Why We Lie And How To Instantly Spot A Liar

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Despite the warning of countless children's stories, we humans still lie. Has the fear of growing long, wooden noses or becoming a wolf's next meal taught us nothing?

A 2010 study of 5,000 online daters found that in online dating profiles, lies (albeit minor ones) abound. Men are inclined to lie about things like personal achievement, interests, past relationships, and age. Women, on the other hand, tend to lie about their weight.

Why is it that we often find ourselves lying to those we love (or hope to one day love)? We see the damage that the lies of those like Tiger Woods and other high-profile cheaters cause, but what about the "little white lies" we often tell our spouses or significant others? Are lies always bad for relationships, and why are we compelled to lie, in the first place? 

We took these and other questions about deceit to our in-house relationship experts from YourTango Experts Here's what they had to say:

Why do we lie to our partners?

In a world where we accepted our own flaws and knew we'd be accepted for them by others, there would be no lying. Alas, that's not the world in which we live. So while it's hard to defend lying, it seems to me that people lie for one of two main reasons: their own insecurity, or their partner's insecurity.

If a man feels that he's going to be judged for staying after work to have a drink with the guys, he may just tell his wife he's working late.

If a woman feels she's going to make her man feel bad due to his subpar performance in bed, she may tell him he was amazing. These are run-of-the-mill white lies that protect people's feelings but never get to the heart of the problem: he wants to have a life beyond his girlfriend, and she wants to be satisfied sexually. 

RELATED: 6 Ways Your "Innocent" Micro-Lies Are Ruining Your Relationships

It's easy to instruct people to always be honest, but when "honesty" can often run parallel to "mean," lying is often the path of least resistance.
- Evan Katz

"Lies are generated due to fear and one being insincere with himself or herself. An interesting tidbit on sincere: the word comes from Latin in which sin means "without" and cere is "wax," so sincere is "without wax." Sculptors used to use wax to cover small nicks and problems with their sculptures. The sculptures without wax or sin cere were the better products, thus the root of sincere. Today, we tend to cover our flaws with lies and thus are considered to be insincere."
- Thomas Myers

Do men and women lie about the same things? 

Men lie about their accomplishments, their net worth, and their future prospects. Women lie about their age, their desires, and their past relationships. The reason being is that men believe themselves to be more appealing than they often are, and women believe themselves to be less so. This isn't an attempt to be unkind to either gender, it is simply a fact that has been duplicated time and again. Men are more optimistic about their personal attractiveness and women are more pessimistic. Much of this is largely due to societies' high visual expectations of women, and its bestowal of virtues and power to men. 
- Marsha Keller

Men and women lie to divert a conflict. It's just easier than pushing buttons and telling the truth.
- Jane Wilcox

Men do not consider it lying if they omit important information. Among men, a lie means deliberately saying something that is untrue. This creates untold difficulties among couples, because women experience an omission as a deliberate attempt to mislead, and therefore as a lie.

RELATED: 10 Lies Your Guy Is Telling You — And What He's Hiding
When men hear this they are usually perplexed. To omit something that is relevant to another man is just how business is done among men. Whether you're haggling in a middle-eastern bazaar or involved in corporate negotiating, you hide relevant facts or you lose your advantage.

No one would expect a seller to say "Of course, if you can't afford $500, I'm short of funds today, so I'm willing to go as low as $75." Right or wrong, men are used to hiding important information and treating it like the formula for Coca-Cola—a secret that you "just don't share."
When women hear this explanation, they immediately understand why men behave this way at work. What they don't understand is why a man would think that marketplace values and methods have any place in a home or in a loving relationship.

Policemen usually don't wear their guns around the house and corporate raiders generally don't ravage their own families. Weapons and aggressive behavior are best left at the door if you want a loving home or a refuge from the world.
It is also true that most men are problem-solvers in search of a practical and efficient solution.

Omit some information, and well, the problem goes away. Most women are not solving problems with a man so much as they are experiencing a relationship with him. And an omission undermines her sense of connection with him and creates doubts about whether communications are reliable and whether the relationship is safe.
In the short run, omissions are effective in avoiding conflict or discomfort. But what men often fail to understand is that this particular style of coping injures relationships at their core. No one feels loved when they've been misled—they feel tricked or fooled. And women, in particular, don't just feel "fooled," they feel "betrayed."
- Andrew Whaling

I think women lie about things like how they spend money. Men probably lie about looking at other women.
- Brooke Topalof

How can you tell if someone's lying?

RELATED: 7 Subtle-But-Noticeable Signs Someone's Lying To You

Eye contact, avoidance in general. I think women tend to be more solicitous of their spouses if they've been deceitful. Guilt makes them more attentive. Men withdraw more than women.
- Brooke Topalof

When a person's words don't jibe with their body language, body language trumps words.
- Marsha Keller
His eyes go down and to the left. His body language becomes more aggressive and his voice will very often take on a quality of challenge. Women tend to be more introspective, and their deceit is often more difficult to detect. 
He will never look you in the eye. He will squirm a bit, or find some distraction—suddenly the remote control needs batteries. Women will look you right in the eye because they can convince themselves that what they are saying is a fact.
- Dr. Tammy Nelson

How do you define lying? Are the "little whites" ever OK?

Everything that isn't the truth is a lie. Partial truths, beautified truths, and so-called "white lies" are lies all the same. We all lie from time to time.

Whilst the reason for lying may be totally legitimate and, perhaps, even the right thing/only thing to do at the time, it is important to be absolutely clear and acknowledge to oneself the fact that "I am lying when I say this." Always stay true to, at least, yourself. The most common—and most damaging—lies in relationships are the lies we tell ourselves and end up believing. - Tricia Berry

In relationships, lies are what the beetle is to a grove of healthy trees. It is insidious, often begins as just a little "white" mistruth, and soon infiltrates the entire relationship negatively. The best liars are difficult to discover until they are caught in their first lie.

After that, trust has been eroded, and everything they say becomes suspect even if they are telling the truth. Be truthful. Be respectful. If this is a relationship that matters to you, no matter what the consequence, lying to continue it will never get you what you truly want: trust and longevity
- Jane Wilcox

RELATED: All Women Lie — The Evolutionary Reason Why

Genevieve Lill is the former VP of content and branded media at YourTango, and is now a writer and Editor-in-Chief of Simplemost. Follow her on Twitter for more.