When your Lover is a Liar

When your Lover is a Liar

Relationships: How to Determine if your Lover is a Liar

Imagine you’re committed to a man you think of as handsome, charming, and professionally successful. You’re successful as well, which makes your life all the more perfect. Then one day, you wake up and find out the life you’ve been living is a lie — and more importantly, the man you’ve been living with is a liar. That’s what happened to actress Anne Hathaway.

The star of “The Princess Diaries” and “The Devil Wears Prada” discovered the man she was living with, Italian real estate developer Raffaello Follieri, 30, was under investigation for fleecing investors out of millions.

Prosecutors said Follieri told investigators he would use family connections to get good deals on property owned by the Catholic church. The investors said he told them the church had been weakened by sex scandals and needed to sell the property, which he planned to buy at bargain prices and use for redevelopment.

Hathaway ended their relationship before he was arrested in June 2008, fearing the scandal would hurt her career. According to court documents, Follieri used some of the money in the scheme to finance the couple’s jet-setting lifestyle, which included renting a New York apartment for a monthly fee of $37,000. “It’s a situation where the rug was pulled out from under me all of the sudden,” Hathaway said of her discovery of Follieri’s criminal activities in the October 2008 edition of W magazine.

Follieri is scheduled to be sentenced, and U.S. prosecutors have urged no leniency for the businessman, who agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a four-year prison sentence.

“We have all heard about the man or woman in love who sees the good in the partner that rub friends, family, and colleagues wrong. Unfortunately, these good-hearted men and women often wind up crying on the shoulders of those who tried to warn them all along,” says relationship expert Brenda Della Casa, author of Cinderella Was a Liar.

When asked about Follieri during an October 2008 interview with David Letterman, the 25-year-old actress, who was supposed to be talking up her newest movie, “Rachel Getting Married,” responded, “I don’t want to go into the specifics but I will say that you do have to give me credit because as far as relationships crashing and burning goes, c’mon, I did pretty great. I mean, scorched that earth.”

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It’s possible that Hathaway was one of many people conned by someone who is a narcissist, someone who uses charm to woo a victim and to make himself or herself look better. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) says that almost 75 percent of those diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are men, and the numbers are growing. A 2006 study found that two-thirds of college students who took a Narcissistic Personality Inventory evaluation had above average scores, representing a 30 percent increase since 1982.

A narcissist wants attention, admiration, and adulation, says Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love. They want to inspire awe and extract “compliance and subservience from others,” he explains. Also, people who get conned by a narcissist — like Hathaway — shouldn’t be too hard on themselves. “Even an experienced mental health diagnostician with unmitigated access to the record and the person can have a difficult time determining whether someone is a narcissist,” Dr. Vaknin said.

Della Casa’s advice to women who may be involved in similar situations. “There are going to be times when your partner and your best friend, mother or cousin won’t like one another based on personality differences but if a significant number of people who care for and respect you voice a concern, it’s time to open up your ears,” she said. “This is especially true if your partner has a history of illegal or toxic behavior. It is also essential to pay close attention to the facts if the law gets involved. You may love your partner and they may love you but that doesn’t make unhealthy or illegal behavior more acceptable.”

When you finally figure out the person you’ve been living with is a liar, Della Casa said it’s tough to get over the betrayal — though not impossible. “When someone we love, trust, and respect betrays us, it’s not uncommon to start believing that everyone is suspect. Many people will start to question their ability to identify cons or berate themselves for not seeing the truth sooner. It’s an unfortunate reality that there are some people who are excellent liars and who take advantage of beautiful, loving, healthy people.”

If you are having a hard time trusting your decision-making abilities after being taken for a ride, Della Casa suggests you ask family and friends to help you identify times in which you showed excellent critical thinking skills. “It’s a sad reality that smart, intelligent men and women get duped every day and it usually has less to do with their decision-making ability than it does the craftiness of a con,” she says. “Also, it’s normal and healthy to think you can trust and love your partner and friends without fear of being betrayed which is why all betrayals cut so deeply. They are unexpected and out-of-the-norm.”


Tina Tessina, Ph.D., aka Dr. Romance, suggests paying attention early in your relationship, as this can save you heartache in the long run. Additionally, watch out for these warning signs if you are entering into a relationship or considering taking your relationship to the next level.

1. Too charming or practiced.

Someone who is not at all nervous, awkward and never at a loss for words, is impressive.A polished approach is very attractive and pleasant, but there could be a down side. It may indicate he or she is a professional at relationships. It may indicate a professional dater who’s been single a long time, dated a lot and is very practiced. This is fine if you just want to have a good time dating. But, don’t get attached, or assume a commitment is available. Perhaps he or she is married, or just doesn’t want to commit. If your date seems very slick, and enthusiastic, but doesn’t open up, has had many short relationships, or shies away from discussing personal details, don’t be too trusting.

2. Look for integrity.Make sure your date walks his or her talk. Anyone can talk big. Some of the nicest people don’t present themselves well. A date who is not gorgeous, charming and glib may have all the qualities you really need in a partner.

3. Be very careful about sexual safety.

The nicest people can be infected with a disease and not even know they have it. Don’t assume your partner is monogamous — especially if you haven’t discussed your sexual histories in detail. At the very least, use a condom every time until you are certain you’re both monogamous, and both have been tested for STDs.

