How can you tell a narcissist is lying to you?

Narcissists are a manipulative and charming bunch, so their stories often seem believable. Despite this fact, the truth is that narcissists will lie.

They feel entitled to lie to you if it gets them what they want, and they’ll do a great job of convincing you that what they’re saying is true. They’ll also feel little to no remorse for being dishonest, because they lack empathy.

So, if you’re dealing with a narcissist, you must be prepared to spot their lies. This protects you from falling victim to their manipulative games. 

Ways to detect lies from a narcissist

Narcissists tend to believe that they’re smarter than everyone around them, so they think you’ll never catch them in a lie. Lucky for you, there are ways to outsmart a narcissist.

Despite their charming ways, you can see through their lies if you pay close attention. Look for the signs below. 

Vague information

Narcissists believe they’re superior to you, so they think you’ll never be smart enough to catch them in a lie.

This means they think they can get away with giving you limited, surface level information, and you’ll never even question them. 

Narcissists won’t waste time crafting a detailed story when they lie. Instead, they’ll give you vague information, hoping you’ll simply take it at face value and believe them.

If their statements lack specific details that can be either verified or disproven, you can be pretty sure they’re lying. 

Inconsistencies

Despite believing they’re smarter than everyone around them, narcissists don’t always cover all their tracks.

When they’re lying, you are likely to find some inconsistencies in their story. They will provide conflicting information, or the story will shift over time.

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For instance, if they initially tell you they spent the night at a work event, the story might later shift to them being out with a roommate from college.

This is a red flag that something else is actually going on, and they aren’t being entirely truthful. 

Extreme exaggeration

Narcissists are quite grandiose and need to assert themselves as superior to others. Sometimes, they will exaggerate their own accomplishments to appear as if they are above others.

If their statements seem especially grandiose, they may lie to try to get attention and appear superior. Some examples might include claiming to earn extreme amounts of money or accomplishing nearly impossible feats.

Body language

This is true of most people, but it also applies to narcissists. People generally show signs of lying in their body language.

For example, they will begin to fidget or avoid eye contact when they’re not being truthful. If a narcissist is giving vague information, and their body language also seems off, you can be pretty sure they’re not being truthful. 

Defensiveness when caught

No one likes to be caught in a lie, but narcissists are especially uncomfortable when someone realizes they’re being dishonest.

Admitting to lying means coming face-to-face with the fact that they’re imperfect, and narcissists cannot do this. Their egos simply cannot handle it. 

So, if you confront them about lying, they’ll become incredibly defensive. They may even lash out in anger to defend themselves, because the accusation so wounds their egos.

Immediate blame-shifting

When you expect a narcissist might be lying, try questioning them. Subtly suggest that what they’re saying just isn’t adding up, and watch how quickly they shift the blame onto you.

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Blame-shifting takes the focus off the narcissist and puts it on you. This allows the narcissist to avoid taking accountability for their dishonesty. 

Perhaps they tell you they didn’t take money from your account for spending. When you find out they actually did take the money, they might try to convince you that they’d never have to take money behind your back if you’d simply be more generous. 

The narcissist is likely to tattle on themselves and then quickly blame-shift if they can sniff out that you’re onto them. 

Gaslighting behavior

If you think the narcissist might be lying, and you’re on the brink of catching them in the act, you can expect some gaslighting behavior.


Narcissists use gaslighting as a manipulative tactic to make others feel “crazy.” They hope that you will begin to question your perception of reality, rather than recognizing that the narcissist is in the wrong.

So, if they think you’re onto them, they’ll begin to gaslight you. They might accuse you of being overly paranoid, or they’ll state that you’re remembering things incorrectly.

Use of deflection 

When narcissists are in the wrong, they love to use deflection to take the spotlight off of their misbehavior. So, when they lie about a certain subject, they will do anything to avoid discussing it.

For instance, if they’re lying about where they’ve been, they will deflect from this topic of conversation at all costs. They may change the subject, ignore your questions, or perhaps change the topic of conversation to one of your flaws. 

The bottom line is that if they’re avoiding a topic of discussion like the plague, they’re probably lying about something.

Ability to disprove their claims

Of course, if you can disprove what the narcissist is saying, you know they’re lying. Any statement that is inconsistent with facts you already have is sure to be a lie, especially coming from a narcissist. 

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Do you have facts to support that the narcissist is lying? If so, trust yourself, and go with your gut.

Should you confront them?

So, you’re pretty sure the narcissist is being dishonest. Should you confront them about their lie?

It depends on what your goal is. Don’t hold your breath if you’re hoping they will admit to the lie and show genuine remorse. 

Narcissists lack empathy, and they hate when their mistakes are pointed out, so they probably won’t say sorry. 

The best you can get out of the narcissist is complete denial, or the use of another defense mechanism, like blame-shifting or gaslighting.

At worst, you might incite narcissistic rage, because coming face-to-face with the fact that they’ve lied threatens the narcissist’s superiority complex and damages their fragile egos.

If you think you can handle their reaction, confront them if it makes you feel better. But, remember to proceed with caution, and ensure that you can stay safe if they become angry. 

The bottom line

Narcissists like to think they’re good liars, and they will use dishonesty if they think it will get them what they want.

The good news is that you can learn to detect their lies. When they show shady behaviors, like giving only vague information, and they become defensive when confronted, they’re probably lying.

You might never get them to admit it, but at least you know the truth! 

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