With online dating, the line between fact and fiction can get pretty fuzzy sometimes.
“His profile looked OK — he said he was 45, a few years older than me, we e-mailed, and agreed to meet for dinner.”
Ellen, an attractive 30-something who manages a pharmaceutical company, shook her head in amused dismay.
“He was like 80 years old! I mean, he was older than my dad. I asked him, why? Why did he lie, why did he think I would ever want to go out with him? He just said he thought we’d be a good match. So I just said good-bye, and fled.”
Welcome to the world of online dating where fiction and fact are often blurred.
“Everyone lies,” says Dawn, who has been on Match.com intermittently for the last three years. “It’s just that some of the lies are harmless, and some are really toxic.”
Dawn, 42, spreads her net wide. She says that she’s interested in meeting men from 25 to 65, whose “eyes flash like diamonds.” But to hear her tell it, she’s met a lot of guys whose eyes flicker like zircons.
“It’s such an easy way to get a date and meet guys. But after a while, you recognize all the lies. None of these guys look at another guy’s profile. I mean, the other guy would think he was gay. They have no idea that they’re all telling the same lies.”
Dawn says they all have Harleys and want to take her for a ride.
“But when I meet them, the Harley’s in the shop, or he loaned it to his brother-in-law-whatever,” she says. “And hair — I don’t like baldies, and I say so, but they think they’ve got hair if they look like Dick Cheney. And money, and age, and job, and weight. I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy who didn’t lie.”
Karen, a 50-something newspaper exec, says she doesn’t particularly mind the lies.
“Everyone loses a few pounds and a few years. That’s OK — I do it too,” she says. “But a lot of men create whole fake personas. Like, I swear to God, all these guys say they’re into spirituality because they think that’s what girls want. So if you ask them what they mean by spirituality, they’re like, ‘I don’t know.’ Sometimes it takes a few dates to figure out they’re unemployed, alcoholic, broke losers.”
Trevor, a 35-year-old software exec, describes himself as a “match junkie.”
“I spend hours scanning profiles, e-mailing, sending winks and arranging dates,” he says. “I don’t know about guys, but women lie all the time. Let me tell you, you gotta know how to read profiles, or you’ll get totally burnt.
“Like body type — ‘athletic’ means a size 10, if you’re lucky. ‘Slender’ means not fat, but ‘flabby’ and ‘about average’ means fat. ‘Curvy’ means obese, and ‘a few extra pounds’ means giant porker.”
Asked whether he’s ever been successfully deceived, Trevor laughs.
“It’s a total crapshoot. One woman had 15 pics up on her profile, and she was gorgeous — I mean, she was hot! So we e-mailed, and we talked. She said she was 32, so I couldn’t wait — and here comes grandma! She had posted her daughter’s pictures!”
He pauses and shakes his head. “She was over 60, but we actually had a pretty good time — and she paid for dinner.”
But Yvonne, a 38-year-old therapist who has found dates on Match.com for over a year, says, “Look, if you meet people in a bar, they lie too. Internet sites function as a screening device, especially in cities like L.A., where everyone comes from somewhere else. At least you find out whether they can spell, and something about who they are, or who they want to be.”
And as Deb, a well-known romance writer who has herself sought romance on the web, points out, “Once you have their name, Google them! This guy said he was 55 and it took me 10 minutes to find out he was 65. Good-bye!”
Charles, the 65-year-old turned 55, defended his fib.
“I look great for my age — I’ve got all my hair, I work out, I’m in shape, I dress well. Women in their 40s hit on me all the time. I tell them the truth when we meet — but if I put the right age in, they’d never agree to meet me in the first place.”
Looking for honesty and that’s the truth
Most women, whether they lie or not, are looking for honesty. Of 42 profiles we examined, 36 cited honesty as an important, even overriding factor in a relationship. If they’re being honest in their pursuit of honesty, they must realize they are, as the song says, “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.”
Dana Deason, an Internet marketing consultant who has worked on dating websites, thinks she understands the liars.
“People under 30 don’t lie as much online,” she says. “If a woman’s fat, she just says she’s a ‘BBW’ (big beautiful woman) and lets the BBW lovers find her. Under 30s understand that you can’t keep secrets on the web — you’ll get outed. But you guys in your 40s and 50s grew up in a different world. You actually think you can keep secrets!”
Maybe it’s best just to forgive the liars and let them know you can deal with the truth. As Bouldergirl001, a 51-year-old living in Colorado who has, by her own account, dealt with multiple liars during her time on Match.com, wrote in her most recent profile:
“If you can say yes to the following statement, then we should be perfect together: My real age (not necessarily the one posted in my profile) begins with the word fifty (at least).”
What’s been your experience? Do you bend the truth? Have you encountered liars yourself?