11 Signs Of Dishonesty In A Relationship

Affair and Cheating | | , Copywriter & Editor
Updated On: September 20, 2022
signs of dishonety in a relationship

It’s a strange feeling, is it not? Having to Google the signs of deception in a relationship? Some would say if things have come this far, it’s already too late and you should have backed out a long time ago. But you don’t give up on a relationship until it’s the only option left. You want to be sure what you see really are signs of a sneaky partner and not just mere, unfortunate misunderstandings. Being able to differentiate between the two can decide the future of your relationship, and naturally, this is a decision you’d want to make wisely. That’s why decoding the signs of dishonesty in a relationship is no joke.

In their book, Keeping the Love You Find, authors Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt write that they’ve discovered that about 75-90% of all couples experience some signs of dishonesty in a relationship. What’s more, an estimated 39% of all Americans have admitted they are willing to lie to their partners. Then, why do most of us tend to ignore the signs of deception in a relationship and pretend like everything is okay?

Most times, couples just don’t want to admit when something isn’t working, whether it is money troubles, emotional disconnect, sexual frustration, or all of the above. They might do it to avoid arguments or out of fear of jeopardizing the relationship because they don’t want to feel lonely anymore. But deception affects relationships far worse than any argument ever could. And not admitting one’s problems is nothing but self-deception, which eventually leads to emotional dishonesty in relationships.

Every relationship has its ups and downs. The difference lies in whether you are honest in assessing the state of the relationship so you can improve it, or do you delude yourself into believing everything is just fine. The truth is that relationships will be difficult and challenging at times. And the worst lies in a relationship are the ones you tell yourself to run away from this truth. To make sure you don’t find yourself in this rabbit hole of denial, let’s decode what dishonesty in a relationship looks like and how it impacts a couple’s bond.

What Qualifies As Deception In A Relationship?

To understand what dishonesty does to a relationship, we need to be very clear on what it really is. Not all lies are necessarily malicious. But there are forms of subtle deception that can be harmful to a relationship. Note some of these signs of dishonesty in a relationship:

  • Lying about how much money one makes
  • Physical cheating and emotional cheating
  • Secretly spending time with their ex-girlfriend/boyfriend
  • Hiding their past relationships

Now that you’ve gone over these examples of deception in a relationship, it is clear that having a sneaky partner can be the absolute worst thing ever. But we must also consider that perhaps we are the one who has been displaying signs of dishonesty in a relationship. Oftentimes we try to hide our feelings and motivations because we want others to like us more than we want to be true to ourselves. It might not be intentional or self-benefiting, but it is deception nonetheless and the effects of dishonesty in a relationship, regardless of the intention, are always severe.

It is important to note here that lying by omission in a relationship also happens all too often. According to a survey, 73% of the respondents who’d been in a relationship for at least a year admitted to lying to their partners in order to maintain a healthy romantic relationship.

Related Reading: 11 Signs Of An Emotional Affair – You May Be Crossing A Line Without Even Realizing It

How Do You Know If Your Partner Is Deceiving You?

For starters, by paying close attention. That is usually easy when you’re that close to someone. If you two have been dating for a while, you are probably used to their ways, mannerisms, irksome habits, and routine. As soon as you see some kind of deviation or disarray in their behavior, do not take it lightly. At the same time, don’t straightaway assume that your partner is cheating on you and bring the house down. Observe them for a bit. Are they always hiding their phone from you? Do you notice any other signs of them being secretive in a relationship?

Another way you might just be able to figure out if your boyfriend is flat-out deceiving you or if your girlfriend is lying by omission in a relationship with you is if their stories hardly ever add up. When someone lies in a relationship, narrative inconsistencies are the best way to catch them red-handed. For example, one night they tell you about a trip they took to Bali last March. But then you recall a different time when they mentioned how last year March was their brother’s wedding and they could not even attend since they were not allowed to take a single day off. Is it Bali, the wedding, or work? What really happened in March?

Picking up on these clues is the only way to figure out and see the signs of deception in a relationship. So stay alert and watch them closely. And once you have reason to believe that you’re being lied to or things are completely off, talk to them.

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11 Signs Of Dishonesty In A Relationship

Dishonesty can be hard to spot in a relationship. Sometimes it’s because you don’t want to believe your partner is capable of lying to you, and other times, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt. But there are ways to tell whether or not your partner is being honest with you.

The most obvious signs of lying can be spotted in a person’s body language, demeanor, and attitude. This could be anything from a person covering their mouth when telling a lie to avoiding in-person conversations where they may have to lie and preferring to do so over calls or texts, or getting defensive and directly saying, “I’m not going to tell you.” Are you in a marriage where your husband lies and hides things from you? It’s time to think about whether you see such patterns in .

