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Why do people lie?

Why do people lie?

Almost everyone will tell you that lying is wrong. But when it comes to avoiding trouble or saving face, many people find themselves doing it anyway.  So why do people lie?

Lying is closely related to fear: fear of what other people think of us and fear about what we think of ourselves. Studies show that as soon as people feel their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie more frequently.

Many animals engage in deception or deliberately misleading another. However, only humans are wired to deceive both themselves and others. People are so worried about what other people think about them that they are often unable to separate truth from fiction in their own minds.

Why do people lie? Lying to save face.

Lying to save face includes lies such as:

“Sorry, I’m late, but my car wouldn’t start.”


“I never got the invitation!”

People engage in this type of lying because of self-preservation. They are afraid of losing a friend or facing consequences.  Even though this type of lying is instinctual, people who cover up for errors may start to think they have permission to be irresponsible. They may begin lying regularly, and then have difficulty keeping track of their deceptions. Even “white lies” like this may prevent people from having close relationships, especially since most people begin to catch on when this type of lying is common. They start to suspect that the person is just making excuses and begin to think they aren’t accountable. Most of the time, when you are tempted to be less than truthful, consider that usually, a short apology is all that is needed. Ask yourself what is really important, a solid friendship or relationship, or admitting that you made a mistake.

Why do people lie? Lying to shift blame.

Lying to shift blame sounds like:

“My roommate never told me you came by.”


“My boss makes those decisions, not me.”

People lie like this because they don’t want to deal with a situation or because they are afraid of someone’s else’s reaction. They may worry that they will be criticized or that someone will get angry at them. This type of lying can signal difficulty with accepting responsibility for your actions.

Why do people lie? Lying to avoid confrontation.

“You’re doing a great job, but we can’t afford to have a full-time nanny anymore.”


“That sounds like a great idea, Dad, I’ll be sure to get to the airport three hours before my flight.”

People engage in this type of lying to avoid an uncomfortable talk or feels of guilt. But relying on non-confrontation can eventually damage relationships. Avoiding confrontation can make a person become very resentful, because they don’t feel like their voice is ever heard, even though they are the ones that are avoiding the confrontation. This can cause someone to stuff their feelings until they finally explode. And the liar must still keep track of their lies and may have to suffer the consequences of the lie anyway. (For example, if the nanny finds out someone was hired in her place.)

If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.



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