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Polygraph tests

stillfrozen posted 9/30/2020 20:29 PM

I have seen a lot of BS’s subjecting their WS’s to polygraph tests. Sometimes, once or twice a year. My questions are;

1. Where do you find someone to give a polygraph test?

2. Do you make your own questions to be asked, or are there general questions about affairs that are asked?

3. If you have had your WS take a polygraph, has an answer ever come back as a “lie” and then your spouse deny it?

4. If you have had your WS take a polygraph, have you found out more than what you originally thought you knew?

5. Is this a good idea? Especially to keep my WH honest?

Any and all advice is appreciated.TIA!!

thatbpguy posted 9/30/2020 21:10 PM

[bump] to see is anyone can help

stillfrozen posted 9/30/2020 22:12 PM


Thank you!

SisterMilkshake posted 9/30/2020 22:34 PM

Have you read the fairly recent thread in the Reconciliation forum that discussed polygraph tests?

If not, you can read that to get some opinions and experiences until some come along that are able to answer your questions.

It should be on the first page and the topic is: Has confessed the worst 10 months after DDay.

Thumos posted 9/30/2020 22:53 PM

1. Where do you find someone to give a polygraph test?

2. Do you make your own questions to be asked, or are there general questions about affairs that are asked?

3. If you have had your WS take a polygraph, has an answer ever come back as a “lie” and then your spouse deny it?

4. If you have had your WS take a polygraph, have you found out more than what you originally thought you knew?

5. Is this a good idea? Especially to keep my WH honest?

1. Look for a betrayal trauma specialist therapist in your region. They often work with a reputable local polygraph examiner as a required part of their therapy for unfaithful spouses and sex addicts.

2. You come up with topics of questions, what you’re looking for, and the examiner helps to phrase them the right way.

3. Yes this was my exact experience. My WW failed her polygraph.

4. I didn’t find out new information from the polygraph process but I did confirm she was still lying.

5. That said I find polygraphs incredibly useful. There’s a big debate about them I find baffling. They are a tool in your toolbox and a quite useful one. They don’t offer a quick fix or panacea, just like anything else.

As far as keeping your WH honest, no. I would not lean on a polygraph for that. First that isn’t your job. It’s his job. Your job is heal with or without him. That’s all. If he can’t be honest drop his sorry ass like a hot rock.

[This message edited by Thumos at 10:55 PM, September 30th (Wednesday)]

stillfrozen posted 9/30/2020 23:09 PM


What happened when you found out your SO was lying on the polygraph if you don’t mind me asking. I’m think this part worries me the most. It has been 1 year since D-day and I’m
Worried there still may before even though he is totally up
For taking a polygraph. All of your information has been so helpful!

gmc94 posted 9/30/2020 23:17 PM

You can also search out a CSAT (certified sex addiction therapist) in your area for poly recommendations. It's become kind of SOP within the CSAT community (which is why I am also baffled at those who seem to find it offensive to healing).

SisterMilkshake posted 9/30/2020 23:42 PM

@gmc94 sex addiction is different than your run of the mill infidelity. I have no idea about SOP for CSAT therapists, but I am sure they are doing what they feel is the best therapy for their clients/patients.

How can one be offended by a polygraph test for "healing"? I am not sure I understand what you mean. For me personally, I wouldn't do it. I don't want to be in a marriage that included polygraphing my WH. It seems to be, to me, antithetical to the kind of marriage I desire. It would not aid in my healing at all. In fact, it would cause me much distress. The absurdity of the whole fucking quagmire culminating in me interrogating my WH under hot lights and a polygraph test. I am wearing a fedora and trench coat chewing on a cigar. Lets use sodium pentathol while I am it. Of course I am being over the top, otoh, what I would feel like.

All that being said, if one wants to use a polygraph, use it.

gmc94 posted 10/1/2020 01:43 AM

CSATS treat both SA and "traditional" cheaters. The CSAT I saw had <25% of her clients (whether WS or BS) dealing with an SA Dx. It is still SOP for her and (I believe) the majority of CSATs (mine was pretty involved in the national org - invited me to their annual conference last year). Why? Because - as we all know - cheaters lie. They TT. I'm speculating, but suspect the edging toward poly as an early step in treatment came about as the IC community began to shift toward a relational betrayal model (vs the old CoD) and the focus shifted to helping the BS cope with the trauma. Again, just speculation, but it makes good sense to me that the WS and BS begin the work by creating a baseline of honesty & trust.

