Can Autistics Tell Lies? | Kathy Marshack

all people lie, but how Autistics lie is unique. It’s that uniqueness that gums up our relationships. I am not sure who started the rumor that those with ASD don’t lie, and even that they are incapable of lying. Clearly this is not true. Sadly, all people lie, but how Autistics lie is unique. It’s that uniqueness that gums up our relationships.

Without empathy, Autistics lie similarly to psychopaths, although Autistics don’t have the ruthless intent. They aren’t considering how we will feel when they lie to us. They aren’t even considering a “smooth” way to lie. They just lie to avoid confrontation, anxiety, being wrong, or any number of reasons the rest of us may lie.

When confronted with their lies autistics have a variety of defenses that mimic psychopaths too.

  • They tell us they “never said that.” 
  • They elaborate the lie. 
  • They change the subject. 
  • They ignore us. 
  • They even lie when the truth would work better. 

What’s with that?

It might just be that they need help with what I call the Rules of Engagement. They don’t always have the social awareness that lying will cause harm to the relationship. Once they get this, they try harder. This is a tough subject, so I have reserved it for a small group of people who sign up for the Video Conference, “Yes! Aspies do lie” held on September 11th and again on September 25th. Together we’ll get a handle on this.

If you would rather work in-person with me, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works better for you.

61 Replies to “Can Autistics Tell Lies? | Kathy Marshack”

  1. I have always had a hard time talking. I dont like to talk unless it is due to an injustice to me. I cant think fast enough to lie. It has been this way all of my life. I dont understand. I even get mad due to I know it may be to my dosmise to tell the truth and give info to potential wolf in sheeps clothing.

    1. Hi Mic,
      You make a good point that you can’t think fast enough to lie. It’s not so much the speed of thought, but the ability to understand how to nuance the lie so that the other person is fooled. Many on the Spectrum have no idea how to do this. I am not sure that is a flaw, however.

      Others on the Spectrum lie with abandon, but they do so in a domineering fashion, so that no one can get a word in edgewise.

      Your other point about telling the truth, only to your demise, is also very insightful. Both lying and truth telling require empathy, or the ability to nuance the message to fit the person and the situation.

      Rather than beat your head against a wall, trying to figure out how to nuance your message, it makes more sense to give yourself a break. You are enough and that’s all that matters. I encourage you to be open about it. For example, you might say, “Hey! I don’t always say the right thing at the right time, but you always know where I stand.”

      Thank you for reading and sharing your experience. I appreciate it.

      1. Why do you insist that autistic people lack empathy? Having a hard time with showing empathy and actually feeling empathy are two different things. Many other psychologists state that those with Asperger’s do feel empathy. With all due respect, we are not emotionless robots. As an adult who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s and being a certified special education teacher, I know that people with autism certain do feel empathy,

        1. Empathy is a two way street. Knowing how you feel and the ability to express those feelings to the other person — and the ability to recognize the feelings of others and acknowledge those feelings — it’s a complicated interaction. If you are missing one element in the Empathy Triad (Empathy, Context and Conversation) — then empathy fails.

          1. So does that mean if Neurotypicals are missing one element of the Empathy Triad (say context of aspie experience) that then empathy fails. Can a Neurotypical even be empathetic to an Autistic when they lack understanding of our feelings and experiences.

          2. Good question. Even NeuroTypicals can err when evaluating the experience of an Autist, if they do not consider the context and meaning of the autistic experience. If they try to understand and empathize with the Autist from the frame of NTs only, they will fail. I have seen this many times. However, if a person has empathy, they can adjust their filters to include the new information of their ASD loved one. In spite of what many NeuroDiverse people think, NTs can step into the reality of an Autist — and get them. The NT just needs to let go of their preconceived notions — and allow for brand new possibilities.

          3. As an individual on the autism spectrum myself I can tell you we are must definitely capable of empathy. I am so sick and tired of this stereotype that autistic people don’t feel and aren’t capable of empathy. If anything I feel too much, too intensely.i can express my feelings and emotions better than my neurotypical boyfriend. I also do not lie not even when it would benefit me to. People get offended by me sometimes because I’m too honest. It is completely offensive to compare autistic individuals to psychopaths. Autistic people have a moral compass and sense of social justice.

          4. Thank you for your candid response to this blog. First, it is certainly no shame that Autists do not have empathy. It is just a neurological detail. With Alexithymia there is a delay between cognitive and emotional processing, so the resulting lack of integration is Empathy Dysfunction. For example, when you mention that you “feel too much, too intensely,” this is an example of Alexithymia. The intensity of emotion that has no where to go is problematic. NTs can regulate the interaction of emotional and cognitive elements as they go, whereas those on the Spectrum need time to process before they can make sense of what is going on for them, or others.

            As to the lying, it is quite characteristic for those on the Spectrum to lie about totally inconsequential things, not just the big stuff. The lying is probably a masking or PTSD reaction to the Empathy Dysfunction. When an Autist has spent a lifetime covering for their lack of emotional integration (i.e not understanding what is being discussed, or over-reacting/under-reacting emotionally) often they have learned to get by socially by fibbing.

