A common question those who regularly interact with narcissists have is, “How can I tell if they are lying to me?”

The seven signs that indicate a narcissist is lying to you are that their stories are inconsistent; they try too hard to convince you, get defensive, gaslight you, often over-elaborate when explaining things to you, frequently change the subject, and victimize themselves.

In this article, I will guide you through these reasons to help you better understand the signs of a narcissist who lying to you.

1.) There Are Inconsistencies In Their Stories

The first sign of a lying narcissist I want to talk about is inconsistent stories.

You see, narcissists often craft narratives that serve their self-image.

Suggested Reading: Why Do Narcissists Make Up Stories?

When they craft these narratives, their objective isn’t to relay the truth.

It is to paint themselves in the most favorable light possible.

While this may seem pretty straightforward, it is actually quite challenging to maintain.


Well, as the narcissist spends more and more time with someone, the number of stories they fabricate to preserve their self-image increases.

Over time, keeping track of all the lies you’ve told becomes unmanageable, and subsequently, inconsistencies start popping up in their stories.

For this reason, inconsistent stories are a sign that the narcissist in your life is lying to you.

2.) They Try Too Hard to Convince You of Something

The second sign I want to discuss is trying too hard to convince you of something.

This is because narcissists often have a heightened need to be believed, and when they lie, they go to great lengths to convince you of their “honesty.”

One of the tactics they use to do this is overemphasis, which means giving something too much importance or attention. 

You see, by being overly assertive or stressing certain words, they are attempting to add weight to their words to sell their version of events more effectively. 

For example, take a look at the phrases I’ve bolded in this statement below:

“Look, to be honest, I’ve had my share of misunderstandings in the past, but I’ve always tried to be upfront about things. I know it’s a lot to take in, but trust me on this. I wouldn’t bring it up and swear by it if I didn’t genuinely believe it to be the case.”

A narcissist trying to hard to convince someone.

Now, these phrases aren’t inherently deceitful.

They can also be used by anyone in genuine contexts.

However, when they are overused or presented with other signs of deceit, they suggest a conscious effort to persuade or manipulate the listener.

So, as a rule of thumb, if the narcissist in your life is trying too hard to convince you of something, it is most likely because they are lying to you.

3.) They Get Defensive

The third sign I want to bring to your attention is defensiveness.

This is because when a person speaks the truth, they typically welcome questions to clarify or provide more details.

But when a person isn’t speaking the truth, they commonly react to your comments and questions with heightened defensiveness.

Generally speaking, there are two reason for this:

The first reason is to discourage further probing. Here’s an example:

“Can we not do this now? Every time I share something, you drill me with questions. Maybe if you trusted me more, we wouldn’t have to go through this every single time.”

The second reason is to paint themselves as the victim. Here’s an example:

“Whenever I open up or share, it feels like you’re just waiting to attack me. No matter how hard I try, I can never do right by you. Why is it always me under the microscope?”

A narcissist victimizing themselves.

These two types of responses are protective mechanisms narcissists use to guard their constructed reality and avoid feelings of shame or inadequacy. 

In most cases, this often leads to a tactic known as “gaslighting,” where they attempt to make the questioner doubt their memory or perception of events.

It is for this reason defensiveness is a sign of a lying narcissist.

4.) They Try to Gaslight You

Gaslighting is the fourth sign of a lying narcissist.

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic in which an individual tries to make another person doubt their memory, perception, or sanity. 

When narcissists say things like “That never happened” or “You’re imagining things,” they are trying to rewrite reality to serve their narrative. 

Suggested Reading: Why Does Gaslighting Work So Well? (6 Reasons)

By challenging your memory of events, they create confusion and uncertainty. 

If done consistently, this can erode your confidence in your own judgment. 

Why is this a sign that the narcissist in your life is lying?

Well, one of the reasons narcissists gaslight this is because they know that if they can make you doubt yourself, it is easier to make you believe their lies.

So when they are lying, they commonly try to gaslight you into doubting your memory, perceptions, and sanity to get you to believe them.

5.) They Often Over-Elaborate

The fifth sign of a lying narcissist that you should be aware of is over-elaboration.

Let me explain…

When someone tells the truth, they usually straightforwardly relay events or details. Here’s an example:

“I went to the store this morning. It was busier than usual. I bumped into Sarah from the gym and we chatted briefly. Then I picked up some milk and headed back home.”

When someone is lying, they often provide excessive details, especially ones that weren’t asked for. Here’s an example:

“I went to the store at 9:15 am today. I wore a white shirt and blue pants. Sarah from the gym was there at the store, and we had a short chat. I examined a few milk brands and selected the organic ones. Then I came straight home.”

This was an exaggerated example, but I hope you get the point I am trying to make: over-elaboration makes their lie appear more convincing. 

Liars typically believe that fleshing out their story with numerous details; makes it harder for someone to challenge the lie.

Sometimes it works, and the person being lied to thinks to themselves, “Why would they provide so many specifics if it weren’t true?” 

A woman being confused by a narcissist's lies.

But sometimes, this tactic can backfire because, to the trained eye, too many details can make a story sound rehearsed and highlight inconsistencies.

So, just to wrap this section up nicely, over elaboration is a sign of lying because when people tell the truth, they usually relay events or details in a straightforward manner.

6.) They Frequently Change the Subject

Diverting the conversation to a different topic is a common strategy narcissists use when they feel cornered or when they want to avoid taking responsibility. 

If a certain topic or question poses a threat to the self-image they’ve crafted, they’ll quickly shift the focus elsewhere.

This deflection can serve multiple purposes: 

1.) It prevents them from being caught in a lie.

2.) It throws the person who asked the question off balance.

3.) It refocuses the conversation on a topic the narcissist has more control over.

I’ve decided to make changing the subject the sixth sign of a lying narcissist because it indicates an unwillingness to face or discuss the matter at hand. 

Generally speaking, a truthful person would be willing to clarify or dive deeper into a topic, whereas a liar would be eager to escape it.

7.) They Victimize Themselves

The seventh sign that a narcissist if lying to you is self-victimization. 

This means casting oneself in the role of a victim

Why is this a sign of lying?

When a narcissist victimizes themselves because they get caught in a lie, they are trying to get you to feel sorry for them so you don’t hold them accountable for the lie.

This tactic can be effective because it is confusing and puts them in a position of control of the interaction you’re having with them.

In other words, instead of focusing on the initial lie, the discussion becomes about consoling or understanding the narcissist’s feelings. 

Here’s an example:

You: “The money we set aside for bills was used. Did you spend it on something else?”

The Narcissist: “I’m always under so much pressure trying to balance everything. Sometimes I feel like no one understands how hard it is for me. 

I didn’t have a choice. Why is it always me being blamed for everything? You have no idea how stressful things have been lately.”

A narcissist victimizing themselves.

In this example, instead of addressing their decision with the money, the narcissist shifts the focus by painting themselves as overwhelmed and misunderstood.

By doing this, they derail the conversation from the core issue of the spent money and shield themselves from accountability. 

So, as a general rule, when a person uses self-victimization to avoid taking reasonability for the actions, it indicates that they are being deceitful.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

The signs that a narcissist is lying to you are:

  1. Their stories are inconsistent.
  2. They try too hard to convince you.
  3. They get defensive
  4. They try to gaslight you.
  5. They often over-elaborate when explaining things to you.
  6. They frequently change the subject.
  7. They victimize themselves.

I hope this article brought you value. Thank you for reading!

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.


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