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Scenario

When it comes to certain family matters, one of my cousins always lies to my mom. It could be from a simple occasion like where the family had gone for a vacation or a more serious one like when a family member was admitted to a hospital.

My mom does know that he is lying but doesn't say anything in return. She just listens to it but later cribs about it to me, something on lines of, 'Look at the way he is lying to me', 'He did not have to lie to me yet he is.'

All said, my cousin is good to me. There is always mutual help.

Problem and Expected Result

I do not want him to lie to my mom anymore. I understand that it is really not in my hands but atleast he should be aware that he is lying and my mom is not happy about it.

Possible Solution

I want my mom to tell him, in a serious tone, for once, 'You don't have to tell me the truth; atleast do not lie to me'.

What are the other possible solutions to this? This is what I want, he should think twice before lying to my mom.

  • You don't mention that he lies to anyone other than your mother. Does he? If not, could it be because of how your mother responds to the truth? If the news is not what she wants to hear, does her response make him sorry that he told her the truth? – Francine DeGrood Taylor Oct 25 '18 at 16:40
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Some people love to lie and can't help themselves to lie over pretty much anything. I had a friend like this that constantly made both big and little lies. At first it was lies about small stuff like what he did over the weekend or people he had hooked up with, but it turned into bigger lies about family members having cancer and so on. I sat down with him and told him that I knew he was lying and it was incredibly hurtful because I was worried for him and his family.

He conceded that it felt good to lie, and he apologized profusely. In the past couple of years when we have spoken, he hasn't (as far as I know or found out) lied to me.

You could talk to your cousin in private and let him know that you and your mom knows that he is lying, and ask why he keeps lying; ask him to please be truthful so it wont continue to harm his relationship with the two of you. Either he acknowledges the fact and tries to improve, or he gets defensive and continues to lie in which case I would accept that he is a pathological liar that cant be trusted, while keeping conversation to a minimum.

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What are the other possible solutions to this? This is what I want, he should think twice before lying to my mom.

First of all - it is commendable that you want to help your cousin do better - so props for that.

Well, let's assume your cousin is a reasonable and decent person. Also, it does not sound like there is a financial and personal gain motive. So I would think this is not deceit or dishonestly from his side.

Why would he be lying to your mother in that case?

So, there are several reasons people lie like this. For example when I was younger I'd lie a lot because I was insecure about things in my life - my job, my friends, my relationships, where I'd go on vacation etc.

It is possible that he is lying because he wants to leave a positive impression on your mother because he feels her love for him depends on him being more impressive than he really is.

I think most of the reasons of why people lie without hoping to gain something is because they feel like without the lies they are not good enough or not worthy of the love or attention of the people around them.

Work on a feeling of safety

I would recommend pretty much the opposite of 'You don't have to tell me the truth; at least do not lie to me'. Your mother has good intuition for not calling him out on it directly - at least not until there is trust.

I would try the opposite in your mother's behalf. I would consider both you and your mother telling your cousin:

I love you no matter what. You are our family and we care a lot about you.

Followed by:

We love you both when you are doing great and when you are not doing great. Our love for you does not depend on how you are feeling. If you ever feel sad or angry we promise not to judge you based on that and you are always welcome to talk to us.

Then follow up by actually doing that and accepting them for exactly who they are. You can (and should) offer them ways to improve their life but do not attempt to change them - people typically change when they want to.

I would not bring the lying up - instead I would focus on being more approachable and accepting to that person so they feel better about bringing it up.

Once there is sufficient trust in the relationship I would call up the lies in a way that lets them save face. Rather than "Don't lie". For example:

Is that an accurate representation of what you did or are you exaggerating for story telling purposes?

This gives them an avenue of saying that they tried to make better conversation rather than try to deceive you or your mother.

You can follow up with:

We love your stories when they say what accurately happened to you. We accept you just the way you are.

Repeat this and be supportive and non-judgmental until it sinks :)

Of course, I think there is great value in doing therapy together and talking to a professional therapist. I warmly recommend giving it a shot.

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First off I like it that you try to change the situation and that apparently you have a good relationship to your cousin.

All said, my cousin is good to me. There is always mutual help.

It's a good starting point for you. I deal with people on a daily basis - yes, I live (just joking). I mean I train and coach people. So here are some ideas what you can do.

