My daughter’s 18 year old boyfriend seems great, supportive and is wonderful when he is with her, and us (her parents and siblings) but he constantly lies about issues that don’t seem to make any sense and fabricates all sorts of stories. He has lied about where he as applied and been accepted to college, and told her at least 5 times in the last two months that he had to go to the hospital or was in the emergency room. Most recently, last night, he said on his way home he got into a car accident, was in the ER and had a collapsed lung and broken ribs YET when my daughter told him she was going to dinner with girlfriends tonight he said he could meet them out! When she starts questioning the odd scenarios, he deflects, gets angry or says ‘don’t tell anyone.’ I am starting to think he is a compulsive liar and am getting very concerned about her dating him. Is this form of lying a sign of a personality disorder? He hasn’t lied or done anything to hurt her and the lies just seem really unnecessary. Is he doing this for attention? I am hoping you can help me understand what is going on and how to guide my daughter. Thank you!

A: This definitely sounds more than a passing streak of white lies, and I do think there is cause for concern. The volume, number, intensity, and style of this lying is worrisome.

The thing here is not to expect him to change as much as you being able to change how you respond. Each and every time it happens, where some fantastical story and obvious lie has taken place, your own true feelings need to be expressed. When you are around someone who’s lying all the time the important thing is not to lie to yourself. Don’t accept it, don’t hide your reaction, and don’t be afraid of his reaction. If he doesn’t grasp that trust is the essential element in any relationship then it makes it difficult to have one with him.

Being honest with yourself is the only thing that matters here for both you and your daughter. Whether or not he can change isn’t something we know, but what we do know is that you don’t have to tolerate being chronically lied to.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral