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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4298
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Over the past year I have become very aware that I have a strong habit to twist the truth

Resolved Question:

Over the past year I have become very aware that I have a strong habit to twist the truth and lie a lot of the time. It has caused a lot of arguments with my partner, to the brink of destruction of our relationship. Most of the time I dont even realise I am lying and most of the time it is over silly things that there is no plausible reason in the world to lie. I think it is an automatic thing I do to protect my partner and those I care about, it is like I dont want to give them any bad news or let them down for any reason so I will always to make things out better than they seem or I will give the answer that just 'suits'. I am 31 almost and going out with my partner for 11 years. As I said, this problem has brought us to the brink on a few occasions, sometimes over more serious things and others over nothing at all. Am I a compulsive liar? How can I overcome this before it is too late, if not already.
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 12 months ago.

DoctorZ :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

DoctorZ :

It does sounds like you have a habit to lie because you mentioned that you lie without even consciously thinking about it

DoctorZ :

Why do you think lying is a way to protect your partner and those you care about? Because it seems like you do not just lie when it is bad news

Customer:

Yes, even with good news I will try to make it even better, I just like to give things a brighter light if that makes sense. In arguments I will give the answer that 'suits' or will avoid making any more confrontation. I have a big issue with confromtation, I would do anything to avoid it. I think that is part of the core reason as I will just avoid it at all costs.

DoctorZ :

Okay so you try to please others you care about?

Customer:

I suppose with my partner I lie to protect her. Why give her bad news? What she doesnt know cant hurt right? With others I will twist the truth as well in a similar way. I dont think I am as bad with others, I would lie about things like I am 5 minutes away when Im actually 20 but I dont think I am as bad. With my partner I think its where I am most devious.

DoctorZ :

Describe the devious lying with your partner? Like can you give me an example when you felt devious with her?

Customer:

We've had a lot of arguments lately about girls I used to know in college years ago and I kep it to myself. I didnt do anything but I had feelings for one friend but I never did anything. Im with my partner 11 years and this was about 3 years in. Only recently this has all come to light when my partner found emails and facebook messages. A bit of flirting but nothing major. What I did do though is continue to lie about having feelings. In my mind it was better to first deny everything, then give in a little and eventually we got around to the whole truth. The whole process has crippled our relationship and her trust is shattered. I also looked up images of women online. My partner found out a couple of years ago, went mad and all that but eventually got over it with me promising not to do it again. I did it again and when confronted I completely denied everything again. It happened again 6-8 months ago and I again denied everything. It all came to a head then however as this time she had all my googling records, facebook activity and the whole lot. I even still tried to deny everything and make it all sound better that it actually was. Obviously it has shattered her trust and we're hanging by a thread. Even with simple things I struggle to give a straight answer, I will just automatically blurt out whatever is the best answer. I dont think I am as bad with others though, at least I haven't noticed or been told. Its funny because I have a good job and I am very professional in work and my job demands straight answers and Ive no problems there. It seems to be mostly in my relationship.

DoctorZ :

It sounds like from what you are trying to tell me is that you are protecting yourself by lying. By making it sound better than it really is she will not be as mad or upset with you. So you are not just lying to protect her, but it is also to protect you and the relationship

DoctorZ :

Can I ask have you ever believed that the lies you told her were the truth?

Customer:

Ya I've heard that before alright. She has said that I hate confrontation so much that I would do anything to avoid it and say anything. I do have a problem there. That does come into work somewhat as well in that I will try to avoid it but when confrontation is needed I dont seem to have too much of an issue. It's like Im a different person. Probably because I feel I have to.

Customer:

Yes, I have always believed what I said was the truth. And sometimes I was certain until she had proof to say otherwise. It's like I forget or something

DoctorZ :

Yeah the mistaking a lie for truth is a common sign of someone who may be a compulsive liar and as you said lying is sometimes automatic with you

DoctorZ :

How is your self-esteem overall?

Customer:

Ya, it;s unreal how many times I felt I was telling the truth until I was shown otherwise. It's embarassing and I find it hard to understand. Self esteem is a bit lower than it should be. Depends really. I am very active in sporting circles so I am well accepted in groups....still sometimes I feel akward in social circles, I wouldn't be the life of a party but I wouldnt be the death of it either. I suppose self esteem could be better. Some days I have no problem, other days I just dont want to get involved. Is that not normal though?

