“What’s The Most Outrageous Lie You’ve Ever Been Told?”: 30 Lies Ranging From Silly To Horrible, As Shared By The Bored Panda Community
Truth is both challenging and liberating at the same time. However, as children, we have already told our first lie by the age of 3. Most of the time, with the help of lying, we are trying to avoid punishment, but in some cases, a lie can be directed at someone to feel worse so that it would make the liar feel 'better'. And that is a lie in itself.
In my experience, lying is never the answer, and we should always fight for the truth. Therefore, dear Pandas, I would like you to share the most outrageous lie that someone once told you, and that just doesn't make any sense. Let us bring some light to all the lies that have ever hurt us.
To learn more about lying, Bored Panda got in touch with Dr. Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D., ABPP, board-certified clinical psychologist and author of the books Letting Go of Your Ex (2023) and Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception (2014). Read the full interview below.
As a child, my parents kept telling me that I was worthless, stupid, and lazy; that I didn't deserve anything, and that nothing good would become of me. That they were ashamed of me, and that they had spent too much on my upbringing.
Years later - I moved away from my toxic family and started going to therapy. Today I live in my own apartment, I got promoted several times at work, I love my job, I got to travel through the whole of Europe, and I can afford almost everything they had told me that I "didn't deserve". And most important - I found my inner peace.
Some lies can be easier to recognize, while others are well thought out and could maybe even count as manipulation. So what is lying, exactly? Dr. Cortney S. Warren, a Harvard-trained, California-based board-certified clinical psychologist and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the UNLV School of Medicine, answered: “According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the most traditional definition of lying is “to make a believed-false statement to another person with the intention that the other person believes that statement to be true.” In other words, lying is making a statement that one knows is untrue with the intent to deceive the listener. From this perspective, lying is not simply about making a false statement — it’s about misleading the listener to believe something that you know is inaccurate. From this perspective, the intention to deceive is a critical component of lying.”
My late older sis told me I was adopted and showed me paperwork to prove it. Being a teen, I didn't know it was handily forged fakery courtesy of some forms her friend got somehow. I was devastated for weeks. Decades later, some still think I was adopted. I wasn't. DNA, I'm 100% from the same parents as her. I even heard "But she's not your real sister/dad" at funerals. FYI, if I *had* been adopted, that'd still be a horrible thing to do, but since I wasn't?
"You're fat enough to look like you gave birth to 3 children"
I was 12 when my dad said this. Height 148cm and 50kg. I starved myself when he said that and got very bad stomach issues which I'm still suffering with. He said this because I was VERY skinny as a kid and gained weight at 12. I GAINED WEIGHT FROM MY GROWTH SPURT DURING PUBERTY. My father was ignorant and didn't know this so he ended up hurting my feelings so badly that even though I'm 17 now I still remember EACH AND EVERY hurtful word he said to me. To this day, I'm uncomfortable shopping for clothes because I get reminded of those days. I'm now 164cm tall at 55.7 kg and although I'm happy with my body I still cry when I remember his words. Be careful, everyone! Words really do matter! Here are some things he said:
I was eating chocolate because of period cramps when he said "look at you, you're eating all the time. Girls your age are gorgeous at 5'5 and maintaining a healthy weight. You look like a troll";
When I was sleeping, he told me that "my belly is so big it looks like it was laying beside me."
And when I confronted him about this and told him this was why I starved myself, he told me he never said that and got mad and told me to stop making up lies about him... He told me this was why everyone hates me. Ever since then, my relationship with my father has never been the same. The most outrageous lie was when he told me to stop making this up (my mom didn't know about this till then and she was there at the time so he didn't want to make himself look bad). Sorry for the essay, folks, just needed to get that out.
Dr. Cortney S. Warren continued to explain what kind of lies people tend to say. “People lie about almost anything. For example: that you’re cheating on your partner; what you were doing with your time (in fact, you were not at the library… you were playing games at a friend's house or at the local bar!); how much money you spend—on food, nice dinners out, clothes, trips; how much you drink, gamble, eat… or even how often you lie!; how you feel and what you think about a person (like your mother or mother-in-law).”
