ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Online Dating & Relationships: Love, Lies, and Loss

Updated on November 30, 2013
Is your love interest as trustworthy as this used car salesman?
Is your love interest as trustworthy as this used car salesman? | Source

Would You Want to be Friends with that Person?

Online dating and social networking have both transformed the way we develop our friendships and romantic relationships, but those who later meet their Internet acquaintances in person are often surprised at having been deceived.

What kind of lies would make you not want to meet someone in person?

Men frequently observe that women are older or weigh more than they were led to believe. Another common complaint is that prostitutes may pose as available singles when in fact, they're anything but. Meanwhile, women find that men claiming to be single may be quite committed to another relationship. Nigerian scams profligate over dating sites and social networks, defrauding naïve, kind people out of many thousands of dollars annually.

Liars have a tremendous advantage when it comes to digital interactions, though deception has been present in social interactions since mankind first walked on two feet. We want to make a good first impression, be likable, and get what we want.

Because frequent communication with a stranger through chat, e-mail, or text messaging can, and often does, lead us to developing feelings for a person we've never met, we would benefit from asking ourselves a couple of questions.

  • What kind of deception is a deal-breaker for me?
  • Would I remain friends with a person who tells white lies?
  • Do I value this friendship enough to verify whether this person is truthful with me?

You can protect yourself from some of the common pitfalls of online relationships and friendships if you learn some tips and techniques to detect liars before you invest too much emotion, and to open offline avenues of communication if they pass your evaluation.

All Online Relationships are Prone to Breakage

If you've been a mouse-clicker since way-back-when, you've probably experienced times when people you've known suddenly turned silent. It may have been someone you talked with frequently on a message board who lives halfway around the world or someone with whom you never exchanged a single word but followed diligently because they posted memorably status updates on Facebook. It might be someone in your gaming network who wasn't especially close, but proved helpful to your experiences.

Whatever the case, the article "Meeting People on the Internet" can help you make the most of online friendships that have not yet blossomed into face-to-face ones.

Wish you could polygraph potential lovers? Keep reading to learn how to become the next best thing.
Wish you could polygraph potential lovers? Keep reading to learn how to become the next best thing. | Source

Be an Online Lie Detector

When your online interest is for romantic purposes, you have more reason to be diligent.

Your love interest might be long distance and inaccessible for months, even years. Wouldn't you rather find out if they're a liar before you've exchanged your deepest secrets and greatest fears? Unfortunately, it's tricky to do over a digital medium that lacks non-verbal clues. Was she being funny? Does he sound angry?

Skype and video chat can re-introduce some of these contextual cues, but they cannot fill in information that's well beyond non-verbal expression. If you were right there, would you see photos of her ex on the wall? Would his furniture and car look like he really does make the $100,000 he claims to earn each year?

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin - Madison now report that there are clues in a person's profile that can help you determine if they're telling the truth or not. Janice Wood, an associated news editor for Psych Central, reported what Catalina Toma, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Hancock, Ph.D., found:

  • About 80% of people lied to some extent. Weight, age, and height were the most common deceptions researchers found in the 78 profiles studied.
  • Liars use brief profiles to avoid getting caught when their stories don't match what they may say later.
  • People who avoided using the word "I" to describe themselves were likeliest to lie and to have more significant lies.
  • Liars flipped from assertive phrases like "happy" to more vague terms, like "not sad." This "flip of language (is) a hedge, Toma said, against weaving a more tangled web of deception."
  • Volunteers asked to rate the profiles for trustworthiness were not able to identify liars effectively. “They might as well have flipped a coin. They’re looking at the wrong things,” she said.

Source: Detecting Online Liars (PsychCentral)

Why Lies Happen, and How We Miss Them

Toma's summary of the volunteers' misperceptions isn't the first study that reveals just how bad we are at recognizing deception - even when we're face-to-face with a liar. Even though body language can reveal dishonesty, many of the cues are unreliable. They can be too subtle to perceive. Chronic deceivers and sociopaths (people who lack a conscience) may train themselves to control their voluntary responses, such as whether they look their victim in the eye when telling a fabrication.

In addition, we lie to others and get lied to all the time, even if we try to be genuine and honest. What one person considers tactful can make another person feel deceived. We know that brutal honesty can be, well, brutal, and result in very unpleasant consequences for ourselves, so we adjust our messages.

The kicker is, we must lie in order to function in society! Imagine asking a pal what they had for lunch and they replied, "Well, I had a double cheeseburger that had two four-ounce patties, a piece of lettuce, chopped onions, two slices of tomatoes tomatoes, and approximately half a teaspoon of catsup, a red container with a yellow M that contained twenty-seven fried potato segments that were sprinkled with salt, and..." If they simply said they'd eaten hamburger, you'd be more satisfied with their abbreviated answer than if they'd given the whole truth. Indeed, you'd think they were crazy if they didn't filter out much of the detail.

We only feel concerned when deception can produce results that may harm us.

Fortunately, as our knowledge of deception increases, we gain additional tools to identify those things that are harder to control. To better detect when people are lying to us (or when we're lying to ourselves, which is sometimes worse!) take a look at these highly-rated guides:

Put Deception in its Place

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us
The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us
This highly rated book will help you learn how a person's speech patterns affect their deeper motivations, reveal his or her personality, and provide you with information about their social status and attitudes.

More Ways to Catch a Thief... Err... Liar

Other techniques can help you discover when potential suitors may be lying have proven controversial, perhaps because they're remarkably effective.

  • Google 'Em! Use the "real" name they give you and the user name they use on the site where you met. You may find tax records, court cases, news stories, and more.
  • Google 'Em Again! You can set up Google Alerts to receive ongoing notifications about your searches. If their name doesn't appear today, but suddenly is featured somewhere next week, you'll know it.
  • Find 'Em, too! Check out PeopleFinders to see if their name appears with someone else's name in public records. It's free to do a basic search, and sometimes identifies others by relationships. For instance, if you do a search for John Smith in Podunk, California (made up names), you may see "Mary Smith (Wife)" under the possible relationships column. For a fee, you can obtain more information on just about anyone. (A word of caution: relationships reported may be outdated or contain incorrect information, so this is simply an investigative tool that can be used to evaluate if you're getting the full story.)

Some people may feel this invades their privacy, so be prepared for possible repercussions if you choose to use one or more of these methods.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)