DoctorZ :

It is normal, some days we go with being very social and other days we do not feel like it. What about with your partner, do you feel confident with her or vulnerable?

Customer:

I would have been confident in our relationship but everything is rocked now. Now it's like walking on eggshells...and lots of them. I have to tip toe around to avoid causing another argument. I hold off on saying just about anything to avoid it also. Its got to the point now I'm nearly afraid to answer in case I say the wrong thing.

Customer:

Vunerable to shorten that answer!!

DoctorZ :

My opinion is that you lie more to her to protect yourself from her getting to know the real you. It is a defense mechanism we have to protect ourselves and the reason you do it more with her is because she is your partner and you feel more vulnerable to her. The reason you felt so confident with her before is because you never showed her the real you.

Customer:

You could be right. So I get around it? It's still in motion and if we argue again I think (and so does she) that I will just say whatever suits again. Ive never been one to let anyone in or tell anyone how I feel etc. etc. so is it possible that I am just not one of those people to open up and get over this wall?

DoctorZ :

Thats not true, the good news is that I think therapy can help you correct this behavior, but it will take time because this has been a habitual behavior for a long time for you

DoctorZ :

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the best kind of therapy to help you stop this compulsive lying and to address any problems you have with opening up and being yourself around others

Customer:

I think I have heard of this before from websites I have read. Therapy sounds like hard work, what are the chances of success? What is the best way to do it? Can this be done online as where I am located at the moment is a long way from offering counselling services. Women cant even vote here in this country so I would probably end up in a mental institution for even mentioning therapy!!

DoctorZ :

Well I definitely do not want you to end up in a mental institution, especially just for this. Therapy is hard work, but I believe your chances of success are high regarding this behavior because it is tied to your inability to feel vulnerable with your partner mostly. Identifying a possible cause is a good first step. Now usually you cannot do CBT therapy online, but I believe there are therapists that use video chat to do therapy. It is a new process and I am not familiar with it, but I assume that videochatting therapy online is growing in popularity. Also if that does not work, there are self-help CBT books that be of great help to you

DoctorZ :

I am not sure how you get books in your country, but the "cognitive behavioral skills workbook" by Barry Gregory is a good self-help book

Customer:

Great, I'm travelling back in a few weeks. Would I get that in any regular shop or best to get it on Amazon or something?

DoctorZ :

I would get in on amazon, I do not usually see that book in a regular shop

DoctorZ :

Also "Stop me because I cannot stop myself: Taking control of impulsive behavior" by Jon Grant, S.W. Kim, and Gregory Fricchione.

DoctorZ :

this is also a good book for you too

Customer:

Ok cheers. I think the book option is the best for me for the moment. Video calling sounds extremely akward to me. Hard enough to sit on a couch I imagine, staring at each other on a screen would be intimidating I think. So when I look into this is there a certain area I should be referring to or are there several areas I should be looking at?

DoctorZ :

The CBT workbook is more broad and has exercises that can help with a wide variety of behaviors including impulse control, like compulsive lying. But I would also go over the negative thinking exercises because that could be what is making it difficult for you to open up and be yourself with your partner. The impulse behavior book will address a wide variety of impulses and if memory serves they have a section on compulsive lying. There are also chapters on why we have these impulse behaviors and how they occur, so that would be good to look at as well.

Customer:

One thing I was thinking though is that why am not like this with friends (or as bad anyway). With my partner it is like it is a lot more concentrated or intense?

DoctorZ :

Because I believe with her you feel more vulnerable. Relationships are about opening up and being yourself with the person, it is the most vulnerable you can be with someone. I believe this scared you and your mind wanted to protect you emotionally from this by creating lies to tell. In essence you consciously want to tell her the truth and you want her to know the real you, but subconsciously you put up a wall to protect you, which caused the compulsive lying.

DoctorZ :

The more intense you feel about someone, probably the more habitual the lying will be

Customer:

Ok, cheers XXXXX XXXXX advice. I'll go and surf amazon.

DoctorZ :

Anytime, I am always happy to help.

DoctorZ :

If you have any other concerns of questions, please feel free to ask anytime.

DoctorZ :

I hope I provided you with excellent service today

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4298
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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