If you know a narcissist, you know exactly what it feels to catch them in a lie. At times, their lies may seem so obvious that you can’t fathom why they don’t just fess up.
That said, narcissism and lying go hand-in-hand. So how to make a narcissist tell the truth? Can you convince them to tell you the truth? Is there an effective strategy you can use for them to acknowledge their lying? And what should you do if you keep getting caught in their vicious cycle of lies? Let’s get to it.
Do Narcissists Know They Are Lying?
The answer depends, but it’s important to understand the nature of narcissism to understand how they identify with the truth.
The Skewed Narcissistic Worldview
It isn’t a surprise that narcissists have a much different worldview from other people. If you spend just a few moments with a narcissist, you will notice this disparity quickly.
They have overinflated egos and often perceive things in absolute and rigid extremes. They believe they are morally superior to everyone else. Moreover, when they feel their power or control is under threat, they often react intensely and impulsively. At that point, self-preservation is the top priority. They will do whatever they can to protect it.
When Lies Feel Like Truths
Because narcissists see the world differently, they also see their truth differently. They often perceive their feelings as facts. If they think something is wrong, they don’t just classify this as a thought. To them, it’s their truth. And because they believe that truth 100%, they don’t recognize that it may be distorted.
Narcissists also tend to justify their lying automatically. For this reason, they don’t necessarily classify lying as a problematic issue. Instead, they see it as a means to an end. Sometimes, they disregard it so quickly that they don’t even register it as a lie.
Additionally, many narcissists genuinely believe their lies. This often happens when they make empty promises. In doing so, they may assume they’re going to follow through with what they say. They might even make a genuine attempt to change. However, once things resume to their normal homeostasis, the narcissist usually disregards their promise or forgets about it altogether.
Most of the time, narcissists can’t distinguish their truth from the objective truth. Just take a look at any narcissistic leader or politician to witness this behavior. They believe in their beliefs and they dismiss anyone who thinks otherwise
When Narcissists Intentionally Lie
In other cases, narcissists lie deliberately because they have a specific motive. For example, if you ask a narcissist if they stole money from you, they will probably deny the behavior. This isn’t surprising. Very few people will actually admit to something so egregious.
Instead, they might try to convince you that you’re crazy or that you just overlooked something. Narcissists aren’t dumb. In their mind, they know they’re lying. However, they’ve already justified the behavior, so it makes valid sense to them. There’s no reason for them to think about the repercussions associated with the lie.
Can You Just Ask A Narcissist To Tell You The Truth?
You can, but it doesn’t mean you will get a straightforward answer. Narcissists play by their own rules. They decide how and when they engage with people. Subsequently, they also determine what is and isn’t appropriate for them to share.
Narcissists don’t follow regular communication protocols. They use communication to get their needs met. It’s not about connecting, validating, or assuring other people. Therefore, even if you demand to know the truth, it doesn’t mean they will give it to you.
To a narcissist, self-preservation supersedes building meaningful and fulfilling relationships.
How To Make a Narcissist Tell The Truth To You?
First, it’s important to remember you can’t control anybody but yourself. This especially applies to your interactions with a narcissist. There is no way to fully guarantee their honesty, even if they promise they are truthful.
Most of the time, narcissists don’t respond with direct truths. The truth may emerge, but you often need to parse it out from the numerous manipulation tactics they employ. This requires that you understand the following signs.
1. They Need Something From You
Narcissists don’t always lie. Many times, they will be sincere when they benefit from their truth. Let’s see how this plays out.
I love this dinner! You should make it more often. It’s delicious.
The narcissist wants you to keep pleasing them. They’re using praise and flattery to encourage you to keep them happy. However, don’t be surprised if they seemingly change their narrative the next time you make this meal!
Narcissists can change their minds frequently. Additionally, if they feel upset with you, they may gaslight you to make you question your reality.
I’m not all that great at writing project proposals. Would you be willing to help me? I know you’re good at these kinds of things.
Narcissists are willing to admit weakness when they want to get out of something. This can happen if they think a task is below them or when they don’t want to do it at all. Again, they often resort to flattery to convince you to help them.
I’m running late. Go ahead and start without me.
This means that they don’t care about the meeting. They’re hoping that they miss it!
If a narcissist needs something, they often have no shame in asking for it outright. Interestingly, most of the time, people tend to comply with their requests. Everyone likes to feel flattered, and a simple compliment might motivate someone to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
In other cases, people don’t want to deal with the fallout associated with the disappointing narcissist. They would rather comply than cause a conflict.
2. Raging Confessions
If you keep acting this way, I am going to end this deal.
Stop being so irrational. it’s making me want to stop trusting you.
You’re crazy! Anyone else would leave if they were in my position.
