The more stories I hear from other victims of narcissists, the more common threads become apparent. And although narcissists tend to be compulsive liars, most of their “larger” lies seem to fall within seven different categories. Keep in mind that Narcissism/Sociopathy is a spectrum–so a person may tell small or big lies in these areas. They may tell all seven kinds of lies, or as few as one (but par for the course seems to be 3 or more of these lies). I wanted to use examples so you could see what these lies look like in action, and many of the examples listed below are (unfortunately) taken from both my own experiences, and the experiences of some friends.
1. Military service/heroic acts of duty. Many Narcissists assert that they were either in the Military (and they weren’t), were in a top secret/important unit in the Military (and they weren’t) or were in the Military for longer than they really were. If they did actually join the Military, then odds are they’ve milked it for all it’s worth, talking about their service, or throwing in that they were in the Military when it could benefit them.
“My ex once told me that he had been in a classified sniper unit in the German Military. He said that once their missions were done, the unit was dissolved, and all records of their service were destroyed. …He would sob like a baby from time-to-time about things he’d done. (I highly doubt he was ever in the Military.)”
“My ex goes around telling people that he was in the Army for six years. He was in for six months. He even tells people that he was in for six years right in front of me, it’s like he doesn’t even realize or care that he’s lying.”
“After 911 happened, my ex would tell everyone that he had been accepted into some top secret Military unit, and that they could be deployed at anytime. I found out about this from one of his co-workers when I ran into them at the grocery store. Turns out my ex was also bringing in a radio and would listen to the news all the time, and then tell co-workers he had to pay attention to things. He was also “practicing his Farsi” in front of them, and would offer to write people’s names in Farsi. The whole thing was just really bizarre. He was never in the Military, and never knew Farsi.”
“My ex went around telling people he’d been in Vietnam. He had really sad stories–the whole nine. I believed him for years, until I found out that he’d never been there–it was his best friend that was in Vietnam, and all the stories that he told were his best friend’s stories! That was the first major sign that he really was a pathological liar.”
2. Deep religious or spiritual beliefs. Many Narcissists are ministers, youth leaders, and hold other various positions of prestige in their church. To listen to them speak, they are “super Christian” or “super Buddhist”, and if you didn’t know better you’d think that they really practiced what they preached. An extreme example of this would be Warren Jeffs, leader and one of the many self-proclaimed “Prophets” of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Jeffs created a polygamist compound on the Utah-Arizona border, and he, along with many other men in the compound were arrested for sexual assault and rape of many of the minor children there. Jeffs considers his blood, as well as his bloodline to be “royal,” and believes that he was chosen by God to lead his followers. Jim Baker would be another preacher whose actions didn’t line up with his words, as he was busted for hiring prostitutes and “misusing” funds he’d collected for his ministry.
“My ex was a youth minister. He really came off like this great guy. People loved him–especially women. I thought he was great too, until my friend caught him on a dating site!”
“My grandfather was a Minister of a Baptist church. He quoted scripture right and left–the whole “hell and brimstone” thing. People that didn’t know him, loved him. He was very likable, funny and charismatic. When I was around 16, my mom pulled me aside and told me how he was a serial cheater, and had been chased out of numerous churches. She said that they grew up in poverty, as any money he did make went to him–he bought a new car one time, and always looked dapper. My mom also said that he’d bring his girlfriends home for dinner and pretend that they were there for church business.”
“My ex was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, but wasn’t practicing. To listen to him tell it, he has deep faith in God. He didn’t celebrate any holidays, and was debating about getting back into the church. One day he upped and left me, for some crazy reason. Well, turns out he was married! Before he left me to go back to his wife that I didn’t know existed, he told me that I knew a lot of things, but that I didn’t know anything about Jesus, and that he couldn’t handle my lack of faith.”
3. Advanced Degrees/Business owners/success. Because many Narcissists are so appearances and image driven, it’s not uncommon for them to lie about having PhDs, medical degrees, other advanced degrees, or claiming that they owned a business of some sort and had great success.
“My ex often told people that he had two PhDs. He didn’t. He had one though, but I guess that wasn’t good enough for him.”
“My husband tells people that he was accepted into Harvard Medical School, but turned them down. Umm, yeah. The guy can barely tie his own shoes. There’s no way Harvard wanted him!”
“My ex told me that he had a very successful business that his sister sold out from underneath him–and that she’d slandered his name all over town by telling people he was involved in kinky sex. I remember thinking at the time that this guy was bouncing checks all over town, and was cash only at most places, that I didn’t think he ever owned a business, plus, why would his sister lie about him having kinky sex?”
4. Cheating/Fidelity. Sex is one of the Narcissist’s best weapons. Narcissists are the ultimate hypocrites, and demand complete fidelity and honesty, but never return it. They will often even project their cheating onto their victim, accusing him or her of the act! Perhaps the number one way most victims come to learn about Narcissists is when they catch them cheating the second, third, or fourth time.
“When I found out my ex was on every dating site out there, and was cheating on me with dozens upon dozens of people, I didn’t know what to think. He was such a great up until that point. I really thought that maybe he was a sex addict and that we could work on things. I friend mentioned that I should talk to his exwife and see what her experience was. Turns out his whole story about their marriage and divorce was a lie. He’d told me she cheated on him, and was an alcoholic and bipolar–that her behavior really changed after they got married. She told me that they’d only been married for a week when he upped and supposedly got fired from his job (she thinks he quit). While she was at work, he’d be at home sex-camming with people online. She busted him several times doing this, and he’d always have an excuse and promise he’d never do it again. Then a friend of hers found him on a dating website. That’s when she told him she was getting a divorce. Since he was a moochy bum, he had no money and nowhere to go. She let him stay in the house (which belonged to her), and within a month of so she began dating other people. He was outraged and threw all her stuff outside–even though she’d told him she was moving on! Needless to say she kicked his ass out. She told me to run as fast as I could from him, and I did.”
