A narcissist is going to lie. It’s unavoidable, and you’ll have no choice but to accept it. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to play along, and you most certainly shouldn’t fuel it. Changing it is likely impossible, however, so the best option is to learn how to conduct yourself in the face of it. The reasons why a narcissist will lie are practically endless and range from a deep-rooted sense of inadequacy to achieving personal gain. The upper hand, a feeling of superiority, and a sense of entitlement are of utmost importance to the narcissist regardless of whether it is earned or warranted. Since they can rarely acquire those things organically through grit or personal integrity, they must resort to manipulation. What kind of lies will be told and to whom? There really is no limit. While it’s easier said than done, if you can adopt an “it’s not my problem” mentality, you will ultimately have more peace in your life. While you may be tempted to defend yourself or set the record straight, the gossip, slander, and lies offer insight into who the narcissist truly is, not who you are.
Character assassination is always in a narcissist’s arsenal, and you’re sure to be subjected to plenty of it. You’ve probably heard him/her speak ill of others, including those considered to be friends and even family. At a school party, our narcissist and her mother (also a notorious busybody) were overheard by other parents indulging themselves in gossip about me. This was somewhat early in my relationship with Andrew, I hadn’t talked to either of these women much, and never discussed any personal details about my life. How could she possibly know who I am or what I’m like? To be diagnosed by his ex-wife as “needy, because that’s just the type of woman he goes for” was comical and outrageous. Does it even need to be said that she insulted herself more than she insulted me? He was with her first. Did it ever occur to her that through his experience with her, he had become more selective about who he let into his life? When we were contacted by other parents about this (they were upset, didn’t want that sophomoric behavior exhibited by an adult at school, and hoped we’d handle it) all we did was smile and say we’d address it. It was already clear to the other parents who the troubled party was, so what good would it do to fire shots back at her through more slander? Handling the situation with tact and integrity was our goal, because our reaction could affect our kid’s relationships with other students at school. Andrew contacted his ex via email and ask her to save the gossip for private times and out of the public, for the sake of the kids. Other than that, we left it alone. Why start a feud over something so childish? You’ll likely encounter something similar to this if you must maintain ties with your narcissist, so remember to choose your battles carefully, stay emotionally detached, and stick to the facts. Becoming a source of narcissistic supply is senseless, so don’t feed the monster.
You may also encounter preemptive lies as a result of their own bad behavior. When our narcissist’s first affair came to light during their marriage, saving face was her primary focus, rather than saving her marriage by being accountable. She first started spinning stories about how she was being abused, and shared those tales with friends, family, and even their church congregation. Then, she started working over Andrew’s family. She contacted his mother, acting devastated because she was afraid he was becoming mentally unstable, and then exclaiming “he even accused me of having an affair!” Granted, he did accuse her of having an affair, because she was having an affair. If you have a narcissist, you know how much they love being the victim. Again, unless someone comes to you with concerns about what they’re hearing, there’s not much you can do about it that will benefit you. Seeking people out, asking what they’re hearing, and attempting to set the record straight will look suspicious, no matter how truthful you are. Continue being yourself, live your life, and don’t participate. That is your truth. In time, the narcissist will discredit himself/herself. They don’t need your help making themselves look bad. This doesn’t mean you have to back away or remain silent if someone approaches you with something they’ve heard, which will possibly happen. You can, however, maintain your composure and tell the accurate truth without participating on an emotional level. Don’t contribute to any gossip but feel free to clarify it is a lie. “That’s not true but it doesn’t surprise me that she said that,” is a common phrase we use. We set the record straight on a case by case basis. If they seem interested in the full story or seem confused, we summarize things as succinctly as possible. Otherwise, we try to demonstrate the truth, matter-of-factly correct her statements, and let the other person create their own narrative. Reality almost always comes through.
What other lies may you encounter? All I can suggest is that if your narcissist is telling you anything, you may be better off assuming it is either wholly untrue or at the very least, partially untrue. If I compiled a list of things we’ve been told that were either entirely or partially untrue, or at the very least, an embellishment or exaggeration, this post would seem never-ending. I’ve only shared a couple personal stories out of countless experiences, and they didn’t include the senseless, unnecessary lies (which occur in literally every interaction we have with her). During one of my most memorable exchanges, our narcissist told me our kid was “begging” her for a natural remedy she believed in. Exactly one day before, the same kid was talking about the way she was cramming some hokey stuff down his throat that had no more medicinal qualities than magical healing crystals, and he hated it. Similarly, I had picked up a very part-time job during my pregnancy at a restaurant that had an attached bar. I was going stir crazy at home and thought having something to do would help. One of the kids asked about my schedule, and after I told him, I asked why he wanted to know. He said he didn’t, his mom did. Sure enough, she showed up the same week with her husband, during my shift, and stayed for hours. I said to our kid, “I saw your mom!” and when he asked where, I said “at work.” That was the end of the conversation. I worked in the restaurant and rarely ventured into the bar where she was, so our paths didn’t cross. Apparently he told her that I said she was there, and the next day he reported to me that his mom was there for a church group. We could’ve corrected this by explaining that church groups don’t meet in bars and drink and smoke, as she was doing, but that would’ve perpetuated an unnecessary situation in which a child was in the middle. Much like her lie about being at a church group, what would be the point of that? Things like this happen regularly, and we’ve grown rather immune to it, as you will in time.
I’ve only covered the spoken lies that affect Andrew and myself. The way our kids are affected by the manipulation is for another time. I’m also not going to delve into the way our narcissist lies to the government about her employment status and income in order to collect child support, despite 50/50 custody. Additionally, she has stolen from charities, told outlandish lies under oath, stolen from a grant-funded educational program for children, and taken items from people she was supposed to be holding estate sales for, then either sold those items for personal profit or kept them for herself. I’m sharing this because you need to understand that your narcissist will stoop lower than you could imagine for reasons normal people can’t understand. It is in your best interest to stay emotionally uninvolved, detached, and as businesslike as possible if you have to interact with them at all.
Remember, some people aren’t worth the trouble. If you call out every dishonest thing your narcissist says or does, you won’t have time for anything else. Andrew and I have decided to collaborate and publish this blog for other victims, not because we feel our narcissist is worth the press. Have you been a victim to lies told by a narcissist? How did it make you feel? Did you react? If so, ask yourself how that ended. Maybe you felt satisfied, but did anything change? Next, we will talk about what we did that actually changed our encounters with our narcissist, and the consequences, both good and bad, of our decision.