You were able to get the truth you needed from your WS, and that was enough to satisfy you - and your gut instincts. And Mazel Tov on that! It's wonderful and I wish that were the case for everyone here. But it's just not. Not all of us have WS who come clean. Not all of us have a WS who is capable of even coming clean (the shame thing we all talk about can be pretty powerful). Maybe those of us with nagging doubts should just D, but that can be easier said than done.

I guess I view the poly as the final nail in the coffin of the "old" M.... the one destroyed by infidelity... a way to create a baseline of honesty about the past before moving forward.

SMS - I've always respected you and we can agree to disagree. And I think the over the top descriptions of the fedora, etc. could have a BS shy away from using a tool that could truly help. It's not as if the poly becomes a barrier to R - we've seen folks R bc of the poly and the relief (or the 'baseline' of honesty) it can provide, and we've seen folks D bc of the poly (or more likely the TT that preceded it).

The collective SI wisdom routinely advises BS to "trust their gut" - which in turn may prompt a BS to seek a poly - if for no other reason than to satisfy a nagging gap in the "evidence" (for lack of a better term) and the WS' disclosure. And I suspect this runs parallel to why a CSAT - who ONLY see folks with infidelity in their lives - to routinely recommend them.

There are dozens? 100s? SI members who report the "parking lot" or poly chair confessions that the BS instinctively knew were coming. We've seen others pass them with flying colors. And, we've seen some fail. It's simply another tool in a BS' tool box.

I don't want a M that includes a poly either... and I also didn't want to be married to a cheater. But it is what it is.

Again, it's wonderful that you were able to get enough info (even if you had to drag it out of your WS) to satisfy your gut instincts (which IIRC, you did have). I'm glad that particular route worked for you. I wish that were the case for everyone here. But it's just not that simple IMO.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 1:49 AM, October 1st, 2020 (Thursday)]

Thumos posted 10/1/2020 09:09 AM

What happened when you found out your SO was lying on the polygraph if you don’t mind me asking. I’m think this part worries me the most. It has been 1 year since D-day and I’m
Worried there still may before even though he is totally up
For taking a polygraph.

Take what I have to say with the caveat that every situation has unique aspects. I try not to paint with a broad brush, but I also recognize adultery and sexual infidelity have clear patterns that repeat with some predictability.

That said, here's a brief version of what happened: I asked for a polygraph initially after getting trickle truth from her, then I backed off and participated in rug sweeping. Around the 3 year mark after DDAY, I began to feel my situation was intolerable and I started posting here for advice.

That was one year ago. One of the first things I did after posting here was get off high center and started giving my WW some clear ultimatums. I told her we were headed for divorce and if she didn't follow through on things I'd ask her to do, we were done.

She immediately started doing them, including a timeline.

Then we hit another snag. That's a euphemistic way of saying she started to manipulate the situation. She dragged out giving me the timeline and actually doing the polygraph for another four months. I allowed it bc she framed it within the context of her IC guiding the disclosure process.

It turned out there was some significant new information in the timeline, but not earth shattering. I still felt she was lying. I told her she would need to follow through on the polygraph.

She responded by having a full blown panic attack in her therapist's office one day and then being taken to the ER by MIL. At the time, my MIL told me on the phone that we had a "terrible marriage."

I was like, "No shit Sherlock, where have you been?!" Although I didn't say that, and my MIL apologized and she's basically been nothing but kind and supportive toward me before DDAY and after. She's ashamed of her daughter.

In any case, I still insisted on the polygraph, and by this point my WW's real motives became clear. She had agreed to take the poly but was now saying DARVO things like "You're going to blow up our family over this?!"

Cut to the penultimate scene in this four month drama: she took the poly, but it was a real shitshow of theatrics like she was having her fingernails pulled out one by one. Her sister, my SIL, also brought her to the polygraph and was exceedingly unhelpful and amped up the drama.

The polygraph examiner persisted through all of this dysfunctional sturm and drang horseshit.

My WW failed. Definitively. On the basic question of "did you have sex more than once" with the AP.

So what happened after?

Well, this was two days before Christmas last year. So I woke up on Christmas Eve and she wanted to know what my thinking was. I told her, "what I'm thinking is you're a fucking liar and I want a divorce." (that's actually very close to a word for word quote for what I said).

But naturally, being caught in the Mr. Nice Guy feedback loop I've been in apparently for most of my life, I didn't divorce her. I felt it would be a shock to the kids right around Christmas. In hindsight, I should have moved forward right then and there.