            In some ways it is admirable that you pride yourself on never lying but the fact that you mention that people get “offended” because you are “too honest,” is an indication that you are not quickly recognizing the social cues. These social cues tell the rest of us when to speak up and when to be silent or when would be the best time to finally “be honest.” This is not to say that NTs are better at being honest. For sure, lying is a common human trait. But being “too honest” just means that you are not reading the intention of the moment — empathy enable us to read the intention in the moment.

            “Sick and tired” of hearing that Autists lack empathy is certainly understandable and I feel for those who struggle with empathy. But if the NeuroDiverse are to find new ways to communicate with their NeuroTypical sisters and brothers — and vice versa — then it is important to deal with reality. Just because an Autist is slow to pick up the nuance of the moment, or appears abrupt or too harsh — or just because NTs rattle on with what appears to be irrelevant chit/chat — doesn’t mean we should judge each other harshly. These differences should give us pause to pay attention to the inner world of the other. Instead of worlds colliding, we could try to create complementary worlds.

        2. It’s because she clearly doesn’t understand autism and that high functioning females on the spectrum present differently. She should not be a psychologist. She told me not to be ashamed of not having empathy when I know I have empathy. She’s a bully. She’s no better than other neurotypicals who judge and misunderstand us only it’s worse because as a psychologist she should know better.I’m a nursing assistant. One time the mother of one of my residents was dying and she didn’t know because her family didn’t tell her anything until two days after her mom already died. I cried a lot during that time because I felt so bad for my resident, because her mom was dying and she didn’t know. It was so hard to keep it together every time I stepped in her room because I couldn’t stop thinking about how her family was denying her the right to say goodbye to her mother and how I would feel if I didn’t get to say goodbye to my mom. But yet according to the author of this blog I don’t have empathy. I cried more than my boyfriend when his mother was dying and after she died because I felt so bad for him, that he is never going to get to see her again.

          1. You bring up an important point that women on the Spectrum have a different way of managing their sensitivity than do men. It is not easy to care so deeply but to still feel misunderstood.

          2. I feel I understand what is meant here, my partner and some family members have ASD, and are certainly emotional people, however I wanted to share my thoughts as this debate is often raised around ASD and empathy.

            There are various forms of empathy and various definitions. For clarity, one issue that frequently arises, as I’ve noticed regarding ASD and views on empathy, is the strange and inaccurate correlation that people make between empathy and experiencing strong emotions.

            For example, the widely held concept, especially historically, that conflates a lack of empathy (such as observed in psychopathy and some other related personality disorders) with a lack of or muted emotion (also seen in some DSM criteria for personality disorders).

            Now, clearly people with diagnosable ASD do not lack emotion. In fact emotions and emotional overwhelm can be profoundly felt, sometimes to a painful level.

            This, however is not necessarily an indication of empathy. And we must be careful here not to mix up empathy and sympathy.

            Broadly put by Cambridge dictionary empathy is:

            “ The ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation “

            Now, not wanting to start a big discussion around the very complex but widely used criterion for ASD diagnosis ‘Theory of Mind’ (ToM), if we are going by the idea that difficulty in ToM is a marker of ASD ( keeping in mind we are all somewhere on the Autism Spectrum), then ToM obviously impacts the ability to imagine what it is like to be in someone else’s situation. E.G. Cognitive Empathy.

            Affective empathy (ie: picking up or sensing how someone might feel through your own feelings) is entirely subjective; just because you feel really strongly about someone else’s experience (or cry because of what they are living through) does not necessarily mean you are feeling the same as them. Hence another way we can mix up our own emotional state or sympathetic feelings for empathic connection.

            In my view, empathy is not something we have (although like creativity we can vary in perceived skill) it is something we do, and can practice. It is a performed interpersonal connection (communication) with another through emotionally, somatically or cognitively imagining and mentalising how THEY feel. Whether we are getting this right or not is variable and up to the subject of our empathic focus to say.

            My own experience of people with ASD, (NB. if i was to generalise this onto large number of ASD population that would not necessarily be accurate, me just being me with my own friends, colleagues, service users and family members) is that emotional connection, as between anyone, varies depending on the relationship. I see a lot of desire to be kind, to connect, love and be loved. I see a lot of sympathy and emotion. I also notice the painful emotional overwhelm at times when people with ASD are around other’s distress. Being honest, this doesn’t always appear to me to be appropriately in response to what the other person feels or needs, whether the other person is NT or ASD. I often see things missed (as we all do, but possibly more frequently by those with stonger AS traits) and I very often see a blurring of what is me and what is you (as we also all do- i.e. projection) and excessive upset or sympathy.

            All in all, I have concluded that empathy varies widely and very much depends on the person and situation, and I believe the skill to demonstrate empathy varies in the non-diagnosable end of the AS spectrum but likely decreases in those with greater difficulties around ToM and where impairments in communication are greater.

