7 extremely obvious signs that someone is lying to you

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

We all have been deceived at some point in life.

If you’re rather trusting and were a bit naive, like I was, the first time you were hoodwinked probably had you rather surprised and quite aghast.

But sometimes, these deceptions are more glaring than we initially realize.

The better you’re able to spot a lie as soon as it’s said, the more likely you’ll be to protect yourself and weed out people with bad intentions.

And this isn’t a green light to go shunning friends and loved ones just because they gave you a slightly funny look or your gut feeling is telling you something is wrong.

Particularly if you’re a lil’ on the anxious side of life, even a too-spicy lunch can trigger those…gut feelings.

So using the following 7 signs that indicate someone is lying in unison will help you better detect a liar and be sure of their dishonesty:

1) Inconsistency in their narrative

One of the earliest signs that someone might be weaving an untruth is a story that has so many embellished and intricate details.

Too many, in fact, as the speaker soon starts slipping up and revealing themselves.

“It was 7am on a cold Tuesday morning, and I was wearing my white jeans which quickly became splattered in mud as I walked to work…”

“The same pair of jeans that have been in my wardrobe for a month?”

“Erm, not those jeans. Yeah, sorry, no my denim jeans. The frayed ones.”

“The jeans you haven’t been able to fit into since 2021?”

With so many abstract details regarding their narrative, they struggle to keep up with themselves. 

Their story starts to vary each time they tell it, and soon, it’s like a puzzle where the pieces just don’t fit together. 

You start to notice that the timeline is off, or that certain details are added and subtracted with each telling.

These inconsistencies might seem minor at first.

Because sure, who remembers what jeans they were wearing on a random Tuesday.

But before you know it, it’s like a single thread hanging loose that leads to the whole picture unspooling.

The truth is revealed hidden behind a web of lies the liar can’t even keep up with. 

But remember; it’s not about assuming the role of Mr. or Mrs. Detective.

You shouldn’t play games and try to catch someone out, nor begin prying into their personal lives.

Instead, it’s about understanding when the reality being presented to you might not be as genuine as it seems, and having a keen eye for the strange details people choose to sprinkle into their tales.

2) Over-complication and excessive details

Some liars are just too good. 

And some people are excellent storytellers.

Don’t shun the latter, as some people enjoy telling you about their day, down to every minute detail. This, from them, is an act of sharing and of love.

But the liars amongst them will use the tactic mentioned in the point above.

They might just be excellent at sticking to their lies, so you won’t catch on so easily.

But beware of a person who goes above and beyond to convince you of their tale.

They garnish a plain story with an unnecessary amount of details – and don’t tend to be so big on elaborate storytelling.

The key here is in longevity; look for someone deviating from their normal behavior.

The addition of a huge number of seemingly meaningless details is often an attempt to make the story seem more believable, but ironically, it tends to have the opposite effect.

Cue a colleague writing into work:

Dear Manager,

I’m afraid I won’t be coming into work today. My dog died. She was a wonderful fluffy Pomeranian who I was gifted by my great aunt Clarissa (who is on my dad’s side of the family). 

My neighbor (the one who makes wonderful red bean stew I sometimes bring in) found dear Sparkles. She had engorged herself on cupcakes from that quaint little bakery on 5th Avenue that someone had left in the hallway. 

The vet thinks it was the strawberry shortcake that did it, but they’re not entirely sure. It’s between that and the caramel cream…

On and on the letter goes, with so many odd additions that half-catch your fancy, half-bore you to death.

And then you remember that your colleague has a horrific allergy to pets. You watched them go bright red and sneezy that one time you brought a sweater into work which your own cat had lain on.

Real experiences don’t need these decorative embellishments; they are straightforward and simple. 

Again, this isn’t about being overly skeptical but rather honing your instincts to recognize when someone’s narrative seems more like fiction than fact.

And of course, be patient and loving for those who do experience grief

The loss of a fictitious Sparkles might not demand your empathy, but be careful not to shun those actually experiencing loss, trauma, or anything else they might not be keen to share.

