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Why do people lie?

(59 Posts)
eddiecat78 Sat 03-Jun-23 19:03:28

I don't mean the Philip Schofield type of lie - I mean when people lie for no reason.
We were once invited for coffee by a very wealthy retired couple who had moved in next door. They said they loved the house and the village and intended to stay for a very long time. That afternoon we discovered that their house was already back on the market. I felt they had taken us for a couple of total idiots

Grandmabatty Sat 03-Jun-23 19:33:52

Not necessarily a lie. Perhaps their circumstances have changed.

sodapop Sat 03-Jun-23 19:35:56

That was a very strange thing to lie about eddiecat78 they must have known you would find out the truth fairly quickly.
Some people just can't help themselves and lie because they want to impress.

welbeck Sat 03-Jun-23 19:54:57

maybe they did love it and did intend to stay, but lost all their money or something that meant they had to go.
who knows.
does it really matter.
i wouldn't think twice about it.
it doesn't affect you at all; why feel they are taking you for fools.
strange reaction.

eddiecat78 Sat 03-Jun-23 20:08:29

We later found out from builders who had worked for them that the wife lied all the time. We felt they were taking us to be stupid as it was obvious we were likely to find out (the house was already advertised in the local paper when they were talking to us).
It doesn't bother me now at all but I am interested to know why some people feel they have to make things up when they could just say nothing if they don't want other people to know their business.

Shinamae Sat 03-Jun-23 20:12:55

I think you’ll find some people just can’t help themselves.I had a partner who was a pathological liar..🤷‍♀️

Debbi58 Sat 03-Jun-23 20:13:11

My pet hate is being taken for a fool. Never understand why people lie about the most random things . Are old neighbours were the same, a couple of years ago , we were thinking of downsizing . They were not happy at the thought of having new neighbours, why would you want to move from here they said , it's perfect blah blah. A couple of years later, they sold up , no sign put up , they never said a word until the removal van pulled up 🤷‍♀️

SueDonim Sat 03-Jun-23 21:09:14

I know someone who lies a lot. I think they don’t really believe or understand that they’re lying. It’s almost wishful/fanciful thinking, that if they say it out loud, it must be true. Yet they’re also able to seamlessly turn 180 degrees on something, if they’re shown to be wrong.

Maybe they’ve missed their vocation and should have been a politician. 🤔

Hetty58 Sat 03-Jun-23 21:32:17

SueDonim, a relative makes up her own (pretty, calm, peaceful and innocent) version of events, past and present - then accuses me of false memories, says 'That never happened' etc. - I believe because she just doesn't want to face reality - all very strange. Yes, she'd make a brilliant whitewasher

Primrose53 Sat 03-Jun-23 22:18:26

Years ago I worked with a girl who lied about everything. She used to say she had her bag stolen, she had been raped, she had been followed home etc. They were always quite serious lies so initially people sympathised but as time went on and she wouldn’t involve the Police, we realised she did it for attention.

Shinamae Sat 03-Jun-23 23:06:15

My dad used to say you can lock up at thief but you can’t lock up a liar..🤓
(Just as well for Conservative politicians )

NotSpaghetti Sat 03-Jun-23 23:10:06

I felt they had taken us for a couple of total idiots

Why did you think that Eddie?

Ziplok Sat 03-Jun-23 23:24:29

Not just conservative politicians, Shinamae though I have to say there’s a fair few of them who wouldn’t recognise the truth if it slapped them in the face.

Wyllow3 Sat 03-Jun-23 23:30:52

In the case in the O/P, my immdediate reaction was that she was trying to please, ie what a nice place you both lived in etc. If she does it a lot it could be the same or trying to impress.

Me too Shinamae. Unfortunately it took me a very long time to find out. However it was part fantasy, always aggrandising or hiding something detrimental to himself, not being able to bear a reality.

Ie at the time of the fantasy, he sometimes actually believed it or thought it fine to tell half the truth. It took me a long time to realise it was actually bad enough to be a clinical PD

But I think aspects of it are quite common to a lesser degree: I certainly don't reveal too quickly things I am ashamed of. However, I know I'm doing it!

crazyH Sat 03-Jun-23 23:49:17

My very good friend likes to exaggerate (I’m reluctant to say ‘lie’), mainly about her ailments, she’s perhaps a hypochondriac. But, on one occasion, she was visiting me and her son rang, asking how she was doing. She blatantly replied that she was feeling quite ill and was in bed. She had forgotten that the speaker was on. I have to add, she isn’t in the best of health anyway but …..

Wyllow3 Sun 04-Jun-23 00:02:47

Hmmm, unwise to lie to ones son - as when he might be really needed...

biglouis Sun 04-Jun-23 00:58:46

Sometimes people tell what are often called "white lies" to oil the wheels of social intereaction. They do it to shield others from hurt feelings or disillusion. Often the lie is by "omission" rather than a blatent untruth.