        3. No, you are not emotionless robots. And no, many Aspies cannot feel empathy for another due to the inability to relate to, feel, or understand their partners feelings. That is different from saying that they do not have feelings. Due to having worked in the field for a while, I realized that my partner has a very real and hard case of alexithymia. Unable to respond to my feelings as they cannot feel or identify what the feeling is or what it might mean. It can be quite lonely and hard to share any kind of feelings. No judgement, just personal fact. Be well.

  2. Hi Kathy,
    I have a student who does pretty much everything you have mentioned. What strategies would you suggest to help him understand the importance of telling the truth?

    1. Hi Katie,
      The best thing you can do is make a rule for the student. It’s not easy to help the student understand the importance of telling the truth, but you can insist that it is the rule to be truthful. Those without empathy are not assessing how the lie affects others. Instead they are managing their own anxiety by lying. In the long run, they may need therapy to help them develop strategies to reduce anxiety and still be honest. Hope this helps.

      1. I am a physician but not in your friend. I have been married to what two therapists told me is a “pathological liar” and a “narcissist”. (Two psychologists-they never suggested Asperger’s) Being introverted, (yet needing to be an extrovert as a physician)I have wondered if he is on the spectrum. Can you guide me to any info to distinguish between these and Asperger’s? The lying has always been an issue. It does not seem there is any conviction whatsoever of the lies that have been told. It seems if he is on the spectrum he is not accountable to his behavior? He also admits to OCD. Need to point out hes had TBI, auto accidents in college and a minor stroke. It’s been hard to live with this behavior., he is now 59 and I’m 66. At my wits end. PS I am using an old email bc my current has my full name, I hope to see your response.

          1. I have often responded to these comments on lying. It is the dark side of Aspergers. Not all on the Spectrum lie maliciously, but when they do it often means the demise of the relationship. Lying works. It is believed by many. If you are being lied to or lied about, protect yourself. This is abuse and should not be tolerated.

  3. My sister has Aspergers (level 1 autism) and she has lied her whole adult life. She lies about lying. In one of the few times that she admitted to this, I asked her why she lies. She said “It makes things easier”. I am so pissed off with her because she lies any time I ask her a question that she doesn’t want to confront, I don’t even talk to her anymore. I ask her why she never had a colonoscopy- she lied and said that her doctor never told her about it! She is 60! Oh, BUT her doctor DID tell her about Cologuard, a second best test on which you provide a stool sample. Sure! A doctor doesn’t tell a patient to have z colonoscopy but DOES tell the patient to do a stool sample! That is just one of hundreds of lies that she has been caught in.

    1. Lying is very common with “Aspies” and yet there is this common misconception that they can’t lie, because they struggle to read people. Without empathy, the reasoning goes, they don’t lie well. Whether or not they lie creatively isn’t the point is it? Lying creates a lack of trust and after many years, lack of trust shuts down the relationship. Why do they lie? As your sister said, it is easier. If they can’t read you or the situation very well, and they don’t have any expectation that the lie will damage trust (a common “Aspie” misconception), then a quick lie gets you off their back. If their primary goal is to reduce anxiety in the moment, a quick lie does the trick… Similarly to a child.

      1. Thank you so much for responding. I can’t find information anywhere about people with aspergers (level 1 autism) that lie. Thank you so much.

      2. I hope I’m not to late to get a reply. My 22yr old daughter has been lying to me for years!
        Problem is by the time i found out police and dss was at my door. Telling me all these terrible things she said about me. She said i wanted to sale her for sex trade, have a 3 some with her and some random man. N sale her to a pimp. She said i abused my children n her. I mean the list goes on.
        She was so convincing that they gave her temporary custody of my children. Later that night she called back the cops on me stating i abused her because i slammed the door.
        FINALLY They noticed that something was wrong n she was lying.
        Her story started to fall apart.
        I didn’t understand what was going on. She never gave off any sign that she was this type of person until the cops was there. It was like i was living with a person i didn’t know.
        I love her so much i had to see why she did all this.
        I later found out because i took her phone that she has been smiling in my face and asking me to do stuff for me around the house. N than posting sad videos online to her many cyber friends that i treat her like a slave.
        We could be laughing in the room having a great time n she would go in her room online and say ” i had to go play nice with that wicked evil b**** n so many other names.
        I read alot of what she said online, and had i not known me after reading YEARS! of horrible things n… Please believe there were very bad. One of Worst things the investigators found out is that she was going to take my children to a man to Mississippi n they believe he was into actual sex trafficking
        Yes . this sounds like something straight outta of a movie.
        My question is i can tell sadly that she was very aware that this didn’t happen. Yet on some levels. I wonder if she convince herself that this is okay.
        I know she’s very angry at me because i wouldn’t let her go with this strange man.. And she said many times she wants to destroy me n even murder me. So they removed her from my home n is evaluating her to make sure she is okay due to the severity of her lies n threats on my life and her siblings.
        I truly hope i didn’t confuse you its so much to this story i tried to make it as short as possible so you may have a better change at understanding whats going on with my daughter. She has mild Autism.
        My question is can or will she ever calm down n or miss her family. Because her actual life was very loving.
        She has a very loving family she say she hates her sibling they are 4 , 5 and 14 the sweetest children. She did complain alot about the children being to loud n touching her stuff. N said many times she hate kids.
        Do you have any advice to me on how i can help my daughter.
        I know i and my children will be fine. I just worry about her being all alone out there on her own.