3) Unusual body language

Again, knowing the person beforehand helps a huge amount as a lot of the myths regarding touching your nose or your ear have been debated and discredited.

But the key is always in a deviation from what their normal behavior is.

If you know someone normally sits straight and unmoving, you’ll notice if they start fidgeting and tapping their toes when in conversation with you.

It works just as well the other way around; a top-tier fidgeter who has rehearsed their lie might meet your eyes and stare into your soul.

But if you’re not so used to the person you’re dealing with, do keep an eye out for signs of discomfort like excessive fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, or even crossing their arms.

Paying attention to these non-verbal cues can help you better rate the authenticity of their words. 

As always, keep in mind that the goal isn’t to interrogate or intimidate but to understand when someone’s body language doesn’t align with what they’re saying.

4) Frequent pauses and and stumbles in speech

Lying can get your heart racing, your blood pumping.

This can cause someone to stumble over their words, to engage in long and drawn out pauses, stutter, or even mispronounce words that they usually have no trouble with.

This is because lying requires cognitive effort

The brain needs to juggle the actual facts, construct a false narrative, and ensure it’s convincing – all at the same time. 

It’s like trying to keep several balls in the air simultaneously, and it’s not surprising if one or two drop.

So if you notice someone’s speech becoming unusually disjointed or filled with errors, it might not just be a bad day or lack of sleep. 

They might well be struggling to keep up with their own lies; overwhelmed physically with the jolt of anxiety and beads of sweat running down their backs.

5) Over-defensiveness or projection

People who are not telling the truth often react defensively, even when there’s no accusation or doubt expressed. 

It sucks.

Or, they project. 

You know the classic cheater who feels overwhelmingly guilty, so starts harassing his girlfriend and accusing her of texting other people.

When in fact his own phone is littered with saucy messages to people outside of his relationship.

Painted red by their own brush, they feel guilty and disgusted by themselves so try to paint their partner with the same red brush.

They believe this will absolve their own guilt…

When someone overreacts, becomes excessively defensive, or starts accusing you of doing the very same act that you’re accusing them of, it might be a sign they’re hiding something. 

A guilty conscience, perhaps.

6) Inappropriate and unusual emotions

Another telltale sign of dishonesty is when someone’s emotional response seems out of sync with the situation or their words. 

They’re telling you about how their partner ended things and how distraught they are.

They say it’s mutual, yet they’re grinning from ear to ear and are barely able to conceal a smirk.

Blandly said, their emotions just don’t match their words.

These incongruences might indicate that these same emotions being displayed are not genuine, but are part of an act designed to convince you of their lie.

But, they’re not particularly good at acting if they’re doing such a bad job at it…

7) Avoiding direct answers

Lastly, have you ever asked someone a question and received everything possible instead of a solid and direct answer? 

This circumvention could be a sign that they’re trying to steer clear of lying outright, but also don’t want to tell the truth.

Half-truth or vague response, an attempt at changing the topic, or just pretending not to hear can all be indicators of a liar trying to play dumb.

If you spot this pop up, try and circle back to your original question.

Use time to your advantage; ask them in a calm and composed manner, and then wait.

A liar will usually feel the pot start to boil and end up tripping themselves up as they circle back to the earlier points, adding intricate details to a fabricated tale and eventually catching themselves out.

Final thoughts

In short, being aware of these signs doesn’t mean you have to become overly suspicious or paranoid. 

It’s about improving your ability to notice when someone might not be completely honest with you

This awareness can help you make better decisions in various aspects of your life and build more authentic relationships. 

It’s like having an extra skill (and a really good lie detector at the ready) which you can use to enhance your interpersonal interactions and protect yourself from potential deceit. 

If you want more info on what to look out for to detect a lie, check out these 8 phrases that indicate someone is probably lying to you.

If you really want to change your life, ditch these 6 habits now

10 ways toxic people take advantage of your kindness