And, How To Deal with Them
There is something that Manti Te’o knows now. People online lie. They hoax. They fake.
And, that is something that most surveys of dating websites agree upon.
Almost everyone lies.
1. The Amateur Liar
Profiles, messages, forum posts and the rest are littered with little fibs.
But most lies are teeny-weeny, harmless ‘mistakes’. A typo; a slip of the finger; a forgetful moment; a slight amplification; an exaggeration.
Many lies are just puffery; that classic advertising technique of embellishing the good to grab your attention. No-one really cares or takes it too seriously. Nor should you. Nor should Manti Te’o.
Surveys on dating sites tell us that women lie mostly about their weight and their age. They also tend to suggest that they are fitter and richer when they are really sloppy, couch potatoes on less-than-inspiring, average incomes.
Men say they are managers, supervisors or CEOs of greater than average height. If they are skinny, they say they are not. If they are fat, they say they are taut. Almost all men say they are ‘athletic’ and financially well off. Actually, often what they say is well off-the-mark.
Okay, who cares? We all want to be seen as better than we are. No great sin in that.
Of course, some lies get out of hand. ‘I know George Clooney personally.’ ‘I have my own Lear jet.’ ‘I am famous for the size of my …’
It seems impressive until …
You’ll know the truth when you fall off the virtual-relationship cliff … that is, when you get too close and they delete you from their contacts and don’t answer your texts (or even your sexts). Painful for the one who was true. Embarrassing for the one who was false (if they actually have the embarrassment gene).
Expect a few speed bumps. Slow down. Let your suspension of disbelief carry you over. Keep your eyes and ears open and keep your hands on the steering wheel of good humor. People aren’t perfect.
2. The Professional Liar
So, how can you tell if people are lying? Really lying. Dangerously lying.
Well, you can never be sure; not until you have evidence that shows that someone said something AND you discover that THEY KNEW they were loose with the truth.
Usually, you’ll find an ulterior motive and it’s often not that pretty (although he or she may think they are).
Some professionals are great at picking lies. Police, customs, security, employment agents and good journalists are trained to detect lies. They look at your body language and combine it with what you say and how you say it. They even notice how much effort you put into each message.
But how can you pick a liar when you are texting someone through a dating site or FB or Twitter?
Fact is, you really can’t. Not lying anyway.
But that is not the end of the story.
You can tell quite a bit, if you know what to look for.
You can tell if people are being open or closed and how far along the line they have positioned themselves. The people whose messages seem extremely closed are in the land of lying, even if they are not necessarily doing so. The flagrantly open are in the empire of honesty.
But, the professionally pernicious and practiced liar can steal your heart, even after they open theirs. They are the hardest to pick; the hardest to beat.
So what do you look for in a text message?
Remember: the open message lives in the empire of honesty; the closed message dwells in the land of the lying.
The open message is informal. There’s a bit of slang, a bit of twang. It has a little detail about the matter at hand, but not much. It has a little bit of confidence about the truth, but not much. It has personal references (I, we, us) and it names people. And, behaviors are blamed, shamed or explained.
The closed message is stiffly formal. It uses generalities for the matter at hand and lots of specific details (times, dates, distances) for the irrelevant. The closed message is confident and assertive … followed by a quick change of subject. There are very few personal pronouns (I, you, we) and it uses no names. It’s a wall of words that separate the truth from reality. It is obvious, once you know what to look for.
Of course, some clever people actually know these techniques and use them to cover their own lies. This is the skill of the life-long professional: the con man, the sales cheat, the spinning politician, the dating site sleaze.
So, is their message open or closed? That will give you a head start.
Then, you can read the next tweet or post with confidence, as you strive to reside in the empire of honesty.