40+ Warning Signs of an Untrustworthy Person (With Expert Insights)

It’s important to know who you can trust, right? Sometimes, figuring out if someone is trustworthy can be tricky. Everyone wants friends, family, and colleagues they can rely on.

In this article, I’ll share some straightforward ways to spot an untrustworthy person. From small lies to major betrayals, these signs will help you see the red flags before it’s too late.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide professional advice or diagnose any individual. Always consult with a qualified professional for advice specific to your situation.

They Lie Frequently

One of the biggest red flags of an untrustworthy person is frequent lying. When someone lies all the time, it becomes hard to believe anything they say. Watch out for those little white lies that seem harmless but stack up over time.

I mean, if someone’s comfortable bending the truth about small things, what’s to stop them from fibbing about the big stuff too, right?

People who lie frequently often do so to avoid responsibility or get something they want. Consistent lying may be a sign that someone is trying to manipulate situations to their advantage.

Always be wary of those white lies or consistent fibs—they’re a telltale sign that someone can’t be trusted.

They Break Promises

Reliable people keep their promises, while untrustworthy individuals do not. Breaking promises indicates a lack of commitment and reliability.

For example, if someone promises to help you move but bails at the last minute, it shows they don’t prioritize your needs or respect their word.

A pattern of broken promises can deeply harm relationships, making it difficult to rely on the person for anything significant. When someone frequently breaks promises, they show that their words don’t mean much.

They Have Inconsistent Stories

When someone’s story keeps changing, alarm bells should go off. It’s easy to excuse once or twice, but if it becomes a pattern, it can be a major red flag signaling you might be dealing with an untrustworthy person.

Keeping track of these inconsistencies might reveal more than just forgetfulness:

  • Details: Pay attention to changes in the story details over time.
  • Justifications: They often have to explain why the story has changed.

You know how it goes: one day, they’re telling you they were at their cousin’s wedding last weekend, and a few days later, the story shifts to a business trip. When you catch these discrepancies, it might make you wonder what else they’re being less than truthful about.

They Avoid Answering Direct Questions

Untrustworthy people often avoid answering direct questions. When asked something straightforward, they might dodge, change the subject, or provide vague responses instead of giving a clear answer. This behavior can be very frustrating, especially when you need honest information.

For example, if you ask someone about their background or intentions and they constantly evade the question, take note. This could be their way of hiding something or avoiding accountability.

Avoiding direct questions can also be a tactic to maintain control over a situation. It allows them to steer the conversation in a direction that suits their agenda, keeping you in the dark.

If someone consistently avoids answering you directly, it’s a strong sign that they might not be trustworthy.

They Distrust Others

It’s a bit ironic, but often those who are hard to trust are themselves quite distrustful of others.

For instance, someone who frequently accuses others of lying or betraying their trust might do so because they are guilty of these actions themselves. This pervasive distrust can create a toxic environment, making it difficult to build positive, trustworthy relationships.

Be cautious around individuals who consistently assume the worst in others, as it might indicate they are not trustworthy themselves.

They Lack Empathy

Empathy is the glue that holds relationships together, allowing us to connect with the feelings of others. A lack of empathy is a significant warning sign because it often means the individual is only focused on their own needs and feelings.

Here’s how this typically plays out:

  • Insensitive: They often ignore or belittle others’ feelings.
  • Self-centered: Their needs and desires always take precedence.

They Blame Others For Their Mistakes

Another common trait of untrustworthy people is their habit of blaming others for their own mistakes. When something goes wrong, instead of taking responsibility, they point fingers at others.

This behavior is not only unfair but also shows a lack of integrity. If someone at work always blames their team for missed deadlines or a friend puts the fault on you for their blunders, they are avoiding accountability.

Blaming others can create a toxic environment and damage relationships. It shows that the person is not willing to own up to their actions and is more interested in protecting themselves than being honest.

If you notice this pattern, it’s a clear sign that the person might not be trustworthy and could cause issues in both personal and professional settings.

They Gossip Often

Gossip is one of those things that can seem harmless or even entertaining, but it has a darker side. Someone who gossips frequently can often spread mistrust and unrest within a group.

People who love to share the latest rumors might:

  • Break confidences: They tell others’ secrets, showing a lack of respect for privacy.
  • Create divisions: Their tales often pit people against each other.

Consider how it feels when you find out someone has been talking about you behind your back. Not great, right? Regular gossipers tend to spill the beans not just for the thrill but perhaps because creating drama gives them a sense of power.

