I have always been very bad at lying. Even from an early age lying seemed to me as extremely bad behaviour. I was honest to a fault, not even managing to tell white lies or omitting the truth. When my mum asked me after school how it was, I felt the obligation to tell her everything. She wanted to know about the quality of school lunch and I jumped into confession mode about all my questionable behaviours, such as not paying attention at class, or being ridiculed or being late from class. Everything. She would have never known. And she never cared. But I couldn’t not tell her. She asked I had to answer.
I am an Empath, and although I grew up, and I don’t find it that troubling to tell white lies or to omit unnecessary elements of the truth at this point, I still find that telling the truth is what matches my personality more than lying about it.
I have the capacity to tell lies, but I value honesty and decency a lot more. The sense of guilt that I can feel is far worse than the truth, so I am investing in telling the truth — to have peace of mind, to be able to sleep, and not to guilt trip myself about betraying others.
Being an Empath also means that I can understand why others would lie. To protect their ego, to paint a prettier picture, to cover up something awful. It makes sense, even if I wouldn’t do it myself.
I have lived with someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, who also had some antisocial and psychopathic traits. And the number of lies that I have come across always shocked me, amazed me, made me stare blankly in disbelief. Some of his lies were so blatantly obvious, that I was the one feeling bad about it. Some lies were subtle, almost true, except for some little tingling feeling that was suggesting something was off.
I never understood the need for lying this much, this frequently, this atrociously — within a relationship or else. But someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder doesn’t have the same kind of decency or basic morals when it comes to telling the truth.
Narcissism is one of the personality disorders categorized as Cluster B — according to the DSM-IV and DSM-5. It is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a complete lack of empathy for others. Behind the mask of extreme confidence, there is a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
The disorder can stem from various traumas, childhood abuse, neglect and even genetic predisposition. Narcissism, just as most of the mental health issues is not black or white, the individuals suffering from it can showcase its features on a scale. There is even a term for healthy narcissism which is the necessary amount of self-love and selfishness to be able to live life to the fullest, without being a people pleaser.
On the lower end of the scale what we can find is a selfish, entitled individual — who is usually just your average garden-variety jerk. On the far end, where we are talking about Narcissistic Personality Disorder there is an emotionally and morally flawed individual who is self-centred, deeply uncaring and cruel, incapable of empathy for others, yet who hides behind the facade of a charming and attractive man.
The narcissist is stripped of empathy, remorse and guilt. There is literally nothing to stop them from forming lies in their heads or actually saying them out loud. They lack the moral compass to guide them toward good and decent behaviour. Nothing is off-limits, especially when lying can serve their interests and if they think they can profit from omitting or altering the truth. In addition, the narcissist is thriving on drama, rejoicing when there is emotional chaos, and risking being caught is giving him even more motivation to craft a better, more artistically fabricated lie.
When I called out my narcissistic ex once on lying, he laughed at my face and told me he did it, because he could. He said:
“You’re no challenge to me. I can do it one hand tied behind my back.”
He didn’t do it to cover up something, he didn’t do it to make himself look better, he merely did it because he knew he could get away with it, and even if he didn’t, he enjoyed how it made me suffer.
He lied about cheating on me, but actually, he was happy to be discovered to be lying — so he could turn the whole act of cheating against me, saying it was all my fault. He had absolutely nothing to lose.
So why do narcissists lie?
To get an emotional reaction
Narcissistic people thrive on the energy of emotions, be them positive or negative. They lie to make you fall in love, to get you infatuated and obsessed, to make you adore and admire them. But also, they will lie to hurt you, get you frustrated, anxious or angry. Negative emotions have just as much energy as positive ones — if not even more. As they are incapable of feeling real emotions, they feed off others real emotions that they are so good at manipulating to meet their needs. They have to tell the lie because they need this energy, they need to fulfil their sense of entitlement, break through a boundary, escape a consequence. The lie is a necessary survival mechanism.
To exercise control
The narcissistic person is empty inside, they have nothing but a void, they have no real traits to be attracted to. They lack the self-worth that would allow them not to be concerned about their environment. They need to control what happens around them, who does what, who reacts how to their presence or absence. Lies are ensuring them to stay in control, by making them seen better than they are, by altering the power dynamics and ensuring always the upper hand. Also, lies allow escaping responsibility — which would cause any other decent human being to refrain from positioning themselves falsely.
To escape consequences
The narcissist knows that there are consequences to his actions, but he chooses not to be bothered about them in general. They refuse culpability by telling lies — small ones and big ones. At work, in a relationship, in bed, at the altar, at court. As I said, nothing is off-limits when it comes to shaking off the responsibility.
