Liars and Lying


EXAMPLE ONE: He left a few hours ago. He announced that he was meeting “the guys” for a couple of beers”. He also said he’d be back in two hours. The deadline for THAT was three hours ago. You want to know where has he been but when you ask him, he always gives you the same old answer: “Oh, well I was with the guys. I told you where I was. WE were having such a good time that I didn’t realize it was this late. Sorry.”

Is he telling the truth ??

EXAMPLE TWO: She said she was going shopping. You two have been on a strict budget. You told her as she walked out the door NOT to put more than $100 on the credit know she has a real weakness for shopping and little sales resistance. She walked through the door with one, small bag but an incredibly guilty look on her face. She won’t make eye contact and when you asked her if she stayed within her budget she merely says, “Uh-huh.”

Is she lying?

Was he really with his friends, OR…. was he (and the orchestra plays…TA DA DUM!!!) with another woman?

Did she just think she was pulling a fast one on you and the family budget?

Let’s start at the start, shall we?

We all lie. Of ALL the wrong things we humans do–and that covers expansive territory–lying is probably one of the most common acts that we carry out.  It crosses cultures, genders, socio-economic status.   As wrong as it is; as deceiving as it deplorable, we all do it…to greater and lesser extends, but we’re ALL culprits. 

Most people would condemn lying….. except when there’s a good reason for it.

Most lies are harmless.

Do, I look fat in my jeans?”

“No Baby, you look great!”


I love grilling steaks out on the Bar-B-Q. Tell me, Laurie…how’s your T-bone?”.

I chisel through the charred exo-skeleton of this once proud bovine and I smile and reply, “It’s delicious!”

Another lie.

Innocent, right? Lies are often told to spare the feelings of the people we care about.

OK, so we all fib. But this unified front doesn’t make it right.  More often than not, it goes beyond “sparing feelings”. There are lies that are extremely harmful and painful and drive a wedge between two people forever. Why? Because the truth has been compromised; a bond has been broken.

This brings me to lie detection.

So, how do we know when we’re being lied to? Most people can sense it it. For me, I react viscerally to lies. Unfortunately, I’m rarely wrong.  I can feel it in my gut.  There’s a change the voice that’s discernable.   It’s almost as if the tone has a thin, weak, veneer to it.  As if you can see what you hear.   But that’s just me and perhaps it’s part of my reporter’s training;  that strange Napoleanic code that dictates people in my midst to be guilty until proven innocent.    

So, perhaps you don’t have that ability to sift and weed through bullshit.     Fear not, there are ways to detect a lie without one of them fancy polygraph thingies.

One way to know for sure if someone is lying is of course, visa vie Pinocchio-like nose growth. But, unless he or she is Italian; made from wood; manipulated by strings and eventually animated by some opium snorting artists in a West Coast “studio”, don’t anticipate proboscis expansion to be an indicator.

Lying is an art form, really. Some are good at it and others are horrific at it. And there are, basically, two different approaches to lying. Either you are a natural, born liar and lies fly out of your mouth like spit wads from a lisper trying to say “Saturday’s sessions with some silly, sad Sasquatch” ….OR….you have a really, REALLY hard time faking your answers. Most people fall in the second category.


What you believe is very important. Why? Well, because beliefs come from a very deep level in our neurology. Espousing things about our core beliefs can provoke dramatic physiological changes. This is what modern lie detection schemes are based upon.

Check this out: There was an interesting experiment conducted years ago in several different public school systems across the country. At the beginning of the school year, several white lab coat types went to various schools and divided a class of kids with average capabilities into two separate groups. The first group was told that they were gifted…veritable Malcolms in The Middle. The second group was told the opposite: that they weren’t “good enough”. Sneaky bastards, right? And then to further hammer this point home, researchers kept teaching the students separated and made sure they heard that they were either brilliant or below average all year long.

Well, as the school year neared it’s end, the two groups were tested and the results were mind-blowing. The ‘gifted children’ actually started performing like really gifted and the ‘not-so-gifted children’ had fallen apart academically.

This kids is a prime example that believing something can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How does that pertain to lying? Well, if someone believes that lying is OK, then no matter what happens, he or she will always continue to feel that it’s fine to lie–almost as if that’s his or her divine right. That’s because his or her beliefs never get in the way. Beliefs aren’t going to trigger any physiological changes for you to read. And don’t even try to employ some psychological mumbo jumbo…nine times out of then, it just won’t work.

This is why most lie testing techniques aren’t fool proof. However, there IS a method, my clever readers, that even the most gifted liar can’t fool.

We’re talking about LOGICAL FACTS.


This consists of the following:

STEP ONE. You ask your friend a question that’s based on a detail that he/she couldn’t possibly know unless he was telling the truth.

Let’s say, for example, he stayed out all night long at some bar, then probably you should ask him/her something along the lines of, “I heard there was a big fight in that bar last night and the bartender was stabbed three times….how horrible!”

In effect, you have to lie to catch him/her in a lie.

Quibble over the moral efficacy of that later. Right now, you’ve got a task at hand. You gotta catch you a liar.

STEP TWO: Shut up, step back and watch for his/her reaction.

