Narcissists are pathological liars. It is their default position, even when the truth would serve them better. They have no principles or values. They only want to be seen as doing good, but don’t actually want to be kind or good to others. Since they do not want to work too hard at this false illusion lying acts as a very effective short cut. So long as people believe them and their attitude is that if they keep repeating the same lie to the same person, they will eventually believe them. Most of the things that they lie about are things that others would not have even thought was worthy of lie, but to a narcissist, perception is everything and so they spin a tangled web of lies to create an image. A narcissist does not take any responsibility for their actions so it doesn’t really matter what they say. In fact, a narcissist will see it as point scoring (and a win) if s/he can get you to believe their lies (any lie), while they are creating their false persona.
They do it effortlessly and absolutely without shame or remorse. The narrative is usually peppered with some truths, but this is just to make their story more credible. What is the most confusing for non narcissists is they are left wondering why someone would behave like that, what is the point? The point is that there is no point, the are just playing out a drama in their head, where they are the protagonist and everyone else is playing a supporting role.
The other problem is that a more honest person does not expect people to lie, especially those close to them and certainly not to that extent. So it can take a long time to work out what dynamic is in action. It creates confusion in the other person as they will be questioning their own ability to fully understand what is being communicated to them rather than question the motives of the narcissist.
Once you do work it out and point out a lie to a narcissist, you can either expect absolute denial (said with such conviction that it is easy to think that you made a mistake) or you will meet with rage “what you are calling me a liar?” i.e. I am allowed to lie to you but you are not allowed to notice or call me out on it.
Things that narcissists will lie about:
- Their academic and career achievements.
- Awards and medals that they might have one in sporting events or other activities
- Previous “romantic” relationships
- The amount of money they have
- Deep involvement in some sort of spiritual “organisation”
- Sexual exploits
- Stories where s/he his hero or victim
- A complete exaggeration of skills set. I speak fluent French = I can ask for a glass of water in French. I am psychic = I know how to manipulate people, I am a fantastic businessperson = I have never started a business of my own.
- Your personality traits
- The intimacy of the relationships they have with others
- Glowing compliments that other people paid them
- Negative things that other people said about you
- Where they were and what they were doing
The list is endless and the extent to which they lie is difficult to comprehend because most of their lies are pointless.
Narcissists love to gossip, the reasons for this are as follows:
- It reinforces their notion of their own superiority
- It provides a semblance of intimacy, they “share” other people’s secrets, not their own, so it creates a mask of trust, without exposing themselves in any way.
- It creates drama and often division of friends and family, which in turn gives them more excitement.
- Attacking/ruining the reputation of others diminishes that person in their eyes “buoys” up their own ego.
- Any consequences of the gossip that they spread makes them feel “powerful”/important
- They will pepper their gossip about other people with half-truths that will render their lies plausible
- They will hint at things without actually saying something outright, hoping that you will take the bait. They will feel that they have a safety net in place and will be in a position to deny everything if it backfires
There are several ways that you can distinguish between someone who is being sincere and authentic and some who is presenting you with a mask or false self. Below is a list of some tell-tale signs that someone is presenting with an image rather than an authentic personality.
Authentic self traits:
- Are energised, awake and aware of who they are and the effect that they have on others
- Have good clear communication techniques where their language, body language and intonation all relay the same message
- Are empathetic, kind and co-operative
- Are aware and respectful of the needs, dreams and can see perspectives other than their own
- Are honest, open and have integrity
- Expect equality in all relationships that they enter into
- Have a strong sense of justice and decency (will always try to do the right thing)
- Can spontaneously express their emotions in a balanced way
- Can genuinely relate and form bonds with others
- Are able to judge without being judgemental or critical
- Can forward plan and postpone immediate gratification if they perceive it as unfitting for the moment
- Spiritually in tune and aware
- Consistent in their values and ethics (they apply the same values to themselves as they do to others)
- Constantly curious and are growing through learning and experience
- Genuinely enjoy other people’s happiness and success
- Are not interested in gossiping about others
Unauthentic or false self
- Have low energy levels, walk around as if they are in a dream and have virtually no self-awareness or the effect that they have on others
- Are very poor at communicating, can completely contradict themselves in a very short period of time, leaving their listener feeling confused.
- Their language, body language and intonation all contradict each other
- Are completely lacking in empathy, very reluctant to meet the needs of others unless they stand to gain something
- Usually unaware of the needs, dreams and perspectives other than their own and they are strongly disinclined to learn what they might be
- Are pathological liars, are very secretive/closed and are open and are corrupt in their thoughts and actions
- Expect to be treated as a superior in all of their relationships
- Their sense of morality is for how they think others should treat them. The same rules do not apply to them and will always do what they think serves their own needs best at the time. Will have absolutely no qualms about doing something that hurts someone else
- Will constantly be looking for cues from other people when it comes to “expressing emotion” so that they can decide how to “play it”
- Have absolutely no capacity to relate to others and find it impossible to form genuine bonds and relationships
- Are hyper judgemental and critical of others
- Cannot forward plan and are only interested in immediate gratification no matter what the consequences
- Are spiritually dead although they can use religion as a leverage for feeling superior
- Highly inconsistent in their values and ethics (they do not apply “rules” to themselves as they do to others) and these can vary hugely depending on the company that they are in
- Have no curiosity and do not feel that they have to make the effort of developing and improving themselves (they think that they are already perfect)
- Genuinely enjoy other people’s defeats and failures
- Love to gossip about others, especially when it is malicious