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Why Habitual-Liars Lie

Updated on May 15, 2014

The "Pinocchio Syndrome"


The early steps

When you were a small child, but knew a “bit” about right and wrong which including telling a lie and the truth?

And “that one time,” when your slightly-older brother talked you into helping him steal a few cookies while your mom was outside hanging laundry on her clothesline and when she walked into the kitchen and caught you, okay, I’ll use it, “With your hand in the cookie jar?”

Remember the two choices you had, tell a lie and not get a whipping or tell the truth and both you and your brother get a whipping? Plus “you” got a “bonus whipping” from your slightly-older brother (when your mom went back outside to finish hanging-out her laundry)?

Buddy, you lost no matter what choice you made. But now in your older years, wouldn’t you rather had told your mom the truth—and suffered a little, and felt more like a man, than doing what you did: “Lie like a dog,” to your mom telling her that your brother said he would beat you up if you didn’t steal the cookies?

At (that) time, it seemed like the right idea—“just” your brother getting the whipping, not you.

So, as my headline reads, “Why Habitual Liars Lie,” there are numerous reasons. I do not know them all. You do not know them all. We can only deal with what reasons we “do” know as to what makes an upstanding man, a “pillar of society,” a hard-worker, good husband, dad, and neighbor, tell a lie as “quick as a cat” climbing a tree to outrun an angry dog

Here are a few reasons I came up with as to . . . “Why Habitual Liars Lie”:

FEAR – ever since Adam said to God, “It was the woman you gave me who caused me to sin,” mankind, men, have had this hidden-fear of telling the truth. There are many reasons for this affliction, for lack of a better word:

  • Fear of losing a friend
  • Fear of being reprimanded
  • Fear of being punished (a childhood origin)
  • Fear of being thought less of by friends (pride)

Satan, "The father of lies," Jesus called him, exults over Eve
Satan, "The father of lies," Jesus called him, exults over Eve | Source
The ideal-icon of a liar
The ideal-icon of a liar | Source
Even older people tell lies
Even older people tell lies | Source
Pinocchio, when he lied, his nose grew
Pinocchio, when he lied, his nose grew | Source

INSECURITY- a man “has” to be secure in his sexual-performances (with wife) as well as his job-performance. Nothing hurts a man’s ego more than someone with one truth about a man that he fears will go public. Security is at the top of his “Priority List.”

BOOST PERSONAL STATION - in his life. He will many times “bend the truth,” when dealing with an important client, wife, or even a child to make himself look good and in-control. He fears that if the people in his life, coworkers included, know his weaknesses and flaws, he will be viewed as a “second-class citizen.”

HIDE GUILT – this has to be considered “the core reason” of why men lie. So what if he loses a big sale? Or so what if he isn’t the young buck he was when he married “the love of his life,” and had a seemingly-endless sexual appetite? Every failure marks a degree of guilt to men. Since he cannot blame anyone for these failures, he hides behind a guilt for getting older or being over-worked. But if he has resorted to finding sexual or just companionship with another woman, he will work harder to keep his guilt hid from his wife, family and coworkers than he works at his job. He will tell “white lies,” and justifies this weakness by convincing himself that “everyone tells ‘white lies,’” so I will just be safe if those around me do not know I am in a relationship with another woman.

TO BE CONSIDERED – for a big promotion. Being stuck, as he sees himself, in the same job for over ten years, is causing him to be “burned-out.” He has accomplished so much at his job that he feels the need to “fudge” as he says, the numbers on his account records and financial reports that really tell the higher-up’s if he is “the man for the job “ at the top. So maybe a few lies about a “phantom” client or two will not hurt and besides the big bosses will not “knit-pick,” at a few fictitious sales, so he creates a false environment that is believable just to be promoted.

TO LOOK BIG – to the woman he is dating. This may be a natural feeling and familiar energy for men to “boast” to the opposite sex, but it can also be dangerous. In many cases, habitual-liars or pathological-liars have confessed that a little boasting in the beginning of their long career as a liar is the reason they are without jobs, family, and respect for themselves.

TO COMPENSATE – for a childhood and teenage life that was full of parental-obsession, excessive-parental control, and several episodes of being humiliated by one or both parents to keep them “in line” and obedient. Telling lies is easy as drinking water to a man who has a lifetime riddled with childhood failures, needless scoldings and lack of trust by parents, their first exposure to an authority figure.