        1. This is an overwhelming story. First and foremost, protect yourself and your family from this daughter. She sounds profoundly disturbed. Let the police and the mental health professionals handle this. I know your heart is breaking.

  4. My partner lie about his bad behaviors. He knows when he is behaving badly and lies. He lied about his cheating, about doing drugs, used his son to get holidays from work saying he was sick or he had to care about him even if he basically stopped taking care of him for over an year and lied about it too. He lied about how he behaved with his ex girlfriend and about what he say or does. I think people doesn’t get that being Asperger is just being a normal human being with a different way to see things. Among Aspergers there are also assholes, as well as among neurotypicals. And that’s it. They don’t lie because of asperger, they lie because they are selfish. As well as also a lot of neurotypicals do.

    1. spot on! my brother who is diagnosed with autism (not sure if it’s aspergers) lies CONSTANTLY to save his own skin. even when he knows i can easily ask a family member that witnessed what really happened, that doesn’t seem to matter to him? when confronted with the truth, sometimes he will deny, and sometimes he will admit he lied. depends on his mood i guess? either way, he will either come off as very selfish, and some days, selfless and can be the sweetest. its definitely a puzzle but we love him anyway!
      on the other hand, my sister who is a covert narc, boasts of being a woman of honesty and integrity, cleaning up her name as best she can, all while outright lying about the same thing she claims to be honest about. if you catch her in her lie she plays the victim card. it’s exhausting. i try to limit my interaction with her as much as possible, luckily she’s in the military stationed far away from us lol.

  5. Dear Kathy,
    I agree with you 100%. Aspire can and do lie. My mother-in-law lies and scapegoats my 5-year-old daughter in order to avoid blame for things that she believes will reflect badly on her. For example, my mother-in-law was babysitting a child who hit accidentally his head on the corner of the kitchen countertop and was bleeding. She lied and said that my daughter pushed the child. I can’t stand the lying and I am so angry that my daughter has to live through the experience of being scapegoated by her own grandmother. Any suggestions on how to approach this issue? My mother-in-law will not admit the truth and my husband defends her, because I don’t think he wants to face the fact that his mother is a liar. However, he tells me stories of how she scapegoated HIM growing up. Why he can’t believe that she is still engaging in this behavior is beyond me. She scapegoats my daughter and shows favoritism to her younger grandson. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  6. I have an Asperger’s diagnosis from a psychiatrist. I know it is the correct diagnosis after going through all of the crap we go through as a child and as an adult and being thrown around the mental health system with zero progress for 2 decades.

    Eventually I accepted the conclusion, or should I say repeated observation, that people change their minds, stories and beliefs on a whim, for no discernible reason, at any time, and that this will never change. Neurotypicals lie all the time. They don’t even know they’re doing it. It’s not lying to them. It’s the latest fashion to be a part of. It’s a sacrifice they’re making, for their family’s sake. They’re lying when they say their wedding vows so they will be accepted by a bigger social circle. Blah blah blah. It’s all a pack of lies.

    Seen as I will never know what are “acceptable lies”, I made my own rules for what is acceptable.

    I have come to the conclusion that lying is perfectly acceptable. It is telling the truth that gets me into far, far more and deeper trouble and always has done. Neurotypicals cannot handle truth. Thus, it is often logical and prudent to use lies and in that sense the author is right. Aspies that learn to lie will get very good at it and will (mostly) lie like a psychopath (not as pathological as a psychopath), and for good reason. Don’t expect me to feel guilty about it. It is a risk/reward calculation. I gave up on trying to decode your feelings about 15 years ago because it is a total waste of time.

    Let me guess, my post is offensive somehow.

    That’s because it’s honest.

    You don’t like that, do you?

    1. Honesty is a virtue. In fact it is so valued that parents teach their children to be honest and to stand up for the truth. Unfortunately parents do not teach their children how tough it is to be truthful and honest and to take the consequences of those actions. Other than the psychopath (an narcissist) most people lie because they are afraid to face the consequences of upsetting others with our observations. One thing that might help you know when to share what you believe to be the truth is to ask yourself if it is True, Necessary, and Kind. Not just one of those but all three.