If he delays to respond visually or agrees with your little fake story then the bitch/bastard IS LYING, feel free to retaliate by washing the favorite light colored jeans with your red blouse…in hot water.

If, on the other hand, he/she looks at you strangely and responds with something like, “What are you talking about?? I was there all night long and I didn’t see any fight!”

Then unfortunately, if this happens, he/she probably won’t snap to what you’re trying to do here and he’ll start thinking that you’re completely insane and he might break up with you. You’ll end up homeless, with not a penny to your name and you’re heart broken beyond repair because you just lost the love of your life, but at least he’s not a liar!

But I digress.

There are some things you can look for that might give away whether someone is lying to you or not. I’m talking about body language for the most part. They are, by no means, the best modes of detection, but more often than not, one or more of these non-verbal cues will indicate you’re in the presence of a liar.

1. Liars fidget. They fidget a lot. They shift their feet, they sway while talking and they gesture awkwardly and inappropriately with their hands. Subconsciously, when we lie we feel on display and this makes some people feel uncomfortable. It is this discomfort that makes one act all fidgety.

2. It’s all in the eyes! Liars don’t like to look you in the eye for too long. Or, conversely if a liar is aware of this fact, they may look you in the eye much longer than social norms dictate. Liars also blink less frequently than the norm, as if they need to keep their eyes open and on you in order to assure themselves that you believe their tale. If a person makes eye contact too little, or too much, they may be lying. At the very least they are not comfortable with the subject of the conversation. Shifty eyes, looking away and looking back quickly and awkwardly, is another sign that somebody may be lying. After all, we describe dishonest people as “being shifty” for a reason.

3. Liars touch their face and mouth a lot. This is something that most liars can’t control even if they are aware they are doing it. It is a reflexive psychological response to being untruthful, a symbolic way of stopping the lies from coming out. It can also deflect unwanted attention to what’s being said. Interesting. This behavior is most often seen in liars who feel bad about being untruthful or who are being untruthful for so-called noble reasons like sparring another hurt feelings or keeping a promise to another to hold a secret in strict confidence.

4. More often than not, liars look down when telling a story. It’s as if they’re thinking of what to say next. It’s a well known and well-studied reflexive psycho-social reaction that people who are truthfully recounting a real event look up when trying to recall the details. They’re looking up and mentally picturing the events that they are talking about almost as if they are looking at their brain for answers. Liars look down because they’re not remembering, but creating a story and they need to look at a blank canvas, like the ground, in order to spin their story and make it convincing. It’s a way of concentrating on what’s being said and making it work with what has already been said, in other words  “lying convincingly”.

5. Liars mix up fine details. Unless they’re people of genius caliber, a liar spins a lie by making a point of registering the core of what’s being said for future use, but they often forget the minor credibility building details they’ve incorporated in to their lie. An honest person is more likely to be consistent in recalling smaller details of an event than a liar because the truth-sayer has the mental picture to pull up and think of when asked a question. Brilliant pyschopaths can do this, but your everyday, run of the mill liar lacks this mental picture and therefore has no failsafe way to recall smaller details.

6. People who lie tend to get defensive or they take a defensive posture with others when confronted about the lie, even if they are not actually being accused of lying. When you second-guess a liar they are quick to react in anger in order to put YOU on the defensive and deflect attention from the lie at hand. Even if you ask an innocent question like, “where did it happen again?” or, “can you tell that story over again to Bob?” a liar may get defensive, angry or irritated. In very rare cases, a liar may act like they don’t even know what you are talking about. Inconsistency and a defensive posture combined almost always signal a liar.    Also, angered reactions are indications that you’ve busted the liar or you’ve come close to revealing his or her fabrications. 

7. Liars very often preface everything, EVERYTHING they say with an exaggerated, “Uh…” Uttering this monosyllabic grunt enables them to buy the time they need to concoct something plausible. Beware of the person who responds to every one of your queries with “Uh.” And guess what? Men do this more than women.


So, there you have it. We all lie at times. We have to fib on occasion–certain situations require it, but there are people who can’t open their mouths without lying. These are the pathological liars who who do so to cover up some deep seeded psychological inadequacy. They can very often, beat the system. The above seven things mean nothing to them—they can lie to you by looking at you right in the eye, they never say “uh”, they never touch their faces and they do this while sitting perfectly still AND keep perfect track of their filthy, dirty BS ridden lies.

They are sociopaths and many of my ex-boyfriends.

In the simplest of terms: these are the people from whom you should run….. and run like hell.

I’ll leave you with this:

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.”

That makes a lot of sense; unless of course, Holmes was lying.



  1. Hmm. This is why I’m so glad I found a boyfriend who is such a bad liar. He stutters and sweats, and then he repents immediately. I think he’ll make a great husband 🙂

  2. As someone who suffers from a bit of social anxiety, I cringe when I read articles like this because I know that there are times when I come across as squirmy, shifty and scattered. And because I had a wacko ex-boyfriend I spent a lot of time reading up on the “tells” of liars and am painfully aware that I often fit the bill. In my head I’m screaming “make eye contact!” or “stop tapping” or “why did you say ‘um’?” or “take your hand away from your face!” but it’s difficult and I sometimes forget. Then, in addition to squirmy, shifty and scattered, I become sweaty.

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