They Manipulate Situations

Manipulation is a key behavior of untrustworthy individuals. They often twist situations to serve their own needs, bending the truth or influencing others to get their way.

This can take many forms, such as playing the victim, exaggerating facts, or using emotional blackmail. If someone frequently manipulates you or others, it’s a major red flag.

Manipulative behavior can be damaging and exhausting. It shows that the person is focused on their own gain at the expense of others. Over time, their constant manipulation can lead to mistrust and resentment.

Recognizing and standing up against manipulation is crucial to maintaining healthy, trusting relationships.

"Manipulative people can be very subtle in steering you in a certain direction by making subtle or derogatory comments about people, jobs or situations in an attempt to get you to see things their way."

— Lynell Ross | Certified Health and Wellness Coach | Behavior Change Specialist | Founder and Managing Editor, Zivadream

They Keep Secrets

We all have our little secrets, right? But when someone constantly hides information or is overly secretive, it can signal deeper issues of trustworthiness. Keeping too many secrets can create a barrier in relationships, making true transparency and openness impossible.

Here’s how this might show up:

  • Selective sharing: They share information with some people but withhold it from others.
  • Mysterious about personal details: They avoid questions about their past or plans.
"If an individual (excluding professional relationships like therapy) inquires about your personal information but is unwilling to offer the same information back, this is a red flag that they are a risk of being untrustworthy."

— Dr. Hans Watson | Psychiatrist, University Elite PLLC

They Flatter Excessively

Flattery can feel good, honestly, who doesn’t like a compliment every now and then? But when it’s over the top or comes from someone who always seems to have something nice to say, it might be time to question their sincerity.

Excessive flattery often serves as a tool for manipulation, either to get something from you or to keep you in a state of subdued contentment.

Look out for:

  • Ulterior motives: Compliments may come your way when they need a favor or help.
  • Lack of depth: Their flattery often lacks genuine connection to real qualities or achievements.

They Show Signs Of Jealousy

Jealousy is a natural emotion, but when it’s constant or intense, it can be a sign of insecurity and mistrust. An untrustworthy person may feel threatened by your relationships or successes and react negatively.

Their jealousy can manifest in various ways:

  • Resentment: They seem unhappy or critical when you succeed or form new relationships.
  • Possessiveness: They may try to monopolize your time or attention.

You know that feeling when you share some good news and instead of being happy, your friend gives a strained smile and quickly shifts the topic? It doesn’t just hurt—it’s a red flag that jealousy may be at play.

They Can’t Handle Criticism

Handling criticism gracefully is an admirable quality, isn’t it? However, if someone consistently reacts poorly to constructive feedback, it might be a sign of deeper issues. People who can’t accept criticism often struggle with personal accountability and openness.

This inability to accept criticism can make honest communication difficult. If someone cannot handle being called out for their mistakes or refuses to learn from feedback, it shows a lack of self-awareness and maturity.

This trait makes it hard to trust them, as they are likely to avoid addressing their shortcomings.

In both personal and professional contexts, accepting criticism is crucial for development and building trust. Those who can’t handle criticism often project their issues onto others, making it challenging to have open and transparent relationships.

They Avoid Taking Responsibility

Taking responsibility for one’s actions is fundamental in building trustworthiness. When someone consistently avoids taking responsibility, it can be a significant red flag. This avoidance often leads to a lack of trust and respect.

Here’s what this behavior often includes:

  • Shifting blame: They find ways to pin any failures or mistakes on others.
  • Making excuses: There’s always a reason why something wasn’t their fault.

They Have A History Of Broken Relationships

While not everyone’s past is spotless, a pattern of broken relationships can indicate problems with trustworthiness. People who leave behind a trail of unresolved relationships might struggle with maintaining trust, loyalty, and understanding.

These broken relationships often stem from patterns of lying, betrayal, or other untrustworthy behaviors. Paying attention to someone’s relationship history can provide valuable insights into their character.

It’s important to consider the reasons behind these broken relationships. While everyone encounters difficulties, a repeated pattern suggests deeper trust issues.

Observing how they speak about past relationships can also offer clues—if they constantly blame others or refuse to take any blame, it’s a red flag for future interactions.

They Lack Transparency

Transparent people are open and honest in their communications and actions. In contrast, those who lack transparency often hide details, avoid giving clear answers, or keep you in the dark about their intentions.