BEING LEFT-OUT – as a child, teenager or adult, from a game of tag or being invited to a classmate’s house for an after-school party. It hurts deeply to be “with” a class or with coworkers each day of your life but weekends, then find out later that those same classmates or coworkers threw a big “shindig” at someone’s house and suddenly you wonder, “Why wasn’t I invited?” Ahhh, maybe I wasn’t the only one. But you are hurt again, because you “were” the only one who wasn’t invited.

So time goes by and you evolve from a shunned high school and college student, then you are hired by a prestigious and reputable accounting firm with brand-new people and thank God, brand-new friends. Soon it is the holiday season which means company parties and parties at coworkers’ homes after hours.

Uh, oh! Same song. Same tune. You are not invited to any of these gala events although you are a “Blue Chip” employee.

Telling a few innocent lies to build yourself up is what you should have done in your schooldays. But you didn’t. You were just yourself no matter what. And being yourself at this new job has proven to give you the same hurtful, heart-breaking results: Being left-out of all of the social entities.

If the coworkers knew that “you,” were related to NFL-great, Joe Namath or maybe Bart Starr, things would be different. So you sit down to actually design a few believable lies to tell your coworkers so when the next holiday season rolls around, you will have to turn-down the party invitations.

MAKING MISTAKES – at home as a child. Or in school and definitely at work. All area’s are tender parts of a man’s growth. Parents, thanks to their pride, expect you to perform in certain ways, excel at chores, school work and later, sports. And with each area and your involvement come human-mistakes. Things you cannot help. So you, at an early age, lost a strategic 440 relay race that your dad, mom, brother, and coach would have bet money you would win. But you didn’t. You came in a close-second. Tears (of disappointment) were shed by your mom, dad, and what few friends who attended this track meet.

This dialogue is what followed:

  • YOUR DAD: “Dilbert, Jr., why did you do that?”
  • DILBERT, JR.: “Do what, sir?”
  • YOUR DAD: “Come in a lousy, loser-second place, that’s what!”
  • DILBERT, JR. : “Sir, it wasn’t my fault. I did my best, sir.”
  • YOUR DAD: “Well, why did you come in a poor second?”
  • DILBERT, JR.: “Uhhh, that guy, ‘Scotty Dill,’ cheated as we came into the last turn.”
  • YOUR DAD: “I figured as much.” “This was ‘your’ event.” “I’ll bring this to the coach’s attention.”
  • DILBERT, JR.: “No, please, sir. Don’t do that.”
  • YOUR DAD: “Dilbert, Jr., an act of unsportsmanship has been commited. I must report this to the coach and that’s final.”
  • DILBERT, JR.: “No, sir. I just want to be a graceful-loser, and you telling the coach, might get me thrown-off the track team for being a ‘snitch.’”
  • YOUR DAD: “Well, now you do have a point. Okay. But if it happens again, I am going to talk to the coach. He is a close-friend of mine.”

Two lies were told in this exchange.

“Dilbert, Jr.,” told his dad that “a” ‘Scotty Dill,’ cheated. You lied, but it kept you from more humiliation.

The dad threatening to tell the coach if it happened again. The dad doesn’t even know the coach.

The dad is where the son picked-up telling lies to avoid consequences that many times accompany telling the truth. So this young man’s ‘root’ of lying is traced back to his childhood.

The truth about “Dilbert, Jr.,” losing was he made a mis-step, stumbling, allowing the other kid to get ahead of him on the last turn.

SAVES HIM FROM INVOLVMENT - when certain men were children, they were shy. So shy that it was like a disease, but their parents leaned on the old adage, “He will grow out of it,” and left the shy kid alone.

The shyness grew over the years of his schooling. But so did telling lies. Example: When his class was doing a Christmas program and he was asked by his teacher to do a part, he instantly lied because his mind saw an image of him stuttering, messing-up and getting laughed-at on stage. His lie was that his mom and dad needed him at home everyday to help with household chores. This lie worked. And he was free of the pressure of being in the class program.