Not long after, I started having persistent chest pains. I went to my doctor after about two weeks and was told I'd had a heart attack. Several weeks later (yes, it took that long to get an appt) I was sitting in a cardiologist's office. After going through the full battery of tests, the conclusion was that I DID NOT have a heart attack and that anxiety and a deficient CPAP were to blame. My heart is very healthy and in tip top shape.

By this time, I felt battered and very low. But on the bright side, I had finally gotten the memo from my body: If I continued on like this, I'd be dead within the next ten years.

I had gained some weight after her failed poly, stress eating and sitting around being sedentary because I thought I'd had a heart attack. Even though I tried not to, I treated myself like a china doll before I knew for sure my heart was okay.

Then the pandemic lockdowns began. I felt I'd be a real shirtbird to leave my family in the midst of a global pandemic, so I put it off again.

This summer, my inner Cro Magnon had apparently had enough of this dithering and reasserted himself.

In early August, after my 10 year old son came to me and asked me to tell him the real truth about why he couldn't have playdates with his friend, I told my WW this was an unacceptable situation for me, that she had put in an untenable position I no longer wanted any part of, and in no uncertain terms I wanted a divorce -- and that I would work with her for it to be amicable. We've been working on the details since then.

I don't regret doing the polygraph at all. It was not the only thing, it was one more data point that informed me. And it told me what I already suspected: That my WW was not being truthful and transparent.

She insists otherwise and has tried to lay her failure at the feet of anxiety. That doesn't wash because luckily I put in a second question on the polygraph that she did pass.

So I can measure her failed question against that and know she's lying based on the pattern: she also gaslighted me on hard mode during the affair, destroyed all of texts between them, trickle truthed me, blameshifted, minimized and continued to insult me after DDAY by telling me things such as my attitude toward sex was "immature" because I couldn't grasp that sex with her AP was "meaningless." I also recorded a VAR convo between her and AP. It was only one convo but it told me everything I needed to know and it was easy enough to extrapolate lots of other information from it. It was like listening to a stranger. She was callous, calm, knowing, reveling in the sex with him, and doing performative mannerisms and quirks I had thought were exclusive for me (but which I know realized were just a part of her female bag of tricks).

So the polygraph was more like the capstone to all of that. It was bad enough she defiled our home by having sex with AP in our house, unprotected, "one time." That's a deal breaker right there. But to know she was STILL lying after three years about the extent of the sexual relationship was insufferable to me. And still is.

I am one who firmly believes that without radical honest, reconciliation is well nigh impossible. Because without this unvarnished access to the truth, you as the BS have no recourse for filling in that black hole in your life during the affair. And you have no hope of restoring any authentic trust with your WS. Sure, you may "trust" that they're not going to stab you in your sleep. But you don't trust them on a fundamental level.

Adultery is abuse, as I've outlined elsewhere. That's inescapable. It is a particularly insidious form of abuse because it has the bizarre approval of a significant portion of our society and even (especially lately with female infidelity) valorization of it.

Without transparency, no truth. Without truth, no trust. Without trust, no reconciliation.

At least that's the way I see it.

[This message edited by Thumos at 9:35 AM, October 1st (Thursday)]

BraveSirRobin posted 10/1/2020 10:03 AM

I'll chime in from the WS side.

In my opinion, a polygraph is a gift to a WS because it forces them to come clean before the window closes on R. I grant you that it won't feel like a gift to them at the time, but most WS truly do not grasp the damage that TT does to the potential for reconciliation. Our stubborn, self-protecting, controlling instincts tell us that we know best about what our BS needs and does not need in order to heal. We dismiss anyone who tells us otherwise. And then when the BS gets so weary of our lies that they finally detach, we might let go of the outcome, but it's already too late.

On the other hand, if a BS says shortly after D-Day, "I'm scheduling a polygrapher or an attorney, you pick which," the WS has to face that they're cornered. You're taking the knife out of their hands before they can stab the last breath out of the marriage. And most of us do want that marriage; we're just deep in denial and "I can fix this" mode. A poly emphasizes that the facts are neither subjective nor optional.

I know of several WS on the site who desperately wish that had absorbed that message before it was too late. A few of them are people who ignored me when I told them that continued lying was marital suicide. Now they're here telling other WS who (in most cases) also don't listen. We can't do anything about that, but the BS can. If I were in their shoes, I wouldn't leave any tool unused.