“For example, people tend to lie on social media. Most commonly, people lie by presenting an image of themselves and their lives that reflects what they wish were true. A more glamorous version of themselves and their lives that shows the fun, interesting parts of themselves and ignores the blemishes. In a study examining 80 online daters, Hancock, Toma, & Ellison (2007) found that 2/3 of participants lied about their weight by 5 pounds or more. In a large sample of over 2000 people in England conducted by Custard.com (2016), 43% of men admitted to making up facts about themselves and their lives that were not true online. In addition, only 18% of men and 19% of women reported that their Facebook page displayed “a completely accurate reflection” of who they are. Most commonly, participants said that they only shared “non-boring” aspects of their lives (32%) and were not as “active” as their social media accounts appeared (14%).”
"No daddy, I didn't eat your cake".
My then-3-year-old daughter with wide, innocent eyes betrayed by about a half-pound of chocolate cream smeared around her face.
If you work hard, you can be or do anything. It's really not true. That isn't something I'm saying because I think anything is owed to me. I think it's just a dangerous thing to say to kids who don't understand that there's a fine print.
There are a specific set of circumstances that have to happen in order for that dream to come true and it's possible that no matter how hard you work you might not get there. There's also a narrative on Instagram, Facebook et al of people who live these 'amazing' lives that you will never be able to keep up with or live up to or afford. It's causing people to build resentment because they see some influencer or celebrity with little to no talent and they then question, 'why can't I be that? Why can't I be like them?' But a lot of it is a lie.
With some things, it's about who you know. With others it's about having the capital to be able to do it, so for instance, you may be able to take an unpaid internship for a year at your dream company, but only if you can afford to do that. You need to have someone who can take care of you for that year or someone's couch you can sleep on. Some people don't have that option. Some people have to work from the minute they turn 16 and can't afford to take time off even with some savings.
A lot of rich people have their companies handed to them because it's in the family. So they get the benefit of great schooling and they start training for that business as soon as possible. They also have their rent paid for having a trust fund while they do that. They also get there without ever having to start at the bottom, or only have to do that for a very short time to 'save face'. At 26 they take over a million-dollar company. No matter how hard that person works, they still had astounding advantages that you and I will never have and if they had to work 1 week in one of our jobs they'd kill themselves. But they are often the first ones to blame poor people for their own lot in life. They forget about everything they got to skip over on their way to where they are.
You're constantly made to feel like you're somehow lesser because you didn't have the same opportunities.
Don't get me wrong, some people really do start from nothing and work hard to build an incredible life but I would bet that no one gets there alone, and not without the help of some kind and some luck that simply might not be available to you. Or the dream you have is simply not within reach for you because of other circumstances in your life.
Sometimes people kinda lie even without knowing that they are lying. Dr. Cortney S. Warren shared how that happens: “it’s also possible to lie by telling something that’s not true without an intention to deceive (Mahon, 2008). From a self-deception perspective, we often lie to ourselves by believing something false or refusing to believe something true (Warren, 2014). When we do, we’ll pass lies onto other people without any intention of misleading them because we actually believe the lies we’re spreading. For example, for centuries, people believed the world was flat. They communicated that belief to everyone around them. Now, science gives us ample evidence that the world is, in fact, round. People were technically lying when they said the Earth was flat because the facts were untrue, but they actually believed the lie. Now, very few of us would say the Earth is flat because we know that it’s round (although there’s a resurgence of people who believe the Earth is flat in recent years, referred to as Flat Earthers – a topic for another day).”
“Self-deceptive lying is much harder to spot and identify in ourselves because we can’t see it! For example: being unable to admit that your childhood trauma affects your adult relationships and how; rationalizing why you didn’t list your actual height and weight in your dating app profile; denying that you’re jealous of your ex’s new girlfriend; explaining why you didn’t report the full amount of money you earned last year in your tax document to make yourself feel better about your less-than-ethical behavior.”