    2. First off, i love this comment sorry not sorry. I met someone who’s high functioning and though i know he lies to avoid confrontation and drama seemingly out of habit i understand his urge to. My only question is how much does he lie to me? I feel weird about believing that answer to be almost never considering we both talk and laugh about each others not so nice behaviour towards other people. Hes insistent he loves me… Why say something so serious when i never encourage him to? I absolutely love him to pieces when everyone else thinks hes a complete shit head. Am i seeing him for him or am i the idiot being manipulated? *laughs* i feel like no matter who you are we all ask ourselves these questions at one point or another. I work for a place where i help and interact with people who have a vast array of disabilities. I absolutely love the job and the clients…. I bond more often with the ones most of my co workers dread interacting with at times or so it would seem. I feel like most of these loving smart individuals just are over sensitive and highly intelligent. They sense when people really don’t like or respect them. Lets be honest no one likes fake love…. In result they give certain co workers hell. I often hear ” that person is just an asshole” no that person was testing you to see if your worthy of their affection in my opinion and you failed😂😂😂🤷 everybody lies and i believe some people on the spectrum are just really good at it😂 but they are also extremely good in my experience at loving people deeply and fully in ways most people seem pretty incapable of in my opinion.. . i feel like their love and friendship is literally the most meaningful when its earned and deserved as it should be. And if I’m wrong well then tell me i am i encourage it and the input:) i am always under the assumption there’s more to learn and one persons truth will not always be anothers……

  7. Someone with ASD or neurotypical can lie. What are the chances of an adult diagnose with ASD being able to understand lying is not right, yes I agree they do it for a lot of reasons such avoiding confrontation, etc. But like Paul mentioned he given up learning what is acceptable. What do you think of that? It is a challenge for anyone to change habits or behaviours how does this even work for someone with ASD?

    1. That is what I have always wanted to know. Are you talking about the Apostle Paul?
      If I knew it is something that cannot be changed or repented of, I would be more able to deal with it as I have for 35 years.

  8. I’m currently about to lose my marriage to this problem. I’m autistic and NEVER lie. I literally can’t. It will eat me up inside and bother me until I explode. I also can’t tolerate being lied to as it completely destroys my trust in the person who lies to me and makes me feel so alone. My husband is almost certainly autistic (he won’t get tested), and he lies ALL the time without even thinking about it. Pretty much any time he doesn’t want to/can’t do something or feels like someone will be upset with him, he just lies. It kills me. I just don’t know what to do anymore and am completely devastated I might lose my marriage over this. It’s so, so sad.

    1. Thank you for your comment Sarah. Being lied to by your partner is devastating and destructive. Narcissism better explains why a spouse would lie with abandon. Either he doesn’t get it that you are hurt — or worse, he gets it and revels in your distress.

      1. My husband is a twisted mix of Asperger’s and (undiagnosed) NPD. He is both conflict avoidant, has difficulty with complex communication AND seems to thrive on upsetting me. Upsetting me seems to gratify him because he knows if he is upsetting me he is controlling me. He only makes agreements if it benefits him in the moment. He breaks agreements, even going to the extent of finding/destroying written contracts in order to insure he absolves himself of any responsibility and he does it without any remorse or apology EVER.

        1. Sadly, some with EmD decompensate into destructive narcissistic behavior. Further, they can be very convincing with others that their victims are the problem. I always advise people to protect themselves immediately. Never allow abuse.

    2. You are at the stage I am. The lies just continue- and more lies over old lies. Trust is such an issue to me, and I can’t trust anything he says. And many of the lies involve a relationship he never admitted was physical. I don’t know how much more I can tolerate. If his behavior changed to me without his usual yelling and outbursts it would be easier. It is hard to change your life at 66. I think there was a window of opportunity but as a Christian I just kept praying that one day I will be told the truth. It is exhausting and an emotional rollercoaster. I wonder why your question wasn’t answered. Its a good one.

      1. Let me do my best to steer you in the right direction on this tough subject. First of all abuse is abuse, whether it comes from a Narcissist, or a NeuroDiverse person, or a NeuroTypical, or some combination. As to a Christian reference I am not your best resource. However, I am aware that Jesus referenced cutting off a hand (metaphorically) in order to get rid of a “member” that was dangerous, rather than allow that one member to destroy the whole group. Abuse should never be tolerated, regardless of the diagnosis. Start there and let the abuser find their own way back to sanity, repentance and forgiveness.

  9. My sister is an adult with autism and still constantly lies about so many things, even silly things like turning on the air conditioning when everyone else is cold. She will also lie to get out of doing chores and basic things like that. My mom doesn’t see it and my sister often blames me for things through her lies and it is beyond frustrating. Any suggestions for how to talk to my mom about it?

    1. Your Mom is mostly in denial about her daughter, which means she cannot hear what you are telling her. As a mother of an autistic daughter myself, I didn’t wake up to her dark side until she turned on me. She lied. She abused the cat. She retaliated against her sister. So much more. These are symptoms of distress too. Your sister needs effective treatment, but even the best psychologist may not get past your mother’s denial, protectiveness and codependency.

