W lied license plate
Credit: woodleywonderworks via Flickr/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Trust is one of the most important elements of a committed relationship. A partnership that is plagued, or even tainted by lies, is a sign serious problems likely being present  in the relationship.

One of the reasons it implies a problem is present is when one partner lies to the other, this betrays any established trust. Once this occurs it is often pretty difficult for many betrayed partners to overcome this kind of deceit.

If a spouse or significant other is suspected of lying there are often various signs exhibited that demonstrate they are not being truthful. Not every liar will show him or herself the same way, but there are some typical common signs to look for to see if someone is not being honest or is omitting important truths.

Here are a few of the possible signs that indicate a partner may be lying:

Gets Defensive

High levels of getting defensive is often a huge red flag that something isn't quite right. The defensiveness typically stems from the fact a person knows he or she is lying and are desperately trying to move away from that fact.

By getting defensive, the person lying may feel if he or she escalates the situation and deflects the attention, he or she can walk away and play angry or act with indignation. Whatever the case, the defensiveness is a tactic used by the person lying to out of the immediate danger of being discovered in untruths. Essentially, it is a ploy to trigger a response from his or her partner and move the attention centered on a lie to another topic.

Changes the Subject

Those who are lying will often urgently try to shift the subject to another topic so they can avoid talking about the issue they are lying about. If one partner is talking to the other and suddenly a clear and odd shift in conversation occurs, this could be a strong signal that some lying may be present. While it's true changing the subject often occurs in a relationship, if it becomes a clear pattern or only occurs when certain topics arise in conversation, this is likely something to explore.

Avoids Eye Contact

This isn't necessarily a telltale sign as some keen liars can directly look someone in the eye and lie outright without a flinch or so much as a blink. However in many people, darting eyes or the inability to look someone in the eye is a pretty good indicator of guilt, regret or remorse.

Does this mean the person will come clean? Not necessarily, but the type of eye contact used is a signal to watch, especially if it is an ongoing behavior because it may be an indicator that something isn't quite right.

Secret (avoiding eye contact)
Credit: Daniela Vladimirova (LaVladina on Flickr)/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Looking down, as if keeping a secret and wanting to avoid looking a partner in his or her eyes, is a potential sign something is not quite right.


Often betraying, unfaithful or lying partners tend to withdraw from their relationship and/or the family. It could be the person is plagued with guilt and having difficulty dealing with his or her lying, or it could be he or she is so caught up in the lies, the response is to withdraw from loved ones. If a partner seems suddenly distant and unreachable, this could signify something is going on. Either way, should be explored in case something else is going on with him or her that might be serious.

Change of Behavior

Changes in behavior are also red flags in a relationship, particularly if the change is sudden and very out of character. This could include explosive and unexplained anger, intentional triggering of arguments, avoidance or other like behaviors.


Inconsistencies in stories, recaps or day to day goings on are another potential telltale sign of lies. When a person tells a lie, often additional lies need to be told to hide and protect the original lie.

After a period of time a whole web of lies develops and the individual who is lying is likely going to have trouble remembering the lies and keeping a story straight. A partner who is frequently inconsistent with what he or she says could be lying about something in the relationship as the lies expand and become compounded.

Awkward Body Language

Awkward or body language that is contrary to the norm of a mate can indicate perhaps the person is lying. This can include, but is not limited to shifty eyes, scratching the back of the neck, nervous fidgeting, fluctuations in voice tone, and difficulty finding the right words to explain a situation; if they are being truthful, the words should come pretty naturally and they should be able to stand firm and act natural as they speak.

Going haywire
Credit: Porsche Brosseau (porschelinn on Flickr)/CC by 2.0 with Attribution

Accusations of Lies

Another signal lies are being told is when one partner becomes highly accusatory towards his or her mate. This typically stems from those who are doing something wrong often assume everyone else does the same thing and they project their own behavior on their partner. This is a red flag especially if the accusations come out of the blue and are totally unfounded with no suspicions or proof.

So Why Do People Sometimes Lie to their Significant Others?

These are a few of the potential signs an individual is lying to a spouse or significant other. There are many reasons why a partner may lie. It could be he or she is trying to save face from embarrassment, self-preservation, have the illusion of protecting his or her partner, have conflict avoidance or to avoid consequences of bad or inappropriate behavior.

Do these reasons excuse lies? For the most part, probably not. However, recognizing the reasons why a mate would lie can help lead to finding a solution if the relationship is salvageable and/or there is something going on with one partner in a relationship which may be due to stress, a poor decision which has feared consequences or even a physical or mental health issue may be present.

Trust is such an important part of a relationship. Some relationships can cover from deception, depending on the extent of the lies, but others can suffer severe damage and the deceived mate might decide its time to call it quits.  

My article focused on personal relationships, but this video suggests other potential signs a person is lying in situations.