Friday, July 20, 2012

Lying and BPD - Part 4 - Why do you lie?

At this point I think I’ve presented a fairly good idea of what motivates people with Borderline Personality Disorder fall to lying or feel the need to lie. At the same time I recognize that from the perspective of someone on the receiving end of the lies this is not at all how it feels.

Something I hear a lot is,

“My BPD significant other lies to attack ... she distorts and exaggerates events just to accuse me, to hurt me. Even after I repeatedly tell her what she is saying isn't true and try to convince her by presenting her with what has actually happened she still turns a blind eye and repeats her accusations.”

There’s this extremely common perception that we do things with the intent to maliciously hurt people (I’m not saying that none do, but many don’t) as if we made the deliberate pre-meditated decision to make someone’s life difficult. What I think is important to understand, is that what we do, really isn’t about the other person. They may be the one directly affected by our actions, but it’s actually not about them. To us, at the time, it does feel like it’s about them because that’s how our brains work to shield ourselves from blame and abandonment – to make it not our fault that someone would leave us. But it’s not really about you (except as an unconscious way to not give you a reason to be upset with us; i.e. if it's your fault, we didn't do wrong). It’s about us. It’s about us trying to not feel bad about ourselves, who we are, what we’ve done, something that we perceive as being bad about us, that we’re trying to deflect or project onto the person closest to us, in order to escape the feelings of our own shame. When we yell that, “You hate us,” which may be a clear untruth, really what we’re doing is projecting a feeling of hating ourselves. A feeling that could result in our abandonment. I know that doesn’t make the hurt feel any better. I’m not trying to justify the lying, merely explain what is often occurring. I think it’s important to keep in mind that people with BPD don’t think in the same way. Most “normal” (and by normal I simply mean without BPD) people think in a pretty linear way so to them it makes sense that it would be a deliberate attack. However with BPD it’s not so straight forward at all.  

People with BPD also have widely different reasons to consciously lie and feelings about lying in general. Here are some examples of things real people with BPD have said when asked about why they lie:

-      I exaggerate all the time. I like getting sympathy so I make everything into something greater than it actually was. I do this because no one cares enough unless I do and I feel invalidated.
-      I think maybe people with BPD could be prone to lying, because we often see different versions of the truth depending on what mode we are in. If the truth is not something I feel a "normal" brain would understand, I lie. (I don't want anyone to know my BPD thinking).
-      I lie pretty often, only to me its second nature so it doesn't feel like I am doing anything wrong. I definitely lied to myself for a long time about there being anything wrong with me, I was in such denial that when I finally realized it I couldn't function properly anymore.
-      I try to be honest, but I omit things sometimes. Also, I will lie about things to keep myself out of trouble, but not just for the sake of lying. I sometimes lie to my psychologist. Not about events, but about feelings. This is mainly because if I don't remember them or can identify them, I'll make them up.
-      I lie regularly, but only about some things. I'll lie and tell someone I'm not angry, or lie and tell them I'm happy when I'm really freaking out. I do it mainly because pity pisses me off (genuine sympathy I relish, but pity is insulting), or because I don't want someone to think that I hate them, even when I do. I'll lie about relapsing, I'll lie about the lighter burns on my arm, I'll lie about anything that makes me seem abnormal.

This is something I identify with a lot. You may remember that Friend accused me of lying to him because despite hating his wife, I was always civil to her when I was around her. Is that really lying or just being mature? Feelings are a private affair. People get angry at us when we let all of our feelings out, and then they get angry at us for not letting all our feelings out. There’s no winning. {Insert something about finding middle ground, I know.}

-      I'm generally a fairly open and honest person. I sometimes tell little lies, like "yes, I did get some studying done today", trivial things like that. dishonesty beyond things like that is something I absolutely loathe being on the receiving end of, so I try really hard not to be dishonest with people I care about when it's about anything remotely important. Treat others as you'd have them treat you and whatnot.
-      I'm generally fairly honest about things. I'll admit to lying about the odd trivial things like but everyone does that, even people without any sort of mental illnesses. On occasions I've not told the whole truth about stuff like cutting or not eating, but that's more about not feeling comfortable discussing the issue- I have to wait till I'm comfortable with it but will usually come clean about it once I do. It's quite often making sure I can trust the person I'm sharing the information with rather than lying about the issue.