Out of habit
The positive outcome from lying is so significant compared to any negative consequence, that they are compelled to lie frequently, so it becomes a habit. They get so used to lying that telling the truth becomes the uncomfortable rare event. Lying comes easily and they get such an expert at it, that it takes a very seasoned, unbiased and suspecting individual to spot it once it’s told with utmost conviction.
The lie is better than the truth
If the truth is not meeting the needs of the narcissistic, then there is nothing else to do but to modify it. The truth is a lot less important than their entitlement, their need for being loved, admired, validated. At a certain point, they fail to see the world as it is, they only see it through their distorted perceptions — either letting go of reality completely or by choosing to see it in its fabrication.
It’s all a game
Lying is all a game for the narcissist. They enjoy watching how the lie is bought and they enjoy telling further lies to a greater fabricated story. They praise themselves when their elaborate lies are not unravelled, yet even if they are, they don’t care about the contradicting details as they don’t face the consequences. This appeals to their high sense of entitlement and proves their high cognitive function. It makes them feel omnipotent, creator of the world. Constructing, defending and justifying their lies are a great achievement.
To create confusion
An Empath cannot process the need for lies, so they are shocked and amazed to be lied to. They get confused and they try to help to understand the motives, usually ending up trying to help the suffering narcissist. They don’t need help, they are not in trouble, but they enjoy the attention and confusion too much to stop.
What are their biggest lies, and what do they really mean by them?
1. I would never lie to you.
They would and they do, and this is the biggest lie of all. The real meaning is to start the brainwashing early, to convince you about how honest and decent they are, a person of integrity. By the time the discrepancies are found out this sentence has already been believed — creating even more confusion, as the cruel actions and previously said convincing words are so far apart.
2. She was obsessed with me.
A common narcissist tactic is a triangulation, where at least one more person is involved in the relationship, at least verbally. This is usually an obsessed and unstable ex. The sentence means, that the ex has probably discovered their infidelities and discrepancies, maybe even exposed them. The only way the narcissist can preserve his image is by discrediting those who discovered his face behind the mask. This means that the past victim might be out there confused and desperately looking for clues to make sense of it all. It is also a hint that after they are done with you, you will become this angry, desperate, obsessive victim — and that they will ridicule you with their current victim.
3. We have so much in common, it’s unbelievable.
No, it’s not, it’s calculated. They studied you and copied you and they are using your own words and phrases to lure you in. Unbelievable match in likes and dislikes, favourite food, favourite music and places. It’s like you were created to be soulmates. They are mirroring you — this is how you feel so familiar around them because they are copying your motions, gestures, facial expressions, words, everything. You see yourself in them because this is what they want you to do. They morph into someone you have always wanted until you are completely hooked. Then, and only then they will let the mask slip — to reveal someone else, creating the utmost confusion.
4. I’m just checking in, love you.
They don’t love you, but they are checking in, to see if they still have control over you. To check if you miss them and want them. They will pop by and then disappear unannounced. To cause confusion and pain and make you suffer. Only to come back with a huge smile and some atrocious excuse — that you will let go, being just so happy that they’re back.
5. Cheating is morally wrong.
They get extremely bored in a long term committed relationship, so they will be out and about, collecting admiration and praises, trophies and probably STIs too. They thrive on making people competing for them, they enjoy the chaos of love triangles. So, they cheat. Happily, and unapologetically. However, cheating is wrong if you do it. You are not allowed to give your attention to anyone else, you are his toy to exploit, to play with, to lie to. The double standards are so obvious that it hurts to watch.
6. I changed.
They will open up about all their past wrongdoings and bad attitudes, being a player, being promiscuous, being a cheater — only to say that they changed. It is nothing more than a tactic to assure you that no one ever could save them from being a wreck, but here you are, you managed. You saved them, you lifted them up, you made them change. Who doesn’t want to hear that? That they have such a great positive influence on another human being? They have absolutely no intention to change — yet saying this will benefit them in more ways than you would imagine. It removes all the responsibility from a previous life, as they are now a different person. They put the responsibility on you, just like the fox says in The Little Prince, that you are responsible for what you have tamed. They inflate your sense of importance, to make you feel special and worthy — ensuring that they can play their games for an even longer time without being caught or called out.
+1. I am sorry.
This is the worst of all. Sorry as a word is a filler. It is weightless, absolutely lacking any meaning. It is said only because it is expected, not because he feels sorry. He has no remorse, no guilt, not afraid of consequences, never taking responsibility. It’s just words, no actions. And sorry without acting upon it is just another manipulation tactic you should be careful about.
Being in a relationship with a narcissistic is a hell of a ride. All the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows — laced with manipulation, lies, push and pull of presence and absence. The only way is out. No matter what they want to make you believe, it’s not Love, this is nothing more than a daily dosage of energy that you give to them whether you want it or not.