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I'm looking for a word or phrase to describe someone believes and portrays the opposite of reality as the truth, especially as it relates to inter-personal dynamics.

For an example, let's say there is myself and another person. When the two of us go out for lunch, I am almost always the one to pay. After several months of this, the other person complains, "I'm tired of always being the one who pays for lunch," despite the fact that it is usually me who pays. This other person is ________.

"Lying" too general. It's also not quite right because the other person isn't necessary being dishonest; they're just wrong about the facts on which they are basing their assertion.

"Gaslighting" is also not right because there is no intention of manipulation or abuse. Again, this is legitimately their interpretation of reality, but their facts are wrong.

"A Hypocrite" feels related but not quite right. The person is to some degree espousing that I should do something that they are not doing, but that's not the heart of the issue. The issue is the basic belief that they are paying for lunch more than I am. I feel like a hypocrite should have at least the capacity for self-awareness (if called out), where here that is not present.

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  • The person is “Making a joke”
    – Jim
    Jan 29, 2022 at 17:17
  • Funny how nobody ever shows up here asking for our help in saying something nice about somebody else. Instead it's always about saying horrible things about something we disapprove of, even though this has never required fancy words to sting the worst.
    – tchrist
    Dec 16, 2023 at 4:56
  • @tchrist That's because if you want to say something nice, you can just say it. If you want to say something mean, you often want to obscure it or paint it over with euphemism.
    – Zags
    Dec 18, 2023 at 15:07

2 Answers 2

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Deluded seems to fit. Although it comes from the verb delude meaning to deceive or make someone believe what isn't true, deluded has a slightly different meaning. To be deluded does not require that someone else is deluding you. Merriam-Webster defines it as "deceived by false beliefs", and it describes someone who believes something that isn't true and acts as if it were true.

Cambridge has examples including "If he thought so, he was dangerously deluded." "I may be deluded, but the case was made for me by looking at the evidence, not by appealing to intuition." These definitely refer to someone who believes or may believe something that isn't true.

Some of Cambridge's examples show it being used in a milder sense for situations where you want to believe something isn't true: if I say that I am deluded, it generally is less serious than if I say someone else is deluded. Example: "I would love to delude myself with the sweet notion that he has published nothing on the latter phenomenon."

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As the scenario is presented in the body of the question (as distinct from its title), this (I hope hypothetical) person genuinely believes what he says (he doesn't merely 'portray' the facts falsely). Given the subject matter, it is reasonable to assume that he does that because some psychological mechanism is at work that helps him maintain a good opinion of himself. If so, it can be said that the person is self-deceived (although deluded, offered in the other answer, is equally apt).

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