With the advent of digital and mobile phone technologies, text messaging, or texting has become a prevalent mode of communication and conversation today. Consequently, it is also a frequent source of deception or lies in communication. Many current studies suggest that people tend to lie more in text messages than in face-to-face or personal interaction.
In a romantic or marital relationship, one partner can easily lie in text messages than in personal conversation. With the mediation of the screen of the smartphone or tablet, one partner cannot observe the demeanor and body language of the other while texting, thus the other can easily hide his/her secrets through deceptive techniques in mobile phone messaging!
Unlike the face-to-face communication, electronic messaging takes away the impression management of people in verbal communication due to lack of appearance, sense experience, as well as avowals or involuntary reactions which are very important to catch persons lying.
Thus, the only opportunity for a partner to check the veracity or truthfulness of a text message in electronic and digital technologies is by textual analysis of the message’s content, as well as observing the manner, time, or speed of its transmission.
Although research studies on deceptive messaging in mobile phones are inconsistent, the following 12 strategies are considered common signs of lying in text messaging:
1. Your Partner Takes a Longer Time to Respond to Your Query
Delayed response to your text asking your partner why he or she was late implies that he or she is still thinking for an appropriate answer to hide his/her lies. An honest person will immediately respond to a query without delay because s/he is not hiding something. But a liar will buy time to craft or invent a response to hide the truth. Of course, this cannot be absolutized since it is probable that s/he is busy with something else worth doing while you texted on why s/he was late. Lying is particularly obvious if you and partner are continuously texting, and suddenly the s/he failed to respond immediately to an important query.
2. Your Partner Provides a Complicated Answer to a Simple Question
Liars use more words to be more persuasive and to appear credible! If your partner texted you a long sentence or answer or maybe a paragraph to your simple question on why s/he was late can imply that s/he is lying. An honest person can answer a simple question briefly and directly without adding unnecessary details. An unnecessary explanation would mean that s/he is trying to convince the other that s/he not hiding anything–that even the details are included in the text! But the inquiring partner can sense this if there are inconsistencies in the messages. S/he would wonder why some unnecessary details are included. This situation can trigger suspicion and further queries from the partner inquiring. The query in the example below can be answered by a short phrase or a mere “yes” or “no”, but the response elaborates further:
Partner 1: “Did you go to the movies without me?”
Partner 2: “No, I didn’t leave my house yesterday. I was cleaning all day!”
Researchers on lying in texting believe a false sentence is usually longer than a true one. When people tell lies, their sentences became one word longer on average.
Women tended to use more words when they were lying. Truthful texts were about eight words long, whereas texts containing lies were about nine. they also tended to be more self-oriented, using words like “I” and “my”. Men’s text messages were about seven words long on average, longer than this would imply lying.
3. Your Partner is Changing the Topic
A lying partner would try to change the topic in the text if s/he feels that his/her lies can be discovered. Obviously, liars will always avoid topics that would place them in the hot seat. Thus, as much as possible, they would always try to change the topic to stay away from danger. But if the inquiring partner is not observant enough, s/he would surely be deceived by the other’s delaying tactic!
4. Your Partner Uses Noncommittal Phrases in the Text Message
Liars usually play safe in their text messages by using noncommittal phrases such as “probably” “possibly” or “sure’ to answer a query. They use vague words in their text messages to hide the truth. Some examples of this type of noncommittal phrases are the following:
- “It must have been around midnight when…”
- “Maybe it was because…”
- “I probably got home around two.”
- “I’m not sure if…”
- “It seemed kind of like…”
- “I will try to.”
- “Let me see…”
Studies showed that by gender both men and women used non-committal phrases when trying to hide something in their text messages.
5. Your Partner Suddenly Asked to Leave or to be Excused
Another sign that your partner is when s/he asks to leave immediately or be excused before s/he answers your important query. S/he would usually find excuses in order not to be forced to answer a question that will catch hi/her lying. This sign is particularly true if s/he was caught lying in the previous message and suddenly asked to be excused.
6. Your Partner is Finger Pointing instead of Answering the Question Directly
In this case, your partner is trying to avoid accountability by shifting the blame on you. S/he would ask questions instead of answering directly the query in order to place you in a defensive position. As a result, the liar holds control over the situation and would able to escape accountability.
7. Your Partner Avoids Using the First Person “I” in His/Her Text Message
Another sign of lying in texting is avoiding the first person “I” when explaining something from a query of one’s partner. Liars usually use the third person to dissociate themselves from lies in their text messages. The use of the third person “they” is a way of avoiding accountability to the lie in the text message.
8. Your Partner is Trying to Sweet Talk After a Reply
When a partner tries to sweet talk after a reply can be a sign that s/he is hiding something. A sweet talk is a form of distraction in order that the other would think that the reply to the query is honest. So, if your partner would text you following a reply to your query that says “how beautiful you are or how much s/he misses you”, then start thinking that s/he is lying or hiding something. Your partner is probably trying to distract you in order that you would not “cross-examine” him/her on a reply which you suspect as a lie.
9. Your Partner is Complaining of a Problem Instead of Answering the Query
Complaining suddenly of something, especially about his/her health, in order not to answer a query is a sign of lying. In this case, your partner is just making excuses in order to avoid answering the question or a situation that would force him/her to tell the truth. The answer to the text above is actually a way to distract the inquiring partner and to avoid accountability.
10. Your Partner is Hopping from the Present Tense to the Past Tense in the Text Messages.
If your partner is inconsistent in the use of tense in his/her message, hopping from the past tense to the present tense or vice-versa, then there is a strong probability that s/he is lying. It could mean that your partner is trying to invent a story in his head and ends up ignoring the proper use of grammar when he tries to explain a situation resulting in making mistakes, confusing his present thoughts with what happened in the past.
11. Your Partner Sends Well-Crafted Text Messages
If you’re used to receiving text messages with incorrect or broken grammar with emojis from your partner and suddenly receives well-crafted messages to your query, then most probably your partner is hiding something or lying. Try to observe the style of his/her texting, including the choice of words and grammar. If s/he suddenly sends you well-composed answers or paragraphs, different from his/her normal way of writing text messages, then it is highly probable that your partner is lying.
12. Your Partner is Typing the Text Too long
If your partner is typing too long for his/her response implies that s/he is inventing a lie or editing the response in order to hide the truth. An honest person can immediately answer to a query without much editing of the text. This long period of typing indicates that your partner is still constructing the lie, trying to figure out how to avoid the trap.
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Anolli, L. & Ciceri, R. (1997). The voice of deception: vocal strategies of naive and able liars. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 21, 259-284.
Smith, M. et al. (2014). Everyday Deception or a few prolific liars? the prevalence of lies in text messaging. Computers in Human Behavior 41 (2014) 220-227.
__________. “Top 10 Effective Tips on How to Tell If Someone Is Lying over Text”. Retrieved from https://www.enkirelations.com/how-to-tell-if-someone-is-lying-over-text.html.
_________.”How to Know if Someone is Lying in a Text”. Retrieved from https://www.wikihow.com/Know-if-Someone-Is-Lying-in-a-Text
_________”11 Types of Texting Behavior That Show a Person Is Lying to You”. Retrieved from https://brightside.me/inspiration-psychology/11-types-of-texting-behavior-that-show-a-person-is-lying-to-you-408460/.