The Six Signs He's Lying

By Sally Caldwell
WebMD Live Events Transcript

Noted author Sally Caldwell chats with WebMD about a sensitive matter -- men who lie, and the women who suffer as a result.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Transcribed by WebMD staff

"Of course I'm not married!"

If he seems too good to be true, chances are he probably is, says Sally Caldwell, PhD, author of Romantic Deception: The Six Signs He's Lying.

Fueled by hundreds of interviews from women across the country and many years of extensive experience as a social researcher, Romantic Deception is the essential book for women having trouble with men who lie.

"Sure, we're all used to a bit of lying when it comes to dating and courtship, but 'romantic deception' is qualitatively different," says Caldwell. "Romantic deception isn't about the little white lies or excessive flattery or emotional misrepresentations. Romantic deception is about a man misrepresenting who or what he is -- lying about his marital status, education, occupation, or military background. It's one thing if someone tells you he's going to love you forever, but then the relationship goes sour. That's just an emotional promise that didn't come true. It's a different matter altogether when a man makes factual misrepresentations -- when he claims to be something he isn't. That's what I call 'romantic deception.'"

The stories in Caldwell's book are both shocking and familiar. She details a number of these from the perspective of a trained sociologist. In addition, she provides resources that can help you sort of truth from fiction.

Certainly, there are a lot of married men running around, pretending that they're single, but that's not the only type of liar out on the prowl.

"Let's start with the physician from England," says Caldwell. "He came to this country to practice medicine because he was tired of the system of socialized medicine ... or so he said. When the woman I interviewed met him, he was wearing a hospital badge with his name and department -- Dr. John Doe, MD, Pathology Department. They went out to his posh home, and they went all over town in his luxury automobile. But the truth eventually came out. The guy wasn't a doctor and he wasn't from England. Even though this character could come out of a dead sleep speaking in a British accent, he was actually from Iowa, and he had a pretty long arrest record. He was also the chauffeur for the man who owned the house and car he was using."

So, how do you know if he's lying? That's exactly what we asked Caldwell.

WebMD: Dr. Caldwell, can you define the term, "romantic deception"?

Caldwell: Yes, I have a rather straightforward definition. Romantic deception is the unrestrained misrepresentation of significant facts in the context of an intimate relationship. It has to involve misrepresentation of facts -- not emotions.

WebMD: How did you first get involved in this project?

Caldwell: I had the opportunity to observe two romantic liars -- men who pretty much fit the definition I just gave you. Over time I became intrigued with their behavior.

I eventually became so intrigued that I started doing some informal library research ---- just to see if anyone had ever looked at the topic. I quickly determined that it was one of those topics that was, for the most part, totally overlooked.

While still mulling the idea around in my mind, I heard a newscast one morning. The news segment that caught my attention had to do with a man who had died and left five wives behind. Of course, all of the women were in the dark. That's what convinced me it was time to do some formal research.

WebMD: Reading through your bio, I noticed you have a background in sociology. Are these romantic liars part of a larger sociological trend?

Caldwell: Sad to say, but I think you hit the nail on the head -- sad to say because I can't be too upbeat about the future on this topic. I see no reason to think this sort of behavior is going to go away. As a matter of fact, I suspect we will only see more of it in the future.

Member question: Is this a uniquely American phenomenon?

Caldwell: I doubt that is the case. Certainly my study was not a cross-cultural investigation, so I really have no evidence. My guess, however, is that lying along the lines I've described and in the context of intimate relationships probably goes on in most societies. It's probably only the nature or content of the lies that would change. I suspect people all over the world -- at least those who are doing the lying -- have a habit of lying about what society defines as important.

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