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7 Ways to Tell If Someone Is Lying

It's no secret that people sometimes tell little fibs. There might even be a good reason: you condense a story that's too complicated for a first date, or you just don't yet want to go there.

But sometimes, it's more than a little white lie: I once went out with a man who told me he owned a boat. Fast forward three dates later, and I discovered he didn’t have a boat at all, let alone a car. That's an extreme case, but it's definitely a situation you want to avoid.

Here are seven ways to tell if your date is lying from experts Dennis Kravetz, a psychologist who gives workshops on interpersonal relationship skills and author of “Relating Effectively: At Work and Home” (out next year); Dr. Mark Goulston, psychiatrist, business advisor and author of “Just Listen”; and Joseph Cilona, a Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist and relationship expert.

Eye Shifts:
The most telltale sign if someone is fibbing is with eye contact. If someone is lying, he or she will enact a "down-and-out movement" with the eyes. “Say that someone is asking a question of another person and the person on the receiving end is lying, at the beginning of the answer the eyes shift down and to the left (for right-handed people) or down and to the right (for left-handed people),” according to Kravetz. “The eyes remain there for a while, then come back up to meet the eyes of the questioner after a sentence or two, if at all.”

Changes in Behavior:
Kravetz, says to pay attention to a change in your date’s facial expressions, body posture and whether or not they’re fidgeting. “As for lying, the key thing to look for is a change in someone's behavior-facial expressions, body posture… that is different when they are lying than when telling the truth,” he explains. “That the individual wasn't fidgeting before, but they are fidgeting now. That change is what you notice.”

When lying, most people will showcase a look of shame upon telling an untruth. Goulston says to watch out for eyes that don’t make any eye contact and fidgeting, as well as a pitchy tone of voice and someone who looks down like the look of guilt or shame.

The Details:
Goulston, who has also trained FBI and police hostage negotiators, suggests you seek details. “When you ask people to describe an event in terms of their thoughts, feelings and actions, it is tough to keep a lie straight in all three categories, since you're having to make up the experience,” says Goulston. “When something actually did happen, it's easier to recall each of those, because you're not having to invent it.”

Body Language:
Just like eyes can shift when someone is lying to you, people’s body language can also tell you a lot. “People who are lying are more apt to fidget than when telling the truth. They might also turn away from another person rather than sit facing them,” says Kravetz. “This is really just a variation of avoiding eye contact, except in this case the entire body is shifted to the side rather than just the eyes.

Cilona advises you trust your gut. “When you find yourself wondering if someone is liar, first ask yourself what sparked your suspicions. Do the reasons relate to any direct experience with the person or do they relate more to the opinions of others or your past experiences?” Cilona says. “Stay focused on paying close attention and gathering direct evidence during your interactions with the person.” If you’ve been cheated on before, for instance, you may have some trust issues. Work those skeletons out before you date or it can only cloud your judgment.

Sense of Smell:
You know how dogs can smell fear? New research show people can, too, in the perspiration of others. “These kinds of cues are often out of our awareness and get labeled as a feeling or intuition. Rather than deny or rationalize, consider this to be one of the most important reasons for concern,” explains Cilona. “Use this as a warning sign and opportunity to fine tune your awareness. It’s much easier for a liar to finesse their way out of getting caught if you don’t have a clear memory of what they are saying and doing. Increased attention and memory makes it much harder for liars to deflect, avoid, or change their story.”

If you think someone is lying to you, just ask or call them out. Cilona suggests you confront your date quickly and directly if you’re pretty sure you’re being lied to. “Good liars will often have a quick and smooth response and use tactics that will redirect attention back to you or incite some kind of emotional response in you that can divert attention away from them and the lie,” Cilona adds. “Most people might fumble a bit or show embarrassment. This is sign that they are not so sophisticated a liar and perhaps just made a bad choice.” If you put it out there, you’re questioning his or her intentions or comments, the response back can help you decipher further.

And of course, there's the golden rule of knowing what to believe: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

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