Shocking news: people lie about themselves in their on-line dating profiles!
The dating site OKCupid has a fascinating blog called OKTrends. OKTrends describes itself as "original research and insights from OkCupid. We've compiled our observations and statistics from hundreds of millions of OkCupid user interactions, all to explore the data side of the online dating world."
An OKTrends article first published in July of 2010 details "The Big Lies People Tell in OnLine Dating." Care to guess what the big lies are? Or how often they're told?
Lie #1: Men are two inches shorter in real life. Starting at around 5'8" a significant number of men round up their height. The closer to 6' they are, the more likely it is that they will round up to that number.
Lie #2: Men say their income is 20% higher than it actually is. That's on average. Apparently, the older a man is, the more he exaggerates. Once he's over forty, he's likely to exaggerate his income by more than 35%. Not surprisingly, OKTrends reports that the more a man says he makes, the more often he gets messaged. Lying pays off!
Lie #3: Better pictures are likely to be old pictures. OKTrends says that 1/3 of the hottest pictures are more than a year old and that a hot picture is 3x as likely to be at least three years old compared to an average picture. And big surprise, the older the person is, the more likely their picture is old too. By age 50, the average picture is more than a year and a half old.
OKTrends can prove that some people lie but they really don't offer any evidence about how widespread the lying is. Looking at their graphs, it appears that roughly one-third of men lie about their height, half of the guys who make more than $50k lie about their income, and almost everyone with a 'hot' picture hasn't kept it updated.
None of that is especially surprising, is it? Probably the biggest surprise is that the 'big lies' are about height, income and old pictures. What about penis size, age and relationship status??
I expect that OKTrends couldn't write about those because they don't have "real" data to compare with user-reported information. That's a shame. I'd really like to know if an on-line eight inch dick is statistically most likely to be five, six or seven inches.
Notice that I didn't even consider eight as an option. That's because I expect anyone who says eight to be lying.
And that brings me to the 'big question' about on-line dating profiles: is lying so common that it's expected?
If it is, that has big implications. Take the average looking, 5'7" guy who makes $55k a year. If he tells the truth, he's in the minority. Most other guys would say they're 5'9", or that they make $75k, or they'll use an older, better looking profile picture. So isn't the honest guy somewhat screwed by being honest? And by the time a potential match sifts through the BS of all the liars, won't he be a year older and that much less attractive?? But then...he's honest. So maybe the match finds him much more appealing than he otherwise would simply because he's honest?
It's a real puzzle isn't it, whether it's better to "fib" or not?
As I contemplate posting my own online profile I have to decide how important being honest is to me. On the one hand, decades of largely living in the closet have worn on me. I'm tired of telling lies and half-truths. I'm also conscious of the fact that I lied so much and for so long that lying had become second nature. I want those days to be over.
On the other hand, I wonder: what if everyone else thinks 45 means 50+? Or what if Mr. Right can accept 5'9" but 5'8" is too short? Also, a profile is nothing more than an advertisement. Its purpose is to attract potential 'buyers' - you know, guys to come down to the showroom to kick the tires and go for a test drive. No one gets married based on a profile so does it really matter if you lie? You're going to meet and click - or not - regardless. So you might as well play the online game, right?
Grrr! I can't decide. I really, really, really want to be 100% authentic. But the truth is, I also really, really, really wish I was younger and taller.
So, dear readers, what do you think? Do you lie? Do you believe that most others lie? Do you think it's a mistake NOT to lie? Or, do you think truth and honesty are so uncommon that when you encounter them, the honest guy is THAT much more appealing?