This makes it difficult to trust them. Whether it’s a manager who isn’t clear about expectations or a friend who is vague about their plans, a lack of transparency often leads to suspicion and mistrust.

When someone isn’t transparent, it creates a barrier to building a reliable relationship. You start to question their motives and worry about what they might be hiding. Trustworthy people are open and communicate clearly, fostering a sense of security.

They Overreact To Minor Issues

How someone handles small problems can tell you a lot about their character. Overreaction to minor issues can be a sign of emotional instability or attempts to manipulate or control situations.

This kind of behavior is exhausting and can be seen as follows:

  • Blowing things out of proportion: A small misunderstanding results in an extreme emotional response.
  • Creating drama: Minor issues are turned into major crises frequently.

They Always Need To Be Right

Let’s be real, we all like to be right sometimes, but insisting on it constantly? That’s trouble. Individuals who can’t stand being wrong often struggle with issues of self-esteem and control.

Here’s what this typically looks like:

  • Dismissing other opinions: They are quick to shoot down suggestions that aren’t their own.
  • Dominating discussions: Conversations with them often end up as lectures or debates with them doing most of the talking.

Have you ever had a discussion that felt more like a battle to be won than a conversation? It’s tiring and often, you might choose to just let them ‘win’ to avoid conflict. This trait can significantly impact relationships, stalling genuine dialogue and mutual growth.

They Show Controlling Behavior

hose who try to control every aspect of their surroundings and the people in their lives are often driven by insecurity or a desire for power.

This can manifest in many ways, such as dictating how you should spend your time, making decisions for you without your input, or constantly checking up on you. Such behavior can be suffocating and damaging to your sense of independence.

A controlling person does not respect your boundaries and tries to manipulate your actions to serve their own needs.

Trustworthy people, on the other hand, value your autonomy and respect your decisions. They understand that trust grows in relationships where both parties feel free and respected.

They Avoid Eye Contact

Eye contact can be powerful. It’s not just about looking someone in the eye; it’s about seeing and being seen, about mutual respect. So, when someone consistently avoids eye contact, it might make you wonder what they’re holding back.

Not making eye contact can suggest:

  • Discomfort or guilt: They might feel uneasy about something they have done or are going to do.
  • Lack of confidence: Sometimes, it’s about not feeling sure in the situation.

Have you ever been in a conversation, and the other person just won’t look you in the eye, especially when discussing important stuff? It’s unsettling and might rightfully lead you to question their sincerity.

They Act Overly Agreeable

Being agreeable isn’t a bad thing until it crosses into being overly agreeable. When someone always agrees with everything, never voicing their opinion or dissent, it can be a sign they’re trying to manipulate your perception of them or avoid conflict at all costs.

For example, if someone always agrees with you but never shares their own thoughts or says “yes” to everything regardless of their actual capabilities, it can be a strategy to manipulate your feelings or avoid honest interaction.

Trustworthy individuals are honest about their opinions and don’t mask their true thoughts just to please others.

They Make Excuses For Everything

Ever dealt with someone who has an excuse ready for every situation? It can be exhausting. Constant excuses may signal that a person is unwilling to face the truth of their actions or is trying to manipulate how you perceive their failures.

This can be seen in many scenarios, such as missing deadlines, forgetting commitments, or making poor decisions. Instead of owning up to their mistakes, they deflect blame and offer numerous excuses.

This constant excuse-making creates a barrier to genuine accountability. It makes it hard to trust the person’s words and actions because you never know if they are being honest or just trying to cover up their shortcomings.

Trustworthy individuals acknowledge their mistakes and take steps to correct them, rather than making excuses to avoid blame.

They Have A History Of Betrayal

If a person has a past filled with broken promises, infidelity, or dishonest behavior, it’s likely they might repeat these actions. Pay attention to stories or examples of past interactions they share and how they talk about them.

If there are recurring patterns of betrayal, it’s a sign that they may not value trust and loyalty.

While everyone makes mistakes, a consistent history of betrayal indicates deeper issues with honesty and commitment. Trustworthy people learn from their past and strive to build trust, rather than repeatedly breaking it.

They Disregard Personal Boundaries

Personal boundaries are the invisible lines that define how much others can interact with you. When someone continually ignores your comfort zones, it shows a lack of respect for your personal space and autonomy.

This can be as simple as invading your physical space without permission, ignoring your “no,” or prying into your personal matters.

