Someone I am close to is repeatedly being untruthful towards me, in the sense that they are "making up" events, usually for the sake of empathy.
The first instance where I noticed they were being untruthful was when we were both in a mostly empty tram, just two other people somewhat close to us, who were talking about a concert they had both attended. After we left the tram, my friend insisted that one of the two strangers was mocking them. I asked them to clarify, and they said they were mocking their height, their hair, their looks in general. I asked in what way, and they just repeated that one of the strangers mocked them. I said no such thing happened, that the strangers were talking about a concert, but my friend insisted that they were being mocked. They also reacted very poorly through me not believing the supposed transgression, saying that I implied they were lying or "being a liar".
Further such instances happened, where my friend claimed a stranger had accosted or mocked them. The claims of what supposedly happened ranged from a somewhat believable "Someone looked at me weird. I'm sure he found me ugly." to an obviously fabricated story where countless random strangers pointed at them and laughed at them.
The most damning evidence that my friend's claims were false was that they refused to give any detail about the supposed incident. They couldn't recall what someone supposedly said, only how it made them feel. They couldn't recall the order of events, only that it ended with them being a victim.
I don't want to say my friend is lying about these events, because I believe they genuinely believe these things happened. I've done some research into this kind behavior and I believe it is a possibility that my friend may be suffering from a mental disorder. I'm not a psychologist, so I'm certainly not equipped with diagnosing someone, but I believe them talking to a psychologist may be beneficial. However, when I brought these things up, my friend reacted very poorly, claiming that I was accusing them of "being insane".
- My friend repeatedly claimed that random strangers accosted or mocked them.
- These claims are either false or boldly exaggerated.
- Saying that I don't believe her causes a very strong negative reaction.
- I believe they may be suffering from a mental condition.
- My friend gets very upset when I suggest that that may be the case.
What specifically can I do to support them and to navigate our friendship? I don't want to agree with them, because the claims are obviously fabricated. Further, I believe that agreeing with my friend would only cause these feelings to amplify, because they lead to a positive response.
At the same time, disagreeing becomes increasingly harder. They claim I accuse them of being a liar, that I don't care about their feelings, etc.
I tried to navigate around the issue by talking about something else instead, but at times my friend insisted, which lead to them becoming upset again.
What can I do to support this friend without agreeing to their false claims and without damaging the relationship?