Whether he’s stringing you along, trying to avoid drama or keeping you in the dark about the other girl he’s seeing, guys lie all the time. We can spend the better part of a day trying to determine if he really was studying last night, like he said he was.
We all know the signs that tell us someone’s lying: he looks to the left, he ruffles his hair, he stutters a lot or he shows other signs of nervousness. Unfortunately, these are popular misconceptions and may not always mean that your guy is lying. Catching someone in a lie is much more difficult and requires a lot more than being able to tell whether or not his eye just twitched.
But fear not, collegiettes! We spoke with relationship experts and discovered a few strategies to help you tell if he’s being less than truthful.
1. Establish his “baseline”
In the heat of the moment, we may be very focused on figuring out, “Is this guy lying to me?” But before we can determine that, we have to know how he usually responds.
Human behavior and relationship expert Patrick Wanis suggests establishing your guy’s “baseline.” This is how he usually responds in any given setting. When you’re in a relationship with a guy, it’s pretty easy to determine his baseline. You spend a lot of time with him, so you already know how he normally reacts to most situations.
If you need help establishing a guy’s baseline, ask him a few simple questions, and then pay close attention to how he answers. “Listen to the way he responds,” Wanis says. “Listen to his tone of voice. Listen to the pacing in between words – how long does he pause? The questions may have no real significance in terms of the rest of the conversation, but they are important in that you wouldn’t expect him to lie about these things.”
Start with casual questions, like how his classes were that day or what he had for breakfast. This way, when you ask what you really want to know (“Were you with Sally last night?”), you can compare his reaction to his baseline. Did his tone of voice completely shift? Were there any signs of nervousness? Was he extraordinarily adamant when he answered? If so, there’s a good chance he’s lying.
2. Assess his body language
While refusing to make eye contact might not be a dead giveaway that your guy is lying, there are a few signs that should raise your suspicion.
Wanis offers a few examples: “Let’s say that a guy says something untruthful and then straight away rubs his nose. That can mean that he’s lying. Or a guy can say something, but he’s half-covering his mouth with his hand. Why? He’s either withholding something he really wants to tell you, or he’s telling you a half-truth. He doesn’t want all the words to come out. It’s a symbolic gesture. Touching the nose can mean, ‘Even I’m disgusted with what I just said.’”
Be on the lookout for any other behaviors that are unusual or unnatural for your guy, such as fidgeting, running his hands through his hair, tapping his fingers or kicking his legs about. These actions can mean that he’s agitated and wants to get away.
However, keep your guy’s baseline in mind: If he has a habit of rubbing his nose all the time or is a fidgety person by nature, then those things may not be signs of lying for him. Even signs of agitation may not automatically prove that he’s lying.
“Is the agitation because he’s being questioned, or because he’s done something wrong?” Wanis says. “You have to decide that.”
3. Check his story for consistency
You’ve asked your guy why he couldn’t see you last night, and he recounts a list of events explaining why he couldn’t meet up. A quick way to check if he’s lying? Get him to repeat the story, but backwards.
“Some people who are skilled liars will practice or rehearse their lies, but they don’t remember them back to front,” Wanis explains. “The reason it’s hard to establish proper chronology is because it’s not real. If I were to say to you, ‘Tell me now in reverse order what you did today going back to 7 o’clock this morning,’ your mind knows how to do this because it has a timeline. But if you’re trying to make up something, it’s harder because you have to think backwards. That ‘timeline’ doesn’t exist, so you actually have to create more lies, not just one.”
So, what were you doing last night? You stayed home? What time did you go to bed, then? What did you do before that? Ask him to replay his story, from back to front. If he slips up, he’s probably lying.
4. Watch out for defensive/evasive behavior
If your guy is doing anything he can to steer the topic of the conversation away from himself, there’s a good chance that he’s hiding something.
Carole Lieberman, M.D., Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author of Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them, and When to Leave Them, says that elusive behavior is a glaring sign. “Seriously, if he isn’t looking you in the eye, or if he is trying to kiss you so you can’t keep asking him questions, these are frequently red flags,” she says.
Wanis also suggests being aware if your guy starts to get defensive or turns the situation onto you. At the extreme, he may make statements such as, “You’re being stupid and paranoid,” or, “Why would you say this? You don’t trust me.” Guys who are telling the truth will have no reason to get defensive.
However, be careful of making very harsh accusations against your guy. His defensiveness can simply be a reaction to being accused, especially if he feels he’s about to lose something valuable to him – you.
5. Trust your gut
We’ve all heard about “women’s intuition,” and catching your guy in a lie is one situation when it’s a good idea to listen to your gut.
As a relationship expert, Wanis has worked with hundreds of women, many of whom were victims of cheating. When asked how they knew, several women said they simply had a feeling, only to find out months later that it was true. “If your gut feeling tells you he’s cheated, even if the evidence tells you otherwise, then I guarantee you he has cheated,” Wanis says.
While talking to your guy, listen for the intent behind his message. Does everything seem to add up? Does something strike you as odd or make you uneasy, even if you can’t articulate why? If anything feels just a little bit off, pay attention.
So, what now?
So, your guy has admitted to lying to you – now what?
The first thing you should do is to remain calm; getting upset will only complicate things further. “Don’t react with anger, nagging or pouting when he does tell you the truth,” Lieberman says. “This will discourage him from being truthful in the future.”
Instead, thank him for being honest with you. Talk with him to see why he felt the need to lie, and determine what the two of you can do to prevent it from happening again. “Ask him why he thinks he has to lie to you instead of just telling you the truth,” Lieberman says. “What is he afraid will happen? Tell him that you would much rather know the truth, even if he thinks it will make you sad or angry.”
However, if you’ve tried being honest with your partner and he’s not reciprocating, it may be time to end the relationship. “If your guy lies often – and you have tried to get to the bottom of it and nothing helps – then get out!” Lieberman says. “If he has this little respect for you, the relationship is going nowhere.” If your guy isn’t going to take your feelings into account, then you’re wasting your time.