Have you ever been around an angry narcissist? Think about how their communication sounds. It’s usually erratic, loud, and sometimes utterly outlandish. That said, if you pay attention to the rage and try to distinguish their words from their actions, you may hear their exact intentions.
However, most people usually dismiss the narcissist’s anger as just anger. They denounce their words as just being emotionally-charged.
Don’t make this mistake. Narcissists tend to feel very comfortable sitting in their anger. If anything, it’s where they are most honest about their needs, feelings, and plans.
Half-truths are exactly what they sound like. They occur when the narcissist is partially honest. But with this strategy, they only tend to be honest about the minuscule details rather than the important ones.
For example, if you suspect they may be cheating on you, they may claim that they are just working late at the office. But if they are having an affair with their coworker, this is a great example of a half-truth!
Or, if you suspect their hiding money issues from you, they may claim they “lost a lot of money in the stock market.” While this may be true, they may choose to avoid telling you that they’ve also been compulsively gambling.
Half-truths are designed to throw you off course. The narcissist knows that the best lies contain some grains of honesty. They hope that you will cling to their truths without probing into the rest of the information.
The half-truth can also protect them if you catch them lying. They can focus on the truth part of their claim and insist that they weren’t lying.
4. They Project Onto You
It’s only a matter of time before you’re going to leave.
I bet you tell all your friends how awful I am.
You waste so much time caring about what other people think.
Projection happens when someone blames you for doing something they’re doing. If a narcissist starts blaming you for something out of nowhere, it could reveal some truth about what they’re doing behind your back.
Projection tends to happen unconsciously. It’s usually a way to reconcile your own feelings or experiences. Narcissists project onto other people all the time. However, it can be challenging to discern their usual manipulation tactics from the genuine truth.
5. They Inundate You With False Apologies
Yes I did that, but it was only because I wanted to protect you!
Even if it’s true, it’s not a big deal. Nobody else would care.
I’m sorry that it affected you so much.
Sometimes, the truth may emerge during a false apology. This typically happens when they feel backed into a corner and have no other choice but to own up to their behavior.
But the apology isn’t authentic. It also t doesn’t really assume personal accountability for the lie. Instead, they tend to awkwardly wrap their truth with justifications, manipulation and gaslighting.
6. They Tell Someone Else The Truth
I don’t want to tell her what’s going on, but let me tell you what’s up.
I know you can handle the truth, but please keep it between us.
Narcissists sometimes like to make other people feel special by sharing their truth with them. They tend to make it well-known that this is a special privilege. Then, they often pressure the other person into keeping their secret.
Is It Worth Confronting a Narcissist About Their Lies?
Because narcissists are so skilled in manipulating, typical confrontation strategies don’t usually work. Instead, if you confront a narcissist about their lie, they tend to react in extreme ways.
1. Denying The Behavior
I never said that!
You’re seeing this completely wrong.
It didn’t happen that way.
For a narcissist, denial tends to be the easiest and most straightforward solution. They just refuse to acknowledge they did anything wrong. They may then turn it against you by claiming that you’re imagining things or blowing the situation out of proportion.
2. Justifying The Behavior
I had no other choice!
Anyone would do this if they were in my shoes.
You don’t understand what it’s like to me.
To circumvent acknowledging the lie, the narcissist may dogpile you with all the reasons as to why that lie was warranted. This is a distraction technique, but it can be effective in convincing you that their lie was warranted.
3. Smearing You To Other People
To punish you for trying to expose their truth, the narcissist may try to smear your reputation to gain other people’s approval. This can happen instantaneously, or it can happen gradually- it all depends on the narcissist’s intentions.
4. Deflection And Dismissal
We just need to move on from this!
This doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of life.
Just forget it happened.
Narcissists will often downplay or disregard their lies by trying to divert your attention elsewhere. This technique is designed to make you feel like you’re overreacting.
5. Physical Violence
In extreme cases, narcissists may resort to violence when they feel threatened. Violence ranges in severity, and it can include everything from hitting or slapping you to severe physical or sexual assault.
If you’re concerned about your safety, make sure that you develop a safety plan. Reach out for support with a trusted family member or friend.
Can A Narcissist Be Honest?
How To Trick a Narcissist Into Telling The Truth
For a narcissist to be completely honest, it means they need to recognize their behavior. Most of the time, they can’t do this.
The answer doesn’t lie in tricking the narcissist. The answer lies in you knowing your truth.
If you suspect the narcissist is lying to you, pay attention to your intuition. Trust your feelings. they are probably telling you something.
Keep in mind that most narcissists don’t change their behavior. In many ways, they become more crafted in their storytelling. They also tend to find more people who will enable their behavior.
Remember that your goal isn’t about pulling the truth out of the narcissist. Instead, it should be about honoring your boundaries, well-being, and personal integrity.