Why People Lie, Who It Affects, & How To Detect

In Advice by Mindy WhiteLeave a Comment

Let’s just be honest with ourselves—everyone lies. Whether you want to call it a “little white lie”, small fabrication, slight exaggeration, or bold-faced, a lie is lie and everyone has done it, or does do it from time to time.

As humans, we first begin lying around 4-to-5 years old while learning the power of words. These “fibs” are mostly innocent and more to protect ourselves from getting in trouble for not listening to our parents or teaches, or simply to get something we want. During the teenage and adulthood years, many use “little white lies”, which are lies that are told in order to protect the liar or someone else, alter a particular situation, maintain an image, or to avoid conflict or punishment. People who tell “little white lies” go through their lives foolishly believing that their untruths are harmless, make their own lives (and other’s lives) better, and don’t believe they are technically a “liar”. There are also those who constantly, knowingly, maliciously lie for personal gain, to hurt others, and deceive, which are more dangerous liars who have no sense of inner conscience and are more likely to seriously hurt others.

The sad news is, the line between these two types of liars is very thin, and when someone gets away with a “tall tale”, it often impels them to continue their deceptions. The habit ultimately gets worse with time, and eventually, liars get caught in their tangled web of deceitfulness, making it difficult to decipher what’s true or false. Ultimately, the web of lies become the individual’s reality and makes these people forever untrustworthy. This leads loved ones and friends to back away from the relationship feeling disheartened, scared, and ripped of dignity and trust. And it doesn’t stop there, because whether liars want to admit it to themselves or not, they also end up hurting themselves from their own actions, leading to broken, hurt families, ruined relationships, a disassociated reality, and even legal trouble.

Point blank, liars are selfish. They’re manipulative. They’re sly. They’re easily irritable people, because of the enormous weight of lies they carry on their shoulders. And what else? They’re usually enabled. Many of us have family members and friends that come to mind when we think of a liar, and if we’re not doing our part to let them know that their lies are not okay, we’re fueling the habit. However, some people are so expert at deception that it often takes a long time to find out that we have been lied to. So, how do detect whether we are being misled? A lot of the clues lie in actions:

Voice + Mumbling. Listen for a change in voice pitch, rate of speech, or lots of umms and ahhs—these can all be signs of lying.
Avoidance of eye contact. Does this person only make eye contact with you half the time? They may be lying.
Body language. Are they covering their face, mouth, or body while speaking? Fidgeting of hands or legs can indicate deception.
Contradiction. Making statements that just don’t hold together should make you suspicious.

If you are reading this and deep down inside realize your own lying behavior, it’s important to know that you, like many of us, have a problem that will eventually (if it hasn’t already) lead you to lose relationships with family and friends, and may even put you in financial or legal troubles. Figuring out what is driving you to lie in the first place will help heal this self-destructive behavior. This may mean going into treatment with a therapist to discover why you feel the need to deceive and from there, work on breaking the terrible habit.