Compulsive Lying and Borderline Personality Disorder

People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often have trouble relating to other people, causing instability in their interpersonal relationships. If you have BPD, you may feel as though you need to secure extra assurance from others to help you maintain your relationships, which can result in the impulse to lie.

Compulsive lying, or mythomania, can be common in people with Borderline Personality Disorder. This is because people with BPD are often very afraid of abandonment and disapproval, and will do whatever it takes to make sure neither of those things happens.

If you have Borderline Personality Disorder and have been at fault, perhaps for a car accident or mishap at work, you may have tried to pass the buck or rationalize the mistake while you are desperately trying to avoid being viewed in a negative light.

Many Shades of Lies

Manipulation can take many forms. You might think of compulsive lying as the fabrication of elaborate stories that are easily debunked and taken to be ridiculous among peers. However, compulsive liars can be much more subtle and trickier to figure out.

If you have Borderline Personality Disorder with a habit of lying, you may have found that others have lost their trust in you by degrees instead of after one particular incident of dishonesty.

Some forms of lying prevalent in people with BPD include the following:

  • Faking a medical condition in order to reduce responsibility
  • Carrying on close personal or romantic relationships strictly for personal gain
  • Blaming tardiness on children, a faulty car, or other fictitious circumstances
  • Contributing imaginary information to a friendly conversation
  • Avoiding embarrassment by giving incorrect but convenient answers to simple questions (for example, telling someone you parked in the lot they told you about when in fact you couldn’t find the lot or forgot about it)

It’s All in Your Brain

The tendency to compulsively lie may be attributed to the structure of your brain. A recent study conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) shows that if you have a history of lying, your brain might actually be structured differently than that of a person who is generally honest.

White matter in the prefrontal cortex (the front part of your brain) is responsible for masterminding a lie, which includes weighing how the other party will respond and suppressing your own emotions to limit or eliminate the appearance of nervousness. Gray matter is the substance that curbs the impulse to lie to make things easier and holds people to their principles.

In the USC study, compulsive liars showed a higher percentage of white matter and a deficit of gray matter.

Is Honesty the Best Policy?

We uphold myths of George Washington confessing to chopping down the cherry tree and Abraham Lincoln walking miles to return something that didn’t belong to him as symbols of our cultural principles. While it is true that very few people go through life being completely honest —  and there are times when a fib can save lives or help children cope through difficult times — compulsive lying can ruin your career, relationships, sense of well-being, and self-esteem.

The key is to learn to tolerate the stress that being honest can bring on, particularly the uncertainty of whether the other person will still like you if you confess to the truth. For people with Borderline Personality Disorder, these are skills that can be worked on in therapy, especially with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which strengthens these very abilities.

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13 Responses to “Compulsive Lying and Borderline Personality Disorder”

  1. louis nornan 14. Feb, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    My wife who has BPD could not help but lie. I was lied to before our marriage and all the way through it. She always complained that I did not trust her, I would respond, how can I trust you when all you do is lie. Then there’s the cheating. I found that unless caught red handed they will not confess to anything.

  2. Iveth 14. Apr, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    This is very hard for me to write ! But the article described me to the tee I lie about everything even the dumbest things I have no reason too
    Example: a friend will ask what I ate for lunch if I had a sun I will say a taco or whatever I can’t help of control it it’s so difficult and overwhelming I have lost friends due to it :( I am bipolar and finally decided to admit it and have an appointment next week to talk over my options with my doctor.

  3. non bpd 25. May, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    My ex has BPD and I never knew. She lied all the time but would always cover those lies with other lies. She had been cheating on me and I didn’t know till after we divorced. I think they mistake a lot of facts with feelings. Anyways, glad to see sites like this putting info out there for codependent guys like me.

  4. Alice 27. May, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    Do you forgive your wife knowing that she has this condition? Are you still married?

  5. Matt 19. Aug, 2015 at 6:23 am #

    I have bipolar I disorder and when I am manic I lie all the time but it is because I just gush everything out of my head like no tomorrow. Your head gets filled with so much and it’s a “let it all out” release thing with me. I find it embarrassing after that but it just happens and I never even know it or have control over it and in that state I also don’t care if I get caught in one and will just bully and intimidate people if confronted and I talk so much that it is pointless to bother.

  6. Cjo 01. Sep, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    Louis, are you still married?. I’ve just found that my husband of 10 yrs suffers from this. I’m about to give up.

  7. LJ 18. Oct, 2015 at 1:24 am #

    I don’t think you can have a healthy marriage or relationship with someone with BPD. Unless they want to go to therapy and do it intensively, you should not put up with them. They might believe that they care for you, but factually they have almost no feelings of real empathy and guilt.

  8. Lynn Vaught 20. Oct, 2015 at 6:42 am #

    I have family members that have bpd. Lie so much i cant trust or believe anything they say.

  9. Emy 26. May, 2016 at 3:34 am #

    I doubt there is a link between lying and Bipolar – I have been diagnosed with Bipolar, and thus my ability to talk a lot and be impulsive, there is nothing I hate more than people lying. I sometimes exaggerate when expressing an opinion or something I experienced, but it’s more to frame my own experience or points of view and I would never deny if or when I am exaggerating.

    “exaggeration promotes understanding”


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