Certain human behaviors are common across all ages, genders, and cultures. You can see it in the way we express, learn, adapt. And lie. Lying is a very common behavior. In fact, by the age of two, we learn about this behavior, and by the time we’re four years old, we can lie convincingly. But why do we lie? Sometimes, it helps us deal with or escape a situation and protect ourselves when we’re feeling vulnerable. However, certain kinds of lying behavior can take it to an extreme and derail the well-being of the person being lied to. Hence, it is important to know about the different types of liars in order to take the right course of action in creating healthier relationships.
How many different types of liars are there?
We can categorize liars based on their motivation behind lying and the severity of the impact on their victims. Hence, there are many different kinds of liars, but for this article, we will focus on the three major kinds of liars: compulsive, pathological, and sociopathic liars.
A compulsive liar is someone who lies about small and insignificant things. Their lies and stories are random and made up in the spur of the moment. It is a coping mechanism for them to sound more impressive and feel more likable and accepted.
A pathological liar lies in detail, and their stories are grand, pulling a lot of attention on themselves in some way. They seem to have a clear objective behind lying- they’re either trying to manipulate your perspective or gain some advantage. It’s difficult to question them and catch them in the lie because of how consistent and convicted they are with it.
A sociopathic liar is someone who conceals their lies with charm and can quickly craft explanations to deflect any suspicions you might have about their lie. They take a certain pride in their ability to lie and have a skill set that enables them to manipulate you into believing their lie as reality. They lie at times just to see the results or outcomes of their lie, to check their viability as a liar, and to test their skills in a social setting. They have little to no empathy for other people in general, and their lies can be cunning, cruel, and calculative.
How do you spot different types of liars?
Whether compulsive, pathological, or sociopathic, each form of lying has its own challenges in being able to identify them.
To spot a compulsive liar, you can look out for the inconsistencies in their stories that make them not line up. You can even nudge them to recall their past stories since they might probably forget their previous lies.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the subject of their lie will be trivial and not very significant. You might not be able to pinpoint a specific reason behind the lie because there might not be one.
If they’re showing physical signs of nervousness while lying, fidgeting, or not making eye contact, then it’s clear that they’re a compulsive liar.
To identify a pathological liar, you must assess their stories and lies: they will be highly consistent and elaborate. Everything eerily lines up.
Based on your personal experience with them and the situation, what sort of advantage might they be trying to get through their lie? Try to assess what their motive could be because they’ll have one.
You might always find them exaggerating their stories. And when you catch them in a lie, they might not show any guilt for what they’ve done. If you notice any of these signs, you might be dealing with a pathological liar.
When you spot a sociopathic liar, you will find that they lie regardless of the circumstances, and they lie constantly. They concoct stories and twist facts just because they want to and can. You will find them manipulating people to do things for them and support them unquestioningly, while the other person does not even realize they’re being taken advantage of.
The way they carry themselves and the way they talk possess a certain kind of charm that is hard to resist. This is how they’re easily able to win over and deceive others. They’re very good at hiding their true intentions.
They simply do not care about the consequences of their behavior. This is why they make impulsive and reckless decisions. And if you confront them, they’ll probably use anger and violence as tools to assert their dominance over you.
How do you deal with different types of liars?
Now that you’ve learned to identify different types of liars, the real question is: how do you deal with them?
The first step is not to take their behavior personally. It’s important to remember that their behavior is rarely about you and almost always about them. Their lying behavior started long before your exchanges with them and has many complex roots.
When dealing with a compulsive liar, you could give them the benefit of the doubt. Avoid confronting them in a volatile manner. They might become defensive and attempt to either justify or divert the attention from the situation.
In case you’re dealing with a pathological liar, you must avoid sharing your vulnerabilities or personal details that could be used against you by them. Get clarity within yourself as to what kind of behavior you can and cannot entertain. Draw boundaries to protect your peace and sanity and communicate these to them firmly.
If you’re dealing with a sociopathic liar, your focus should be on protecting yourself. If necessary, start documenting your exchanges with them. This record can help if their behavior gets too threatening and legal action needs to be taken against them.
Any kind of lying can create distrust and affect your relationship and mental well-being to a great extent. While dealing with compulsive liars can be mostly confusing and annoying, dealing with pathological and sociopathic liars can create deeper anxiety and stress.
It is possible to identify when someone is lying with a strategic approach, such as observation and verification of what they say. If the lying is causing immense distress to you, you must seek the support of a mental health professional. At United We Care, we offer the most appropriate, clinically backed solutions for all your needs for well-being.
 “Compulsive Lying,” Good Therapy. [Online] Available: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/compulsive-lying [Accessed: 28 Oct 2023]
 Hare, R.D., Forth, A.E., Hart, S.D. (1989). The Psychopath as Prototype for Pathological Lying and Deception. In: Yuille, J.C. (eds) Credibility Assessment. Nato Science, vol 47. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-015-7856-1_2 [Accessed: 28 Oct 2023]
 Paula M. MacKenzie, “Psychopathy, Antisocial Personality & Sociopathy: The Basics,” Year. [Online]. Available: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&type=pdf&doi=9a5f49475cfb0fca1f4dffa1026c0ae71b20c5d3