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Context

So I've been part of a very tight group of friends for more than a year now, and it feels like we're gonna be friends for a good while. We're all from 18 to 20 years old, and it's a mix of males and females (I'm a 20 y/o male). In that group there's a girl that tends to lie from time to time.

Exemples

Her : "I carried a friend to her boyfriend in 15 minutes". Which in that case is clearly impossible since it takes at least 45 minutes to travel that distance at 120km/h, so to do that in 15 min she would need to be driving at 300+ km/h. I know it's not a big deal but the problem is that when she lies to us, we all know she's lying and it's weirding us out and we don't know how to react and it gets kind of awkward.

Another problem is that nobody feels like contradicting her because she really looks like she believes herself. In the scenario that I told you we had the proof that it wasn't possible, but in most other cases we don't, but it still feels pretty obvious that she's lying. Furthermore, she'll lie in situations where she could be honest and it would be just fine. Example, her, two other friends (from that group of friends) and I had planned to go to another friend's house after we spent the day the together. The day comes along like planned and at the end of the day she looked tired and exhausted and I had the feeling she wouldn't want to come with us to our friend's house which would've been fine if she just told us she was too tired to come since it wasn't a party or anything that could make someone disappointed if she didn't come. But instead of saying the truth she started pretending she was losing her voice and she wanted to go home. Since she's a pretty bad liar we had doubts it was true, and we had our doubts confirmed when she "forgot to fake" as she started to talk normally for a few words and then noticed and went back to faking (didn't have the usual sound of someone losing their voice). So yet again it's no big deal, but it can get very irritating, and as we are very close friends we're expecting honesty from each other.

Additional Information

  • She can be stubborn when she wants to, she will most likely understand it as if I want to insult her rather than just try to fix an issue.

  • Her and I are very close to each other and are still getting closer with time. We have said to each other we would be interested to have a relationship in a not so far future, so being rude is not an option.

  • Aside from that issue she's a great person and everybody in our group appreciates her.

Question

I know that I could have a conversation with her about this or I could just tell her I don't believe her when I feel deceived so she'll start paying more attention to what she says. I want to talk to her to get her to stop lying all of the time. How can I do this without insulting her?

5

The best option would be to have an honest conversation with her, instead of telling her you don't believe her. Telling her you don't believe her will cause a lot of defensiveness as (from the way you worded it) it comes off as a direct attack against her honesty and sounds very harsh.

Conversation

Have a one-on-one conversation with her and ask her why she feels the need to lie all the time. Bring up an example (a good one would be the voice loss one) and ask her why she felt she needed to lie to you and your friends instead of telling the truth. Be nice and don't convey a hostile, accusatory attitude, which will turn your friend off from actually answering you honestly, and instead be more defensive. And be warned: she might lie here too. If she is so convinced that her lies are actually real, as you state, she might not be welcome to people calling her out.

Accusation

I worded this section as "accusation" because that is what it actually is. You are just accusing her of lying and that you are going to be more aware of what she says. There isn't a way to use this situation without insulting her as this approach is incredibly rude to someone who is or isn't lying.

Think of it this way. If you are a truly honest (albeit easily mistaken) person and someone accuses you of lying constantly and starts challenging everything you say, would you react kindly?

I would instead go for my first option, which would be to have a one on one conversation with her. This avoids public shaming which will definitely cause some issues between you and your friend.


There's a decent chance your friend might be a pathological liar, which is a personality disorder, so it may be something she can't really control. You can suggest therapy if she realizes her issue in your first conversation, but I wouldn't try to force it on her if she doesn't think her lying is an issue.

  • I doubt she's a pathological liar as she did admit to me she was lying all the time when she was young and she's was way worse at the time according to stories she told me but she didn't stop completely. I guess the best option would be a mix of the two : having a conversation after she lied (if I have proof) and ask why she said that? – Jhergne Jul 19 '18 at 14:31
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    @Jhergne: Maybe she already took up therapy, and that´s why she improved? Proceed with caution! – user6109 Jul 19 '18 at 14:40
  • @Daniel : I very much doubt it, she's too stubborn to do that, espacially since lying as a kid is pretty common. – Jhergne Jul 19 '18 at 14:47
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    @Jhergne Lying this much as a kid is pretty common, but lying this much as an adult isn't. – TheRealLester Jul 19 '18 at 14:55
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    @Jhergne: Just saying - it can be uncomfortable to confess that you are in treatment for something that is secretly bothering you. If you want to prevent putting your foot into your mouth, thread lightly! – user6109 Jul 19 '18 at 15:08
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In contrast to the other answer, I suggest instead you get the entire group to start light-heartedly teasing your friend about her lying, every time it happens. Nothing too insulting, just make it clear you're not buying it:

Oh, Jana, there you go, making up stories again

Oh there goes Jana, telling us tall tales.

Come on Jana, you don't really expect us to believe that, do you?

If she insists that it's true, when it's clearly impossible, just respond by rolling your eyes and dismissing it again, something like:

Oh Jana, give it a rest would you?

Oh Jana, you're such a kidder.

or, if you have documented proof

Seriously, Jana, we all know what happened. Stop trying to be funny.

No one likes to be mocked, so do this every single time she fibs, and hopefully, eventually, she'll stop.

Again, the key is always to make it sound like she's doing it as a joke, and that you're just not falling for it anymore. That way you don't have to accept her fabrications, while at the same time she can't directly accuse you of calling her a liar.

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    This is a very harsh treatment and needs to be used with caution! We actually did this in our group and the person got very defensive and upset, even ditching some hangouts for a while. So there is some great potential to escalate it to a real fight. – Nico May 29 at 7:17
  • @Nico Then you treat the person's defensiveness as yet another joke. The trick is to make them realize that the rest of you won't take anything they say seriously as long as they continue a habit of prevarication. There's no point in enabling one person to abuse the group's trust. – Andrew May 29 at 14:51
  • I see where you are going ( I totally agree ) and I still like this solution/answer. However I just wanted to let people know that this is a thin line which can be difficult to pull off correctly. When it didn't went smoothly, there can be a conflict/fight in the group. As another advice for others, something needs to be done! If you don't do something it will end like our group where nobody listens to anything that person says and even get's annoyed very easily, that creates a bad atmosphere for the group. – Nico Jun 3 at 5:47
  • @Nico I agree it's a fine line, but it's also a way to slowly isolate the person from the group until they either change their ways or they leave. Why would you want to hang out with someone who habitually lies? – Andrew Jun 3 at 13:57
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    Of course I don't want to hang out with such a person. I actually plan to try this method in a slighlty different form again, because the current state of our group isn't healthy at all and something needs to be done. Our friend was smart about it too but once we found it out, it became much more obvious, kinda fascinating tbh. Thanks for the nice input :) – Nico Jun 4 at 5:35

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