4. Know the signs of emotional blackmail:

• A demand. Your date won’t take no” for an answer, and requests are really demands.
• Resistance. When every discussion turns into an argument.
• Pressure. Your date pressures you to go along.
• Threats. Your date uses threatening or coercing tactics: threatening to end the relationship, tears, rage, badgering.

5. Angry Outbursts, Heavy Drinking.

If your date is able to drink a lot without showing it, that’s alcohol tolerance, and indicates your date is used to drinking. You may be dating an alcoholic whose drinking doesn’t show readily, but who still has serious problems. More than one or two drinks in an evening, or two glasses of wine with dinner, should ring a warning bell. Out of control behaviors, such as rage (perhaps at the waitress, or while driving the car), too much drinking, missing work, or being depressed can be clues about serious problems that can make a healthy relationship impossible. If you get such clues, go slowly until you see if there are real problems.

6. Control Freak/ Possessive/Abuser/User.

A date who has it all together, makes the arrangements, can’t wait to see you again, phones frequently, is intense and persuasive in discussions, always knows what he or she wants to do, sends cards or flowers, and arranges things to perfection often feels very good, at first. The attention is nice (especially when you’ve been alone), and you may not notice how your date has to have things go his or her way. Jealousy can be flattering, especially if your date wants to be exclusive right away, but it may be emotional instability, and become a chronic lack of trust and suspicion. Controlling people can be very smooth until you commit and bond when the control can intensify and lead to stalking or abuse. Be careful of the too perfect” lover. What feels good on a date can be very oppressive as every day behavior.

Anger, control, and possessiveness are all warning signs that your date may have a control issue. Users are often charming, personable, sometimes childlike, and somewhat helpless, so it is easy to get sucked into doing a lot more than your share of the relationship work. Until you know who you’re dealing with, be careful you’re not just being used.

Users may con you out of money, but more often they just lay back and let you give more of the love, time and attention, until you feel unappreciated, drained and hurt. Users are often narcissistic and really incapable of empathizing with you or recognizing your rights, needs and wants. Strict adherence to a “tennis match” approach (make an invitation, then wait for the other person to make the next one) will expose narcissistic problems and users very quickly, and save you a lot of hurt and disappointment.

7. Money Issues.

The most frequent relationship arguments are about sex, control and/or money. You and your date have to be able to work out your differences for the relationship to last. If your date is wildly irresponsible or obnoxiously controlling, you’ll have a tough time working out the smooth financial partnership part of a committed relationship. Even if you share expenses and don’t pool funds, you can get stuck with an irresponsible partner’s share of the rent or phone bill.

A tightwad partner may make you account for every cent and every money decision. Someone who can’t control money can create a huge financial disaster, such as divorce costs, credit card debts, bankruptcy, and foreclosure.

8. Flakiness/ Broken Promises.

When your phone calls are not returned, your date is late a few times, or he or she doesn’t show up at all, you are not being respected. Remember: you are both on your best behavior while dating. Things will not improve later. If your date cannot be responsible, don’t make a commitment.

9. Scared, Bored, Intimidated.

You were born with the ability to feel another person emotionally. If your feelings are at odds with your thoughts about the person you are with, your body’s reactions could be wiser than your thinking. Feeling tense, stressed or physically uncomfortable, intimidated, frightened, uneasy, or inexplicably angry, means your body is trying to tell you something. Honor these feelings, be cautious and go slowly until the truth is revealed.

10. Dishonesty,” Signs of Marriage, Messy Past Relationships.

A date who is reluctant to give a home phone number, won’t introduce you to friends, or has very little time for you might have something to hide, such as a spouse. A date who won’t talk about past relationships or seems too positive and rosy to be real may have had a number of relationship disasters.

11. Everyone Before You Was a Problem.

If your date’s past partners didn’t understand, were unreasonable, addicted, selfish, crazy, mean, or it was always the other person’s fault — and your date takes no responsibility, you could be the next one on that list. Every relationship disaster takes two. A healthy person does make mistakes, and people in relationships can grow apart, but your date should know what he or she could have done better.

12. No Friends or Social System.

Beware the date who has no one in his or her life but you. A healthy person has an active social life. Rather than being flattered by all the time your date devotes to you, wonder why there aren’t more people in his or her life. It may mean your date has problems relating to people, and you’ll soon feel pressure to fill up your date’s life.

13. Cell Phone and Other Rudeness.

Rudeness says your date doesn’t respect you enough to give you undivided attention. The most modern excuse for rudeness is the cell phone or pager. If your date is a medical doctor on call and must be available at a moment’s notice, a single parent who has to answer the baby sitter, or is caring for an elderly parent and may be called, you should be told in advance. A date who ignores you to use a cell phone at the dinner table, or has to leave repeatedly to answer a pager is rude. Discuss it before another date takes place.

14. Sexuality — Too Much or Not Enough.

Ah, sex: to be, or not to be, when, and how much — that is the question. Dating implies sex to some degree, even if you wait until marriage for full intercourse. Cuddling, kissing, and petting are all stages of sexual contact and will tell you a lot. A date who wants to have sex when you don’t may be disappointed, but if he or she gets angry, hurt or hostile, be warned. Likewise, if there’s little warmth or sexual energy, ask why.

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