And this is one final thing I need to talk about. Some things I just cannot fathom as being someone else’s business. Often I gloss over each individual reason for my scars if I’m not sure about you. Sometimes I don’t tell my Therapist I had thoughts of self-harm because I don’t want to worry her and I know I have it under control. Is it a lie when someone asks me why I won’t eat their 10,000 calorie dessert and I don’t tell them I have an eating disorder when I say no thanks? I’ll give them a truthful answer, but if it’s someone I don’t know, or don’t know if I can trust, I do not believe they have any right to that kind of information. On this same topic, I am starting to feel like I’m lying to Tech Boy by not telling him this specific thing. There have been instances where he’s triggered me badly but I’m afraid of losing him because maybe he’ll think less of me.  I do think it’s time to sort of fess up to this. The time is definitely starting to feel right. It’s important that the time feels right and that we’re comfortable, especially about hard issues.  Sometimes I think people don’t understand that just because they demand an answer, doesn’t mean that we’re ready to give one. So much of what we go through is about protecting ourselves that you can’t expect us to put ourselves into a vulnerable position before we’re ready. Patience. Patience. Please, patience.

 So how about it? What are some reasons you feel the need to lie? 

There is one last aspect of lying that I think is the most malicious aspect of our protective arsenal. But we’ll save that for Monday… 

***Paragraph layout: Is anyone else having issues with fully justifying their paragraph layout? When I attempt to fully justify my posts in the preview I get all white backgrounds and font changes. I hate this. It bothers me a lot that my lines of text don't all line up the way I want them too. 


  1. I catch myself lying to be nice... I hate it, but it's just my thing I guess, probably not the only one. In regards to Tech guy if you're ready, tell him what you think. Better to have loved than not at all, or something like that. Have an awesome weekend!

    1. I'm never sure if my being nice is just polite and civil or a lie to cover my true feelings. idk.

      You're probably right. I should. I'm trying to get myself there.

  2. Thanks for writing this incredible series! I'm SO to BPD and lying has been a major stumbling block for both of us. Some of the comments from those with BPD sound very familiar. My husband also lies because he can't stand feeling "bad" about himself. As in: he's not a "bad" person so he wouldn't do what he did do because "bad" people do that. So he says he didn't do something that a room-full of people saw him do. I've tried really hard to work on the shaming aspect by trying to evaluate everything I say and do so as not to cause him excess shame (but still being honest in a gentle ~ at least I hope!~ way).
    What I loved that you said, and I totally agree with is that some things aren't anyone's business. I've really tried to let my husband know that how he feels about things and what he likes and doesn't like he doesn't have to justify. (mind these are "average" things like the same meals he repeatedly loves to eat or tv programmes he enjoys, etc, not harmful things) Sometimes me just asking what he's doing or what he'd like for a meal will trigger him so I want him to know that if he's uncomfortable, it's ok, he doesn't have to answer or whatever.

    If Tech Guy is triggering you, he may know something is up but unable to know how to start a dialogue for fear of hurting you. For me I worry that I've done something to really hurt my husband but because he feels ashamed that something so "little" could trigger him or he is in discomfort he can't tell me what exactly is going on. Knowing when I've done something to hurt him is helpful so I can avoid doing it again or try to find another way to deal with the situation but sometimes him just telling me he's having a hard time or "needs a moment" lets me know to back off and let him know I'm here to support him or I'll be in the other room if he wants to talk or stay with him, whatever. I think knowing is more helpful than not but that depends on your relationship.
    Your words about BPDs protecting themselves is so painful but true. It breaks my heart. Again, thank you for this insightful series on lying, bravo and thanks for the helpful information.

    1. It sounds like you deserve a lot of credit for how you handle lying and your SO. Holding him accountable is important, but to do so in a gentle, non-shaming way is so very important too. It's also wonderful to hear that you encourage him to respond in his own time. I wish more people were so understanding.

