Little white lies. We all tell them, if we’re being totally truthful and we do it for all manner of reasons. Some of these are genuinely well intentioned – if we were 100% honest, 100% of the time, such frankness would probably offend and insult close friends and members of the family!
But when it comes to writing an online dating profile, how truthful should that be? What’s the line between being creative with your details and overstepping the mark into becoming deceitful and deliberately misleading?
Fibbing on online dating sites is actually fairly commonplace – no surprises there.
An article in the New York Times covered research by some USA universities and colleges which looked at the half truths typically spun online . About 81% of people misrepresent their height, weight or age; on average, women described themselves as eight pounds lighter in their profiles than they really were while men trimmed just a couple of pounds off their frame – but tended to lie to a greater degree about their height.
All quite harmless, really, and there is encouragement for any online daters who might be worried about the authenticity of the profiles they are reading – the same research established that people tend to tell small lies because they may eventually meet in person. That’s the bottom line, of course – if a profile piece is riddled with lies and untruths, the individual will quickly be found out when it comes to a first date.
This article highlighted the ten most common online dating profile lies: height, weight, physique and age all feature. It’s perhaps acceptable, or at least a little more understandable, to use some poetic license in these areas. If you’re slightly vague about your age (writing ‘in my 30s’ instead of 38) does it matter? Claiming 6ft tall when, in reality, you’re 5ft 10ins? Men claiming to be ‘well built’ when they’re closer to the stocky or heavy set shape? Everyone prefers to paint a slightly more flattering picture of themselves. It’s not borne out of deceit but insecurity.
Not all profiles are created the same way. The dating website mysinglefriend.com asks its members to have their profiles written for them by friends. Obviously, a member’s friends will accentuate the best bits of their personality, focusing on the fun and the quirky. The person in question still has to approve what’s been written, but having someone else pen the profile might reduce the temptation to drop the odd fib in.
There are some things that should never be lied about though. For starters, a profile shouldn’t be unclear about relationship status: if you’re single and ready and able to mingle, fine. In a relationship? Then you shouldn’t be on a dating website in the first place.
Don’t lie about children. Don’t hint at being a father or mother, thinking that might help you connect to certain other members, if you’re not. Similarly, if you have kids and state otherwise it’s unfair to mislead others. This could have consequences further down the line.
When it comes to age, shaving a couple of years off doesn’t really harm anyone but with most online daters interested in a particular demographic don’t masquerade as a 21-year-old if you’re really 45. It just wastes everyone’s time.
Also, don’t use a fake photograph, a picture of someone else, or one of you 10-20 years old. It’s deliberately misleading. Finally, lying about your occupation and income – if you feel the need to disclose such things – is never a good idea. Plenty of people want compatibility in their respective careers with partners and won’t react well to discovering you’re not a high-flying exec after all, but between jobs instead.
Overall, honesty is the best policy. A couple of minor tweaks here and there won’t make much difference but the larger the lie the bigger the fall when the truth is finally discovered.