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My Friend is a Compulsive Liar: What should I do?

October 30, 2023

7 min read

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Author : United We Care
Clinically approved by : Dr.Vasudha
My Friend is a Compulsive Liar: What should I do?


Do you think your friend lies so often that they could actually be a compulsive liar? Catching someone in a lie is never fun, especially if it’s someone you care about. Understandably, if it’s something that happens over and over, it may make you seriously wonder what could be happening.

Compulsive lying is actually a prevalent condition that tends to impact a person’s well-being [1]. If you catch your friend lying several times a day, it’s possible that they have a mental health condition that needs intervention. This article will help you learn more about compulsive lying.

Definition of a Compulsive Liar

How does one define the label ‘compulsive liar’? How do you know if it’s just common lying or not? Where is the thin line differentiating regular lying and compulsive lying?

Possibly, these are some questions you might have thought of. It’s important to understand that lying is a normal behaviour, and most people lie several times in their lives. 

Nonetheless, if your friend has been lying frequently, their lying could be habitual, compulsive, or pathological. Each successive term is clinically more significant than the last.

As the name suggests, habitual lying is when a person has a recurring pattern of lying. It becomes compulsive when the person feels a lack of self-control in opportunities for lying. Their lying becomes a reflex.

Having said that, a compulsive liar still knows they’re morally doing something wrong. They’re able to see the moral consequences of their lying. A pathological liar, on the other hand, sees no moral implications in lying and feels no regret.

How to Know if My Friend Is a Compulsive Liar

Maybe you’ve caught your friend in more lies than one. But when is the term ‘compulsive liar’ appropriate? In this section, we’ll discuss how to know if your friend is a compulsive liar or not.

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The Things They Say Don’t Add Up

One clear sign that your friend is a compulsive liar is if they keep saying things that don’t add us. Generally, whatever they tell you tends to be dramatic and excessively detailed. That’s because people tend to believe that a good lie is one with many specific details.

Despite that, your friend’s lies have so many details that it’s hard for them to keep track constantly. As a result, the details in their statements keep changing. It’s the natural consequence of lying several times throughout the day.

They React Emotionally When Challenged

Now, if you happen to notice any inconsistencies in what they’re saying, you’ll obviously point it out, right? But if your friend is a compulsive liar, they will have a disproportionate and emotionally charged reaction to your simple observation.

They might get defensive or anxious if their lies are challenged. For instance, they might try to quickly change the topic, distract you, or make you feel bad for questioning them. They might also get all worked up with anxiety.

They Act Like It’s Not a Big Deal

Alternatively, they might also act like it’s not a big deal that you caught them in a lie. They may act nonchalant or ask you to let it go if there’s no way out of the confrontation. 

What’s worse is you might be feeling some strong emotions when you discover the truth. Regardless, they act as if you’re overreacting, and it’s nothing to get affected by.

They Lie Even When They Don’t Need To

Another tell-tale sign of a compulsive liar is the inexplicable urge to lie when there’s no need to. Obviously, lying to avoid trouble at least makes sense, and it’s something everyone does.

However, a compulsive liar just lies for the sake of it. It’s almost as if they get some kind of a rush or a high from the act of lying.

A Pervasive Lack of Integrity

Finally, it’s very likely that a friend who is a compulsive liar will have other inconsistencies in life as well. Commonly, people understand integrity to represent honesty. 

Instead, integrity is a deeper concept that requires honesty with the self as well. It’s about maintaining a synchrony with a person’s inner and outer life. A compulsive liar may be unable to achieve that. Their words and actions tend to be discordant.

What to do if My Friend is a Compulsive Liar

It’s difficult to navigate a friendship with a compulsive liar. Nevertheless, if this friend is someone greatly important to you, they’re worth making the effort. Especially because, according to research, daily lying plays a negative role on a person’s ability to function and achieve well-being [2].

So, if you’re determined to help your friend suffer less, you’re in the right place. Here are some useful tips to try if your friend is a compulsive liar.

Don’t Take it Personally

Most importantly, you need to understand that your friend’s compulsive lying has nothing to do with you. They’re not doing this deliberately to hurt you or play tricks with you. They really can’t help it.

So, it makes sense not to take things personally. You’ll also be in a better position to help them out if you’re not having an emotional reaction to their lying.

Get Them Professional Help

Clearly, compulsive lying is a serious and clinical issue. It can’t be overcome simply by willpower or self-discipline. Instead, you can help your friend by getting them in touch with a professional therapist.

If individual therapy is not a doable option, try to find support groups, counsellors, and expert guidance.

Set Your Boundaries

Naturally, it can get challenging to maintain a friendship when your friend is a compulsive liar. It could get hard to trust or rely on them. Hence, in order for you to sustain the relationship, boundaries are imperative.

Boundaries may initially feel like you’re pushing the person away from you. But in reality, they will serve as the guidelines that protect the friendship and allow you to look after yourselves and each other simultaneously.

Offer Them Compassion

Any compulsive behaviour, even lying, is usually a complicated matter with deep-rooted emotional causes. Consequently, these patterns cannot simply be judged from the surface. They’re probably coming from a place of pain.

Your friend needs compassion to be able to deal with their compulsive lying. If you really care about them, make sure that your approach is full of empathy and kindness.

Be Patient with Them

Lastly, keep in mind that compulsive lying never shows up overnight. Therefore, it’s not going to go away swiftly either. Change, especially behavioural change, takes plenty of time with lots of back and forth.

The best thing you can do for a friend who is a compulsive liar is to show patience. Show them that you’re not going anywhere, even if things get messy sometimes.


It can be quite challenging to have a friend who is a compulsive liar. You may find yourself torn between your affection for them and your need for trust and integrity. Compulsive lying is a bit more serious than habitual lying, and your friend could be suffering because of it. Fortunately, there are ways of finding out if your friend’s lying is compulsive and what you can do about it. Our experts at United We Care can offer you professional guidance and resources to deal with this problem.


[1] D. A. Curtis and C. L. Hart, “Pathological lying: theoretical and empirical support for a diagnostic entity,” Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 62–69, Oct. 2020, doi: 10.1176/appi.prcp.20190046.

[] Grant, J.E., Paglia, H.A. & Chamberlain, S.R. The Phenomenology of Lying in Young Adults and Relationships with Personality and Cognition. Psychiatr Q 90, 361–369 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-018-9623-2

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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