Catch Narcissists Lie & Make Them Spill the Beans
Screenshot of James Mcavoy as Professor X. Design by the author.

See. It’s not rocket science. Narcissists lie as means to either save their skins, main their hold of power & attention, or make them feel good about themselves.

Also, there’s the part where they take their feelings and opinions and push hard to pass them as facts. Not only to others. But also to themselves.

So yeah, they often are the first customers of their own legends.

It’s fun for them. Not so much for the sane people around them. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Whether you are dealing with a narcissist boss, friend, spouse, or parents, you must have sensed a pattern of dishonesty in their day-to-day operations.

Sometimes the lies are innocent. Sometimes they are too obvious to be taken seriously. But there are times when they are covert, and if you buy into them, they can get lethal.

Want to confront them? Good luck with that.

What are you going to do? Be hostile? Or do you plan to be reasonable? Here’s something. None of it matters. In the end, narcissists are always right, no matter how ludicrous their claims are.

And when and if you call them out, you will be promptly termed as foolish, disrespectful, or bigoted.

That’s how they roll.

But what if I tell you that you don’t have to put up with these things anymore? What if you can read them like an open book?

Too good to be true? Wait. Let me make it even more exciting. You can even make them tell the truth when it matters the most.

Yes. You can do it. But first, here’s something you need to learn.

Do These To Detect Narcissists Lie

No. You can’t read people’s minds. But you can do the next best thing.

You can see people for who they are (thought process+fears+needs+wants) instead of what they want you to think they are. With time, you can get pretty damn good at it.

To help you get there, here are a few telltale signs that the narcissist around you is trying to gaslight you.

#1. Get a baseline

There are two reasons why it’s so hard to detect a narcissist lying:

  1. They are too comfortable slipping in tall tales at any given moment
  2. They do it with such charm and ease that it’s almost impossible to look past their aura

So what do you do? You do what narcissists never want you to do. You look past their show. And then you get their baselines.

Now, what is a baseline?

Remember how they show you in movies that you can tell if someone is lying by looking at them for 5 secs? Yeah. Those are total Bs.

Not making eye contact, touching the nose while talking, or rapid-blinking, none of it alone means anything. Some people like to look elsewhere when talking, have itchy noses, or have a higher blinking rate.

Those can be part of people’s basic behaviors. So a baseline is how a specific individual behaves, reacts, and interacts with the world under normal circumstances.

Once you notice these details, you are ready for the next move.

#2. Ask, ask, & ask some more

No matter how skillful of a liar someone is, you can still get enough reactions out of them if you know where to hit. You can rattle them up when they are lying. That too, without coming across as aggressive or intrusive.

How to do it? Use your calm adult voice and do these:

  • Ask laser-focused questions: You can go for close-ended questions or ask for more details.
  • Break their flow and see how the resume: Narcissists don’t like to be challenged — not when they are lying. It makes them break their character.

Here’s what you need to know. Narcissists love to lie. But they hate having to defend their lies.

They will go on and on about how absolute garbage their exes were, but they will conveniently ignore the facts that will challenge their version of the story.

So the more relevant questions you ask, the more threatened they will feel.

And when you keep a calm and composed persona while smoking them with on-point questions, it gives off the message that you know more than you are letting on.

 That’s when narcissists get sweaty. Then, they break. And that’s where you need to pay attention and…

#3. Look for the right signs

Narcissists tend to build their narrative first and then fit the facts accordingly. Not the other way around. And they don’t like to talk about facts that don’t fit their perception.

So whenever you ask them some questions that will need them to stray away from their narrative or acknowledge those facts they discarded, they feel pretty uncomfortable.

That’s what leads them to desperation.

Here’s something about desperation. It is much more visible than most people think.