“During our ten years together, my ex upped and ran off with three different women. There were no warning signs. He’d just up and leave me out of the clear blue with some lame excuse that he wasn’t happy, and that our marriage wasn’t working for him. I spent so much time trying to be a better wife, and trying to make all these changes, as he kept saying it was my fault, that I didn’t spend enough time with him, or gained weight and he wasn’t attracted to me anymore, or that we weren’t communicating. It was always my fault, and I was always so nervous that he’d up and leave. He’d come back home a few months later saying he missed me and the kids, and would make all the promises that things would be better, but they never were. It was the same issues over and over. I finally got him to agree to go to marriage counseling, and afterwards the counselor pulled me aside and said that she thought he was a Narcissist, and that he’d never change, and not to bother bringing him to counseling anymore. I left him shortly after that. It was so good to know all his behavior wasn’t really my fault!”
“My ex cheated on me five times that I know of, and according to him, it was never his fault. Either the women threw themselves at him, or I was being a bad wife. He had no accountability for his actions–ever. I should have listened to his ex-girlfriend when she tried to warn me, except that he’d told me she was crazy and I believed him, turns out he was the crazy one.”
5. Using other people’s stories, ideas or efforts as their own. Some Narcissists will “borrow” other people’s stories and pass them off as their own. At times they will even do this in front of other people that were there when the real story happened! They value a good story over the truth any day of the week.
“When I first began dating my ex, he’d told me that he’d had cancer when he was a child. I didn’t find out the truth for about five years, and as it turned out he never had cancer, but his sister did.”
My ex often took credit for any good idea I had. We had a business for awhile, until he drove it into the ground. I had this idea once for a marketing campaign, and he went and told my father, who was our silent partner, about it, and took full credit, like it was his idea! Of course, I find this out next time I talk to my dad, who tell me how great this new idea of my ex’s was. My ex knew he’d get caught in this lie, and I have no idea why he even bothered to tell it.”
My ex would do this really frustrating thing. Whenever I cooked dinner, or we were out to dinner with friends (even if they were going to pay,)and the food would get to the table, my ex would always say, “enjoy” like he was taking credit for preparing or buying the food. It was really annoying.”
6. Outlandish stories. Narcissists can come up with some crazyyy stories. They are so over the top that the listener knows they’ve got to be made up, yet the Narcissist keeps going.
“When I was in nursing school, the director of our program was a Narcissist. She was a compulsive liar, and the stories she told weren’t even close to believable. One of the stories was that she was sitting around a campfire, and a wolf came up and licked her hand. Then the wolf began communicating telepathically with her. Another story was that she was called by EMTs to help deliver a baby, as the woman was out in the middle of nowhere. She hopped on a snow mobile, and raced over there, just in time to deliver the baby. She saved the placenta in a bag and put it in her jacket pocket and all three of them rushed over to the EMTs.”
“My ex once told me that he picked up not one, but two, stray dogs that were running around on the busy street. The dogs then peed all in his car, and he spent an hour trying to get it clean. He claimed that by rescuing these dogs he felt closer to me, as he knew that would be something I’d do. I spoke with his best friend later on, and it turns out that this whole story never happened, and he’d been at his house the whole time.”
“My ex lied about everything. Even stuff that didn’t matter. She’d tell you it was raining and it wasn’t, or she’d say that she got fired from her job (couldn’t hold a job to save her life), when really she’d quit. And sometimes she’d lie, and then she’d deny that she lied, and that I’d misheard her. That was really crazy making. One day she upped and left with the kids, and went to a domestic violence shelter. She told them I was a Narcissist and was also sexually abusing the kids and physically abusing her! I know she did it just to make me look bad, and it worked. The judge sided with her, along with many members of both our families and our friends. That crazy bitch has made my life a living hell, and I worry about my kids nonstop.”
7. Money. Many will pretend that they are more financial stable than they are, or that at one time they had a lot of money.
“I dated a guy once who told me he’d lost $700,000 in the stock market. I highly doubt he’s ever had anywhere close to that much money. The guy was terrible with money, but was big on appearances and loved to impress. He was always status bombing like that. It was ridiculous.”
“My ex drove around in a BMW convertible. To look at him, you’d think he had money. Once we moved in together, I found out the truth: he was pretty much cash only everywhere in town, he bounced checks all the time, and his BMW was financed at 21% interest!”
“My ex had two Polo shirts that were old and faded, but he wore them all the time. He also had some expensive watch that he always made sure to wear when we went out on the town. His financial priorites were a mess. His last girlfriend had bought him his truck, and he’d been so rough with it, it needed a new transmission, but he’s rather spend money going out to nice restaurants and trying to impress people instead of taking care of his bills or his truck.”
If you are dating a Narcissist, please try to read as much as you can about this personality disorder. They are very dangerous and destructive people, and they do not get better. They will always let you down, and they will never be the person that they pretended to be when you first met them. Your best bet is to go “no contact” if you can, or to go “gray rock”. …If you have a Narcissist/Sociopath in your life, what kind of lies did they tell?
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
Latest posts by Dana (see all)
- Episode 30: Book Club Discussion on “Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse” by Joanna Moore - June 27, 2017
- Live Stream from June 21, 2017 - June 25, 2017
- Episode 28: Gratitude Can Help Keep You Grounded - March 21, 2017