Signs of a Pathological Liar

Everyone lies on occasion or exaggerates the truth, but some people consistently lie about most things in their lives. They fabricate stories, deceive others, and fail to uphold their promises. These individuals are called pathological liars, and it can be difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction when dealing with them. Below are some signs that can help you identify whether someone is a pathological liar.

1. Inconsistencies in their Stories

Pathological liars often struggle to maintain consistency in their stories. Their lies may change from one day to another, or they may contradict themselves when telling different people the same story. They may also add or leave out specific details that they initially mentioned, which can further confuse others. If you notice inconsistencies in someone’s stories, it may be a sign of pathological lying.

2. Exaggeration and Grandiosity

Pathological liars tend to exaggerate their abilities, achievements, and experiences. They may claim to have graduated from a prestigious university, won awards they didn’t receive, or have a high-powered job that doesn’t exist. They also tend to embellish stories to make themselves appear more important, successful, or interesting. If someone seems to be exaggerating regularly, it’s worth questioning the reliability of their statements.

3. Lack of Remorse or Guilt

One of the most defining characteristics of a pathological liar is their lack of remorse or guilt about their lies. They may not feel bad about deceiving others, and they will continue to do so even if they know that their lies are hurting someone. They might even blame others for the consequences of their lies, rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.

4. Difficulty with Eye Contact

Pathological liars may struggle to maintain eye contact when lying. They might look away or become fidgety when asked a direct question, or they may avoid eye contact altogether. This behaviour is because looking someone in the eye when lying can be uncomfortable, and some liars will attempt to avoid it altogether.

5. Constant Need for Attention and Approval

Pathological liars often crave attention and validation from others. They may tell elaborate stories or make up lies to gain attention or to impress others. They also tend to be manipulative and may try to turn people against one another for their gain. If you notice someone seeking a lot of attention and telling too many tall tales, it may be a sign of pathological lying.

6. Difficulty with Relationships

Pathological lying can significantly affect personal relationships because it makes it challenging to trust and connect with someone. Friends, family, and romantic partners may find it challenging to maintain healthy relationships with someone who consistently lies. Pathological liars may also manipulate their loved ones, causing them to question their sanity and leaving them feeling frustrated and confused.

7. Unnecessary Lying

Finally, pathological liars may see no reason to lie, yet they still do so. They will often tell lies that serve no purpose or are easily falsifiable. These lies can be about anything from what they had for breakfast to imaginary achievements or experiences. If someone is lying about things that don’t matter, it can be a sign of pathological lying.


Pathological lying is a severe issue that can harm both the liar and their loved ones. Identifying the signs of pathological lying is the first step in recognising the problem and addressing it. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone close to you, it may be beneficial to seek the assistance of a mental health professional or a support group to help manage the issue.


What are some signs of a pathological liar?

Some common signs of a pathological liar include exaggerating stories, making up details or events that never happened, avoiding eye contact, and having inconsistent or contradicting stories. Other signs include appearing charming or manipulative, lacking empathy, and having a pattern of lying.

What causes someone to become a pathological liar?

The causes of pathological lying are not completely understood, but it is believed to be a combination of psychological and environmental factors. Some possible factors include a history of childhood trauma or abuse, low self-esteem, and a need for attention or control. Additionally, some mental health conditions such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder have been associated with pathological lying.

Can pathological lying be treated?

Treatment for pathological lying typically involves therapy or counseling to help individuals identify why they feel the need to lie and to develop strategies for managing their behavior. Additionally, addressing any underlying mental health conditions may also be necessary. While treatment can be challenging, it is possible for individuals with pathological lying to improve their behavior and build healthier relationships.


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2. Bhatt, D., Kaur, S., & Singh, U. (2015). Pathological lying: Clinical characteristics and treatment options. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 57(5), 517-522.

3. Anderson, C. A. (2010). The use and detection of deception in negotiation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(11), 2798-2825.