My boyfriend's mom said she had cancer. She lost a bunch of weight (she was morbidly obese & found a Dr. Feel Good to give her hella powerful drugs). Had her husband and son at her beck and call 24/7 because she “needed help” and was SO weak and sick. Gaslit the whole town, had everyone giving her attention, flowers, home-cooked meals, etc. My boyfriend and I could never go out (“what if she fell?!) but she loved having us both there to listen to her monologues. This went on for 2 years! We were dumb teenagers, but shouldn’t the adults have noticed something wasn’t right? They finally did, it all came out (suprise! No cancer!) and my boyfriend had to leave town because of the shame. (I went with him- happily married for 40 years) We tried to forgive her when our kids came along. She started the same old stuff, and we finally completely cut her off.
So, big, big, biiiiig lies.
That your "permanent record" in primary school will matter and follow you forever.
Some people are so used to lying rather than telling the truth that they tend to choose false information in the simplest situations. Dr. Cortney S. Warren commented on why that is: “People lie for many reasons. Some of the most common are: fear of punishment, retribution, or rejection (for example, if you cheat and tell your partner, they may leave or be angry); an inability to admit to ourselves the truth because it’s too painful to admit (the core of all self-deception—you lie to yourself to save yourself the pain of seeing reality for what it is); an intention to project a more positive, socially desirable image of ourselves (for example, you don’t want to look like a 'bad person' so you only present what you want people to see about you); -to gain something you want or cheat another person (which is more indicative of pathological lying).”
However, some people are more likely to lie than others. “In general, research suggests that people who have higher trait-based self-esteem, are more open to outside-the-box thinking, and are kind/agreeable are less likely to lie. People who struggle with chronic negative emotion, are emotionally reactive, and lack empathy (characteristics that are associated with what we call neuroticism in psychological terms) are more likely to lie,” shared Dr. Cortney S. Warren.
That I’m ok and it’ll pass. PTSD mixed with other mental things will never go away (for me). Love to all of you, pandas.
That commercialized health care is an advantage to the patient.
(Never believed it, of course)
In terms of relationships and social dynamics, lying can damage the bond between people. “Lying undermines trust and closeness. This dramatically affects interpersonal relationships both personally and professionally. When you realize you’ve been lied to, it’s highly damaging to relationships because you won’t know whether the person who lied to you will do it again.”
“Self-deception plays a huge role in romantic love and breakups. You're very likely to believe some highly untrue things about your mate, both while you're together and after you break up. Many of them are outlined in my latest book—along with a host of exercises to challenge unhelpful and dishonest thinking patterns!” shared Dr. Cortney S. Warren.
I love you. (The lie that always gets me...)
I respect you.
I'll pay you back.
I'd never cheat on you.
Will you marry me?
I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
I'm sorry, I'll never do it again.
I'll never hurt you.
I just want to see you happy.
I was just drunk...
There's nothing going on between us.
That person doesn't mean anything to me.
You can trust me.
My ex-husband told me that his family had connections with the mafia and that if I ever tried to leave him that he would disappear with our son and I would never see them again. I left him and he didn't disappear.
After we divorced he told my son that he was on an experimental komodo dragon treatment for his necrotic pancreatitis and he only had 6 months to live. This was several years ago. He is still alive.
But not all lying is bad, isn’t it? Sparing someone’s feelings is considered a positive thing and sometimes it just feels like lying is the only option. Here is Dr. Cortney S. Warren’s perspective on that. She wrote: “this is a very tough question for me to answer. Who you want to be honest with and when is a very complicated topic that depends on how close you want to be to someone, how the information may affect them, and whether it’s appropriate or not to tell them the truth. I would not advocate for lying almost ever—but I also wouldn’t say that you should tell everyone private information that may be true in every situation. What I would say is that the goal is always to be honest with yourself. Because that’s where your true power lies. The more you can see and admit the truth, the more power you have to make different choices with the information you have.”
