Signs That May Indicate Someone Is Lying To You

People lie. It's just a fact of life. Even people who say they don't lie still lie. Whether it's a lie to get out of trouble or a lie to protect someone from having their feelings hurt, people lie.

While some lies, like white lies, are understandable and somewhat acceptable, other lies are not. For example, lying about cheating, substance abuse, criminal behavior, saying you're not a serial killer when you actually are a serial killer — these are lies that matter and the lies you don't want to be told. But the problem when dealing with a liar is trying to figure out if they're really a liar or if they're just bad at telling the truth which, in some cases, the latter might be possible.


"It can be tough to accurately interpret someone through their body language since someone may feel tense or look uneasy for so many reasons," clinical psychologist Dr. Jenny Taitz tells Time. "For example, it's easy to imagine shirking eye contact, as people often associate with lying, for any number of reasons from feeling socially anxious to bored to ashamed because you know you're lying. We're not always as adept at reading others as we assume."

But while that may be the case, it doesn't mean that if we think we're being lied to, we shouldn't try to figure out if our hunch is right or not.

Body language

As any expert will tell you, when it comes to lying the first giveaway is body language. Even if you, the liar, think you have your body under control and it's moving normally, if you have a secret you're trying to keep under wraps, your body is going to give it away.


"If someone keeps performing a random physical action that seems unnecessary — cleaning her glasses excessively, retying her shoelaces, or dusting off the (clean) table in front of her — she may be lying," relationship expert Barbara Mitchell tells Fox News. "The guilt and anxiety make her restless. That can be particularly true if she is lying to somebody she loves. When a person fibs to a traffic cop, she won't necessarily fidget a lot. But if she is deceiving her husband, she won't be able to sit still." In some cases, a liar might realize they're fidgeting too much and build an invisible wall around them instead by crossing their arms and avoiding direct eye contact.

Change in speech patterns

Not only is a liar's body all over the place when lying but so is their speech. According to a 2011 study published in Discourse Processes, people who are lying use speech patterns that are unusual to how they normally speak. As the researchers found when evaluating the difference in speech between liars and truth-tellers, the liars not only used far more third-person pronouns (as a means to separate themselves from the lie) and numbers, but swore more than the other participants. The liars also used more words in general while telling their lies.


Other findings by body language expert Traci Brown found that in addition to this shift in speech patterns, liars' mouths change too. In fact, they roll their lips back into their mouth, as if it will protect them from saying something they shouldn't. "It's been my experience that, when people do that, they're holding back emotions or facts," Brown tells Time. When we don't want to talk and share information, we naturally purse our lips as if suppressing the truth.


If you think you're being lied to, most of the time the liar will throw what you're accusing them of back in your face so they can dodge having to answer it or, even worse, gaslight you by making you feel like it's all in your head and you're just being crazy. 


"What I've noticed with certain people [when they're lying] is they'll dodge the question or keep it really vague and general," licensed marriage and family therapist Shane Birkel, LMFT, tells Mind Body Green. It's all about mind games when it comes to lying. They want to keep things on a level where you feel like the crazy one or, in some cases, if you confront your partner about cheating, for example, they may accuse you of being the one who's doing the cheating. In order to keep the lie alive, you must be the one left questioning and wondering over and over again.

Giving too many details

When someone tells the truth, they simply say what happened, no extra additives, and that's it. But when it's a lie, the liar will go on and on, the whole time thinking they're legitimizing their lie when they're actually just digging themselves into a deeper hole. Think about all the times you've played hooky from work or school when you weren't really sick — didn't your lie have a whole boatload of unnecessary explanations compared to when your grandmother actually, really passed away?


"When someone goes on and on and gives you too much information — information that is not requested and especially an excess of details — there is a very high probability that he or she is not telling you the truth," behavioral analyst, body language expert, and author of "The Body Language of Liars," Dr. Lillian Glass tells Insider. "Liars often talk a lot because they are hoping that, with all their talking and seeming openness, others will believe them."

But a good liar should know, after using this technique for so long, it just causes more skepticism. 

Not keeping their story straight

When you tell a lie, one that you've clearly embellished in an attempt to make it seem truthful, you're then forced to tell another lie to back up the first lie. Then, something will come up where you'll have to add another lie to the story, then another one. Soon you have a whole bunch of lies that have been told and a story that has now become impossible to keep straight. Unless you're a psychopath and, according to the American Psychology Association, only 1.2% of U.S. men and 0.3% to 0.7% of U.S. women are psychopaths, no liar — not even a good one — can keep their story straight.


So, look for those holes in their tall tales, the mix-up of dates and times, and the inconsistency in everything they say. Even if you don't want to believe you're being lied to, a story that's constantly changing is a dead giveaway.

Their breathing may change or they'll begin to sweat

When someone is caught in a lie, panic kicks in and affects the whole body. It's not just about the fidgeting, the lack of eye contact, the stumbling over false details, but every part of their being, if you pay close enough attention, will give them away. While sweating after being caught in a lie makes sense, another interesting reflex that occurs is how they breathe. "In essence, they are out of breath because their heart rate and blood flow change," Dr. Lillian Glass tells Insider. "Your body experiences these types of changes when you're nervous and feeling tense — when you lie."


Although all these signs can be perceived as indications that someone is lying, at the end of the day, you'll never really know for sure — unless you catch them red-handed, of course. While sometimes giving someone the benefit of the doubt can feel like the right thing to do, if you know in your heart and gut that you're being lied to, then pursue it. Even a good liar will eventually break, especially when they have dozens of lies they can no longer keep track of and dozens of people they unwillingly involved in the whole scheme.