They say that you are what you attract. When I sit and think about a lot of my past relationships—both romantic as well as platonic—for better or for worse, I have to admit that has been true.
But there is one friendship in particular that baffled me for a very long time because while it is human (not good, but still human) to lie from time to time, those closest to me will tell you that a liar, I am not. If anything, they probably wish I would tone down the truth-telling (especially as it relates to my own personal details) a bit.
That’s why it’s so fascinating to me that I once had a friend who was a pathological liar.
I’ll give you the good parts about her first. Beautiful. Talented (actually semi-famous). Funny. Giving. Loyal—well, as loyal as a pathological liar can be, I guess because if you’ll lie to yourself that is a form of disloyalty. And, if you’re disloyal to you, you’ll be that way to those around you.
The flaws? That’s the thing. For the longest time, I didn’t really think that she had any. She’d walk into a room and guys would fall all over themselves. She made some pretty good money. It seemed like everyone in her life elected her to be their own personal guru. And, like me, she was a Christian. So much of one that I used to hear her constantly talk about praying for me because I was having sex with my boyfriend—my one boyfriend—while she gave me the impression that she was abstinent. Very abstinent.
I must admit that in hindsight, some things didn’t really add up.
I didn’t get why sometimes when I would drive by her house to surprise her, a strange car (along with her own) would be in the driveway and she wouldn’t answer the door.
I didn’t understand why in the middle of her arguments with one of her siblings, words like “hypocrite” would come screaming from her sibling’s mouth.
It was odd to me that some of the guys that I knew who knew her way before I did would snicker whenever her name came up.
They both claimed they were “just friends”. Years later, I found out that he had been blowing her back out for years.
At the time, though, my self-esteem was so low and I was so amazed that someone like her even thought I was worthy of her time, that I overlooked what I now accept to be blaring red flags. She was a good person but…something was up.
Let’s rewind, shall we?
I thought about what I heard about her before we even met. “Sneaky” was a word that came to mind. But again, because she was pretty and semi-famous, I chalked it up to jealousy and pushed that word into the back of my mind every time it tried to pop back up.
I also thought about the first time we had officially met. She was with a guy that I knew—a guy who had tried to have sex with me on numerous occasions only to come to an EPIC FAIL. They both claimed they were “just friends”. Years later, I found out that he had been blowing her back out for years.
I thought about how she was semi-notorious for taking people’s men. OK, technically that is impossible, but what I mean by that is she almost had a radar of who her friends liked and “somehow”, she ended up liking the guys too. She actually ended up marrying one of the men who falls into this category.
I thought about how one time she told me that the condom I found in her garbage can wasn’t from the guy she was dating. According to her, she actually didn’t know where it came from. She later fessed ‘up that it was his. And hers.
One of the requirements [of her therapy] was for her to “come clean” to me about all of the lies that she had told.
When a particular famous artist used to hit her up late at night, according to her, they were also just friends. I later found out that they had sex. Multiple times.
When a particular professional athlete texted her during his own premarital counseling session asking if he could go down on her, she said she didn’t know why he said that. Come to find out, he had slept with her many times. So did a few of his teammates.
How did I find all of this out? One day she told me. This and a whole lot more.
She said that she was in therapy to work out some of her issues. One of the requirements was for her to “come clean” to me about all of the lies that she had told.
When I tell you that it BLEW MY MIND, that is a major understatement. It’s not that I thought she was the "Perfect Miss Patty" that she tried to make herself out to be and I definitely thought she was way too interested in my one-partner sex life for her to be “innocent”, but no…I had no clue just how deep her double life went. I really didn’t.
Truth is hard to see when lies are all you know.
So much so, that after she told me everything, I had mixed emotions. A billion of ‘em. On one hand, I was proud of her for having the courage to “emotionally throw up” on me like that. On the other, I felt completely betrayed. Who was this woman? Had I basically been in a friendship with a mirage all of this time?
If we truly are who were attract, was a pathological liar—in denial?I spent quite a bit of time emotionally-parked right there. Then I thought about some of the women in my bloodline who were a lot like my friend. Also beautiful and accomplished. Also pathological liars. Yeah, sometimes what you attract is not your exact self but your DNA. If you grow up around liars, your defenses are probably going to be low when it comes to recognizing that trait and other people.
I believe that’s how my friend was able to pull off such a feat of pure and utter deception for such a long period of time. Had I grown up around healthier women, I probably would’ve spotted some of her issues off from day one. But because I was basically numb to liars, I was numb to her…being one.
How did it all shake out? There wasn’t a big fall out or anything. Although I will say that the guy she ended up marrying showed some red flags of previous men she had been in love with. Oh, the irony in the fact that I told her the truth about that. He told her to stay away from me. I accepted that. Just because she made a confession about being a pathological liar, that doesn’t mean that the road to recovery wasn’t going to be a bumpy one. Truth is hard to see when lies are all you know.
From there, things just kind of…faded.
We have mutual friends, so I hear about her from time to time. Social media doesn’t make it hard to check and see if all is well. More times than not, she’s smiling but I don’t see a lot of sparkle in her eyes. Maybe it’s age. Or maybe, she’s still in recovery. Who knows?
I do know that some people have told me that she was a liar, even as a little girl. That makes me feel sorry for her. It also helps to connect some additional dots. Enough of ‘em to paint a full enough picture to truly let her go. Which I did some years back.
As for me? I spent a season of my life making sure that I detoxed from my bevy of DNA liars because I won’t lie to you. During the season while my friend and I were close, we were really close. At the same time, I’ll be honest with you about something else. When you realize that who you loved didn’t really exist, it’s easier to move on. It really is.
Meanwhile your family? I mean, you can—and should—have boundaries with them too, but more times than not, you’re going to have to deal with them at some point. So, I took some time to make sure I could better detect lies from truth.
One way is by watching how people react when you’re speaking your own truth. If they try and make you feel uncomfortable or even guilty? On some level, they tend to have lying issues.
Another is by watching how they process facts. Facts are like numbers. They are hard to be manipulated. If they attempt to, they tend to have lying issues.
One more. Liars like to play the victim a lot. Something that the ones in my family have in common with my former friend is that nothing was ever really their fault in their eyes. It’s easy to look at things that way when you’re lying—to yourself.
So, there’s my truth. I once had a friend who was a pathological liar. It caused us both to do some self-introspection.
They say they truth will set you free. I’m freer now in my friendships than I’ve ever been. She played a significant role in that. #facts
If there’s a silver lining to lying, I guess that would be it.