Is Everyone Dating Pathological Liars Now?

Or are high-profile tales of deception encouraging more women to expose their exes’ red flags.

Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photo Getty Images
Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photo Getty Images
Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photo Getty Images

Hope Rockett thought she met her perfect match. She, a beauty-supply-store owner in Indiana, met a man who was working in A&R at a major record company — or, at least, that’s what he told her. He would carry around a fancy briefcase of important contracts and investments he’d inked. He took her on lavish trips and offered her business advice. He spoke with such confidence, the 32-year-old remembers.

But when he couldn’t deliver on some promises, like buying her a new car, she grew wary. She eventually learned through his friends and family that he wasn’t an executive at all; he didn’t have a job. He was investing on the dark web — poorly — and borrowing money from friends and family to fund the high-rolling life Hope had become enamored with.

Hope thought she was the only person to have fallen for a con in the name of love. That is, until she came across Who TF Did I Marry last month.

“As I was listening to Reesa Teesa, my heart dropped so far down I felt it inside my ass,” she said about the TikToker’s viral tale of marrying “a real pathological liar” and the fake life he led. Hope, like so many others, was engrossed — and emboldened. Women in comment sections and Reddit forums have been sharing their own tales of dating men who they say either lied or grossly omitted details during their time together. The deception often began small. One woman called her ex’s lies completely unnecessary and dumbfounding: “They weren’t even that big of a deal … I was, like, why would you lie about this stuff?” But slowly, and then all at once, women said they tugged at enough strings that the whole story unraveled.

“Women coming forward makes us feel less alone in our situation,” said Hailey, a 40-year-old Queensland, Australia, native who did not want to reveal her last name for her privacy and safety. “It makes us realize that we’re not stupid for believing men when they lie to us, especially when they tell such beautiful lies that we want to believe.”

Hailey, who works as a truck driver in Queensland, says her ex was “funny, kind, and generous” until she started noticing “cracks” in his demeanor. Small requests, like asking him to put things away, would lead into temper tantrums, she recalled. One one occasion, her throwing out a pair of his socks that had holes in them “caused an argument that lasted an hour.” Hailey said that her ex made deliberate comments about how he didn’t “believe” in mental illnesses and that he “would never be someone who had problems like that.” She later found out through his mom that he had received intensive mental-health treatment in the past and that his ex had taken out a domestic-violence order against him.

Then, there were the Lifetime-movie-level lies. Taylor, a Chicago-based photographer who also asked for her last name to be withheld, had a brief long-distance relationship with a man 11 years her senior. He kept making excuses when she would try to make travel plans to see each other. She came to find out that he was married. “When I confronted him about this, he told me he was dying of stomach cancer and only had a few months to live, which was why he was still with his wife,” Taylor said. “This, too, was untrue.”

In 2016, then-22-year-old Brittany Dyer started dating an older guy she met at work in Washington State. They had both come out of rocky relationships, and at first Brittany found their dynamic sweet and stabilizing. That was until she learned her boyfriend got arrested at her home for violating his parole: He had listed Brittany’s home as his place of residence, not knowing that Brittany’s roommate, who worked in law enforcement, owned guns. With the help of her roommate’s professional connections, she discovered he had a stomach-churning criminal past. They found DUIs and a domestic-violence charge against him. “Alarm bells were going off but I’m young,” Brittany said, adding that she naïvely assumed he was not dangerous because he held a job and that his bosses at their work “would have said something.”

When he was released, Brittany said, he showered her with affection and assurances that he would never hurt her. “He was willing to jump leaps and bounds to prove to me he wasn’t a monster. Honestly I think he had himself convinced he wasn’t,” Brittany told me. He also talked her up on social media, which she especially appreciated. The two moved in together and got engaged. But something still seemed off.

Brittany said she came home to find all their pictures in their home were turned down. When she confronted her ex about it, he said he was doing some deep cleaning. “He was not defensive …  no hesitation,” Brittany said. “It didn’t feel like a lie.” The house was, in fact, very clean.

You know where this is going: One night while he was sleeping, she snooped on his phone and found flirty texts, a Tinder profile, and a video of him engaging in a lewd act with another woman in her home. Brittany had had it. She left in a fury that night, determined to end the relationship once and for all. But he kept trying to win her back, including once dropping off a German shepherd puppy at the doorstep of her new home. And every time, his charm and drastically different demeanor softened the boundary she had put up with him.

“I felt backed into a corner and I almost didn’t want to believe this person — who stuck by me when nobody else would — would be the person who did all of these terrible things to me,” she said.

The women I spoke to said they could especially relate to Reesa’s anxiety about making a relationship work at any and all cost. “Narcissist prey on people they see weakness in, soft spots they can take advantage of, and curate themselves into a version of what they can to fill those holes for you,” Brittany said. “They fill your cup like nobody else has, which in turn gives them the advantage to manipulate that love you crave so much.”

Digesting all 52-parts transported Mary Young, a 39-year-old sales rep in Memphis, to two formative dating experiences from her 30s. First, in 2017 when a deep Googling session unearthed that that man she met on Bumble had lied to her about not having been married or having kids (she found his divorce through public records that also detailed a drawn-out child custody dispute), and who had faked a previously fast and fab life in New York City (he had actually lived in Chicago).

But her situationship turned relationship the following year proved to her that men could lie in “small,” “stupid,” and insidious ways. In 2018, she began dating a man she calls Fred. He ghosted her, but the next year reemerged, claiming that he got “scared” and was “working on himself,” Mary took him back. Things were fine for a few months until she uncovered discrepancies in what he was telling her, like whether or not he had gone to his jiujitsu class.

Then there was the woman’s T-shirt she found in her home, several sizes smaller than any shirt she owns: “It was a juniors’ medium. I’m tall, I’m busty — there’s no way it was mine.” But Fred insisted it was hers, or it was his mom’s, who he said had come over to dog-sit. Several weeks later, though, his mother texted Mary that she hadn’t been in her son’s house in over two years (“I don’t know how to turn the TV on,” his 75-year-old mother wrote). Mary stopped dead in her tracks, knowing instantly Fred had been lying.

“That night I looked at his ex-girlfriend’s Instagram page and she had posted a photo of herself in that T-shirt,” said Mary. Busted.

Mary explained that living in the conservative South, where Reesa is also from, older women “are looked at as damaged goods” if they remain single later in life. And that’s why her fans find it courageous that Reesa was able to leave her deceptive relationship and this a defining moment in internet history to share her story with a global audience.

“I hope that women wake up and not just realize the lies being told but also to speak out,” said Hope. “Yes, it is embarrassing. But I am happy that I am out of that situation and I can laugh at my silly self and I can tell my story so that hopefully no other young lady wastes their beautiful time on any man like this.”

That word-of-mouth effect erodes the shame that women feel holding onto their stories in secrecy.

“This,” Mary added, “is why women gossip.”

Is Everyone Dating Pathological Liars Now?