A famous supermodel reportedly once overheard a woman commenting on her latest glamorous magazine cover photo. “I would give anything if my skin looked that good,” the woman said with a sigh.
The model introduced herself and said, “Believe me, so would I!” She knew better than anyone that such “perfection” is a myth.
No wonder people sometimes stretch the truth about themselves a little in the early stages of a relationship. Sadly, singles no longer compete solely with flesh and blood rivals, but with mass media icons that are the work of airbrush painting and Photoshop, not nature. Who wouldn’t be tempted to gloss over their blemishes and emphasize a few highlights in their life?
Even so, there is a big difference between forgivable cosmetic embellishment and devious deception. One is meant to “enhance” the truth, the other to hide it, or replace it with a totally false version of reality. Self-flattery is no crime, but outright lies are dangerous. They usually obscure facts that, if known, would threaten the relationship—other romantic commitments, severe financial difficulty, even criminal behavior.
So how can you know if you are dating a liar? Here are six ways to protect yourself:
Watch for inconsistency.
A person who tells lies must work hard to keep track of what they have said, and to whom. When the details of a story don’t add up, or keep changing over time, it may be a sign that you’re not getting the straight scoop.
Be alert to TMI: too much information.
Liars often give themselves away by offering overly elaborate explanations for their actions. It is the inverse of Occam’s Razor, the famous rule of logic, which says that the simplest solution to any problem is usually the correct one. The greater a story’s complexity, the more likely it is to be untruthful.
Read nonverbal reactions.
Words may conceal the truth, but a liar’s body language usually speaks volumes. Watch for excessive fidgeting, reluctance to make eye contact, closed and defensive postures like tightly folded arms, and even which direction a person looks when trying to recall details. If his eyes move up and to the right while he thinks of what to tell you next, watch out!
Ask direct questions.
If you suspect someone is lying, remember that you are entitled to the truth. Don’t be bullied into dropping it until you are satisfied.
Trust your gut.
One of the great breakthroughs in modern medical science is the discovery that neurochemicals long associated with “thinking” are not just located in the brain. In fact, the greatest concentration is found in—you guessed it—your abdomen. In other words, if a “gut feeling” tells you something your partner says is fishy, don’t ignore it.
Pull the plug.
If all the evidence points to devious deception in a fledgling relationship, break it off. The stark reality is, the situation is unlikely to improve—and may very well grow dangerously worse over time. There are too many good, honest people in the world to get yourself tangled up with a liar.
Truthfulness is an essential ingredient in any relationship. Don’t settle for less. In every aspect of life, and especially romantic partnerships, honesty really is the best policy.