Posted by: counselorcarmella | April 22, 2012

I’ve probably learned more about liars from the people they’ve lied to than from the liars themselves because many of them are still lying or trying to minimize their situations. There are all kinds of ways to lie and all kinds of liars. Most people  lie but most people don’t lie most of the time.  For others, though, lying has become a habit. Lying can become so automatic that people do it even when there is no reason to.  They lie about  things like what they had for lunch or whether they went to  Wal-Mart or Target.  They  stick to their story even when  its obvious that  they’ve been busted.  They’re not even sure why they’re lying or why they can’t just admit it when they get caught.  Lying and dishonesty have become a way of life.  They continue doing it even when this pattern causes them  personal and professional problems and get defensive when they’re caught.  They’ll swear they’re finally telling the truth and still be lying and get caught again.
Some people lie by  not sharing important information or by  telling only part of the truth.  Clever liars choose their words carefully  to be misleading  and let the other person assume information that isn’t exactly accurate.  That way, they can say, “No, I didn’t lie. I never said that.”  They take advantage of the trust someone has in them and know that other person isn’t going to ask lots of probing questions because they  don’t know they have a reason to doubt their loved one.
Some people lie for sympathy. Most of us have been approached by  people who need “a few dollars”  because they supposedly were trying to get to the hospital to see a sick loved one or  need money for diapers.  In some cases, this may be true, but  we’ve all heard similar stories so many times we become skeptical that these people are just trying to use sympathy to get money.  Some of them may be desperate, but others have learned that   these kinds of schemes work and don’t mind using them to take advantage of other people’s kindness.  Some people make up  sad stories to  make others feel sorry for them.
Some people lie because  the truth might get in the way of something they want.  I’ve known of people who pretended to be employed when they met someone because they knew that person probably wouldn’t go out with them if they admitted they didn’t have a job.  They  even had  work clothes and would leave at a certain time every day and so on because, once they  had told the lie, if the relationship continued, they had to keep it up until they actually found another job. Or, a person may not tell the truth about something they’re planning to do because they  don’t want anyone to try and talk them out of it and they’ve already made their mind up. 
Some people tell the truth but wait until they think the other person will “take it better.”  Maybe they are afraid that, if they are honest up front, the person won’t try and get to know them (such as the example above) whereas if they wait,  the other person will still be upset but will already be too involved to  back  out of the relationship.  That approach does work sometimes.  “I told you I was divorced, but I’m actually separated, but we’ve been separated for a long time and I don’t feel married and I’m  working on getting divorced.” “I didn’t have a job then, but I  was afraid to tell you, but I have one now.  I just wanted you to give me a chance.”The truth comes out a piece at a time and the person who was lied to wonders what else they don’t know that might come out later. 
Other people come clean once they’re caught in a lie.  In those cases, the person  who catches them wonders if they would have ever confessed on their own. “I was going to tell you” can be hard to believe, as is, “I just knew this would hurt you and didn’t want to hurt you.”  We’ve all seen those “Who’s the  Baby Daddy?” episodes on TV talk shows.  Afairs are another good example of this one.   
Some people learned to lie from  early on.  They figured out by experience it was better to cover things up than to tell the truth. If they broke something accidentally and were beaten  for their carelessness, the next time they might lie  and say someone else did it. They’re afraid to be honest because  of the possible consequences so they cover things up, blame other people,  or  learn to make up stories.

Sometimes, they were asked to help  an important adult in their lives keep a secret or to tell a certain story.  They lie to protect someone  and to keep someone else from experiencing personal or legal consequences. This happens a lot with  alcoholism and sexual abuse.  I’ve worked with kids who were told  by one parent to lie to the other about an affair, or at least to keep  it a secret. That’s obviously a horrible position for a child to be put in. I’ve also worked with  plenty of kids who lied  to cover for a friend and wound up in trouble themselves.  They  get confused about  what it means to be loyal or “a good friend” and don’t realize their friends are being selfish by  roping them into a situation where they might get in trouble.
 Children want to trust the adults in their lives.  If Dad says he’ll pick you up Friday at 5:00, you’re going to have your bags packed and ready at 5:00.  Dad doesn’t show  up and calls with a made-up story or excuse and  you’re  devastated, but you believe him the next time and the time after that.  It takes a while befora child will admit that  Dad  probably isn’t coming. Many  children have observed adults in their lives lying. They see Mom call into work and say she’s sick when she actually is going to the beach for the day.  Later on, when she puts pictures of her beach trip up on FaceBook and friends from the office see them, that’ll probably come back to bite her. They are told to  tell certain people Dad isn’t home if they call.   
Some people lie just because they don’t want other people to know where they are or what they’re doing.  It may not even be that they’re doing anything  “wrong.” They feel some sense of control by   doing this.  They lie to assert their freedom and because they know the other person wouldn’t like what they’re actually doing. Teenagers do this quite often.  “Tell your parents you’re at my house and I’ll tell mine I’m at your house.” Its always wise to check behind teenagers just to make sure of things.
Some people can’t be honest with others because they can’t be honest with themselves.  They  can’t accept the truth about  something in their life so they  tell themselves a different story about it.  Some people manage to rewrite history and convince themselves certain things never happened.  They will say they were wonderful parents and spouses while their kids  tell  of incident after incident where they weren’t.  Some may grudgingly admit to certain things while others  will continue to insist  this or that never happened or that they don’t remember it.  There are times when children can be convinced by one parent that another parent did all kinds of things through parental alienation syndrome, as well. This is an extreme  type of brainwashing that  comes up in divorce cases sometimes.
Whatever the situation or the reason, the principle that  honesty is the best policy is still usually the case.

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