Respecting personal boundaries is fundamental to building trust. If someone repeatedly crosses these lines, it signals that they do not value your limits and comfort.

Trustworthy individuals always pay attention to and respect boundaries, creating a sense of safety and mutual respect.

They Borrow Money And Don’t Return It

When someone borrows money, there is an unspoken agreement that they will pay it back as promised. If a person repeatedly fails to repay loans or comes up with excuses for why they can’t pay you back, it shows a lack of responsibility and respect.

This behavior can strain relationships and create feelings of resentment and mistrust.

Not returning borrowed money indicates they don’t value your trust and generosity. Trustworthy individuals understand the importance of keeping their word, especially when it involves financial matters.

If they borrow money, they make it a priority to repay it, maintaining the trust and respect in the relationship.

They Disrespect Your Time

This can manifest in various ways, such as constantly being late, canceling plans last minute, or failing to follow through with promises.

When someone doesn’t honor your time, it shows they don’t value you or your commitments. It can be extremely frustrating and disrupt your own plans and schedules.

Trustworthy people respect others’ time and make an effort to be punctual and dependable. They understand that being reliable is an essential part of building trust and maintaining strong relationships.

When You Share Your Innermost Thoughts And Secrets, They Tell Others

If the person you confide in reveals these private matters to others, it is a serious breach of trust. This behavior indicates a lack of respect for your privacy and can cause significant emotional harm.

It shows that the person values gossip or spreading information more than maintaining your trust.

Being able to keep confidences is a fundamental trait of trustworthy individuals. Trustworthy people honor your privacy and ensure that what you share in confidence remains confidential, fostering a secure and trusting relationship.

"Some might say that if you can’t trust your friends with everything that they aren’t your true friends. I believe that there’s a difference between trust and being trustworthy—especially trustworthy with everything! Some may feel differently about this, and that’s okay too."

Arielle Karoub | Certified Life Coach with JRNI | Mental Health Professional

They Tell You What To Think

It’s one thing to offer advice, it’s another to insist on swaying your opinions to align with theirs all the time. When someone regularly tells you what to think or feel, it can indicate a lack of respect for your individuality and an intention to dominate.

Here’s a closer look:

  • Dismissal of your views: They often invalidate your opinions, suggesting theirs are more valid or logical.
  • Pressure to conform: There’s a sense of coercion in conversations, making you feel pressured to agree with them.

Your Relationship Feels One-Sided

A healthy relationship involves give and take. When it feels one-sided, with most efforts coming from your side, it’s not just draining—it’s a signal of imbalance that could point to a lack of trustworthiness.

Think about these aspects:

  • You’re always the initiator: You find yourself constantly reaching out or making plans, with little to no initiative from the other side.
  • Your needs are overlooked: It seems like their needs and preferences always take precedence, without consideration for yours.

Let’s say you always are the one to call, make plans, and remember special occasions. The relationship has you feeling more like a fan club than a friend or partner. It doesn’t just feel lonely; it makes you wonder if they value the relationship or just what they get from it.

They Are Unable To Control Their Emotions

Emotional regulation is critical in maintaining stable and trustworthy relationships. If someone often has explosive reactions or is unpredictably emotional, it can create uncertainty and discomfort around interactions.

Reflect on these points:

  • Intense reactions to small issues: Minor inconveniences can trigger disproportionately big emotional reactions, such as rage or despair.
  • Emotional unpredictability: Their mood swings make it difficult to predict how they will react, making interactions feel like walking on eggshells.

They Are Unable To Handle Negative Feedback

Nobody loves getting negative feedback, but how we handle it says a lot about our character. If someone consistently reacts poorly—either by deflecting, denying, or getting upset—when faced with constructive criticism, it may indicate deeper issues with honesty and self-awareness.

Accepting feedback is crucial for personal growth and maintaining trustworthy relationships.

Trustworthy individuals understand that feedback is not a personal attack but a chance to learn and grow. If someone cannot handle negative feedback, it can be a barrier to trust and mutual understanding.

"People with more narcissistic traits will tend to determine their sense of worth from positive feedback from the people and situations around them. This means that they will also struggle to handle any form of negative feedback. 

Even constructive criticism will be seen as an attack on their sense of worth. This type of response means you will never be able to be your genuine self with this type of person as you can never entirely trust how they will react."

— Dr. Clinton Moore | Clinical Psychologist | Founder, Cadence Psychology

They Say One Thing And Do Another

Consistency between words and actions is a key factor in trustworthiness. Untrustworthy people often say one thing and do another.

