Hyperbole is a part of the lexicon for humans. We all generally want to have great stories to tell, which is almost impossible without hyperbole. But we all know someone who takes hyperbole so far.
Such as Redditor aitafriendlied’s friend, who continued to exaggerate, and to straight up lie about, being involved in a severely traumatic event that she was, indeed, not involved with.
After aitafriendlied called this friend out, she reacted very poorly. Unsure if she should have somehow tempered her call-out, aitafriendlied took to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for feedback.
“AITA for correcting/calling out a friend after she told others she had been part of a tragic event when she hadn’t?”
Our original poster, or OP, told us about her hyperbolic friend, Abby.
“My friend Abby has this tendency to exaggerate things. I don’t really pay attention, because I’ve always seen it as her wanting to be ‘a part of the action’ in something, and it’s not really hurting anyone.”
“It’s gotten worse over the years. For example she’ll say things like ‘I lost 60lbs’ when she’d lost 20lbs, say that she ‘almost failed’ a test when she got a B, etc.”
“It’s just hyperbolic and attention-seeking but not harmful.”
But then Abby took one story much too far.
“But that kind of changed? There was a major accident involving 22 cars, it backed up one of our major highways in the area.”
“The accident happened when Abby was on her way back from her Moms, she aggressively avoids highways, PLUS she had gotten home about an hour before the accident happened.”
“When we were talking about the accident and how sad/scary it was, she said she was caught up in it and had seen people being taken away on stretchers and how it was deeply troubling for her, she had problems sleeping, etc.”
“She went on about how she felt totally traumatized by it.”
But OP knows for sure Abby wasn’t there.
“I looked at her funny, because I couldn’t imagine why she’d lie about that?”
“She kept going on and I said ‘Abby, you were online playing a game with me and my sister when that all happened, are you thinking of another accident?’”
“She got red and mumbled something like ‘Oh, I don’t know. I guess.’ and we all moved on.”
But then Abby didn’t take too kindly to being gently called out.
“I didn’t think it’d get brought up again but she cornered me afterwards and asked me why I’d embarrassed her, how it was rude and out of line.”
“I said I was shocked she’d lied about it! We kept going back and forth and now she’s vagueposting about me and mutual friends are acting weird towards me too.”
“AITA? Should I have just kept my mouth shut? Am I wrong about what a weird lie that is?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors agree that Abby is really showing some signs of being in a dangerous headspace.
“NTA. i had an Abby in my life for a long time.”
“I will never forget when she told me she’d almost been in the theater during the aurora batman shooting.”
“It rolled off her tongue so smoothly. she had completely forgotten that I was with her, and we were nowhere near the theater and had absolutely no plans to be there.”
“I’ve wondered, so many times, how many people she’s told that lie to.”
“She’s thankfully not in my life anymore, but she made a huge mess on her way out and tried to ruin my life. Protect yourself.”
“F**k the Abbys of the world.”~greenwitchy
“NTA. But, I would talk with your friends separately. ‘Have you noticed that Abby tends to lie and make up things?'”
“Wait for response. “‘I feel like us just pretending it doesn’t happen is enabling her and it’s getting worse.'”
“‘The car accident thing really got to me because so many people are traumatized and having a hard time after it, and she’s pretending she is.'”
“Feel other people out and let them know what actually happened. Liars tend to then lie MORE to other people when they get caught and make themselves out to be a victim.”
“If you don’t straighten it out, you could lose friends.”~crystallz2000
“I’m gonna go with NTA because of the way you did it- you weren’t cruel and you gave her an out by suggesting she was thinking of a different accident.”
“Attention seeking behavior is used so negatively, but really it means actually what is says on the tin: someone needs attention and should get it (hopefully in a way that’s more positive if they are seeking it destructively).”
“It’s good hearted of you to realize that Abby’s lies usually aren’t hurting anyone and leave her be to harmless coping mechanisms.”
“The difference here I think, is that this particular lie was harmful, claiming to have been present and effected by an event where people lost their lives.”
“You recognized that and said something without being antagonistic.”
“Behavior like this, in my experience as a teacher and a recipient of many years of therapy, is often caused by being traumatized by something that wouldn’t be typically viewed as a traumatic event by others.”
“You’re left desperately, and often involuntarily, seeking validation by latching on to things that are and exaggerating parts of your life to generate a stronger reaction. It’s not malicious, but it can cross lines that it shouldn’t.”
“Her reaction to you politely calling her out does seem to be malicious however, disproportionate and to me much more of a red flag behavior than anything else she’s done.”
“I hope this situation resolves without too much pain for you, and I hope you continue to be the compassionate person it seems like you are :)”~EstuaryOrange
“NTA, she seems like she compulsively lies for attention. The more that you & your other friends let her do this, the worse she’s going to get.”
“If you guys are in high school this doesn’t seem super concerning and hopefully she grows out of it, but if she continues like this for the rest of her life it’s just going to bite her in the ass.”
“If you think she would react well or understand, I would gently speak to her about her consistent lying.”
“It sounds like she knows it’s wrong but might be insecure with herself so she feels like she needs to lie in order to get attention.”
“It doesn’t seem like she’s a bad person, either, but lying like that is counterintuitive to her friendships and the way people view her.”~heckitfarren
And people are warning OP that soon, Abby’s lies won’t be harmless anymore.
