Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Are lies expected in on-line dating profiles?

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?


  1. I lie about my age. My height, weight, and penis size are correct. My photos are current and I think depict an actual likeness to me.

    I've found that most of the guys I've dated or hooked up with lie about penis size. Not that it really matters to me. But most people seem to put somewhere around 7, and I keep finding them to be closer to 5. Funny that you think that guys who put 8" down as lying - most guys I've met who claim to be 8" seemed to be around 8".

    As for age - I've only suspected a few guys of misrepresenting their age. The others - if they were lying, could pull it off.

    I've found height to be pretty damn accurate in the profiles of the guys I've met.

    Weight has been lied about a few times.

    Relationship status can be a tough one. I've had several guys tell me after we've met that they have a boyfriend. Oops.

    When it comes to photos - it's a mixed bag. I find that most people look like their profile pics. If the pics are small and pixelated or unclear, they usually don't look so good in real life. The really attractive people I've met usually have terrible pics and look much better in person. People who look like Abercrombie and Fitch models in their profile never look quite so good in person. Maybe it sets an expectation that can't be met. I'd much rather be pleasantly surprised by a date's good looks then be let down because his profile pics were Photoshopped.

    I think we come to expect the lies. Like I said - I lie about my age. I shouldn't, but I do. I think I do it for a few reasons. First of all I think I can pull it off. Second, I've posted my real age before, and I seem to attract a lot more people MUCH older than me and no one around my age (or younger). If I subtract 5 years from my real age - I hit the demographic I'm comfortable with. I do tell people my real age when me meet (if it's relevant - for a hookup nobody seems to care).

  2. I think you should be honest -- why put out stats that the guy will eventually find out are not true anyway? If the guys are going to be shallow with their requirements in cyberspace, they most likely will be shallow in person as well.

    And I disagree with your contention that one added year detracts that much and makes you that less desirable.

    If you are insecure about your stats, lying about isn't going to help you because you still will carry those insecurities. It's better in my opinion not to false advertise because that would be grounds for your customers to want their money back for being sold a false set of goods.

  3. There are probably a variety of valid reasons for lying but most of them stem from the insecurities every guy feels when he is up against what is considered the perfect specimen, and that the 6'2", blond, muscled god/model with a real 8 incher may indeed exist.

    I don't believe I lie or exaggerate on my profile, but I may have rounded up by half an inch for my height because these sites don't allow for fractions (except for cock size, like that half inch really matters. Interestingly, adding that half inch makes it seem more believable.). My weight fluctuates so I keep that at the median, although it makes me feel fat when I see another profile of a guy with the same height and 25 pounds lighter and his body looks bigger than mine. I don't talk about income, there isn't a spot for that and it shouldn't really matter as long as he holds a decent job. If a guy leaves a stat out, I assume the worst. No age listed, he's very old. No weight means he's obese.

    I haven't updated my age since my last birthday, so that could be a year off. My pics are pretty recent, until I take more pictures, but I think I take good photos in my bathroom and my office where there's a lot of natural light that works well for me. I don't know how I look to other people and I don't even think the reflection looks like me. My pictures and my reflection do not match up in my head. And I look different from various angles (I'm multifaceted and have an expressive face). So I could be one of those people who look better in my pictures somehow. I think it is just good lighting. But it has prevented me from actually meeting guys because they have this higher expectation of me. Maybe if I show up shirtless I would get a different reaction, but I'm quite average with clothes hiding the my chiseled pecs. Just kidding.

    My biggest lie and I am still struggling with this everyday is relationship status. I don't display it prominently, but if asked, I do tell them I'm married. Half the time, I get blocked and the other half reveal they are also married or otherwise attached. I already have my height (lack thereof) and age working against me, I can't seem to put in "married" as a status for now. I also find it weird that it is even an option on a dating profile.

    I put in my real age and do attract some much older guys too, but there are some younger guys who do not care about age, but I also worry about them too. I worry about everyone who contact me because I'm just freaking paranoid.

    I think you should put in your real stats with that stingray picture and you should be good to go.

    Sorry for the long comment, and thanks for allowing me to vent. Your post is much more eloquent than mine on the same topic.

  4. I forgot to finish.

    It's all about setting up proper expectations. You're very good at setting low expectations to the point of scaring the guy off and then pleasantly surprising him with your other qualities. The only way to set up the right expectations is to be honest. Hmmm. I should take my own advice.

  5. I can't recall ever lying about any part of myself on any of the homo sites. I want other guys to know exactly what they'll be dealing with. I don't have a bunch of guys replying to my ads, either.

  6. What's scary for me is when I see guys who say they are 45, but look like they are 65. OMG, I'm 45!! I hope these guys are liars!

    Seriously, I think that the older guys get, the higher propensity for lying. In denial on their age. Hoping no one will notice that extra 20 lbs. It's hope.

  7. My current partner and I met on I was 51, he was 62. I was honest about my age and my height, and I don't think dick size was one of the options, but I would have been honest about my 6.5 inches (but thick) dick. I also posted one of the worst pictures ever taken of me because it was the only one I had digitized at the time.

    What got the attention of my soon to be partner was my written profile. It was a no-bullshit "this is who I am - take me or leave me" kind of profile. He still has the printout, and when I read it, I wonder how anyone ever was attracted to me. I was brutally honest about myself - including the fact that I occasionally screw around, despite the fact that I'm always home for dinner.

    In short - anyone that will matter to you won't care about what size your dick is, or how old you are, or how tall you are. It's the real you that keeps a man coming back.

  8. I agree w/Anon 3:26, but...his experience may reflect the age of his partner where, if my experience is any guide, priorities change rather a lot, for some. Also, another random comment, saw a post somewhere by a guy who said a guy he hooked up with said he was 35 and was actually older and the writer said that he was glad the guy was closer to his own age! Funny and telling, I thought.