This man’s telling lies went with him to:

  1. Everywhere he worked. He never accepted a promotion because he saw himself screwing-up the projects that were given to him.
  2. In his social life – he remained single throughout his life for he could not handle the task of asking a pretty girl out on a date, much less ask her to marry him, so he remained content to be shy and when applicable, prepared to tell a quick-lie to keep him out of sticky-situations.

TRUTH IS NOT – as glamorous to the ones listening to a habitual-liar. He or she not only thinks, but believes that “his” or “her” background is so less than average that they shouldn’t be working at a certain company, dating a certain person or trying out for some activity. So the habitual-liar learns to rely on “lies mixed with enough reality,” to convince the person listening that the habitual-liar is being honest.

But there is a “Ray of hope,” for people, men or women, who have a problem telling lies. With the right professional help, maybe a psychiatrist or therapist, a person can be led back to where their lying started. And why.

Some area’s of professional help can give a habitual-liar the tools they need to help them face the truth and be able to tell the truth.

“Self-Healing,” mostly is a waste of time because the person “knows” that at any time, they can always fall-back on the shroud of lies that will keep them in their “safe place.”

If professional help or therapy is the answer to “habitual lying,” it will not be an “easy-fix,” with one or two sessions. This will take time for the therapist or psychiatrist to unravel the habitual-liar’s complete background and prepare them to face certain painful truths that they have ran from or covered with lies over the years to just live a quiet, obscure lifestyle.

But if the “habitual liar,” admits to themselves that they do “have a problem,” that is the first difficult step to a road of possible-recovery and a healthy life.

Would you buy a used-car from him?



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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Thank you for taking time to comment on this hub. Your comments make my efforts worthwhile.

      May God above bless your life richly.


    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 

      4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      You really hit the nail in the head with this one. All to the point on why liars lie. Fear tops it all. The strange thing is, one never had to teach one to lie. Even a two year old, because of fear would lie in a second. It's the Adamic nature in all of us. It rears its ugly head every time.

      Enjoyed your post. Voted up and wonderful.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Wow, savvydating,

      This is so amazing, your comment that you left me. I am so, so thankful that you read this and left such a warm and encouraging comment.

      I too, won't lie, no pun, to you. I am sorry that you had to part ways with this guy you were talking about.

      Turns out, I tried to date a female liar who was basically the same way as your "Ex."

      My "Ex" worked hard, did great work, was so attractive, but the trouble started with I made two dates with her and she and her mom "had" to go somewhere, she said.

      Well, the old, "are there telephones near you?" came into play, but I figured if she does this now, what if this relationship goes further? I just couldn't bear being married to a liar. I am very old-fashioned I guess, but breaking ties with this girl gave me some much-needed peace of mind.

      Thanks again for the read, comment, vote, and the follow. I appreciate it all so much.


    • savvydating profile image


      4 years ago

      I once dated a liar. He couldn't tell the truth to save his life. Why date him, one may ask? In his case, lying didn't seem too make much difference in the (beginning of the) relationship... in that he was reliable, loving, had great credit (which was a big deal to him), and had an excellent work ethic. Mostly, he was so crazy over me that I found him hard to resist.

      But whenever I'd ask him a question, I'd notice a weird expression come over his face and then he would make something up. He once told me that his father "wasn't cool" which brought to mind your Dad/Dilbert dialogue. His father wanted him to be the best sharp shooter ever. Coming in second was not an option. Anyway, your story "rang a bell" for me. I wish this guy had sought professional help for his own sake. Anyway, after awhile, the lying got old and we parted ways. So the moral of my story is that eventually one's lies catch will up with a person, even if they don't seem to make a big difference in the beginning.

      This is a wonderful read. I truly enjoyed it. Voting useful & interesting.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Do not worry, Jodah. Your secret, whatever it is, is safe with me. If you return to Antarctica, swing by where I live, in a castle in my hometown, and take me with you. Thanks for your comment.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Oh, I feel my nose

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      I am so sorry for the frost bite. Just bite it back. LOL. Thank you for your wonderful remarks.

      Antarctica? Wow. I envy that. You surely have a great life.

