I lie sometimes. I say things that aren’t true and send them off into the universe, giving karma the middle finger. But my lies are small and largely inconsequential. I lie mostly about stupid stuff like when someone asks me if I’ve seen a certain movie and I say yes even though I haven’t. This is a courtesy lie though. Instead of making the person explain the plot and the significance, I’m allowing them to just make their point and move on to the next topic. See? Easy breezy.
Some people I know though—people who I have actually been good friends with for certain periods of time—are pathological liars. They’ll lie about anything, no matter how big or small, out of a compulsion or an insecurity or, as often is the case, they’re just insane. I hate these people. They weird me out. Their stories often don’t add up and they get caught in a lie, which you just usually have to ignore because it would be too uncomfortable to call them out on it. So you just have to pretend what they’re saying is true while nodding politely even though you’re secretly freaking out. Yeah. Having pathological liars for friends is not fun.
I once lived with a girl who would lie about everything. She claimed she was a nationally-ranked tennis player, even though she was a waitress at a trendy restaurant, and she once told me that a coffee she purchased at a pricey cafe cost her fifteen dollars. Fifteen dollars for a cup of coffee. When someone tells you something that is so blatantly a lie, what do you say exactly? “That’s impossible. A coffee can’t cost that much. Show me your receipt!” You can let then know that what they’re telling you is hard to believe but what you can’t get in their face about it. Because oftentimes, compulsive liars believe their own stories. They’re, in fact, delusional. And it’s not worth trying to fight it. All you can do is tiptoe out the backdoor while imagining the score from Psycho to be playing.
I had another friend who lied mostly out of insecurity. He told people he lived in Bel Air when he actually lived in Sherman Oaks (Oh, the private shame of living in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the Valley!) and when he took a leave of absence from the school we both attended in New York, he told everyone he was transferring to UCLA. These lies I understand more. I guess it’s more chic to say you live in Bel Air and it’s understandable that someone would feel embarrassment for taking a year off of school. But, still. Why? Why do you need to do it? Why do you need to lie to your closest friends—people who know the real story. I understand lying to an intimidating acquaintance but not your close friends. That’s different. That’s like a weird betrayal.
To be fair, I think compulsive lying is a symptom of a much larger problem, one that’s possibly a type of mental disorder. And to those who don’t feel the need to lie constantly, it comes off as bizarre behavior. It’s crazy how common it is though. I bet everyone who’s reading this knows someone like the two people I just described. Isn’t that sort of nuts? Interestingly, people who lie about bigger things than coffee and their address don’t offend me so much. I understand why someone would lie about cheating. I understand why someone would lie about doing drugs. That makes sense to me. There’s something substantial to cover up. But there seems to be no valid reason to lie about something like the price of a coffee drink other than to do it for the sake of lying, which is terrifying.
Thankfully, I’ve since cut out those liars from my life and if one of my friends starts feeding me BS, I’m quick to call them out on it. Because we all lie a little bit but that doesn’t mean we should always get away with it.