It’s also possible that your partner could be lying by omission in a relationship. They know what the truth is but decide not to share it with you to spare your feelings or save themselves from an uncomfortable conversation. But what good does that really do, since it is still technically a lie? Let’s understand that and everything else by going through these signs of a sneaky partner that can help you detect dishonesty in a relationship:

1. Lying about little things is one of the major signs of dishonesty in a relationship

If you feel like your partner is lying about small things, then this could mean that they are lying about bigger things as well. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep a few secrets in a relationship because what fun would a relationship be without some mystery? But there needs to be a limit to how far you can bend the truth in the name of excitement and mystery.

If you think that an issue comes up repeatedly and you start to notice something fishy, don’t ignore it! It is possible that your husband lies and hides things from you, or your wife or partner isn’t truthful with you. Poking at those discrepancies can get you closer to figuring out the truth.

2. Hiding the contents of their wallet or purse

If your partner hides the things they keep in their wallet or purse, such as their credit card statement or other documents, it means they have something to hide. Perhaps they have been dishonest with their finances or there are aspects of their life they don’t want you to know about – an affair maybe or some shady business dealings. In any case, not being open with your partner about your belongings is one of the signs of a deceitful man/woman.

Infographic on signs of deception in a relationship
Signs Of A Sneaky Partner

3. Being secretive and hiding phone or computer

One of the biggest lying spouse signs is excessive secrecy about their digital activities. When it comes to cheating on someone, a lot of people rely on technology to do so. If you are with someone who doesn’t let you use their phone or computer, it could be a warning sign that they have something to hide. Take my friend’s case, for example:

He had been in an exclusive relationship with this girl for over a year. In all that time, he hadn’t been allowed to use her phone once. She always had some excuse ready. Finally, when he did access the phone, he found three separate active dating profiles she had been using since before they got together. The dating apps weren’t all that well hidden either. So much for digital privacy, eh?

4. Being nervous about the topic of fidelity can be a sign of dishonesty in a relationship

One of the more telling signs of a deceitful man or woman is a perceptible discomfort around the topic of faithfulness. If your partner seems nervous whenever you bring up honesty or cheating in the context of your relationship, it could be a manifestation of their guilty conscience.

Related Reading: 5 Surefire Signs Your Partner Is Cheating On You – Don’t Ignore These!

5. Telling stories that don’t add up is the biggest in signs of deception in a relationship

So you have noticed that the stories they tell you about their past relationships are sketchy or inconsistent. Their accounts of past events just don’t add up or even make sense. People who lie need to constantly defend themselves or justify their actions. In doing so, they often weave excuses that are either too far-fetched or excessively detailed.

A very common example of this is when the person keeps adding new names or details with every retelling of an event/experience. You could ask them something as simple as where they were at a given time. Instead of a straightforward answer, they’ll give you a whole story of how they got stuck at work or ran into an old friend. Ask them the same question a few days later and you’ll find extra characters and events added to the story. If that’s not one of the signs of dishonesty in a relationship, we don’t know what is.

6. Showing zero accountability

When they get caught in a lie, they quickly change the subject or try to blame someone else instead of apologizing and coming clean. If someone is lying to you, they will often avoid answering questions directly and try to change the subject as quickly as possible. Evasive behavior is the marker of a person who is lying to you. Pay close attention to their body language as well and take note of how they respond. You’ll notice they never make any eye contact.

Similarly, one of the signs of deception in a relationship is vague responses. A dishonest partner will never really answer any question you ask them and will skillfully sidestep the issues you bring up. Doing so becomes much easier from behind a screen. But if you pay close attention, you may be able to notice that your girlfriend or your boyfriend is lying through text. If you call them out, they might just run away from the conversation by sharing a meme or a reel, or worse, just disappear for a couple of hours.

7. Using guilt trips is the subtlest of signs of dishonesty in a relationship

And can even be considered extremely toxic behavior. They make you feel guilty for calling them out on their dishonest behavior. Sadly, you end up giving them a pass as you don’t want to be seen as “the bad guy” in the situation and choose to move on from it. But this is a major sign of having a sneaky partner. They guilt you into turning a blind eye to their mistakes so they don’t have to face the consequences of their actions.

I was dating this girl – let’s call her Stacey – and I recognized her tendency to lie about her personal life. The first time I asked her about it, she apologized. But when this pattern continued, I confronted her more emphatically. By the end of the discussion, she had somehow convinced me that I was the one at fault for questioning her. Over the next few weeks, I approached the topic in more delicate ways. However, I was the one who ended up feeling guilty for broaching the subject every time. I took my cue and ended the relationship. After all, the same guilt trip works only so many times.

8. Keeping their routine secret

Knowing each other’s routines, timings, or the usual “What are you up to?” message comes with the relationship territory. It’s normal to always be aware of where your partner is at any given time. In fact, most couples like it that way and choose to inform their partner of these things. But one of the signs of deception in a relationship is that your partner shies away from this kind of transparency.

