All Lies Might Not be Intentional
With impaired executive function and processing challenges, people with ADHD are prone to miscommunication. Difficulties in processing change how a person with ADHD perceives what they hear, as well as how they respond to what others are saying.
When they “zone out” they miss information. Details are lost because they did not hear them. When they tune back in, they are trying to play catch up and fill in the blanks, which leads to missing even more information.
It can be difficult to tell if the original information was not heard or misunderstood, or if they changed the communication because of negative reactions from others, or if there was a memory lapse or anxiety about communicating in general.
All of these things can lead to confusion.
These factors may all play a role in a person with ADHD not remembering what they said. When faced with trying to remember, they will sometimes guess and make up what they thought they said, only for others to catch them in their “lies.”
A person with ADHD can have difficulty expressing themselves and being perceived as accurate and consistent. Others may see them as unreliable and look at the inconsistencies as lies when that was not the intention.
Sometimes Compulsive Lies Stem from External Factors
Early childhood trauma, parental modeling, and nervous system issues are often factors leading to habitual lying. Lying may also be used as a coping mechanism to escape past trauma or daily stress.
A child who was constantly criticized or berated for symptoms that were beyond their control may form a habit of lying that continues into adulthood. Even as an adult they can be afraid of being reprimanded for symptoms that they cannot control.
It can be challenging to face feeling like they are continually disappointing others. They may tell what they believe are “small” lies to cover their forgetfulness or procrastination. Habitual lying, however, can wreak havoc on relationships with family, friends, and significant others.
ADHD Lying Solutions
Know the Source
Because of the symptom overlap, it can be confusing to know the source of the lying. This step is crucial, though, as there is a huge difference between ADHD lying and OCD or personality disorder lying.
Effective treatments will vary widely as well. Fortunately, success will be more likely with lying rooted in ADHD than in OCD or personality disorders.
Establish Your Expectations
As mentioned previously, modifying your expectations will have an impact on your view of the one telling the lies. Your expectations must be practical and realistic to have any chance of victory in this situation.
Gain the Attention
Anyone will struggle to give a good answer to a question when distracted. Watching TV or scrolling through social media will harm concentration, listening skills and attention.
If you want to increase the odds of producing a truthful response, you must reduce or eliminate the distractions. A good way to accomplish this is by turning off all stimulation and making clear and direct eye contact with the person.
Slow It Down
When someone has ADHD, they are more likely to blurt out an answer with little thought. This is true for children in a classroom and adults at work or in relationships.
If you want to ask someone with ADHD a question you think might produce an impulsive lie, give them extra time. Instead of believing the extra time will provide them with the opportunity to think of a lie, think they will be more likely to think of the truth.
Sometimes, the truth is not so obvious. If you have ADHD and someone asks you a question, ask for a few moments to consider your response. Make them aware of your needs and the benefits of waiting for you.
Just be sure to note the need to respond, so you don’t forget altogether. Using a timer is a great way to accomplish this.
If you are the not the person with ADHD, asking “Did you say…” is an appropriate means of double-checking the content expressed to check for lies and changing stories. Rather than try to catch someone in a lie, try to catch them in the truth, since they might not be sure of what they said previously.
If you are the person with ADHD, you can say, “Did you ask me this before? What did I say?” as a means of fact-checking your previous statements. Again, this is not a way to be sneaking or underhanded. It is a way to be more clear and consistent.
Surely there is a link between ADHD and lying. Your job is to thoroughly analyze the lies to assure you know the source, since other mental health disorders can influence the level of lies significantly.
If analysis points to ADHD, take the appropriate steps to set yourself or the person with ADHD up for success. By doing this, the lies can shrink while the relationship quality surges.