Changing other People

Sorry, I have to take that away from you. You can't change people. That has never worked. The other person has to decide for themselves. I've worked with people who resist and you don't stand a chance - even though you know what you're doing.

What you can do is change yourself and/or your behaviour. This will for sure affect all the people around you. Also it's waayyy easier, since you want to change.

  • When have you noticed that changing you changed your cousin?
  • What can you change now?

Best Option

I think it's great that you see the good intent in his action. Whatever people do to people they like or love, it's coming from a good place. There's a Indian saying "You can only judge someone, if you walked in their shoes."

In your case: Maybe he wants to protect your mom from the all the bad things that happen because she can't change it anyway. He feels like it would hurt her somehow. Yeah a better option would be saying nothing. There's a chance he's trained by his social environment that this is the way to go.

Whatever the case. Unless you know the answer there's no reason to feel like you're feeling right now. These bad emotions are not helping you to solve this. Good emotions though will make you feel better until you have your answers.

What good intent could your cousin have to lie at this point? ;)

You're What You Say

That's a simple one: Language affects us on a subconscious level. So if you take with your mom how shitty the situation is - how does that both make you feel? Does that change the situation in any way?

What people love to do is talk about the issue with everyone else besides the other person who really is the involved party.

Would it make a difference to stop talking about it until you solved the issue?

Questions are Powerful

This one was a real eye opener to me. Asking the right questions makes a difference in the conversations you have.

Let me give you an example: Usually when you have a conversion it goes like this.

You: "Hi, how are you?"

Other: "Good. You?"

...

You: "That sound's great. I've seen him lately.."

Other: "Really. I have.."

...

Normally you don't think about what kind of questions you can ask rather than telling something of your own. Here's the point though: if you want to change a persons perspective you have let them decide for themselves. With questions you change the focus of a person and let them find their own solutions. Have you noticed that I'm not advising you rather than asking questions?

Some examples for good questions:

  • Never ask the WHY Questions (goes to the past). The only thing you'll get, is a defensive justification.
  • Open questions like: What are you trying to accomplish with the lying (please be fair at this point since you don't know his intention)? How does that help your relationship my mom?

Which one of these feel good to you? What other questions could you come up with to let him reflect?

Circular Questions (Advanced)

This takes some practice and is a good technique. What you basically do is ask the following:

Imagine you're my mom and have her feelings. How would it make you feel to be lied to? Would you want other people to lie to you?

For your cousin to change he has to decide for himself that he wants to change something. This only works if he feels how your mom feels about it. It's important that you yourself feel relaxed when you have this conversation. Emotions are infectious. If you're angry, he'll be angry soon enough.

What kind of circular questions (change of perspective) can you ask him that you think will work?

I hope this helps somehow. Feel free to ask any questions :)

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First things first: Your mom is an adult. If she found your cousin being untruthful to be more than a minor concern, she has a lifetime of tools at her disposal that she can employ to change that situation whenever she chooses to use. For whatever reason, she has decided not to do so and she is willing to tolerate your cousin's attempts to deceive her. That doesn't concern you personally as again she's an adult and capable of making her own decisions.

If you are really concerned about your cousin's deceit, then take him to lunch or dinner somewhere and ask him about it in a non-judgmental way. He may get embarrassed or even slightly angry; but unless he is suffering from a serious mental or emotional illness, he'll see that you have "caught" him and that he needs to change his tactics with you. Let him know that you love him and that you support him, but that you REALLY need him to be honest with you as it makes it difficult for you to trust him when he isn't. Again, if he's stable mentally (except for the deceit) this conversation should end with the two of you becoming closer.

If he isn't mentally stable, then perhaps you might consider having a conversation with those close to him. If they don't suffer the same or similar problems, then they know how he is and they too might be interested in getting him help. Don't be mean or judgmental; simply point out that your cousin "likes to tell stories" and that you are concerned about this. Leave your mother out of this as,, again, she has the tools to handle herself and bringing her into things "muddies"the waters.

Your mother isn't a child. She know's how your cousin is and she is choosing to accept him as he is or in hopes that he will change. Unless his actions present some kind fo danger to her, then your best bet is to work on your relationship with your cousin and allow your mother to handle her own relationship with him.

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