  10. My Aspie husband (Undiagnosed) will not admit he has an inability to regulate his emotions, especially ANGER. He assaulted me Dec 2020, was arrested but charges were dropped. He initiated a separation, but won’t say he wants a divorce. He will still see me once and awhile. He will not admit he did anything wrong and “can’t come back” because he does not feel safe. He has made some extremely bad “Big Picture” decisions and is blaming me for the negative outcomes that are out of my control. I have learned so much about Aspergers and have changed my communication style and try to keep emotional stimulus low. How can I win my love back? I ask him simple things, like what did he do yesterday? And he told me to stop digging into his life because he doesn’t do that to me. Does he really not want to reconcile? PLEASE HELP

    1. Lisa, This is a very late response, but I always go back to old blogs to remind myself how far I have come. Everyone should look into trauma bonding, and why we are attracted to people who can not love us back. You will be able to sum up why this relationship is the hardest to get away from. My boyfriend, weather he knows it or not, I have kept at a distance now. I just use my job as an exuse. I invested in just blocking him on days I don’t want to deal with him. Then I just say “Oh, I was not feeling well”. Avoids all the drama.

  11. my boyfriend is an adult Aspie, I have been worn out by the cycles of emotional abuse, they say they can not help. Lisa, I identify with your comment so much, I feel like just giving up, no matter what I say, he ends up flipping it on me. He has a great therapist, but it only stays good for about 48 hours and then, any turbulance in his life reverts him back to a kicking and screaming young boy.

  12. I’ve been diagnosed as Aspergers, and can lie certainly, but I generally don’t.

    My perspective is, small lies you can get away with, maybe, but it reflects on myself, as I knew I was lying. Big lies you probably can’t get away with at all.

    If I get caught out in a lie, that might then be worse than the original lie itself, whether legal consequences, or reduced standing in the eyes of others, which being autistic is a difficult enough subject anyway. I’d rather be consider an honest fool, than a liar, for all that is disruptive to the usual social playbook.

    I can’t do cognitive dissonance either, about pretty much anything. The stress is very difficult to cope with…so it’s simpler to tell the truth/deal with the situation, cop whatever the punishment is, and then I can move on.

    This is of course quite different from the narratives presented here, but as has been said ‘if you’ve met one autistic then you’ve met one autistic’.

  13. My husband has Asperger’s and our relationship was built on his lies. He lied to everyone. When I met him, he told me that he was studying to get his master’s degree. In reality he was doing his bachelor’s degree. He told the to everyone. Only his parents knew the truth. They weren’t aware of his lies. He did go on to get his master’s degree. It took him about 13 years.
    Then I discovered more lies. I knew he was writing emails to his ex. He said twice a month. Then I discovered the emails. It was twice a day that he was writing her and once to twice a day she wrote him. He was even lying to her. All the things we were doing together, he told her he was doing that with his friend. Then he told her that I got pregnant behind his back and now he has to be with me for the baby. Actually he talked me into getting pregnant. I already had a son that was 20 years old at the time. He is 8 years younger than me and didn’t have any children. I was over having any more children at 42, but I did it for him and I am so in love with our little girl.
    I found some internet activity that made me question his loyalty and sexuality. He denied everything and put the blame on his ex, who is very prude (a different one than the one mentioned above) and would never do anything like that.
    Our whole relationship is built on his lies and I have problems coping with that. I am quite the opposite, very straightforward, try never to lie for the fear of God, etc.
    He thinks he is smarter than everyone else and will also say so. I failed one exam at the University and he made fun of me, where he failed his bachelor’s exam a few months prior. He thinks he knows more that medical doctors although in reality he is clueless. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

    1. That sounds incredibly painful Michelle. Are you getting support on how to clarify your own boundaries? At the end of the day, you get to choose what you want for you life and your daughter.

    2. My story is not far off, after his affair I learned that he is a fundamentally dishonest person. Never told his exes about our engagement, gid me really. Mortified and in shock 3 years later after discovery, 2 years after diagnosis. Sweetest man in the world I believed. No warning. Gaslighting all over the place. I was living in the Matrix. Not sure I will recover.

    3. I totally understand. I am 66, my husband is 59 and he has lied from day one that I met him. He told me he was born in another country(lie), he said he was a junior tennis pro and made prize money(lied), he has lied about a relationship he had outside our marriage(never admitted to any physical relationship even though it was proven he went twice to a hotel)..He lied about details of this relationship over the years. The story changed so many times and he accuses me of not remembering. Gaslighting.. After the kids moved out, the aggression and anger towards me escalated. If it were not for my relationship with God I would have never survived. I have been to 3 Christian counselors who have told me he is a pathological liar and a narcissist. Never Asbergers. I am trying to find out if he has control over the lying and his aggressive behavior bc he did have TBI twice in college and also a minor stroke. I feel if it’s something he cant change then I need to deal with it. Thats why I tolerate it. All blame is always on me. The lies have had permanent effects on me in terns of stress and anxiety and we also have no emotional or physical relations for years. He is not able to be intimate. I just keep praying for the Lord to help me deal with it. Yes he is a good provider and generators, but emotionally distant and extreme anger inside.

  14. My boyfriend lied about past ex girlfriends that he kept in contact with. One was married with two younger kids, and they sex texted each other for years, I told him he had to end contact with her, and she was devastated and thought he cared for her, mind you she is married and her husband is supporting her and her antics. My boyfriend just cut ties by ghosting her. I noticed he could never end a relationship with words. It was a pattern just to ghost them, so they never even knew it was over. To this day the one ex is still waiting for a text from him.