      Visit with me again.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Kenneth, sorry it has taken me so long to get around to reading and commenting on this great hub, but I have been on a scientific expedition to Antarctica to study the mating habits of the leopard only just arrived back Love this hub by the way...I think I got a touch of frost bite on my nose.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dearest Catgypsy,

      You are right. There are times when someone's feelings are at stake, and if we are put in the corner with no way out, sure, a bending of the words is acceptable and people who say, "I wouldn't lie to say my life," well friend, you haven't been faced with that encounter, so do not say things that might bite you later.

      Sorry for the rant, Catgypsy. I got carried away.

      Thank you for the comment.

      Kiss your little ones for me.

      Love, Kenneth

    • catgypsy profile image


      4 years ago from the South

      Great list of reasons why people lie. I hate liars and can't understand how they live with themselves.

      The only time I've lied is when it didn't matter and to save someone's feelings. Like if a friend got her hair cut and it looked awful, I would tell her it looked cute or something. I might try to tell her down the line that I liked her hair better another way so she might not keep the wacky hairdo, but why tell her it looks terrible and hurt her feelings. I guess you could call those white lies.

      Interesting hub, Kenneth!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, dear DzyMsLizzy,

      I tend to "fudge" in a diplomatic kind of way to keep down friction among grandchildren, but I do not cater to just telling huge, harmful lies.

      I like honest. I like YOU.

      Thanks for being one of my first followers. I am so glad to remember that.

      Have a safe weekend.


    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      4 years ago from Oakley, CA second cousin, the 'black sheep' of the family, it was said could not tell the truth if his very life depended upon doing so!

      I think most of us are guilty of at least 'fudging' the truth from time to time; I've done it myself..but for the most part, I'm too honest for my own damned good. LOL People don't like it when you point out the truth. ;) :(

      Voted up and interesting

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, sheilamyers,

      Low self-esteem, no confidence, and being smothered as a child, I think, lend to the habitual liar and what I did lately was catch a liar in his own lies and he lied about lying. That is pathetic.

      He was renting a house from my wife and I, and lied about what he could fix, so to give him a break, she was taking off of the rent what eh fixed on the house--turns out, he is not what he said.

      But a drunk and drug abuser.

      Long story short. When he called a week ago, he did a great song and dance about, get this, "accidentally" getting locked-up in a state near Alabama.

      I asked him how can you accidentally get drunk, get a D.U.I. and other charges and it angered him. He gives new meaning to the word denial.

      Thanks everyone for the comments.



    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, CrisSp,

      You are right too. I appreciate your input and comments made of this hub. It is the honesty and positive comments that keep me floating.

      And you three are honest and positive. And good writers.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, MizBeJabbers,

      My dear friend, thank you from the heart, for your lovely comment. Yes, I had try to draw from "those: white lies like you said. (e.g. Girlfriend: Hun, does this hat make my butt look big? Boyfriend; Are you serious? No!

      Sure it does, he thinks, but if he is indiscreet, so long girlfriend. Right?

      And I love pot roast and if you ever cook one I know that it will be fine.

      Thanks for your intelligent remarks.

      Love, Kenneth

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I know this can apply to both men and women and I learned something new because I didn't know there were actually so many different reasons that would cause someone to become a habitual liar. I understand some people get to the point they can't control their lying, but those who can yet still do it really face a bigger problem - it's going to be worse for them once other people find out they lied about something.

    • CrisSp profile image


      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Pathological liars are hard to beat because they believed their own lies and that is very sad. I personally know some people who belong to this category, they actually are good in creating their own dramas in life. Sometime back though, they inspired me to hub about them -The Catfish and Disguised as an Angel. My best bet is to stay away from them.

      Good hub. Voting up and passing it along.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      4 years ago from Beautiful South

      There is a big difference between telling a little white lie to CYA and habitual lying. An example of a little white lie would be to tell your mother-in-law that her roast was delicious when she had used too much pepper and it brought tears to your eyes. The cause of habitual lying boils down to low self-esteem, regardless of the cause. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy to fix because as time goes on, the habitual liar actually forgets the truth and believes his own lies. When the person is convinced that he or she is then telling the truth, there is little chance of getting them to seek professional help.

      When I was a kid, we could pick out the habitual liars from among our peers. We had an old saying about them: “He’d rather climb a tree and tell a lie than to stand on the ground and tell the truth.” Good analysis and well written, Kenneth, but you always write beautifully. Voted up++


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