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Is someone on a dating site lying to you?

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Everybody knows that people looking for love online lie. But how can you spot them?

According to Catalina Toma of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there are common ways that people lie to potential lovers online. After studying the profiles of dozens of online daters, researchers identified ways to catch these lies when looking for love on the Internet.

Less is more. Generally speaking, if an online dater has a short profile, there's a good chance that it's peppered with tall tales. This strategy is used when lying because the less information that is given to potential dates, the less liars have to worry about being inconsistent.

"They don't want to say too much," said Toma. "Liars experience a lot of cognitive load. They have a lot to think about. The less they write, the fewer untrue things they may have to remember and support later."

The I's have it. Daters who lie in their profiles are less likely to use the word "I" because it allows them to spin untruths to potential lovers without feeling connected to what they are saying.

"Liars do this because they want to distance themselves from their deceptive statements," Toma said.

Who me? The most common lies that researchers found among online daters were related to appearance—namely their height and weight. When people lie about these things, they tended to avoid talking about them—instead choosing to talk about the life and work achievements in their written descriptions.

Of course, lying in love is nothing new. With online dating, however, it's gotten so much easier, in part because people corresponding on dating sites have enough time to craft their responses—and get their lies straight.

"You have all the time in the world to say whatever you want," Toma said. "You're not expected to be spontaneous. You can write and rewrite as many times as you want before you post, and then in many cases return and edit yourself."

(Source: Lovelorn liars leave linguistic leads. Retrieved from University of Wisconsin-Madison.)

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