They might make promises they don’t keep, or they might assure you of something and then act differently. This inconsistency can be confusing and frustrating, making it hard to rely on them.

Their Visual Movements Are Inconsistent

Non-verbal cues are often as informative as verbal ones. Inconsistent visual movements—such as avoiding eye contact, frequent blinking, or shifting eyes—can indicate discomfort with the conversation or dishonesty.

Be observant of:

  • Avoiding eye contact: While not always indicative of dishonesty, avoiding eye contact during critical conversations can be a sign of wanting to hide something.
  • Nervous movements: Excessive fidgeting or inability to maintain steady eye contact can suggest that they are not fully comfortable with what they’re saying.
"If they shift their feet from side to side, it is a sign of being nervous in the situation or uncomfortable at what is being said in a conversation. For example, if you just caught them lying, they will shift side to side because they are nervous in the situation. 

If they look right generally, they are making up a story to tell you while looking left is recalling a truth. Someone that wrings their hands shows signs of worry, especially if they are trying to hide something from you."

Dr. Cali Estes, Ph.D., MCAP, MAC, ICADC | Psychologist | Cognitive Behavioral Therapist | Founder, The Addictions Coach

If you’re discussing something important and notice the other person won’t look you in the eye, or their eyes dart around the room, it can be unsettling. For instance, you ask a simple question about where they were last night, and suddenly, they can’t seem to meet your gaze. It’s these little signs that might hint they’re not being entirely truthful.

They Are Inconsistent With Reality

They might exaggerate stories, change facts to suit their narrative, or live in a way that avoids confronting the truth. This inconsistency with reality can make it difficult to take them seriously or rely on their word.

For instance, if someone frequently tells stories that don’t add up or presents different versions of the same event, it’s a warning sign.

Trustworthy individuals stay grounded in reality. They present facts as they are, even when they are not favorable. Recognizing when someone is distorting reality helps you understand their level of honesty and reliability.

"An untrustworthy person might utilize a defense mechanism called projection. This is when a person accuses someone of demonstrating negative undesirable emotions, rather than recognizing or admitting that it is an emotion they themselves are experiencing. This is typically a subconscious process, but an untrustworthy person will knowingly use this process as a means to manipulate others into believing them."

Dr. Lindsay Israel | Board Certified Psychiatrist | Chief Medical Officer & Medical Director, Success TMS

They Are Disrespectful Toward You

If someone frequently belittles you, dismisses your opinions, or treats you with contempt, they are likely not someone you can trust.

Respect is the foundation of any healthy relationship, whether personal or professional. When respect is lacking, it’s a sign that the person does not value you or your boundaries.

Respectful individuals acknowledge and appreciate your views and feelings. They treat you with kindness and consideration, which builds mutual trust and understanding. A lack of respect erodes trust and makes it impossible to build a healthy connection.

They Are Unreliable

Unreliable people often break promises, fail to show up when needed, and can’t be counted on in important situations. This inconsistency can cause frustration and disrupt plans, making it difficult to depend on them for anything significant.

Reliability is a cornerstone of trust. Trustworthy individuals follow through on their promises and commitments, ensuring that you can depend on them. When someone is consistently unreliable, it’s a clear sign that they might not be trustworthy.

They Act Differently In Private Than They Do In Public

People often have a public persona that differs slightly from their private self, but extreme differences may be a red flag.

When someone’s private behavior is markedly different from how they present themselves to the world, it can indicate dishonesty or manipulative traits. This can be particularly unsettling as it throws you off balance, not knowing which version of the person is genuine.

Key things to watch for are:

  • Jekyll and Hyde syndrome: They may be charming and personable in public but rude and dismissive in private.
  • Manipulative behavior: This shift might be used to manipulate those who only see a more favorable side.

They Don’t Honor Commitments

When someone consistently fails to honor their commitments, whether in personal or professional settings, it sends a clear message about their reliability and respect for others. It’s not just about missing a few appointments; it speaks volumes about their overall integrity.

Watch out for:

  • Flaking out: They often agree to obligations but frequently bail out without a valid reason.
  • Lack of follow-through: Even with repeated reminders, they fail to complete tasks or keep promises, leaving others to pick up the slack.

They Break The Rules And Push Past Boundaries

These individuals tend to disregard established rules and norms, acting as if they are above them. They may also try to push your personal boundaries, testing how far they can go without facing consequences.