“NTA. Your friend is what is sometimes called an empathetic narcissist.”
“They use the emotions, pain, joy, sorrow and fear in others as a way to talk themselves up, direct attention onto themselves, garner sympathy, and gain trust and they often grossly exaggerate events to make them seem more dire or joyful than they really are.”
“Someone tells the EN about being abused as a child. EN will think back to the time when they got a swat on the backside for stealing candy, reprogram and say that they were abused too and make up stories in detail.”
“Shooting in a grocery store that EN shops at frequently? It will become a story about how they had only walked out of the store moments before and heard the gunshots.”
“Someone gets a promotion at work? EN will talk about how they turned down a promotion and used it as a jumping off point to negotiate a higher salary.”
“That’s what your friend is doing. Narcissists crave attention and sympathy. It’s like a drug to them.”
“She is feeding off the emotions and fears in others to make it seem like she was involved in a horrible tragedy when she wasn’t simply because it would open up the room to showering her with attention, questions, and sympathy for her ‘ordeal.'”
“You turned off the sprinkler and suddenly she didn’t get that fix.”
“When you deny a narcissist the attention they think they deserve, it’s like taking the needle away from an addict right before they were getting ready to shoot up. And the instinctive reaction is anger.”
“Let it roll off your back. Your friends are probably well aware that this is a habit of hers and you did it gracefully but offering her an ‘out’ by saying she must be thinking of a different accident. Well played.”~Outofworkflygirl
“I just got rid of my Abby. I considered it just an eccentricity, until she tried to tell my kid that she was born from a double set of twins because her mother had 2 uteruses and got pregnant with twins in each one.”
“She also has connections to the Russian mafia and can get a hit put out on anyone whenever she wants.”
“She’s Seminole, Cherokee and Apache, but she’s a princess in all 3 tribes and has her own name from each one. She has 2 working anuses. (Said after someone said they have a witch’s tit aka 3rd nipple)”
“You’re NTA, but consider this. If Abby is willing to lie about that, what else is she willing to lie about?”~fadedblossoms
“NTA. I have a friend who likes to be the center of attention AND likes to exaggerate. About 12 years ago she was robbed of some jewelry and camera equipment.”
“She still talks about it but how much the jewelry was worth keeps going up. At first it was like $3,000. Last time she told it it was $80,000. Girl, ain’t no Sears jewelry worth that much!”~UnicornSal
“I think I had an ‘Abby.’ She told me stories about how sh***y everyone in her life was and how I was the only real friend she had.”
“She had a super traumatic past and everyone at her job was toxic as f**k. All of her old friends did something pretty sh***y and even her current friends were sh***y.”
“And I stupidly just thought she had the worst luck on the planet as I thought she was a really nice person.”
“Then she got mad at me, and called the police with an absolute lie. A lie that she also tried to sell to our apartment manager trying to get me kicked out.”
“And when the apartment manager didn’t believe her she started harassing both of us. Liars lie to everybody.”
“I guarantee you Abby is lying to you, you just don’t know what that lie is yet.”
“I don’t know what was real or what was a lie from what she told me. I’m just glad she’s out of my life.”
“NTA and I would suggest slowly cutting her out of your life.”~no_rxn
Others shared moments with their own personal Abbys.
“NTA. I’ve been Abby. For a long time. Needed to lie and exaggerate to get people to notice or pay attention to me.”
“For me it was caused by psychological trauma, so I’m guessing the same goes for her. I hope she realizes and gets the help she needs.”
“It’s not your responsibility though, so if she is/becomes toxic to you, by all means cut her out.”~Bennemans1984
“NTA I had an Abby one time but it got pretty bad. Lisa was my roommate, her parents had died in a car accident when she was 8ish and her aunt took her in.”
“She used to tell all kinds of stories that we didn’t know were lies at the time.”
“Things like she had to get her tonsils taken out because she kept getting tonsillitis over and over again, her wallet was stolen from her on her way home from work, her cousin was semi famous and hung around with famous people, all kinds of stuff.”
“The worst was that her aunt was terminally ill, she accepted all kinds of gifts and condolences, extensions on school work, leave of absences from her job.”
“My friends and I spent loads of time talking to her and comforting her. We felt pretty betrayed when it all turned out to be a lie.”~Meriadoxm
“NTA. If you lie, you risk someone calling out on you, right? The person who calls you out on a lie, is NTA.”
“Also, I don’t have a feeling like you meant to embarrass her, you kinda accidentally caught her in a lie. No need to feel bad about it.”
“P.S. Does your friend have problems at home maybe? I had a friend who lied a lot like yours and it was because she got zero attention home, so that was her way of getting at least some attention.”~chrissy_pj
“NTA And listen – your friends are acting weird because miss Abby LiesALot has likely spun some other tale to make them think badly of you.”
“People who lie like this always seem ‘harmless’ right up until they aren’t.”
“People who lie like this rarely ever keep it to only ‘harmless’ things long term, and if it wasn’t this, it was eventually going to be something else and probably worse. Say good riddance and hope she gets therapy.”~Youcannotbeforreal2
While OP has mostly allowed for this behavior in the past, it may be the time where Abby’s bad behavior has turned against OP.
Hopefully OP will find a way away from that kind of damaging, toxic presence.