  15. I’m recently diagnosed autistic, and nearly 60 now. I’ve tended to lie to cover up the fact my life is a wreck and I’m not really capable of holding it together and doing what NTs do. I’ve tried to stop lying to my wife and been a little successful with that. I’ve started to be more truthful, but it often opens lines of questioning I’m not really able to answer. Especially when it has to do with feelings or is related to things that causes me so much distress I’m unable to do it. It’s just about as bad as being caught lying.

    1. Thank you for your open hearted comments. I hope the recent diagnosis moves you in the direction of recovery. Autism is complex but not impossible to understand and work with.

  16. Anyone can lie, nearly everyone does lie. Research suggests that everyone lies twice a day with no difference between ASD people and NT people. ASD people may lie just as frequently as NT people however, they have a very difficult time covering or maintaining their lie meaning when questioned about their lie over a short period of time, their story will change, details change. Maintaining a lie long term is as close to impossible as one can get.

    1. I reslize that this concept is difficult to understand but Autists do have EmD or Empathy Dysfunction. They make processing errors that interfere with smoothly interacting empathically. True Empathy requires coordinating Empathy, Context and Conversation. Even if an Autistic can sense the feelings of another, they may not recognize the words for those feelings, or how their own feelings are related to the other person. They may get confused by the array of data in the context of the conversation and choose to speak on a tangential topic, rather than the central theme of the other speaker. They may be slow to process the words and the slight delay may be misinterpreted as uncaring, or not listening. Empathic Conversation requires good timing and the ability to connect and reconnect reciprocally. Empathy isn’t empathy if you are kind, or compassionate and yet can’t convey or share it in the moment with others. Empathy Dysfunction is part of the disability of Autism Spectrum Disorder and is why most Autists are terribly misunderstood. Once an Autistic learns that their timing is off, or that they miss important contextual clues, or that they need additional processing time to keep up —- they can better advocate for themselves. Their NT loved ones can also better understand the limitation and give them grace. However, it is not the least helpful to hang onto the notion that Autists have empathy because you want to believe it is true.

  17. The author forgot the lie and misconception that autistic people supposedly lack empathy, which is deeply problematic and damaging. Please stop spreading incorrect information that flies in the face of research, and unnecessarily stigmatizes autistics.

    1. The research is quite clear that a defining characteristic of autism is a lack of empathy. This is not to say a lack of compassion or kindness. Empathy Dysfunction (EmD) is the inability to read between the lines and to carry the conversation in such a way that it creates a mutually satisfiying course. EmD creates a host of misunderstandings.

  18. I am commenting to say thank you for this article. I have gotten involved with two men in a row with undiagnosed Asperger’s. Both are white collar professionals, very high-functioning. I know NOW what I’m looking at…anyway, the casual lying about the most mundane things absolutely enrages me. The man in my life now is moving out June of next year (July now); and frankly, it’s left such a sour taste in my mouth I don’t want to be involved with anyone else. Like, ever. He says he has a bill to pay off, but who knows? He’s a liar. We are both older, he is 74 and I am 55. The man prior to him also lied. Daily. Hourly. There IS no getting a straight answer from them, ever, no matter how simple the question. I’m sorry; I’m just very frustrated. I am next going to explore why I am drawn to these personalities…I mean, there HAS to be a cue or ten I’m missing. I mean, one of them was an Accountant, the other a retired medical professional. Zero empathy. No compunction whatsoever about taking whatever it is they want, then lying about it. Lying about other things. The utter self-centeredness. The verbal cruelty. The willingness to use you, your time, your energy, your resources. The laziness regarding anything that isn’t directly interesting to, or of benefit to, them. The withdrawal of affection once they’ve “got” you. Nothing will convince me they don’t know exactly what they’re doing; they just don’t give a rat’s a**. I plan to seek therapy because this has been so damaging.

    1. Dear Ash, I completely understand what you are going through. I don’t understand why there are so many articles saying that autistic people don’t lie. My partner told me how funny he thought is was because I believed his lies for over 25 years. He was actually laughing. I do understand the lack of affection once they have you. It’s because they never liked affection or sex to start with. It can be due to sensory issues and feeling like an electric shock to them sometimes. I think you mentioned being called names etc. Yes, I agree, if they become completely frustrated by conversation, etc. , they will start to meltdown and the F word among others is often used. I’ve been given the middle finger by my partner and my 35 year old daughter. It’s so hurtful but their brain is different and you can’t take things personally. My partner can be inappropriate around young women. There’s no thought behind his actions, it’s almost like he’s a wind up toy robot and has no control over his social behavior. Its pretty scary for me having to watch. I will question him afterwards but he lies to me as a ten year old boy would to his mother. I too need to see a therapist. I’m living a nightmare I can’t wakeup from.