This lack of respect for rules and personal limits can create an environment of uncertainty and mistrust.

Respecting boundaries and rules is critical for building trust. Trustworthy individuals understand and honor the limits set by society and the people around them.

When someone constantly breaks rules or pushes boundaries, it’s a clear indication they do not respect others, making them difficult to trust.

They Have Over-The-Top Ideal Behavior

While it may initially seem pleasing, over-the-top behavior that consistently seems too good to be true can sometimes mask underlying deceit or manipulative intentions.

This can manifest as:

  • Excessive charm: They may use charm to influence and enchant people superficially.
  • Idealized presentations: They present themselves as the perfect friend, partner, or employee without showing any authentic flaws or vulnerabilities.

They Are Hard To Understand

People who are unclear or ambiguous in their communication might be doing so intentionally to mislead or confuse you. If you often find yourself puzzled by their words or actions, it’s difficult to trust their intentions.

This lack of clarity can create misunderstandings and make it hard to build a reliable connection.

Trustworthy individuals communicate clearly and openly. They ensure that their message is understood and are willing to clarify if needed. If someone is consistently hard to understand, it’s a red flag that they might be hiding something or not being entirely honest.

They Ignore Your Concerns

When you share your worries or ask for help, a trustworthy person listens and offers support. On the other hand, if someone dismisses or avoids your concerns, it shows they do not value your feelings or needs. This lack of empathy and support can make you feel isolated and undervalued.

A person who consistently ignores your concerns is likely not someone you can rely on in times of need. Trustworthy people make an effort to address and validate your concerns, helping to build a strong and supportive relationship.

They Gaslight You

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic used to make someone question their reality, memory, or perceptions. It’s a serious form of emotional abuse and a definite sign of an untrustworthy person.

Be aware of signs like:

  • Questioning your memory: They counter your recollections of events with, “That never happened,” or, “You’re imagining things.”
  • Making you doubt yourself: They often challenge your feelings and instincts, suggesting you’re too emotional or irrational.

More Insights From the Experts

“Perhaps this is obvious, but if they always show up late or don’t show up half the time, you know you can’t count on them. Past behavior is the best predictor of future actions.”

— Lynell Ross | Certified Health and Wellness Coach | Behavior Change Specialist | Founder and Managing Editor, Zivadream

“Body language can provide important clues into whether a person is telling the truth. In my trial practice, I’m always on the lookout for witness body language, to see if what they are saying verbally matches up with their body movements.

The most dependable clues to lying are the gestures a person makes automatically because the person has little or no control over them. The least dependable signs of lying are ones over which a person has the most control, such as words because the person can rehearse their lies. When we see, speak, or hear lies or deceit, we are likely to attempt to cover our mouths, eyes, or ears with our hands.”

— Micah J. Longo | Trial Lawyer, The Longo Firm

“Most of us try to live and let live, but certain, less trustworthy people will engage in a type of behavior called splitting. This can sometimes take the form of actions like pitting people against one and other through manipulation and gossip. The issue for these people is an inability to hold opposing thoughts and feelings.

For example, if you’re having a fight with your partner, are they able to be upset with you and still love you? A trustworthy person is able to maintain their thoughts that this is someone I really care about. They won’t just suddenly switch to viewing them as all bad.”

— Dr. Clinton Moore | Clinical Psychologist | Founder, Cadence Psychology

“Untrustworthy people say one thing and do another and send mixed messages because the truth is fungible to them. They don’t follow through and then lie about why they didn’t. You can count on them because they do what is to their own benefit, not yours. They lack empathy, are manipulative, and lie to themselves.

The best way to identify an untrustworthy person is to trust your gut. If you think you’re not getting the whole story, feel manipulated, or think something is fishy, you have probably encountered someone not worthy of your trust. Follow their behavioral patterns, and you will learn the truth about them.”

Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW | Author | Psychotherapist

“A solid way to know how a person acts is to see how they view the world and the people around them. In this case, someone who is untrustworthy is likely to question how honest others are.

They are more likely to believe others are deceitful or harp on how every example of how others are dishonest. It is an extension of the old adage ‘A cheater lives in a world of cheats.’ What we ourselves do, we think most other people do too.”

Kim Leatherdale, LPC, ATR-BC, DCC, NCC | Owner, Creating Rewarding Relationships | Author, “You Own It. Now Grow It!