Full disclosure: my BH is firmly in the "I don't want a poly" camp, so I'm not speaking from personal experience of taking one. He now believes I'm telling the truth and thinks it would be pointless. But if he had had a crystal ball to see what the TT was going to do to him, I think he would have booked one or else just broken up with me on D-Day. I'd a thousand times rather have been forced through a poly than get a divorce and/or live with the knowledge of what my continued lies did to him.

SisterMilkshake posted 10/1/2020 13:23 PM

All that being said, if one wants to use a polygraph, use it.
What are you trying to convince me of, gmc94? Do you want me to change how I feel or not express how I feel?

SnowToArmPits posted 10/1/2020 16:33 PM

1. Where do you find someone to give a polygraph test?

2. Do you make your own questions to be asked, or are there general questions about affairs that are asked?

3. If you have had your WS take a polygraph, has an answer ever come back as a “lie” and then your spouse deny it?

4. If you have had your WS take a polygraph, have you found out more than what you originally thought you knew?

5. Is this a good idea? Especially to keep my WH honest?

1. Yellow pages. Turned out there was only 1 in our province, he seemed good - a retired RCMP officer who specialized in polygraphs on the force.

2. I explained my marriage situation, he took a lead role in coming up with the questions. He was very emphatic they had to be questions with yes/no answers and only 3 questions.

3. My wife passed, so n/a.

4. Didn't find out anything new.

5. It helped my marriage which was in a bad place lots of trust issues. Having said that, looking back it's a damn shame my marriage needed a polygraph test. Makes me mad and sad looking back thinking about it. My wife and I don't talk about it, nor have I told any friends. Not fond memories, but it helped I think.

One other thing, trust is complex son of a bitch. If trust in your marriage is so damaged you need a polygraph test, if your spouse passes you can still get thoughts like "Did she game the test?" You're not allowed to attend so you wonder "What the hell went on during the test?"

solo posted 10/2/2020 08:35 AM

Your questions have been covered here, so I’ll just chime in with one piece of advice from my experience:

Be prepared for the possibility that your spouse passes the poly.

My situation is scarily similar to @thumos experience. I scheduled it twice and chickened out. I wanted so much to believe she was who I thought she was, and that it was all just something that “looked bad”. I couldn’t put this woman who I’d loved for decades through that. I wanted to protect HER, as idiotic as that may seem.

Because of a situation that arose months later, I scheduled a third one, and didn’t cancel. Throughout that first year, she’d “volunteered” to take a poly. She was all for it, and “completely understood” why I wanted it. Even when I scheduled it for the third time, she claimed to be completely ok with it.

That changed the day before the actual test. Once it became clear that I was actually making her go through with it, her attitude changed. The day before and the day of the test, she became hateful, resentful, and just plain shitty toward me. I took this as a sign that she would fail. I had fooled myself in the past, but knew in my heart that she’d actually cheated on me. Her behavior over those couple of days reinforced that.

I had made plans and laid out everything I’d do after the test. Just needed to get undeniable proof of what she’d done.
Well, she passed. I was completely unprepared for that scenario. I should have been happy, but I was in shock.

You know what? All it managed to do was make me believe that polygraph tests were unreliable. With everything else I know, it just isn’t logical that she didn’t cheat. I got no comfort from it, only the knowledge that I will never truly know the extent of what she did.

The other awesome side effect is it gave her ammunition. Even now, she regularly falls back on passing the poly, making any conversations and questions I try to bring to her a waste of time.

A couple of years later, one of my coworkers was getting a job in law enforcement. He had to take a poly for it, and told me he would be lying on it. He still passed, which destroyed my last bit of hope that hers was accurate.

Sorry for rambling, and I hope I got my point across. It’s just a warning I try to give everyone else in this situation. I’d have 100% believed the results if she’d failed. I don’t believe them a bit the other way around. Unfair I know, but none of this is.

By the way....today is the five year an of my dday. Yay me.

[This message edited by solo at 8:36 AM, October 2nd (Friday)]

Thumos posted 10/2/2020 09:25 AM

It is true that polys aren't 100 percent reliable, so solo's note of caution is warranted.

I'll simply say what I've always said: a polygraph is not a panacea.

It is a tool in your toolbox and most of the time a rather effective one. But relying on it alone will get you nowhere.

For example, I have a pattern of behavior and statements from my WW that -- taken together with the polygraph -- makes the odds she's lying about the extent of the affair extremely high, and the odds she's telling me the truth extremely low.

