How should I deal with a friend's tall tales?

Our agony aunt Mary Fenwick offers some words of wisdom on whatever is troubling you

by Psychologies

disbelief at friend's stories

I have a friend who tells the most ridiculous stories. At first, they seemed quite funny and the rest of us didn’t question her sincerity, but it seems the more we appear to believe her, the more stories she tells and the more ridiculous they become – from being able to eat glass to recently being chased ‘by a big cat, like a puma’, and outrunning it – it’s all so absurd! The thing is, I don’t know why she does this, and it can be very awkward when we all know that she’s lying, but we’ve gone along with it for too long to know how to say anything now. I just don’t know how much longer I can listen to the tales though – even if they are mostly harmless. Should I call her out on it? Name supplied

I am quite a fan of absurdity myself, so I am struggling a bit to see why this is a problem for you all? Perhaps your friend aspires to Eddie Izzard territory where he starts off with an anecdote about a cat purring, and it turns into a story about them secretly drilling behind the couch and planning to take over the world.

It sounds as if this is someone that you see mostly in a group setting, and the rest of the group has been talking about her – and neither of these factors necessarily helps build a friendship. When you say, ‘we all know that she’s lying’, have you actually checked, even by occasionally saying ‘you’re joking, right?’ Maybe this friend harbours some secret desire to become a stand-up comedian and is trying out some material on you!

Whatever the reason, please treat her as you would like to be treated: with kindness, assuming the best and asking her questions if you don’t understand what she’s telling you.

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. GOT A QUESTION FOR MARY? Email mary@psychologies.co.uk, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line

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