You asked for something or you expected things to turn out differently than they did. But now the liar talking to you is trying to give you one of these seven excuses about why they couldn’t do what you asked for.

We have all lied at some point in our lives, often to those we love most to avoid something we don’t want to do. Researchers believe that lying is a social construct that is useful to balance the power in relationships when the person you are lying to has more power than you do and you want to take away some of their power.

Let’s look at some of the seven excuses that a liar will try to give you are, and learn how to see them clearly.

7 Excuses A Liar Will Try To Give You

spot liars

1. There wasn’t enough time

A liar will try to give you this excuse when they mean that they didn’t have enough time for themselves. Someone who is lying to you about not having enough time to do whatever it is that you have asked for is saying that they wanted that time for themselves.

2. I forgot

A liar will use the excuse ‘I forgot’ because it wasn’t important to the liar. Forgetting something that was important to you means that the liar is excusing themselves from caring about you. This can hurt, but we also are prone to lapses of memory ourselves. If this is an excuse you have heard before, let the liar know it and make sure that they know you won’t tolerate their excuse either.

3. I’m really a good person

People may lie to maintain a false image if themselves. In other words, someone who thinks they are more attractive than they are might believe everyone is flirting with them. Believing the lie is better for their self-esteem than believing the truth so they choose to tell a lie.

4. I didn’t want to hurt you

Withholding the truth or even telling a white lie is sometimes thought of as okay in social settings to protect the feelings of another person. For example, if your partner asked if their outfit made them look fat, you might reply no, even if you thought that it did.

5. No one told me it was wrong

In a study of medical students’ ethics as they were supervised by faculty, researchers found that some students got mixed messages about whether or not it was okay lie to a patient about their likely health outcome. For example, faculty in one case said that saying that everything was okay after a successful surgery was not morally wrong, even if the patient’s overall health was still poor, because it was not a lie to say that the surgery itself went well.

Sometimes a liar will give you the excuse that they didn’t know it was wrong. This can be true if you fail to set good boundaries with people or if you fail to give consequences when you find out that you were lied to.

For example, you might tell your friends that you always want them to be honest with you, even if they think it might hurt your feelings. This way, you have made a clear statement of values for your friendship. If a friend lies and you find out about it, you might also tell them that there are consequences, like not helping them the next time they need it.

6. There’s a grey area

Things are not always black and white when it comes to the truth. There’s your side of the story, my side of the story and the truth which lies somewhere in between. Sometimes the words that a person uses to describe events are not the same ones that you would use to describe the same thing. That is the only difference between one version of an event and another perspective.

7. You would have done the same thing yourself if you had been there

Asking you to be empathetic is one way a liar will try to get you to see their side of the story. We have a self-serving bias when it comes to judging right and wrong when a lie is told, meaning that if we told the lie, we believe there was a justifiable reason, but if we find out that someone else told the same lie, we blame the other person more harshly for the same crime.

hidden motive

Psychologists call this the ‘fundamental attribution error’ of human logic that what someone else does is selfish. But when you do it it’s justifiable.

Researchers studying the reasons and consequences of lying found that ‘Two of three lies are told for selfish reasons, and three of four are told to social or economic superiors,’ meaning that we are more likely to lie to people who we think are wealthier or have more status than we do in order to level the playing field.

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