Use Of The Polygraph In Relationship Issues


Rebuilding Trust and Seeking Resolution


When a polygraph examination is requested regarding relationship matters, it is often an indication of a significant breakdown in mutual trust. In these situations, one party typically believes or suspects that the other party has crossed the boundaries of their relationship, while the other party denies any wrongdoing.

This loss of trust brings forth emotions such as uncertainty, betrayal, and disillusionment. Both parties may experience these feelings to varying degrees, depending on the circumstances. As a result, couples often turn to the polygraph as a potential solution. One hopes to find confirmation for their suspicions, while the other seeks to refute the allegations.


Experience has shown that the outcome of a polygraph examination can leave one member feeling validated while the other may feel resentful. Even in cases where both initially accept the results, doubts about the examination’s accuracy can arise over time. Questions about the examiner’s impartiality may also emerge. In some instances, couples have returned for subsequent examinations to reaffirm the initial findings.

It is crucial for both individuals involved in the troubled relationship to understand that a polygraph test cannot repair the relationship itself. Its purpose is solely to confirm or dispel existing suspicions. At best, the results can serve as a starting point for repairing the relationship, but this requires the guidance of a professional, such as a marriage or relationship counselor. 


To help couples decide whether a polygraph is a viable option, the following information is provided as guidance:


How Can a Polygraph Help with Relationship Issues?


1. Confirmation or Rejection: The polygraph can provide confirmation or rejection of one party’s suspicions, as well as validate or refute the other party’s statements or positions. It aims to establish the truth.


2. Fresh Start: If both parties are willing, the polygraph results can offer a fresh start, a new beginning. However, the assistance of a professional counselor is essential in these cases.


3. Decision-Making: The polygraph can provide the necessary confirmation for one member to make decisions about the future of the relationship, regardless of what that future may hold.


4. Identifying Underlying Factors: The polygraph results may also indicate other factors contributing to the troubled relationship, such as medical or psychological issues affecting one or both individuals. However, it is important to note that the polygraph examiner cannot confirm such indications. Professional help should be sought in these cases.


What Procedures Are Involved in a Fidelity Polygraph Examination?


Ideally, both parties should be present during the initial phases of the polygraph examination. However, during the actual test, the non-testing party will be asked to leave the room.

The examination process typically includes the following steps:


1. Explanation and Expectations: The examiner will ask both members to explain their sides of the situation and what they hope to achieve from the examination. If expectations are unrealistic, the examiner will attempt to manage them and set more realistic goals.


2. Polygraph Process: The examiner will explain the basic polygraph process to both parties, ensuring they understand the value that the results may provide in their specific situation. A competent examiner will also advise if a polygraph is not the most suitable approach.


3. Withdrawal Option: The couple will have the opportunity to withdraw from the examination if they feel their expectations cannot be met. Depending on the time spent by the examiner, a partial or full refund of the polygraph fee may be provided.


4. Test Issue Consensus: Once the decision to proceed is made, the examiner will guide the couple to reach a consensus on the key issue to be addressed during the examination. It is important to note that a multitude of issues cannot be addressed within a single examination due to protocol limitations.


5. Examination Commencement: Once both members agree, the examination can begin. The testing party will be asked to sign a statement confirming their voluntary participation and allowing the non-testing member to be informed of the results.


6. Medical Questionnaire: The examiner will administer a basic medical questionnaire to the examinee to determine their fitness for the examination. It is essential to understand that the examiner is not a medical expert and relies on information provided by the testing party. If the examiner deems an individual unsuitable for the examination, the process will be terminated.


7. Questioning and Examination: The examiner will question the examinee about the matter under investigation while taking notes. A summary of this discussion will be included in the written report.


8. Sensor Placement: The examiner will attach sensors to the testing party’s body, including a blood pressure cuff on the upper arm, respiration sensors on the chest and abdomen (over clothing, with bulky items removed), and finger sensors. Additional sensors may also be used.


9. Examination Process: The blood pressure cuff will be inflated to approximately 60 mmHg and remain inflated throughout the test, which typically lasts four to five minutes. The set of questions will be presented to the examinee multiple times, taking the total examination time to about 16 to 20 minutes.


10. Data Recording and Analysis: The physiological responses displayed by the testing party will be recorded on a computer for further analysis by the examiner.


11. Result Discussion: After analyzing the recorded data, the non-testing member will rejoin the session, and the examiner will discuss the results with both parties.


12. Report Compilation: The polygraph examiner will compile a report and provide it to one or both members, as agreed upon.


While the polygraph can provide valuable insights in resolving relationship issues, it is important to emphasize that it is not a cure-all solution. The involvement of a professional counselor is indispensable for addressing the underlying problems and rebuilding trust.

Areas that can be examined through a polygraph include, but are not limited to:

  • Illicit sexual relations within a mutually exclusive relationship.
  • Engaging in any sexual activity while in a mutually exclusive relationship.
  • Use of prostitution and/or escort services.
  • Secret romantic relationships with others while in a mutually exclusive relationship.
  • Engaging in online cybersex or pornographic activities.


Remember, seeking professional help is crucial to navigate these sensitive relationship matters effectively.