I watched an interesting program where a vicar was holding a parish meeting and had asked one of the participants to report back on a matter. The report was incomplete and not very informative. However rather than admit this the priest thanked the participant for his contribution and just praised the effort he had put into it. When she was later interviewed she said she had glossed over the inadequacies because she did not want to humiliate her parisioner in front of an audience. As a priest she felt it was important to be truthful but had to balance this against deeply upsetting people who had volunteered their time to sit on the committee.

I think this covers the kinds of situations where we see a good friend wearing an unflattering outfit and we feel obliged to say something nice about it when they ask our opinion.

LRavenscroft Sun 04-Jun-23 06:09:47

A very interesting post. The people I have known who tell whoppers were usually out to impress because they felt inadequate. I do know someone in their 60s who has put on their profile that they have been to such and such a university whereas in reality they did a basic one tech year course 50 years ago at was then a poly but is now a uni. All their lives they boasted about what they were going to do but have never done it. Unfortunately, you do get situations as I am in at the moment of trying to get rid of someone who is trying to 'fix' me because they are so bossy and want me to meet them same time, same place, every month for afternoon tea. I am having to stretch the truth by saying my friend is down from Wales so I can't make it etc but said friend is only down for a weekend which doesn't clash but it is good enough for me not to offend Mrs Bossy who actually does a huge amount of work for charity and organises a lot for people in need. How could I say to her 'Sorry, don't want to hang out with you. You are too controlling'. So, it has to be done softly. I think one needs to ask what sort of lie and why is it generated?

mumofmadboys Sun 04-Jun-23 07:10:29

We all lie at times perhaps. Someone says ' How are you?' and regardless we say ' Im fine, Thanks' even when we are not!

eddiecat78 Sun 04-Jun-23 07:50:04


^I felt they had taken us for a couple of total idiots^

Why did you think that Eddie?

Because their behaviour implied we were so thick we wouldn't realise we had been lied to.
The whole situation was bizarre. We had barely spoken to them before but they were most insistent we went for coffee - and then sat and told us a load of rubbish

NanaDana Sun 04-Jun-23 07:53:14

I think we can remove "white lies" from the equation, as we all understand that these are simply a mechanism with which we oil the wheels of social interaction, often to avoid causing hurt. As for those who often lie about virtually anything, we tend to refer to them as pathological liars. Such people lie for a variety of reasons. Self-protection, self-aggrandizement, financial or social gain, or sometimes even in attempt to obscure bad behaviour. Even though we quite often recognise that this is happening, we perhaps still pity the self-deluding behaviour. At the top end of the scale are those who routinely and knowingly lie, usually for personal gain, and often at the expense of others. We are rightly much less forgiving about them. Such people often lie their way into positions of power, (no names, no pack-drill), and continue to do so in order to promote their survival. This group can be described as sociopathic, or as having an antisocial personality disorder. This type of behaviour can even bring them into conflict with the law. So why do people lie? For many reasons, and at many levels. I suspect that we all know or at least have knowledge of people in every category.

FannyCornforth Sun 04-Jun-23 07:53:16


^I felt they had taken us for a couple of total idiots^

Why did you think that Eddie?

Yes, I think that it’s a strange reaction.

I’d be concerned for them - I’d be wondering about why they have to move house again.

notnecessarilywiser Sun 04-Jun-23 07:57:50

There was an interesting section of Woman's Hour this week on the subject of lying. Sadly I couldn't give it my full attention, but there was a good theory that it is learned behaviour when we're encouraged as children to be people-pleasers. I'll have to see if I can find it on BBCSounds to listen more attentively.

NotSpaghetti Sun 04-Jun-23 08:39:04

I've noticed, Eddie and Fanny that a couple of people have assumed they "look stupid" (or similar) when someone else has lied to them. Debbi58 for example said her pet hate is "being taken for a fool."
Eddie, you clarified that that their behaviour implied you were "so thick we wouldn't realise" they were lying.

When people lie to me I don't actually think it reflects on me. Mostly I feel it's the other person's inadequacy. Shop assistants and "customer services" seem to do it a lot. They are clearly wanting to please and if they can't answer the question or provide what you want they often "approximate" or make something up. For example I'm looking for a linen dress but they show you a polyester one instead of admitting they don't have any (or don't know which are linen).

The "work lies" are the ones I find deeply frustrating. The ones where someone takes the credit for someone else's work - and passes off their failings as someone else's.

Primrose53 Sun 04-Jun-23 09:08:49


My dad used to say you can lock up at thief but you can’t lock up a liar..🤓
(Just as well for Conservative politicians )

Eamonn Holmes said this week “My Father used to say you can watch a thief but you cannot watch a liar”. That was concerning Philip Schofield.