So when I run these calculations in shorthand and then look at my options, I understand that I haven't been reconciling and that "reconciliation" in my case is a pretty heavy lift at this stage.

Hope this helps.

Thumos posted 10/2/2020 09:29 AM

I have seen a lot of BS’s subjecting their WS’s to polygraph tests.

I just caught this, but in my opinion you need to reframe. You're not "subjecting" your unfaithful spouse to a polygraph exam. That allows them to posit this as a form of torture, which is absurd and laughable.

Actually my WW tried to act like she was having electro shock therapy or something, and in retrospect I told her I found her attitude insulting and offensive to myself and the polygraph examiner.

Instead, it's better in my view to say you are asking your WS to do something easy and quick that is one step in the process of helping you heal.

[This message edited by Thumos at 9:29 AM, October 2nd (Friday)]

sisoon posted 10/2/2020 10:33 AM

A poly measures things that we generally don't observe directly. The signals are related to truth-telling, but I think human beings can be much better lie detectors than machines can be. After all, human beings are sensitive to manifestations of the signals measured by the poly machine and all the other non-verbal communications a person sends out.

If you think your WS isn't coming clean, you're probably right? Is a poly analogous to coming clean?

If you thinks your WS is lying, I suspect that belief is based on your WS's answers to many questions, at least some of which are simply not amenable to yes/no answers.

IOW, if you doubt your WS's commitment to honesty, it will - at least it should - take a lot more than a poly to give you confidence in your WS.

If I doubted my W's honesty, I might not go directly to D, but I hope I would raise the issue with something like,

'I don't believe you've come clean. It's up to you to convince me, starting now. And BTW, it's an ongoing task - you need to convince me you are committed to telling no more lies of any kind.'

If what you really need is to resolve an ongoing issue, a poly may be a tool, but it won't do much of the job that needs to be done.

A poly won't solve a general truth-telling issue, and a poly won't solve an issue of avoiding a decision.


I think a poly is useful

- if the results will affect your decision to D or R;

- if your decision rests on 1-3 points (the fewer the better) that can be resolved with a clear 'yes' or a clear 'no'.

Otherwise, I think it's a lot better for the BS ask lots of questions and to learn to read and heed the BS's own responses to the WS.

dancin-gal posted 10/2/2020 14:12 PM

My WS volunteered for a polygraph. In November 2019 he had it in December . i made the appointment.. WS did confess to two lies he had told me a few weeks before the test .. he did pass and burst into tears after he found out he passed ..
Following D day last year he was telling me stupid lies .. for a few weeks , only when I stated going thru credit card statements did he ask me to sit down and told me the A Story. He didn’t TT me after that except he had lied about how he met OW and the fact that he had sent her a letter 5 days after DDay ..
I researched polygraph testers in our area .. this gentleman had been doing them for 20 plus years .. worked with the police and now his larger client pool is with those who aresex addictive .
Having my WS take the test .. It adds peace of mind .. my WS has volunteered to take a yearly if I wanted .. to prove to me he isn’t in touch with OW ..

Thumos posted 10/2/2020 14:21 PM

A poly won't solve a general truth-telling issue, and a poly won't solve an issue of avoiding a decision.

Great point from Sisoon. Do not look to a polygraph as being the thing that will be a "decider" for you or as a quick fix.

Also agree with Sisoon that polygraphs are imperfect. At the same time, I'm glad I had my WW do one. It told me a lot of things, especially in the four-month drama she organized around it, the theatricality of how she behaved, etc.

The morning after my WW failed her polygraph, she immediately offered to take another one. I told her I would think about it. Then that afternoon I came to her and said, "yeah I've been thinking about it. You offered, so I would like you take another one."

Deer in the headlights. Frozen in fear. She then declined and said she'd changed her mind from what she'd offered that very morning.

Again, the polygraph itself didn't tell me all of these things, but the drama she allowed around it forced things to the surface that showed me she was lying.

The "psychic pressure" of a polygraph is quite valuable. I know that sounds cruel, but it isn't when all you're asking for is a basic minimum of truthfulness from someone who has already lied to you repeatedly.

Also, Sisoon makes a great point about tells and tics and mannerisms people use when they lie. You can easily look most of these up, including how eye movement can help determine truthfulness of what a person is saying.

[This message edited by Thumos at 2:24 PM, October 2nd (Friday)]

gmc94 posted 1/7/2021 22:49 PM

Bumped for StayAtHomeMom

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