According to a survey, approximately 73% of people who had been in a relationship for not less than a year confessed to lying to their significant others in order to keep the relationship healthy and intact. Excessive lying, however, can jeopardize trust, whether the lies are perceived to be harmless or otherwise.
Certain verbal and non-verbal cues such as avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, voice fluctuations, saying very little and saying a lot could indicate lying. However, experts agree that people in a relationship only have a 50/50 chance of detecting lies. Lie-telling strategies can sometimes be confusing and wrong.
In a relationship and fear being lied to? Then make sure that you don’t stop reading now.
Below, I will discuss some of the warning signs that your partner could be hiding something from you for whatever possible reason. Keep in mind, though, that they are not definitive.
But before anything else, let’s answer this pressing question many feel too shy to ask…
Why Do People in a Relationship Lie to One Another?
People in a relationship commonly lie for the protection of either their image or the feelings of their better halves. In some instances, lying is done in order to keep conflict as well as any unfavorable consequence, such as separation, from happening. There are instances, too, when an individual lies to deliberately hurt the other.
Different individuals lie to their significant others for different reasons. Some of those reasons may be inspired by good intentions, although sometimes producing bad results. Others may be deliberate to cause pain.
Here are some of the most common reasons for lying:
- Dodging conflict or embarrassment. People make mistakes. And mistakes often come with consequences. Whether one is willing to face the consequences of his or her actions or refuses to pay for them, lying is used by people in a relationship at times to avoid adding fuel to the fire.
- Fearing a separation. Just about anything can happen in a relationship. It may sometimes go where one doesn’t want it to go, like the termination of what he or her other half shares. For some, it’s a much better idea to simply lie and lose their guiltlessness than risk losing their partners.
- Protecting the feelings of the other. One of the most common reasons why people in a relationship lie to one another from time to time is to keep any feelings from getting hurt. This particular motive to tell a lie, psychologists themselves say, can be good for the relationship.
- Making one look and feel good. It’s not uncommon for two people who are in a relationship to compete with one another, either in an attempt to make the pairing more dynamic or simply because of insecurity or envy. Boosting one’s image can be done at times by stating white lies or fabricating enormous lies.
- Maintaining control or power over the situation. By determining which pieces of information the other person in the relationship has and has no access to, one can be compelled to tell lies. This is a very dangerous and destructive motive to lie as it reeks of manipulation and control.
9 Common Signs of Lying in a Relationship
According to research published by the American Psychological Association (APA), the ability of people to detect lies is no more accurate than flipping a coin. While there are typical signs of lying, it can be easy for individuals, including those who are in a romantic relationship with each other, to misunderstand and misinterpret such behaviors.
It can be helpful, still, to know some of the telltale signs that someone is being untrustworthy. This is especially true for couples who are in a relationship where trust serves as a foundation.
Some of the most common signs of lying can be complete lies.
Nervousness, being vague, lack of eye contact — these things, for instance, can be quickly mistaken for lying. Verbal and non-verbal cues, however, can also be brought about by completely something else, thus making it quite easy for an individual to mislabel his or her partner’s behavior.
Clues of lying, therefore, can be difficult to spot and may vary from person to person. Mistakenly accusing someone of lying, which can risk the relationship, could end up being the relationship’s demise.
In any case, here are some of the signs and clues that someone could not be telling the truth:
1. Avoiding eye contact
Generally speaking, someone who avoids having eye contact with another usually feels embarrassed and uncomfortable, which is not uncommon for those who are lying to feel. It’s also usually an indicator that the individual doesn’t want to engage with the person in front of him or her or refuses to talk about something.
However, according to scientists, liars do not avoid eye contact any more frequently than those who are being truthful. The key to determining honesty and dishonesty, they add, is establishing a baseline.
Is he or she not fond of making eye contact just now or ever since the two of you met?
But it’s important to keep in mind, too, that a 2015 study conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that individuals who lie were more likely to stare than truthful people. As a matter of fact, as much as 70% of people who were lying glowered directly at those they were lying to.
Eye movements used to be considered good indicators of deception. Traditionally, a glance to the upper left is associated with truthfulness. On the other hand, a glance to the upper right is linked to deceitfulness. But newer studies have debunked these old beliefs — relying on eye movements alone can point you in the wrong direction.
2. Use of non-congruent gestures
Whenever someone talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk, it means that he or she acts in a manner that agrees with what he or she says. So, in other words, the individual doesn’t practice what is being preached.
A similar phenomenon happens with a partner who is lying. The person, for instance, may be agreeing while shaking his or her head from side to side or answering a question with great confidence while shrugging his or her shoulders. Non-congruent gestures — these are bodily gestures that don’t match with one’s words.
So, what should someone do when his or her partner seems to be exhibiting a non-congruent gesture?
Experts say that one must pay more attention to non-verbal cues. It’s for the fact that between spoken words and their accompanying bodily movements, the gestures are the ones that are telling what the person really means.
But it’s important to keep in mind that other factors may also be the reasons behind a person giving non-congruent gestures. For instance, stress and anxiety that are not necessarily the result of lying may leave the individual disoriented or confused. In some situations, meanwhile, the matter can be blamed on mannerisms.
3. Fidgeting excessively
Besides non-congruent gestures, there are other bodily movements that may indicate that one is in the company of a liar: small movements, usually of the hands and feet.
Lying causes the fight or flight response to be activated, which is what makes a lie detector test work — a polygraph machine is designed to measure and record blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and sweating, all of which increase when the fight or flight response is in operation.
Excessive fidgeting, commonly, is done by liars unconsciously.
