometown who is well into her 50’s. She’s nice looking, dresses nice, and comes from a good family, but she lies about things that also make no sense. She lied about going to see someone in the hospital when she didn’t. The guy’s daughter found out (as was expected) but she never confronted her about it. What was the point in saying she visited him when she didn’t? It was when I heard that story that I decided that this woman was a quart low somewhere.

    Your former guy’s family is right when they say he needs psychological help, but most people like that never seek help because they believe they have no problem whatsoever. You dodged a bullet for sure.

  11. Mitsy Avatar

    I will also add something that someone else touched upon. When I was growing up, my Dad used to say it was easier to tell the truth than to lie because then you didn’t have to remember who you told what to. There is a lot of wisdom to that. This doesn’t mean that you have to have full disclosure to every single person you meet, but it does mean that you don’t make up stories or lie in order to make yourself look better or take advantage of someone. That alone should be reason to try to live your life with a clean conscience. Sadly, many of these men were not raised by the kind of Dad I had. If they had, they would not be treating women the way they do with their lies and promises that are phony. There are few men nowadays who have the maturity and self-discipline to be the stand-up kind of guy that most women want.

  12. julie Avatar

    sorry to hear that- how horrible!

  13. singlemomseeking Avatar

    DG: The stories here are amazing… and it just shows that it happens to the smartest of us.

    Here’s to those Honest Sisters!!

  14. Lisa Avatar

    I was married to a man like this for 17 yrs. He had an answer for everything. My mother once made the comment that we wouldn’t know if he was actually wrong or right. What made it worse was the fact that he always included me in his lies to other people. Everything he would say to others he would add, isn’t that right sweetheart. I always shook my head yes. He told me big, big stories! One time we saw an ex-girlfriend of his and he told me that she was such a bitch because she accused him of molesting her 5 yr old daughter. He said it was because he had dumped her. After 17 yrs of marriage I found out he had molested 2 of my daughters. Whoever is in this situation, please see the seriousness of this type of person.

  15. naturegirl Avatar

    After being married for 14 years to a liar, I now have a “one lie and you’re out” policy. I tell men up front that I am honest and expect the same of them.

    My analysis of my X’s behavior was that he was never taught to process shame as a child, and thus could not handle criticism or accept blame. This led to narcissistic behavior patterns in which he lied, and then was unable to own responsibility for his own behavior.

    I highly regard a person who can own his own behavior and apologize when he is wrong.

    DG – You got that “get out of jail free” card.

  16. Bobbie Avatar

    …guess I win the (booby) prize. I was married to a pathological liar for 27 years. The sad thing was that he was bright enough to do anything he wanted to do, but needed to tell these stories to make himself feel more important. His second wife only tolerated the lies and infidelity for a year. I waited until the “nest” became so uncomfortable that I finally managed to leave. I think that after all those years he believed his own stories. My second husband was a sweet, honest man. What a difference!

  17. Stacy Avatar

    I have been trying to leave a pathological liar for 4 years. But I love him. I keep going back. I keep trusting him. He keeps letting me down. I am honest, faithful and he knows how to play me. I have not been his girlfriend for over a year, he is seeing other women. But he refuses to leave me alone. He calls me all the time and often knocks on my door. I have to admit that sometimes ,I too turn to him.

    We work together and I cannot afford to leave my job.

    I am tired of being alone. I just do not know how to move on.

    I do not connect with any other man.

    Please help me.

  18. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Stacy: This relationship can bring you no good. First, block his number on your phone and don’t answer his calls. I know you work with him, but do whatever you can to avoid him and tell him you want to cut off any non-business contact. You have to stand up for yourself and cut loose from him for you to move on.

    And I suggest you also get therapy to understand why you do not connect with any other man but this player. Something in you needs to be healed so you can attract a sane, mature partner.