You never know where your SO is at any given time. They could be just spending time with close friends or chasing another love interest. For all you know, they might be dating another person yet they are still with you because they are afraid to lose you. The truth is that you cannot know what your partner does throughout the day. But if they are uncomfortable with you taking the slightest interest in their usual schedule, then they might be leading a double life.

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9. Using “meetings” as a stock excuse

And we are tired of hearing it. Their “meetings” seem to pop up at their convenience. “I am in a meeting” just rolls off their tongue at almost every inquiry. It is possible your partner could be busy, but someone truly interested in you will find time to be present and engaged in your life. More importantly, they will explain why they can’t be with you at a given time rather than use the “meeting” excuse for the millionth time.

Related Reading: 15 Signs Your Husband Is Cheating On You With A Coworker

10. Obvious signs of deception in a relationship? Past incidents are revealed

You discover they’ve lied to you before. What more examples of deception in a relationship do you really need? If you have uncovered lying spouse signs in your relationship, it means your partner will probably lie to you again. If they weren’t honest with you until you uncovered the truth on your own and confronted them, there’s no reason to think they won’t dabble in subtle deception going forward. How exactly are you going to rebuild trust in such a relationship?

11. You have a strong gut feeling

You feel like something is off but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Your intuition is one of the most powerful signs of dishonesty in a relationship and the best thing to do in such cases is to trust it. If something seems off, it probably is. Your body has ways of communicating with you through your instincts. Listen to them and act accordingly.

Trust is a vital part of any relationship and it’s also the first casualty when deception creeps in between the couple. It can be hard to tell if your partner has been lying or not, and even harder to accept it. But the effects of dishonesty in a relationship are too corrosive to be overlooked. Although not all effects of dishonesty in a relationship are irreversible, ignoring them only makes things worse.

3 Ways Dishonesty Affects A Relationship

Constantly lying or being secretive in a relationship is going to do it no good, that’s understood. Not only does it cause a breakdown of trust in the relationship, but it also leads to uneasy communication. If you have been lied to or your partner has a habit of keeping things from you, you may find yourself doubting their every move. That renders a relationship dysfunctional, far from the safe, secure space it is meant to be. Let’s take a close look at the impact of deception in a relationship to help you understand why you must never take it lightly:

1. You never know when to believe them anymore

If you are perhaps in a relationship with a pathological liar or dating somebody who often makes up scenarios and stories, you are going to lose your emotional and intellectual connection with them. When you feel like your partner is not being straight with you, things are bound to get uncomfortable and you may even feel grossly disrespected. This will make it extremely challenging for you to be in the relationship as you never know when they are lying to you or not.

Ross, a reader from Boston, told us about his new girlfriend, Charlotte, and her lying tendencies. He said, “I really liked her so I tried to overlook all the lies she told me. They used to be pretty easy to read but I just ignored them, I thought she just did it out of habit. But after a point, I just could not take it anymore. It became exhausting because I felt like I could never connect with her anymore. What should I even believe about her?”

2. Feeling a lack of respect

Love is not the only thing that keeps a relationship afloat. It is usually a rich mix of trust, compassion, communication, and respect. Without respect, there is no relationship, which is why whenever a relationship is going through a breakdown, therapists and experts focus on developing respect in a relationship first and then working on the other things.

But when one is constantly lied to, there is no question of respect anymore. Even lying by omission, for that matter, can make one feel extremely disrespected and uncared for. When respect erodes, there’s only so long a relationship can stay afloat.

3. The liar ends up lying to themselves too

And that’s when things get extremely tricky. The whole relationship begins to feel like a whirlpool of emotions and frustration because nothing feels real anymore. Not even for the one who is actually lying. Whether they are denying the truth outright, creating new scenarios, or making up a new identity, things are bound to go downhill and fast. At this point, the trust is gone, the confusion and discomfort have crept in, and your love is just hanging by a frail thread.

Key Pointers

  • Deception is not just lying to another person’s face, it also includes withholding information 
  • A dishonest person will act secretive and not open up to you about where they are or who they are hanging out with
  • A liar is never accountable so do not expect them to agree or nod when you call them out 
  • Lying or deception leads to the breakdown of a relationship as there is a lack of trust and respect

If you encounter any of the above signs of dishonesty in a relationship, remember it’s not too late to act. You can take steps to address the issue and recommit yourself to your partner. We know what dishonesty does to a relationship and we have discussed the most common signs. But if you have any other questions about how deception affects relationships and what you can do to make your relationship stronger and more honest, a mental health professional can help offer you greater clarity on how best to navigate this situation. If you’re looking for help, skilled and licensed counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.

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