Perhaps their instincts are telling them to shake their hands or tap their toes in order to encourage blood, which is diverted to the core of the body when one feels stressed or threatened, to flow back to their extremities. Or maybe they are touching their lips excessively or crossing and uncrossing their legs incessantly to calm their nerves.
However, it’s important to know that even some truthful people may fidget excessively if they know that they are being suspected of something, says Paul Ekman, who is an American psychologist.
4. Not saying enough
Less talk, less mistake — someone who is in a relationship knows this very well.
True enough, according to an APA report on deception detection, liars typically provide fewer details than truth tellers. The rate of speech is also usually slower, which could be a sign that they are under a heavier cognitive load. After all, making up stories as you go is not an easy feat to accomplish.
Honest people do not immediately say everything that can be said. And that is why they have plenty of additional information to share if asked to elucidate.
On the other hand, liars usually do not say more either due to poor imagination or the fear of getting caught.
But, on the flip side, it’s not uncommon for some liars to say more things than necessary. As they make up things to cover up in an attempt to bury their deception, the details pile up higher and higher in order to convince others that they really know what they are talking about and that what they are talking about is the absolute truth.
5. Excessive defensiveness
There are a handful of causes or origins of defensiveness. Some of the most common ones include trauma, abuse, anxiety, insecurity and the feeling of an attack on one’s character or behavior.
But then it can also be due to things such as shame and guilt, both of which are experienced by liars.
It’s a normal reaction for the vast majority of deceptive individuals to become defensive if angered as a result of the discovery of their fibs or as a reaction to fear of being caught. Especially when presented with proof of their lies, they have the tendency to get angry and attempt to turn the tables to make it appear that they’re not the problem.
Verbal attacks are a common form of defensiveness. Gaslighting, which is a form of manipulation where a person attempts to cause the other to be confused and have self-doubt, is another.
Basically, liars get defensive as a means to dodge accountability and tell others to back off and leave them alone.
6. Inconsistent or evasive answers
Something is definitely wrong if things don’t seem to add up or make sense.
People who lie, whether in a romantic relationship or not, need to constantly defend themselves or justify their actions just to keep the truth from coming out. And in doing so, they often wind up making excuses that are either unconvincing or ridiculous, depending on how observant and detailed-oriented their listeners are.
It’s also very much likely to get a different answer from a liar each time the same question is asked — details such as names, locations and dates keep changing, and the amount of details is always fluctuating.
This is especially true for pathological liars.
Liars who tell one untruth after the other frequently often cannot remember their previous lies. Because of this, they find themselves continually making up new stories, often contradicting ones.
Other than giving different answers every single time, some people who lie simply choose to evade the question. As a matter of fact, according to an Australian Geographic report, some of the best liars out there refrain from answering questions — it’s a surefire way to minimize the risk of getting caught.
7. Repeating questions
No matter if the answers they give are inconsistent, vague or totally unrelated to the question, there is something that is shared by a lot of liars: repeating a question before answering it.
Almost always, people who are lying often repeat a question nearly verbatim. It’s a stalling or delaying tactic — a strategy designed to postpone something in order to obtain an advantage. Simply put, restating a question allows liars to have enough time to formulate an answer that can keep a lie from being placed out in the open.
The slower they repeat the question, the more time they have to create a plan.
Some liars may rely on other delaying tactics when questions are thrown at them. For instance, they may pretend not to hear the question and beg for it to be repeated. Others may pretend to not understand the question and request for it to be rephrased. And then there are also those who pretend to ask for more details for clarification purposes.
And when they finally decide to give an answer and repeat it more than once, it might be that they are desperately trying to convince their other halves that what they are saying is actually the truth.
8. Finger pointing
In most cultures, it’s considered rude or discourteous to point an index finger at a person. It can mean, for many, anything from a sense of entitlement, bossiness to a total lack of respect for others.
Whether in the form of a gesture or words, pointing a finger could also indicate a desire for the person who is doing it to divert focus to someone else but him or her, which can make it less likely for a lie to be caught. It’s not uncommon for people who refuse to own up to their mistakes to rely on this tactic.
Psychologists say that it’s also common among those with narcissistic traits and other dark behaviors.
But it’s important to determine beforehand whether or not pointing a finger, literally or figuratively, is natural for the person who is suspected of lying before it is associated with deception. Otherwise, one who is in a relationship might end up accusing the other of lying when in fact it’s just a normal self-expression for him or her.
9. Voice fluctuations
Generally speaking, the voice pitch of someone who is lying is a bit higher than when he or she is being truthful. So, even if your ears haven’t yet caught the lie itself, a keen pair might be able to pick up hints.
An article published by Nature Communications says that dishonest individuals usually speak with a rising intonation. They also tend to put less emphasis on the beginning of each syllable. Speaking slower than usual is common, too.
It’s because of the fact that the voice can give clues as to whether or not a person is being truthful that there’s what’s referred to as voice stress analysis (VCA). As the name suggests, the technology is designed to detect changes in the voice as a result of the activation of the fight or flight response, such as when a person is lying.
Compared to a polygraph test, VCA is less intimidating to examinees. One of the reasons for such is that the subject doesn’t have to be strapped to a machine, which is enough to cause anxiety in some.
Also, according to proponents, the only countermeasure (or a way to beat) VCA is by staying silent.
Just Before You Confront Your Significant Other
There are many indicators that your partner could be hiding something from you. But there are instances, too, where they can be caused by things other than lying. Just because you can recognize some of the signs discussed above being exhibited by your other half means right away that he or she is being deceitful.
So, in other words, relying solely on them may leave you misinterpreting his or her behavior.
Many couples resort to a polygraph examination either as a mutual decision or as suggested by their counselors. In any case, a lie detector test has an accuracy rate of between 80% and 90% in detecting lies.