"I’m not cheating on you and never would." Said by my now ex-husband. Backstory: we were married for 9 years, together for 11, and had 2 daughters together. We had a somewhat open relationship to avoid cheating as he had a reputation from his past. There were many rules but the main one was, you don’t do anything behind the other's back. Not only did he cheat behind my back but he brought her into my home to help me with the kids after a surgery I had as my ex was an over-the-road trucker and couldn’t be there with me. She stole my phone while I was sleeping and text herself from it making it look like I was selling her my pain meds from the surgery. In the end, I didn’t get in any trouble as I still had the pills I was supposedly selling but she sure tried multiple things to have me put in prison so she could take over my role (her words). Karma got her in the end as she was charged with perjury and soliciting an officer.
That the ultra-religious will go to heaven, and the rest of the world will burn.
That LGBTQ+ people are 'sinful' and 'an abomination'.
That the Bible was 100% correct.
It's a 2,000+-year-old book. Translated from many different languages. That says that women are inferior, and it's 'right to own slaves'.
In the end, lying is not worth it. But if lying is coursing through your veins and it is difficult to recognize whether you are telling the truth, Dr. Cortney S. Warren shared some strategies that you can use to identify it: “start with yourself. Try to be as honest with yourself as possible. Then, anytime you want to lie to yourself or others, pause. Notice your tendency and ask why you are doing this. Strive to have everything that comes out of your mouth be honest. The path to self-honesty starts with self-awareness. Pause. Notice what you’re thinking and how you feel. Ask yourself why. My book, Lies we Tell Ourselves, and TEDx talk Honest Liars can help you with more specific strategies for self-honesty, especially in relationships.”
You’re just too sensitive. Stop wearing your feelings on your sleeve. Have heard this all my life, especially when I react to an unkind or untrue comment. Smh.
Since the rise of social media, lying does not stop in our inner circles. Here is what Dr. Cortney S. Warren shared regarding this topic: “I think the anonymity and lack of direct face-to-face interaction of most social media makes it easier to lie. You can essentially say whatever you want online—whether it’s objectively true or not—and not really have very serious consequences for it. And it’s easier to say what you want without getting 'caught' in a lie online than it is when talking to someone directly—you’re able to project an image or a statement without many of the nuances of non-verbal and interpersonal cues that indicate lying in person! I also think that people are more aggressive and brazen in their comments online because they see it as a platform to express themselves instead of seeing it as an interaction or relationship with others online.”
That the world is just fine. IT'S NOT FINE, YOU MORONS, WAKE UP!
When encountering a dishonest post, it can be challenging to know how to identify the lies and respond appropriately. Dr. Cortney S. Warren commented on how to spot these lies or react in such situations.
“In terms of spotting lies, I would go into all online material with a critical thinking cap on. Ask yourself a host of questions to evaluate whether a statement is true by looking for data—look for evidence to support any claim. First, consider the source—do they have a vested personal interest in presenting information a certain way? Then consider the perspective taken—are they able to articulate the other side of an argument? Also, look for self-deception. Are they in denial? Rationalizing? Projecting? My book can help you explore how our inability to be honest with ourselves—which is actually a much more dangerous problem—can lead you to spread lies unintentionally to those around you.
In terms of how to react, this is a very complicated question to answer because it really depends on your goal and relationship to the writer. I would pause. Think about your reaction. And then decide very clearly how you want to respond and why before you do anything to confront a dishonest post!”
In the era of social media, the prevalence of dishonesty raises questions about its potential impact on individuals. Dr. Cortney S. Warren answered a question about what effect dishonesty on social media has on us.
