Wednesday, April 30

Liar Liar

Pants on fire, buddy.There is nothing worse than the icky feeling in the pit of my stomach when I figure out -- sometimes way too late -- that I've been lied to.

Especially if it took a long while for the lies to unravel, and then I just feel like a plain idiot that it took me so long. The phrase "better late than never" doesn't make me feel much better about it, either.

Bella De Paulo, a psychologist specializing in relationships, has plenty of tips to spot a liar. And while it may not take away the dreaded feeling of ick, it might just cut down on that I'm-an-idiot-statute-of-limitations.

  • 'Truth is...
    Any sentence starting with, "The truth is," or "To be honest with you," should set off the red flag!

  • It's all in the eyes.
    Of course, if a person is doing some severe blinking, you've either found someone in need of eyedrops or in need of some truth syrum. And even if you might not notice a twitch or a blink that could be an obvious tell, if their pupils dilate dramatically, congratulations, you just might have a liar on your hands.

    ["...Or someone who's hopped up on narcotics, " Toni says. " (and that's a whole other blog post right there)".]

  • Do you hear that?
    Anyone who saw last week's Desperate Housewives knows that one of Tom Scavo's tells is that his voice creeps up a few pitches. Listen for a higher than normal pitch in the voice. Of course, keep limit this tip to post-pubescent adults.

  • Read my lips!
    According to DePaulo, liars are more likely to press their lips together due to stress and tension in the face. Keep an eye on their kissers, but be cool about it! You don't wanna come off too provocatively here.

  • Keep it short.
    Liars tend not to do enough preparation, so they tend to run out of stuff to say pretty quickly. "The total amount of time a fibber speaks falls short of someone speaking honestly."

    [Toni says: "In which case, feel free to ask lots of detailed questions. Watch them struggle to make up answers. I love a good awkward moment when you catch a liar in the act!!!!! (I might still be a little bitter). Although if you're dealing with an expert liar, you might not be dealing with an unready speaker unable to prevaricate. Ergo, read on...]

  • Aside from being redundant, you're repeating yourself.
    According to linguist Cati Brown from the University of Georgia, liars are more likely to repeat words and phrases. "Repeating the same phrase is usually a sign that a person has rehearsed their conversation."

  • Do the math.
    And this one goes out especially to you ladies, who tend to get stupid with their man

    [Toni says: "It's because falling in love makes you stupid sometimes. Don't be mad, it's true, it happens to me all the time. I am a chronic liar's wet dream."]

    But I digress. If a story doesn't add up, then it's probably made up.

    [Toni says: "Let me help you with a few hypothetical examples here...
    Your phone doesn't ring all night, and he swears he called you, he didn't.
    Your phone never rings, and he always swears that he'd called you, he didn't.
    He says he's apologizing again, he didn't. He's making it sound like he already apologized before you had to tell his stupid ass, "You owe me an apology, damnit!".
    (I could go on but I'm getting worked up over here) ]

So there it is, keep those pearls of wisdom handy. You'll be able to spot a liar from a mile away, and you won't need to look for a pants-on-fire smoke signal. They might save you a couple days/weeks/months of heartbreak and aggrivation. Might even spare you a little ick in your life.

And if we've accomplished that, then it might soften me up into forgiving a liar or two (or five) from my past. I may even learn to like major holidays again, like St. Patrick's Day.


And if you're really on a mission, you can get more scholastic advice here.

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