How to Tell if Your Partner Is a Chronic Liar

What characterizes a chronic liar? What are the most common strategies they use so as not to be caught out? What are the consequences of having a a partner who manifests this tendency? In this article, we tell you.
How to Tell if Your Partner Is a Chronic Liar
Ebiezer López

Written and verified by the psychologist Ebiezer López.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

We all lie. To our friends, parents, partners, and, of course, strangers. However, telling a lie once in a while is different from continually lying. In this article, we’ll give you some tips to find out if your partner is a chronic liar.

Someone who lies constantly is capable of creating a whole fictitious life in front of others. In addition, they do it in a thorough way, so it can be difficult to discover the deception. However, with the recommendations that we’ll share here, it should become easier for you.

What are chronic liars like?

A chronic liar is a person who continually deceives the people around them. For example, in the famous Netflix series, Elite, the character of Cayetana exhibits the typical behavior of a chronic liar. Throughout several episodes, she makes her classmates believe that she’s a wealthy girl with a fabulous life. She even manages to get them to give her money, until they finally discover the truth.

De Roos and Jones (2022) conducted research on the deception theory of mimicry. According to their work, the behavior of the chronic liar is made up of four fundamental dimensions. Knowing them can be key to knowing if your partner is a chronic liar.

Woman suspicious of the conversation with her partner
The lies of chronic liars are often well crafted to get what they want.

1. Integration with the environment

In order for people to believe what you say, you first need to gain their trust. This is something that chronic liars know and it’s a marked trait in their nature.

They understand that to start with, they must be transparent in order to gain the trust of others. This makes it easier for them to lie, and less likely that suspicions will arise.

2. Elaborate hoaxes

Another outstanding feature is that their lies are well crafted. Returning to the example of Cayetana, she not only claimed that her family was wealthy. She also had an Instagram account with photos of her in a huge house (where she really just worked). Also, she wore designer clothes, even though she had no money to pay for them.

As you can see, chronic liars don’t just tell simple lies. In fact, their deceptions are elaborate. They approach all the elements of their lies extremely carefully so that it’s more difficult for others to discover the truth.

3. Obtaining benefits

If you want to know if your partner is a chronic liar, consider the benefits they get from you or others. Indeed, chronic liars take advantage of others, using them as a means to achieve their goals.

In Elite, Cayetana used to say things like her credit card was worn out from being used so much so her friends would pay.

4. Detection

The last dimension refers to all the measures that the liar takes to avoid being discovered. For instance, someone may notice an inconsistency in their story and question it. Faced with this situation, they’ll probably create a new lie to cover up their mistake.

How to tell if your partner is a chronic liar

The kinds of behaviors we mentioned earlier are particular traits in the behavior of chronic liars. If you suspect that your partner is a chronic liar, you should observe if they exhibit any of them. There are also techniques that can help you expose the weak points in their stories.

However, bear in mind that these aren’t foolproof tricks for detecting lies. Nevertheless, they can help you observe if there’s any suspicious kind of attitude that could indicate deception.

1. Use the element of surprise to your advantage

Chronic liars are used to people believing the things they say without much question. That’s because their lies are complex, they’ve earned the trust of others, and they’re extremely comfortable telling stories. On the other hand, cheating requires a certain degree of mental energy and you can use the element of surprise to overload their brain.

Blandón-Gitlin et al. (2014) published a study on cognitive load in lie detection. In order to overload the liar’s mind, you can use techniques such as asking them confusing and unexpected questions. For example, if they’re talking about a supposed trip to Europe, you can surprise them and ask them unexpectedly about their family.

Another way to tell if your partner is a chronic liar is to ask them to recount an event going back in time. This means you ensure that their cognitive load is greater. Therefore, they lose the confidence they usually have when telling pre-prepared lies.

2. Ask open questions

Open questions are a good resource for detecting lies because they force people to expand their stories. For instance, instead of asking them about something specific from their past, you could ask them to tell you about their childhood. If they’re going to lie, they’ll have to make up information on the spot. This might make them nervous.

3. Pay attention to the little details

In every story, there are small details that can be checked for inconsistencies. For example, they may inadvertently have told you that they went to the beach in a season when there were heavy storms. Nevertheless, instead of correcting them, you should let them continue building their story. It means you’ll have the opportunity to detect even more inconsistencies.

Man talking to his partner
The stories chronic liars tell are often sloppy and the details are inconsistent.

4. Pay attention to their confidence when they’re speaking

If you suspect your partner of being a chronic liar, it’s best not to directly confront them. Ideally, you should set the mood for a casual conversation and use the above techniques to get them out of their comfort zone. As you do this, you may notice that they become less confident or even evasive when they respond to you.

In fact, they might want to end the conversation by saying they’re feeling bad or uncomfortable. It might mean that they’re feeling overwhelmed and are unable to prolong their lies or share new ones.

To close, as we mentioned earlier, these aren’t infallible tricks for uncovering deception. In fact, they’re simply a set of techniques you can employ to give you insight into another’s dishonesty.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Blandón-Gitlin, I., Fenn, E., Masip, J., & Yoo, A. H. (2014). Cognitive-load approaches to detect deception: searching for cognitive mechanisms. Trends in cognitive sciences, 18(9), 441-444.
  • de Roos, M. S., & Jones, D. N. (2022). Assessing Deception Differences with Mimicry Deception Theory. Journal of Personality Assessment, 104(1), 44-56.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.