Pinocchio -- but the biggest liar you know may be you!

The Biggest Liar You Know….and Believe!

Most of us think we are too smart to fall for liars, but all of us, from time to time, fall for them anyway.

Really, who, at some time or another, has not believed a lie, only to wonder later how we possibly could have fallen for it?

I think I’m reasonably smart—far from brilliant, but far from the biggest dummy in town.  Hmm, let’s see what lies I have fallen for.

There was the verbal job offer that I told my employer at the time about and that later failed to materialize as a real, written offer. The experience left me with serious egg all over my face.

There was the time my father promised to pay for all my college expenses and I was saved only by getting major financial aid through a National Merit Scholarship.

Then there was a romantic partner who told so many lies I couldn’t even begin to cover them in one blogpost, or two, three, or four blogposts for that matter. And that was after I started studying love, so I should have known better.

Look, we’ve all been through lying of one kind of another, experiences that have made us vigilant to the possibility we have been lied to.

Indeed, evolutionarily, we must have some vigilance against lying, or we would have been extinguished by natural selection!

Who is the biggest liar of them all?

That biggest liar of them all is -- you!

There is one liar against whom we are almost defenseless—whom we routinely believe, no matter how big the lie is.  That is, of course, ourselves!

The reasons you lie to yourself

Why would we want to lie to ourselves?  Well, actually, there are lots of reasons.

But in love, there are three main ones.

1. You know that relationship isn't good for you

We may lie to ourselves when we want to get into a relationship we know we really should not get into.  Remember, there are three components of love: intimacy, passion, and commitment.

For many people, passion rules.  And it rules with an iron fist.

If you fall for a person head over heels, you are not going to let little details bother you—like the fact that you cannot have a decent conversation, like the fact that you have practically nothing in common, like the fact that you can’t really imagine how you are going to introduce this person to your friends.

Love is based on stories.  And guess who makes up those stories?

You guessed it: You do.  And stories do not have to correspond to facts.

As we all know, stories are stories, true or false.

When you look at the outrageous conspiracies people fall for—fantastic stories that make no sense at all—is it a stretch to imagine that we will believe our own stories if we are prone to believe the sometimes-ridiculous stories other people tell?

Even if we don’t believe other people’s ridiculous stories, all of us at times believe our own ridiculous stories.

Someone who has fallen for someone else often may view facts as secondary.  The one thing they know is that they are in love. The rest they don’t know or doesn’t matter.

2. You are committed to keeping that failing relationship going

We may lie to ourselves to keep a failing relationship going.

Often, we have invested so much in a relationship—time, money, years, effort, love, possessions, credibility, on and on—that the thought that the relationship has become part of the wreckage left over from better times is just a thought we cannot get ourselves to accept, or perhaps even to think about. We feel fully committed.

Such lying to ourselves may even be partially conscious.

We may know, at some level, that we are engaged in some fancy footwork of self-deception to keep a relationship going.

What affair?  What abuse? What missing money or property?  What demeaning comments?

But we do it anyway in the hope that, somehow, things will be tolerable or, miraculously, even may improve.

3. You believe in intimacy when it isn't there

We may lie to ourselves and believe that we have deep intimacy with someone who is shallow and not worth even five minutes of our time.

How does that happen?  The story we have  with them encourages us to believe there is intimacy when there is not.

For example, in a mystery story, one partner is always try to find the deeper layer of intrigue and meaning in the other person.

We hope they are an “artichoke,” with a core that is worth discovering.

But sometimes they are an onion. You peel away the layers, and there is no core underneath those layers.

The solution turns out to be the discovery that there is no mystery.

Or our partner may create with us a travel story that seems to be leading somewhere when, in fact, it is leading nowhere.

We talk and talk about a future that never will exist and perhaps never had any chance of existing.

Or we may create a fairytale (fantasy) story that, like a fairytale, exists only in our heads.

In each case, we believe we are creating intimacy, when all we are creating is a myth of intimacy that we convince ourselves to believe is true.

How can you tell when you're lying to yourself?

How do you know what is real and what is a self-created fake—a lie we tell ourselves?  There is no way to know for sure.  But here are three steps you can take to help remove the mist from in front of your eyes.

1. Talk to a friend or two whom you really trust

What do they think?

Others often see things we do not see or do not want to see.

Tell the friend you need the truth.  They should not spare your feelings.

If you can get them to talk, you may learn something. The friend may or may not be right, but they may at least give you food for thought.

2. Do some background checking

Try to find out about your partner just by asking them.

But for most potential partners, you also can find out a lot just by consulting Google or social media.

There are even services that dig for information, but I’m not recommending those.  Unless you have serious doubts—is this person possibly a criminal, an impostor, an utter fraud?—you probably can find out by yourself what you need to know .

3. Talk to… yourself

Sit down with a piece of paper or a computer.  Write down what you know. Go beyond what you think you know.

What do you know you know?  How do you know it?  If you are not sure, how can you find out?

Are there things that don't make sense, or that give you pause?

4. Listen to...  yourself

Oftentimes, what is more important and turns out to be more useful than any cognitive analysis you can do is to listen to your gut feeling.

Our instincts sometimes tend to pick up more than we may want to admit.


Remember, if you are looking for liars, look out first for #1: You!

If you do that, you’ll be in an even better position to spot when others lie to you!

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top