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This Is How To Tell If Someone's Lying To You

Love & Relationships

There's a guy I know who is the ultimate liar. I'm not kidding. His family knows it. His friends know it. Even people he works with know it. It's weird because he'll lie about everything from what he had for lunch to what he did on his summer vacation. It's like lying is a tick for him or something. I think the reason why no one is ever too hard on him about it—although I've heard him get called out on it before—is because his lies are perceived as being relatively harmless. He's not out here trying to hurt anybody; he just lives in an alternate reality.


I thought about him when I read a study that was published a while back on the topic of lying.

According to a University of Massachusetts psychologist by the name of Robert S. Feldman, most people who say they don't lie are, well, lying. His discoveries revealed that around 60 percent of people lie at least 2-3 times in every 10-minute plus conversation. That's kinda crazy.

Personally, I wonder if he's combining exaggerating with lying. Exaggerating is when you blow up details or stretch the truth, usually to make the truth "sound better" or more interesting. Lying is when you're out here deceiving, giving false impressions and being a totally dishonest person. I don't care for either, but if I had to choose, I'd take Column A over Column B. Lying is fraudulent. You can't really rely on anyone who's a liar.

But if Dr. Feldman is right, this means that all of us are out here we're being hoodwinked dozens of times a day. That sucks. The good news is there are some proven ways to tell if someone is lying to you. Ready?

They Take Long Pauses

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Unless someone's memory is really bad, there's no need to pause to remember what the truth is. You know what this means—liars have a tendency to take time to create a story in their head before speaking it out loud. Usually, whenever this happens, they are either looking away (as to avoid eye contact), stuttering their words or using "filler words" in order to buy time until they figure something out.

Something else that someone who's lying might do is answer a question with a question in order to buy time. Like while you're asking your man who so-and-so is in his phone, he may flip it and ask you who so-and-so is who posted a particular comment on your Instagram. It's not so much that he cares, it's so while you're talking, he can be thinking of what to say next.

Truth? It doesn't require time to put together a presentation strategy. Lying? Unless you're dealing with someone pathological or a total sociopath, it needs time to come up with something at least halfway decent or believable.

Their Voice Switches Up

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I've got a girlfriend, who, whenever she's up to no good that she doesn't want anyone to know about and she's questioned about it, her voice goes up at least an octave. That's what tends to happen whenever someone is anxious, nervous or scared. Not only that but sometimes people switch up their voice as a way to distract you during the conversation. If their voice is super different or even off-putting, they're hoping that you'll find yourself wondering just as much, if not more, about their voice as the (potential) lie itself.

They Hide a Part of Their Face

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According to an article that featured former CIA officers, a telling sign that someone is lying is if they hide a part of their face; especially their eyes or their mouth. The logic is there is some level of shame (whether consciously or subconsciously) when someone isn't telling the truth, so it's a natural reaction to want to hide when they do it. Plus, there's the whole "our eyes are the window to the soul" thing.

Hmm…liars like to cover up their eyes. I wonder if celebs have ever been told that. Maybe a lot less of them would wear sunglasses during interviews if they knew that it sends a pretty shady message.

They Give More Details than Necessary

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Thou doth protest too much. That's what I think about whenever I ask someone something and either they start rambling a mile a minute or they give all kinds of details that aren't really required. You know, like if you ask your boyfriend, "So, I called you last night. Where were you?" and he starts talking about the Arby's he went to (including the side of town), what he ordered, how long he was in line and all of the stuff he did once he got home. Then he gets into what happened to his phone and the charger, all the while talking so fast that you're wondering if he took a single breath in between it all.

Some people are natural storytellers (and not in the lying or even exaggerating kind of way); they live for TMI and are definitely not the exception to all of this. But if you're talking to someone who is usually straight and to the point, but, all of a sudden, they've got a billion-and-one words to share—or more importantly, if they repeat the details, things seem to switch up—while it's not 100 percent true that they are lying, if they are doing this along with some of these other points, I wouldn't sleep on it. Not at all.

They Get Defensive

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I haven't had sex in over 12 years. That doesn't mean I haven't heard rumors about myself, though. A couple of years ago, I even heard that I was pregnant. Yeah, whatever. I know the truth and it's so true that I don't see the need to defend it or chase contrary rumors down.

Oh, but a few weeks ago, I ran into someone who constantly lies about her sex life (I know this because she never keeps her stories straight and almost always backtracks and admits she wasn't telling the truth…eventually). And she went on and on about how she hasn't had sex in years (although the time prior to last that I saw her, she told me that she had some rebound sex with a dude) and I simply and calmly said, "I don't believe you because that's not what you said last time", she literally started yelling in the parking lot. Not really at me, but…it was like she thought that if she spoke loudly enough, it would drown out the other stories she had told me—or somehow I would forget. Yeah, liars have a real habit of getting super defensive.

While I'm on this point, some folks think that cussers are angry or defensive individuals. But actually, word on the street is that folks who use four-letter words tend to be more honest and forthcoming than those who don't. Believe it or not, people who cuss tend to be more effective in their communication and typically have higher levels of integrity too. Damn, that's fascinating.

They Seem Fidget—A LOT

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Moving around in their seat a lot. Playing around with their hands. Having jumpy legs and shifty eyes. Although you can't see any of this on the phone or online, if you're in the presence of someone who is lying to you, again, unless they are a complete sociopath (and those do exist), it is typically difficult for someone to lie and not feel uncomfortable while they're doing it. In fact, I once read that lying goes so against the grain of how our body flows that it even puts our organs into distress.

So yeah, if you're having a conversation with someone or you ask an individual a question and they seem antsy, there's a pretty good chance that they are lying to you. Because if they were telling the truth, unless they just killed someone or cheated on you (in those cases, fidgeting makes sense), what are the jitters and anxiety all about? My sentiments exactly.

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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