Here are a few signs you will see when a narcissist is getting defensive with their lies:

  1. Inability to answer: Narcissists rarely answer any yes/no questions. They will talk. They will overexplain other things. They might even pick and choose specific parts of the question to answer. But they won’t give you what you really asked.
  2. Taking the conversation elsewhere: Consciously or not, narcissists know they can’t survive much longer outside their preconstructed narrative. There’s a reason why they can’t stand open discussions. They can’t maintain a factual argument and will do their best to distract you from the truths and events.
  3. Unnecessary details of irrelevant things: One of the most infamous ways a narcissist will try to distract you is by filling you in with lots and lots of unnecessary details. They will try to hide the lack of substance with poetic use of language and overcompensating gestures.
  4. Not enough details of relevant things: Narcissists’ love for details seems to fade whenever the subject of the conversation can damage their self-esteem. Whenever they feel that going over some details can work against them, they will start having sudden memory losses, random lapses in speech, or spontaneous emotional breakdowns.
  5. Getting offended by simple questions: To narcissists, having to answer questions is not very empowering. So they will make attempts to regain control of the conversation. How do they do that? By blaming you for questioning them.

That’s where you need to be very careful.

They are very good at getting under your skin.

They will take the moral high ground, call you names, and even pose passive-aggressive threats. And the moment they manage to make you lose your calm, they win.

So how do you win? Let me explain.

How To Bring the Truth Out of a Narcissist

To get it right, you must first look inwards instead of outwards.

Ask yourself. Can you see the things for what they are? Or are you clinging too much to how you would like things to be? Trust me. It will come in handy later.

Do you expect a narcissist to spill out sober and sane truths about what they do and why? Stop being cute. If you want them to be truthful, you must go beyond the words. Here’s how.

#1. Detect their pressure points

Once you leave out your expectations, seeing people for who they are is easier than you think. Why? People are eager to express themselves for who they really are, even when they’re lying.

For example, when a narcissist lies about his or her age, you can tell that the person is scared of aging.

Likewise, profiling individuals based on different factors like background, qualifications, personality traits, medical conditions, and habits will tell you much more than their words.

Speaking of which…

#2. Listen to their actions more than their words

This one isn’t limited to narcissists alone. In general, actions do speak louder than words.

That’s why if you follow someone’s actions instead of their appearance, charm, and humble braggings, you can get a much clearer picture of who you are dealing with.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, if you keep tabs on when, how, and why they lie, you can see and even predict where they defer from their baseline.

The easiest way to get into a narcissist’s head is to closely monitor what they say about others when they aren’t around. Chances are, they are doing the same when you aren’t around.

#3. Listen to them speak when things don’t go their way

The best time to squeeze some truth out of narcissists is when they are cracking out of their charming persona.

No, they still won’t just magically turn the most honest person. But you can extract what they are thinking from their angry rants.

Remember how in Godfather II, a rattled Hyman Roth gave away his true colors when confronted with a valid question by Michael Corleone?

He expressed how he felt when Michael executed Moe Greene. Even though he said he had let it go since it had nothing to do with business, Michael was smart enough to piece together the truth from a lie.

You can do the same. Again, when you keep a collected tone and ask a narcissist some uncomfortable questions, it would throw the individual off of their safe space. They don’t like that.

They will try to get back to their comfort zone by doing one of these three things:

  1. Angry lash out & self-projection: To narcissists, attacking is the best defense. So they will try to deflect any blame by pointing out how awful you are. Listen to them carefully. Chances are, that’s how they truly feel about you. Plus, when you hear them blaming you for things that aren’t true, feel safe to assume that they are projecting their misdeeds on you.
  2. Half-truth & distractions: Not every narcissist is that rash. Some of them are much craftier. They will often throw you off by admitting to a lesser offense to cover up for a bigger crime. If you latch onto these half-truths with reasonable suspicion, they can lead you to what they are trying to hide.
  3. Sorry, not sorry: When there’s no way out other than admitting to their actions, narcissists often fake apologies to play the victim. Remember Soho Karen Miya Ponsetto? Despite falsely accusing a 14-year-old black teen of theft and assaulting him on camera, she tried to play the minority card herself. It didn’t work for her. But it did highlight her inherent tendency to use her twisted view on race to her advantage.

Narcissist or not, you are always better off not taking people at face value. It’s always a good idea to spend some time reading people and seeing them for who they are before forming any opinion.

It might sound redundant. However, it does help you cut off a lot of unnecessary drama with people who are clearly not worth it.

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