      I'm sure you're right and that he probably knows something is up. And you're absolutely right. I know how distressed he was when he hurt me in the past and he wouldn't want to do that to me again. I was able to at least let him know some parts of why what he did was so hurtful but there always seems to be more with BPD.

      And you're welcome, always.

    2. My bpd husband has caused many serious problems due to lying, infidelity, and severe money and income tax evasion. It is serious. I financially bailed him out the first, and second time (with huge cash infusion from my own parents). He is extremely remorseful but only for a short period of time. He expects me to never mention it again. If I suggest he see someone for help, or just understand I need much more than 3 days of tears and "I'm sorries", I feel we could make progress. The relationship is gping to have to end. My sons are grown up, and my husband of 36 years has basically destroyed his life. If I have any advice it would be to summon up your courage and leave. You cannot cure this person. It goes too deep.

  3. Lovvve the posts on lying. I've noticed there seems to be theme w bpd in terms of reactions to questions from others. They seem to often be perceived as intrusive, are often triggering, are seen as controlling, etc. With my bpd woman this is pretty much where most of our serious pushing begins, w a question I think nothing of, and gets out of control from there. I wonder if you agree this may be a sort of consistent "bpd" thing or just my own experience? If it is related to bpd, maybe that's one explanation for lying? If questions that are pretty run of the mill, esp btwn people who have a higher degree of emotional intimacy, trigger intense feelings of shame or being controlled or violated maybe that results in lying to end the interaction? I would love to hear your thoughts and perspective on this, and esp how to maybe avoid it? Thanks haven! --chicadina

    1. Hello Chicadina!

      Hm. I think you are definitely on to something here. Having my privacy violated is something that is very triggering for me so when I feel like people are being too intrusive it is a big problem and my immediate response is to lash out, push away, and gain as much "safe" distance as possible to maintain my privacy = self-protective space.

      I think this may be one of those triggers that are often unintentional because the other person didn't experience such violations of trust or privacy, but yes, with Borderlines being so sensitive it feels like a much greater violation. Losing control, or fearing to lose control, of our time and energy can be an aspect of this as well.

      I've noticed this specifically happens with my mother, who as a child would read my diary, violate my privacy, and all sorts of things. Even now, 15-20 years later, she'll ask me the most benign questions and I find myself instantly getting irritated, anxious, aggravated, and angry and I'll do anything, including lie, to get out of the conversation as quickly as possible.

      I'm going to think about this in greater detail and probably write a real length post on this. Thank you for giving me something to think about!

    2. I would love that! Given severe abuse was in the picture as a child, I wld think privacy, space, boundaries are paramount. I feel sick thinking anything I do wld ever trigger her back to that hurt. But I want to show I love her and care about her life. I suppose listening is best but to me questions suggest a true interest in the person and what they are sharing. Part of it is certainly my own anxiety when she distances probably increases my need to restore closeness and so questions to start real conversation is one way to do that. Thx so much as always for your blog. xo

  4. Better 2 B disliked 4 who U R
    Than 2 B loved 4 someone U R not

  5. my ex is a huge liar..all she ever told me was lies,, she said she had lost her mom when she was 2..she said her dad was a mean abuser and she said she lived with her grandmother..she would tell me sad horrid stories and I even believed at times..but there was lots of stuff that made no sense I finally left that night mare months ago ...well I found a new site by her in there she talks of her mom having cancer! what? she had no mom! Her dad exercises with her..what? he dump her out of the house and was abusive she had to go to her granny! Oh she had a shoe store that she had to close cause narcos made her pay for protection! There is so much more amazing things..I think all she ever told me were lies..when I dumped her she said she was no eating anymore ..and that poor me stuff..she stalks my social networks and broke into my email more than once ..that is why after she made a new mail to try to get into my mail to get news from me..I tracked mail and then fount this site of her that she lies different stories to guys there . she is a pathetic loser..I knew most were all lies but I wanted to be truth..fool me ..and now to know as a fact does turn your stomach ...this person abuse me and manipulated me and hurt me a lot. what lying loser. But I believe in Karma


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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