One of the biggest and most obvious signs of an untrustworthy person is the visual movements they make; this has been backed up by psychological research, people who are lying often use their hands to distract away from their lips. Alongside body language, the reason for deceiving others is focused on psychological reasoning.

People lie because they believe they have more to gain from lying than telling the truth. Mares and Turvey (2018) have placed lies into two categories. ‘Lies may be divided into two distinct motivational categories: prosocial lies that are constructed to benefit others; and antisocial lies that are selfish.’

And although there is truth to this, there is a real concern when we can no longer see the clear difference of prosocial and antisocial lies. The lies become an everyday occurrence just because it will become easier to live with the lie rather than answer for any consequence that truth might bring.”

— Dr. Giuseppe Aragona, M.D. | General Practitioner, Prescription Doctor

“Here are some questions you can ask yourself to uncover a person’s credibility signals:

Does this person look and act the part? From our first impression, we start to ask, ‘Can I trust this person?’ and look for clues in their appearance. Does this person’s attire match the circumstance? What about their body language and demeanor? Do they seem confident in this context? Does their language suit the circumstance?

Are they competent? What’s key is how skilled the person is in the context where you’re seeking to trust them. As credibility is context-dependent, this person doesn’t need to be competent at everything.

Can I depend on this person? Do you believe they will come through? You can look for hints in how they do with managing commitments, proactively communicating, and with their history in both starting and finishing tasks and projects.

Do they have integrity? Are they someone who says and then does? Does this person come across as authentic and genuine? Do you get the impression that this person consistently shows up in a way that is aligned with their values? Do they seem to know what their values are?

Are they honest, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient? Is this person truthful in word and deed? When hard talks come up, do they say what they mean? Even the occasional white lie can dim a person’s credibility. It makes it difficult for others to know when that person is being forthright and when they are being misleading.

Are they willing to be wrong? Credibility is not about perfection. It’s about authenticity. Does this person take accountability? Do they have the humility to admit when they’re wrong? Do they change their mind as they learn objective information?

Do they treat others – me included – with care and dignity? Are they courteous? Do they treat others with respect, especially if social norms might suggest they don’t have to? If a person treats others poorly, even if that person is highly competent, their lack of care creates a barrier to connection and trust.

Do they have a proven track record? Do they have a history of past success in the context at hand or a related one? Do they have a history of performing at a high standard and delivering meaningful results?

Are they connected to trustworthy people, organizations, and communities? A person can be viewed as more – or less – credible depending on their relationships and affiliations. Are they associated with a reputable network or association? Do they hold respected credentials in a relevant area? Were they recommended to you by someone you trust?”

— Lisa Lambert | Co-founder, The Brightspot Trust

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an untrustworthy person change their behavior?

While it’s possible for people to change, it often requires a significant amount of self-awareness, genuine remorse, and a desire to improve.

Consistent actions, rather than words, will demonstrate whether someone is truly working towards becoming more trustworthy.

However, it’s important to set boundaries and not ignore patterns of behavior that have been harmful in the past.

Are there any online tools or apps that can help identify untrustworthy behavior?

There are various apps and websites designed for background checks and verifying personal information, but they can’t always catch behavioral signs of untrustworthiness.

Online reviews, social media behavior, and recommendations from mutual connections can provide additional context but rely on your judgment and observation skills for personal interactions.

How does cultural background influence perceptions of trustworthiness?

Cultural differences can impact how people perceive trustworthiness. For instance, direct eye contact might be a sign of honesty in one culture but considered disrespectful in another.

Understanding and respecting cultural norms play a significant role in assessing someone’s trustworthiness accurately.

What are some common misconceptions about trustworthiness?

One common misconception is that a person who is friendly and charismatic is automatically trustworthy. It’s important to distinguish between charm and genuine trustworthy behavior. Additionally, just because someone is successful or holds a high position does not necessarily mean they are trustworthy.

Final Thoughts

Learning to recognize untrustworthy behavior is key to protecting yourself. Trust is earned, and it’s important to be cautious when needed.

As you move forward, keep these signs in mind to help build stronger, more honest relationships. Always prioritize your well-being and don’t be afraid to distance yourself from those who don’t deserve your trust.

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Jahrine is a seeker of knowledge and personal growth. When not exploring the worlds of self-help books and spirituality, she enjoys reading dark fiction and spending time with her beloved dogs. With diverse interests, including career development, travel, and poetry, Jahrine is constantly expanding her horizons and seeking new experiences.