How to deal with a liar in a family betrayal

Updated April 17, 2017

Being lied to, whether once or repeatedly, can be devastating. Lying destroys trust between people, which is especially heartbreaking when the one telling lies is a family member or a close friend of the family. It is important to keep your cool and protect yourself from physical or emotional damage if you find out someone has been lying to you. Sometimes negotiating with the person who told you a lie can be effective in preventing future occurrences.

Get away from the person as soon as possible if the lie they told puts you in physical or psychological jeopardy. Sometimes unconditional forgiveness is not in our best interest. Ask a friend, relative or shelter to help you make an escape plan if necessary.

Ask the person why they felt they had to lie, and really listen. If you are a parent and your child is lying to you, ask yourself what they felt they had to lose if they told you the truth. Change what you can about your own behaviour, and frequently reiterate to the person that you are there to listen without judging.

Help the person find therapy if the lying seems to be pathological. A pervasive pattern of chronic lying may be indicative of mental illness. The earlier you can intervene, and the more receptive the person is to treatment, the better the potential outcome.

Maintain your own boundaries to the best of your abilities. If you have been lied to repeatedly, you may wonder if anything the liar ever said was the truth. Do whatever you have to do to keep the liar from betraying you again, short of hurting yourself or someone else. It can be difficult to resist the charm of a pathological liar, but when a betrayal involves your family, you must do what is best for the majority of family members.

Retain the services of a qualified attorney if the lies could have legal ramifications. Communicate with the liar as little as possible, allowing your attorney to do the talking. Lawyers can help keep communication professional when you are too hurt or angry to keep your cool.

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About the Author

Ann Jones has been writing since 1998. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies. Her journalistic work can be found in major magazines and newspapers. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.