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Ask Dr. DombeckAsk Dr. Dombeck:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health Questions

Compulsive Lying

Sun, May 14th 2000

I have known my 22 year old fiancée for a few months and I love everything about her except for her compulsive lying. Only till recently, did she open up to me and realize that her lies were hurting me. She mentioned it was mainly due to her inferiority complex, particularly towards her older, "charming" sister. She states her compulsive lying started in college when she began to convey false stories about herself. She said she use to make up stories of losing her virginity, doing drugs, romantic flings only to make her seem more exciting than she was. She would buy herself gifts and tell her college buddies that it was from her secret admirers. She is envious of her older sister only in regards to the amount of attention the older sis gets from guys. She suffers from a very low self esteem and I believe that is the only reason she fabricates. Although, she asserts the worst of her compulsive lying is over especially since she has began to realize her other outstanding qualities. I fear she might continue to lie to me. Should she seek professional help? Or is it just a phase that some people go through? And if this problem stems from her low self esteem, can't she and I do confidence building activities that would eventually eliminate her need to lie? And should I be really cautious when I call her a liar? Does that lower her self esteem even more or help her realize that her lies are hurting me? Is there any hope??????

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