h2>Dating : How To Confront A Liar
Here’s what to do when you suspect you’re being lied to.
Years ago I used to occasionally do readings at a local DC restaurant called Busboys and Poets, where they hosted an open mic night. Sometimes friends would come to support me but often I went alone. On one such night, I ran into a friend’s boyfriend at the open mic. Actually, he saw me first and waved me over. He was with two girls but I thought nothing of it. We spoke briefly and I went on my merry way. Later, when I mentioned seeing him to my friend, she was pissed. Apparently he had told her he was not attending.
She revealed to me that she believed that he was a habitual liar. While I really do believe, based on body language, that he was just having dinner with two friends, who happened to be women, the fact that he lied about ping to the open mic at all was not a good sign. It’s probably not surprising that they broke up soon after this incident.
In the anecdote above, the lie was relatively harmless. Her boyfriend said he wasn’t going to a show and then he did. In the grand scheme of life, it’s not a big deal. The thing is, this is what makes the lie all the worse: it wasn’t a big deal! So why lie?
Small lies can lead to all sorts of otherwise unnecessary questions. Was he intimate with either or both of these two girls? Who were they? Did they know he had a girlfriend? Did they care? Why did the whole thing have to be a secret?
1) State your truth and stand in it. A lot of habitual liars are also gaslighters. They’re looking for any weakness in your stance and are ready to burn your whole confrontation to the ground. When calling out someone like this, honor your truth. In the above anecdote, for example, my friend could have called me up or had me present during her confrontation. This is one way it would have been impossible, or much harder at least, for the liar in the situation to double down. This gets you one step closer to an admission of guilt and perhaps an apology, for whatever that’s worth to you.
2) Leave room for forgiveness. There are so many reasons why a person might lie and the reality is not everyone who tells a lie is a terrible person. I did not think my friends boyfriend was guilty of anything other than spending an evening (in public) with two friends. I could have been wrong — and it certainly doesn’t matter now — but that’s what my intuition told me and I am usually right about these things. In any case, he made himself into the bad guy by lying about it and having a track record of being a liar made it worse. This is not true of every lie or every situation. If you have a strong investment in the relationship and if the person is generally honest, leave room for the possibility that the lie may not have been malicious. As long as the apology is sincere, there can be room to move forward.
3) Be prepared to cut ties. As with any confrontation, you have to leave room for the possibility that you may not hear what you want. If that’s the case and a lie has led to irreparable damage, you have to prepare yourself mentally to move on. If you don’t, then you should prepare yourself to be lied to again. Unfortunately, people rarely change without consequences.