Do you think you have been lied to recently? Telling the truth is a big problem in our culture today. Studies tell us that we hear between 10 and 200 lies a day! Here is an example: Let’s say you read a text from a man you are dating. Your gut feeling is, “I don’t think he is telling the truth.” How do you know? Since you can’t bring a lie detector machine on a date, what are the signs of lying? Also, think about the fact that this is a text. With text messages, you can’t see the person to watch their body language or listen to their tone. Consequently, it is even more difficult to detect the truth. All you have is written text.

Look, we don’t want to become overly suspicious of people, but we also don’t want to be scammed or duped in a relationship. After all, honesty is still the bedrock of healthy relationships.

When looking for some help to detect signs of lying, we can learn a few things from law enforcement. They use a technique called ‘statement analysis’ to help sort out truth. It entails carefully looking at a person’s words.

Sign 1:  A person is too emphatic. This could indicate the person is trying to push a lie. Pushing too hard could mean they are forcing a lie. Remember when former President Clinton looked into the TV camera and stating emphatically, “I did not have sex with that woman”— we all know that was a lie. Yet, he forcefully presented his stance.

Sign 2: A person says the same thing repeatedly, but in different ways. This may indicate that he or she is trying to get you to believe a point of untruth as well. This reminds me of the famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet spoken by Queen Gertrude, “The lady doeth protest too much, methinks.” In that scene, the player queen makes vows that sound too elaborate and is too insistent. The thought is that because she is so insistent, she must be lying. Her adamant denial could not be trusted.

Sign 3Look for the omission of personal pronouns and references to self. This is called a ‘distancing’ technique. For example, a friend says, “I really loved spending time with you yesterday and hope we can do it again.” The reply is, “Yes, it was a good time.” Notice there is no reference to personal feelings. Liars tend not to reference themselves very often, and reference others more in their communication. They speak in a third-party way and avoid using “I” and other first-person pronouns. You can hear this when Lance Armstrong lied about taking performance enhancing drugs the first time he was caught. He lied about his illegal drug use and focused his comments on others and used general facts. Then, years later, when he finally told the truth, his statements contained personal pronouns with specifics. When he told the truth, he took responsibility for what he did.

Sign 4: The language or pace of a conversation changes from what you know to be normal. Parents probably recognize this one! We know our kids. When they begin talking in ways that are not typical of them, or use words that we don’t typically hear, or even answer too fast or too slow, we know something is up. When you know someone well, you can usually tell if his or her way of responding to you is different from the normal. This difference in pace could be due to lying. A liar may give a quick answer or try to avoid the topic at all.

Sign 5: Carefully listen for inconsistencies in the conversations. For example, your friend tells you he hasn’t seen his ex-wife in months. Later in the conversation, he mentions her when talking about their child. People often slip up when they are lying and don’t get their facts straight. When you tell a lie, you have to remember what you said and get it right when asked about it. This is hard work for your brain and the inconsistencies slip through.

Is it possible to always detect a liar? No, but looking for these signs might help you at least question the truth of their conversations.

Signs of lying