If you’ve been exposed to narcissists for any amount of time, you’ve no doubt also been lied to, cheated, duped, tricked, swindled and deceived in a litany of ways. Indeed, there were times when the truth would have made more sense but the narcissist stuck ardently to his or her lies even after being fronted. And you were left scratching your head and wondering why any person would prefer lying over the truth, even to their own detriment.
I’ve broken down the reasons into three categories
1. “Everyone Lies.”
I cringe even when typing this because it was a phrase I heard often when still married to my narcissistic ex. He never used this excuse when being caught in a lie of his own (he would fight to death denying his own lies), but rather, when some other narcissist was caught in a lie, he would use it in a way to invalidate the victim’s righteous anger over it. Protecting his ilk, if you will.
For instance, if I were to complain about someone using my credit card to commit fraud, the ex would get a worried look and his face would get a little bit twisted and he would say, in a RARE display of empathy, that “Everyone lies.” And then he would give me the tired example of how I often would tell a friend that they did not look fat when in fact, they did look fat.
ALWAYS, this was the example he used to justify narcissistic behaviors.
So for example, if Tammy (fictional person) asks me if these jeans make her butt look fat, I am to say, honestly, “No, Tammy. Your butt makes your butt look fat.” Because, despite me not judging Tammy on how her butt looks, and me thinking that Tammy should not feel bad about how she looks, being honest in all instances, is somehow the same thing as instigating a Ponzi Scheme or cheating on a spouse.
And in case you need clarification, telling a white lie to boost someone’s self esteem is not even close to the same thing as lying for the purpose of harming another person’s self esteem (which is what narcissists do). In fact, it is the complete opposite.
And despite what narcissists believe, not everyone lies.
You do YOU, Tammy. You do you.
2. Narcissists are Winners.
What? You didn’t realize you were competing? That’s because narcissists live in a very black and white world where there is a finite source of narcissistic supply that must be gained in all or nothing quantities. In the narcissist’s world, EVERYONE is in competition for this imaginary prize whether you realize it or not. Only the narcissists very existence of his or her False Self hangs in the balance of stealing these resources from other people, whereas normal, healthy individuals go about living their lives. The narcissist cannot comprehend that you are not competing for this imaginary prize.
In this imaginary game, there can only be one winner and everyone else must be losers. So when the narcissist is feeling depleted of self esteem (which is most of the time), the narcissist will lie to tell a lie, and if you are the person being lied to, you are automatically the Loser in this game you were not aware you were playing. The fact that the narcissist knows the truth and you believe a lie to be true, means that you were duped. Game, Set, Match goes to narcissist.
3. Narcissists are Self Deluded
One of the key characteristics of being a narcissist is having created a False Self to hide behind and eventually become, because the narcissist feels such shame and disgust for his or her True Self. The False Self is created by weaving webs and webs of lies told to either exaggerate and embellish the narcissist’s achievements, or to minimize and marginalize the achievements of others, so that the narcissist’s False Self can feel superior to those people around her/him. In other words, the narcissist creates a false persona that is the complete opposite of his/her True Self.
Eventually the narcissist is no longer able to discern between truth and lies because his or her entire being is a lie. Does the narcissist know the difference? Perhaps at the first telling. Does the narcissist feel any guilt for lying? No, because in order to feel guilt, one most possess Empathy, and since the narcissist lacks the ability or care to put him/herself into his victim’s shoes, his lies only matter when they result in some sort of natural consequence for the narcissist, like prison (i.e., Bernie Madoff).
I’ve known narcissists who confused themselves with fictional television characters, or accomplished musicians or athletes. And to point this out to them resulted in becoming the recipient of Narcissistic Rage. Because to bring a narcissist face to face with their True Self is a terror they cannot bear.