Liars, Tigers, and Bears: Lessons in Detecting Bullshitters 

“First, some bullshit theory. The philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt defined what bullshitters do in his brief, bestselling book/essay ‘On Bullshit.’ Here’s my version of his definition:

While liars say things they know are untrue, bullshitters say whatever they think will work best and have no interest in whether their statements are true or not.”—Scott Adams, “The 4 kinds of bullshitters (and where Trump fits)

There’s no doubt that my bullshit detector was never really in proper working order. It just doesn’t occur to me that people would willfully misrepresent themselves or their motives. My small taste of the online dating scene has already served up liars at a rate of three for three.

Liar number one was the least problematic of the liars. He even told on himself. He’d quit the job listed in profile five months prior to our first online communication. His new job wasn’t terrible, but it was less prestigious and it just happened to be in the same industry as my ex-husband. I automatically swipe left on anyone in that industry because of how it is so intertwined with memories of my ex-husband, how it fed his narcissism, and was one of his excuses for treating me so terribly. Liar One and I went out once, but I couldn’t over look the deception or his job.

The second liar had the seemingly same motive as Liar One: to put his best foot forward even if that foot was from the past. We chatted for about a week. He seemed interesting and normal enough. I looked forward to his messages and was excited to finally meet him.

Liar number two had four pictures. Three were clearly the same person. The fourth was conceivable a bad picture the same person, but mostly featuring his dog. This was the assumption I chose to go with. Of course, when we finally met, the bad photo was the reality. I’m sure the other photos were him at some point in his life, but that point was far behind him.

In hindsight, I should have anticipated how our meeting would shake out. At one point he asked me for a selfie. He didn’t request a nude or anything and I’d taken a selfie the day before. I sent it along. In that context he mentioned that he doesn’t like to take selfies so I didn’t ask for one in return. I realize now that he was making sure I wasn’t playing his game. He was projecting his behavior on to me.

There were more red flags during our short date. Even if the deception with his pictures hadn’t happened, there wouldn’t have been a second date with Liar Number Two.

Lair Number Three was all together more complicated. It took two dates before I started noticing red flags. Within five days of the second date, everything had fallen apart. The line between truth and lie is impossible to draw with Liar Three. There were all kinds of feelings and flashbacks in the aftermath of his duplicity. It’s too much to address in this blog post, but it was terrible. (For the story of Liar 3, click here.)

These dates haven’t done much to restore my faith in men. I don’t know if I can handle kissing lots of frogs before I find my prince. I don’t even know if I want to have a well developed bullshit detector.

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