  19. This is very helpful information for me as I am researching the behavior of my partner. I do believe that he is autistic but is highly functional and doesn’t present himself with any sort of any problem quite the opposite. It almost feel like he has narcisistic tendency still because of some symptoms like no ability for social cues and non-verbal cue and others I do believe this is not the case. He lies a lot though and have no clue that lying in relationship is so damaging. Do you have a recording of your talk?

    1. Take a look at the resources page on this website and you will find links to recordings. There are posts in our private group and on YouTube.

  20. My Asperger’s husband lies a lot.
    I studied about the Asperger’s brain function and learned he’s just try to avoid unwanted situation which is I nag and against his obsessed music hobby/work.
    He giving me the silent treatment very constantly so I’m having a extremely hard time to communicate with him. I was keep sending the emails including all of the Asperger’s info I learned and show how much I care him etc and one day, he told me that he hurts and mad deeply by something i said before, since then he try to hide all of his music related activities by lying to me.

    Now my trust to him is all collapsed. Everyone he lies, I try to find out the truth then found out everything and I get disappointed and depressed also my suspicious for him get deeper and deeper.

    I want to get out from this bad circulation, so I want to communicate with him
    But he’s turning off all of the contacting apps notifications and blocking me. Of course ignore the phone calls from me.

    We have bad financial situation so I came back to my home country by myself, but after I came back, I found out how bad was/is my Cassandra syndrome symptoms both physically mentally! (Recovering little by little) Before I left, my husband told me “let’s video chat everyday!” But he keep giving me the silent treatment.

    I’m so tired of this situation he giving me and stressed out so much. More like I feel I’m abused by the silent treatment.

    I’ve emailed and texted him and told him that we need to talk about our unhealthy, toxic relationship so many times. And he once agreed to work on it together but nothing changed. Nothing.
    He keep lying to me that his phone is acting weird, not working etc to avoiding me from his life but I already know that his phone is perfectly fine because I saw his post on Instagram many times(from my spy account! I know it’s crazy and I’m crazy!) and his phone usage history.

    I have no idea how can I communicate with him. He’s shut me down completely so I can’t even speak with him about”the rules” I would like to discuss!

    He ignores all of my messages and questions about financially and even my immigrant status questions!

    Sometimes people mentioning the difference between the silent treatment that narcissist’s gives their pertners and Asperger’s gives their pertners.
    Maybe the purposes are different but the effects for the receivers are the same. This is abuse!

  21. I am so happy to find this. It explains so much. The whole “they always tell the truth” thing had me wondering if he wasnt actually on the spectrum after all. My husband’s lies definitely all fall into the category of lies to reduce his anxiety. He lies to avoid confrontation or to make things easier for himself. He definitely doesn’t grasp the concept that they cause long term relationship damage. He has lied so frequently over the past 20 yrs about the cost of things I assume the number he is giving me for anything is wrong. He does this to avoid any arguments about money. When we were young he said he paid 20 when it cost 40. Now he paid 700 when it cost 1700. He lies about having done things he was supposed to do and didn’t do. Whnever something goes wrong he defaults to I didn’t do it without even thinking because if he did he will lie anyway. And lastly he lies to be right. If he has said something and it’s wrong he will back it up with made up facts. I laughed when ppl were so shocked an ai program did this recently because the ai sounded just like my husband. Just because someone sounds non emotional and formal while spewing facts doesn’t mean they aren’t lying. My issue is now what? He has been doing this for 20 yrs. I’ve caught him many times. I’ve called him on it. He knows he is doing it. I know he is doing it. We know why he is doing it. He claims he is trying but his default instinct will always be avoid confrontation and he will never fully understand the seemingly small lies add up to full breakdown of trust that tbh is given anyway. I also just think he doesn’t see the value in changing if that makes sense. His ultimate risk reward assessment in his head is lying is still easier for HIM. And ultimately this is the issue.

    I do have a question about empathy. Long before he got to a correct diagnosis I had long brought up the issue of what appeared to be a lack of empathy. I appreciate how you are describing it because I never saw him as unkind or intentionally cruel like a narcissist but rater just missing something when it came to basic instinctual reactions guided by empathy. There is one thing I have always noticed that I’m wondering if you can explain. You are saying several components are required for empathy and this is why it fails. In my husband I have always noticed he appears to have more empathy for animals than humans. Is this because not all elements are necessary?

    1. Excellent observations Jamie. . . Tragic but accurate. As to empathy for animals, this seems to be common for many on the Spectrum. I don’t know if there is research to support this, but I suspect you are correct. The bond between pets and humans is not true empathy. Our pets can be quite devoted to us and we to them, but the context is very simple. My dog loves to spend time with me, but if I turn my back he will chew up my shoes. Or if I scold him for eating the cat’s food, he looks contrite for the moment, but the next time I turn my back he eats it again. My Autistic clients ask me how to get their NT loved ones to be “nice” to them. However, my NT clients ask how to teach their ASD loved ones to “connect.” Animals learn to be nice to us too. It’s transactional. It makes sense that this simple transactional love is so much easier for the NeuroDiverse, than doing the hard work of learning to connect empathically.

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