What Are Some Traits of a Habitual Liar?

Some traits common in habitual, or pathological, liars include a tendency to study others, manipulative behaviors, lack of empathy, and not showing signs of relief upon changing subjects. Habitual liars may engage in eye contact that is so intense it feels piercing in an attempt to make the person to whom they are lying think they are sincere. Some habitual liars exhibit no signs of discomfort if they get caught, while others become angry or aggressive when someone catches them.

Habitual liars tend to be people studiers because they do not want others to discover their lies. Successful deception requires that they learn as much as they can about people so they can get a sense of the types of lies different people are likely to believe. Pathological liars also lack empathy for the people they deceive; they are not concerned with how their lies may hurt others.

Another area where habitual liars differ from normal people is that there is no change in their demeanor when the subject of the conversation drifts away from the topic about which they are lying. Lying makes psychologically normal people uncomfortable, so they tend to grow more relaxed once the person they are lying to changes to another topic.

A common misconception is that it is possible to tell when a pathological liar is not telling the truth based on behaviors such as avoiding eye contact or fidgeting around. However, the habitual liar knows these behaviors make people look untrustworthy and intentionally refrains from engaging in them.