“Although selective self-presentation and lying about ourselves on social media may not seem like a surprise (or even a big deal), it can affect us greatly. Why? Humans are naturally social creatures—we crave relationships and social interaction. According to some of the most prominent theories of human nature and a large body of research, social interaction and feeling a sense of belonging to a community are two of the most important predictors of psychological and physical health (see here for a review). Given our social nature, we want to feel connected to people and 'in the know' about our friends, family, and even celebrities. We crave connectedness. So, we want to interact with people and social media offers us one way to do that. We also have a natural propensity to trust that others are being honest with us. A large body of research suggests that we are programmed to trust others. Although the reasons for our tendency to trust are complex, without interpersonal connectedness and a fundamental belief that those around will support you, protect you, and treat you respectfully, we feel unsafe. Trust is developmentally essential to feeling safe and secure. So, what happens is we want connection through social media interaction and we naturally think that others are being honest. When people aren’t honest, it can be problematic because we internally presume that what is presented is true. That people are naturally as good-looking as their photos appear. That people’s daily home life is as perfect as the pictures depict. That others have very few gut-wrenching struggles. That people around us are in a habitual state of going on vacation, eating out, and parenting blissfully. This is clearly not true. And although we are less aware of the realities of other people’s lives, we are well aware of the ways in which our own lives are NOT ideal. To make matters more complicated, when we believe that what we see on social media is true and relevant to us, we are more likely to compare ourselves to it in an internal effort to evaluate ourselves against those around us (e.g., regarding our looks, wealth, significant other, family, etc.). As we do this against the idealized images and unreasonably positive life accounts that tend to permeate social media, we are likely to feel more poorly about ourselves and our lives. A growing body of research suggests that social media use can negatively affect your psychological health, particularly if you compare yourself to the people or (positive) images you see online. In a study of 339 college women (Puglia, 2017), the tendency to compare oneself to others was associated with poorer body esteem and a greater desire to use social media to make such body comparisons. Furthermore, in a subsample of 58 women in the Puglia study, those with higher levels of Facebook usage displayed lower body satisfaction than those with lower Facebook usage. Similarly, in an experimental study by Vogel and colleagues (2015), participants who tended to compare themselves to others more regularly had lower self-esteem, more negative emotions, and a poorer view of themselves after using Facebook than participants who did not tend to compare themselves to others.”
That any one person is inherently "better" or "superior" to another. It's complete stupidity.
Everything that comes out of my sister's mouth is a lie, I swear, these are some of the things she has said: she can see dead people, she was abducted by aliens, she's in a choir, and the churches are fighting over her to join their choir, her kids are autistic and have Asperger's, they're not, FYI, never even seen a doctor about it, omg she has had every ailment going. One time she said she took a drug which I used to do when I was a dumb kid and you can't eat on it, so she says this then says I'm starving, that she's on first-name terms with people from BAFTA, omg the list is endless, I just shake my head lol.
And lastly, she added: “the truth is that we all lie. On social media, this is rampant. Often, people do it to try to project an image of what they wish were true. To make ourselves look more beautiful. Smarter. More successful. As though we have a more fun life! Although lying to others is not something I would encourage you to do, the greater journey is to become fully honest with yourself. If catch yourself in the act of lying, pause. Ask yourself why you are doing it. As you understand what’s motivating your lies, you can be more honest with yourself about who you want to be and how you want to act.”
That my little brother gets treated the same way I did at his age- I had a Kindle and he currently uses a Playstation or Nintendo, a television, and a Kindle (he's broken two Kindles in the past, and the one he uses right now is actually taken from my older bro), and an iPad daily, he's on an iPad rn if you were wondering. He also isn't expected to do anything and leaves messes everywhere, and biting, hitting, and screaming are okay because he doesn't know any better.
You won't always have a calculator on you, absolutely bs.
Everything Alex Jones said ever.
When I was in elementary school, the teachers told us that if we stepped on the grass, the fire alarm would trip. Me being the curious idiot I was, I tried it and stepped on said grass.
The fire alarm wasn't tripped because its grass. My guess is they didn't wanna clean grass blades.
Life is fair.
That she didn’t know how all the quarterly reports got into a coworker’s rarely used extra file cabinet because she sent them out to the clients when she said she did, and then when she said she had no idea how the petty cash box she was responsible for, ended up under another coworker’s desk in the trash can - EMPTY. Or when she told the arbitrator during her attempt to fight her termination that her grandmother had died which made her miss work for two weeks but was not able to call into work because she was too upset.
That it’s “hamburger” in my spaghetti. It was not. It was an octopus. For some reason, my dad didn’t think we’d know the difference if he just said it was hamburger.
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