Last week we focused on harmful lies and deceit associated with online dating scams and the financial distress they can cause the vulnerable. But what about the softer side of deception, when potential dates fudge some vitals or use an outdated photo? Which lies are acceptable and which go too far?
People lie in online dating in myriad ways. Online dating profiles are, in many ways, mini-advertisements, and people try to sell you the very best versions of themselves in a short profile. In addition, because many online dating sites have cut-off points that categorize people, some people might fudge their numbers to get into categories where they think they might be more compatible with group members.
For example, someone might alter their income because they are entry level in their field and expect to make more in a short period of time. A guy might say that he is taller than he actually is because he knows that women may state a preference for taller men, and that few women would refuse to date a man she met in person because he was an inch or two shorter. These lies are what many people would consider harmless puffery, but for some people could be deal breakers.
Now for the big one: pictures. It seems natural to select your most attractive photo for your online dating profile. However, it is important to ask yourself if you still look like the person in the photo. If the photo is a few years old or if you have undergone a dramatic physical change in the interim, then using that photo is probably dishonest. Why try to date someone who would only find a historical version of you attractive? On the other hand, that someone’s photo is a few years old is probably not a reason to consider that person dishonest about appearance.
Another point to consider: sometimes people lie accidentally. A new female applicant might not be able to figure out what half of the body type categories on eHarmony even mean. Some of the men viewing that profile could have honest disagreements about if the person meets those requirements. And what about those situations where friends help one another with wording and descriptions on their profiles to bring out their best characteristics? Is this honest, friendly input or a form of cheating?
There are, however, some lies that cannot be considered harmless. A married person claiming to be single, a mother or father claiming to be childless, or a person using fake pictures or fake names in their profiles are all red flags for bad behavior. Running a background check through a service like BeenVerified probably will not tell you if your online love is really 5’11” instead of 6” tall, but it can reveal important information like marital status, criminal history, and whether or not the person has any children.
In online dating, we all conceal things about ourselves. That does not mean that all lies are harmless or that all lies are the same. Which online dating lies have you accepted after a date? Let us know in the comments.