Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Lies Lies Lies, Yeah

And now, from the "News That Isn't Really News" Department... TrueDater.com just released a study that confirms what we already suspected to be true: that online daters lie about what they really look like. I know what you're asking: What's TrueDater.com? Think of it as Epinions for online dating profiles:
TrueDater.com, providing today's online daters with the ability to read or review the truthfulness of people¹s dating profiles, asked its users which quality online daters are most likely to exaggerate in their dating profiles. Men and women both said the two qualities most likely to be misrepresented were weight and overall physical appearance.

"Amazon has book reviews, TrueDater provides dating profile reviews. Based on ourfree service, we are encouraging online daters to pledge honesty not only in their profiles, but in their everyday lives and a growing movement is championing this effort," said Jason Jordan, TrueDater Co-Founder.

Users were asked what qualities online daters exaggerate or lie about most often. Choices were: height, weight, age, income, marital status, physical appearance and "other."

  • 34% of the respondents chose weight, with physical appearance coming in at 27%.
  • Male voters ranked weight first with 45%, and physical appearance second with 20%.
  • Marital status ranked third with 13%, all others received 10% or less.
  • With female voters, general physical appearance ranked first with 36% of the vote, followed by weight (19%) and age (16%).

Surprisingly, female voters said men were more likely to exaggerate weight and appearance than height and income level. Also, more men than women complained that online daters had been dishonest about their marital status.

Very interesting results. Although the imbalance noted in the last paragraph (anecdotally, I know the situation to be just the opposite) has me wondering how many people they interviewed for this survey. One last note that will sound familiar to my regular readers. There are certain elements of physical appearance that are objective, and will be learned/observed/discovered when we first meet someone. Height is one of these elements: if you're 5'5 and tell me you're 5'8, and if "5'8" you and "5'5" me are looking into each other's eyes without the aid of heels when we finally meet, then I know, you've lied. Does the height matter that much, especially if the personality and humor are a match? Not to me. (Especially on JDate: I tend to automatically deduct 2-3 inches from the stated height in a JDater's profile. For some reason Jewish guys seem to have no idea how tall they are.) But the fact that you lied? That matters a bit. And it might make a girl wonder what else you're hiding... And in terms of the lying about weight thing, I just need to reiterate that while weight is by definition an objective measure (even a non-science oriented person like me understands that a pound is a pound), weight looks different on different people. It can depend on how muscular a person is, how tall s/he is, the build, where s/he wears his/her weight, etc. Because of those variables, I think the "frame" descriptor is better than listing a numerical weight. Unless I'm your boxing coach (or you're mine) and we're prepping for a match, I maintain that there's no need to determine whether we're lightweights, middleweights or heavyweights. I also think it goes without saying that sometimes an internal attraction can alter a perception of physical beauty. There's also another component...I'm reminded of that scene from The Matrix, wherein Neo is in the simulation for the first time, and he sees himself in a certain way. Morpheus explains to him that this is the way he sees himself (even though in the "outside" world, he wears sackcloth and has all these connectors up his spine and in his head). Because we all see ourselves a certain way, we may be unable to see why a photo might be construed as an underestimation or overestimation of our physical assets. I may (theoretically) see myself as "fit" or "muscular" while someone else might describe me as "average," "overweight," "medium," or even (in the Jewish world with my 5 feet and 5 inches) "tall." In our heads, we're all individual Neos. But how each individual set of eyes in each person in the world sees us? We can't control that. As for Truedater.com, who knows if it will take off. I guess that depends on how many people feel they'd like to review their dates for the site. And how many people will tune into this new site as a vetting process to decide whether or not the person's worth going out with. And whether people will be able to distinguish the lies that matter from the unwitting misrepresentations that we undoubtedly all make when describing ourselves to others.


Mike said...

i'm a jewish guy and seriously do not know exactly how tall I am. hmm...

Anonymous said...

I think in psychology it's called Coles mirror image theory we can also see ourselves as others see us.

I also automatically subtract two inches from a guys height. lol

My issue is with glasses. yeah sure I wear contacts but my perscription is strong and ussually I don't wear glasses in a photo. So I always wind up having to say my perscription is strong and do you care? ALthough I may not wear them often I have to say somthing especially if they plan to spend time with me.

The whole appreance thing is a tricky thing to begain with. argh

Shaun Eli said...

That you all automatically subtract 2-3" from a guy's stated height is possibly why guys are incented to lie about their height. I'm 5'8", I say I'm 5'8" on JDate, and I imagine a lot of women figure I'm 5'5" and skip over me. Their loss.

I find that maybe a fifth of the women I contact have lied about their age (but that's because I'm writing to women who say they're in their late thirties; younger women are probably less likely to lie) and a number lie about their employment status. Sure, it's okay to say you're a lawyer if you're a lawyer without a job, but when you say 'consultant' and you haven't ever consulted, you're just out of work for eighteen months, that's not being honest. And to me, the dishonesty is a problem more than the lack of a job.

But now I'm happily dating a woman I met two months ago on JDate. She's 37, 5'4" and adorable!

-Shaun Eli

Anonymous said...

The height thing doesen't bother me. I really don't care but I think the idea of lying isn't cool. If you lied about your height. I mean really lie about it say your five five and you put on your profile six feet it indicates a deeper problem.

If someone is going to pass you over for your height they are NOT worth getting to know anyway. It's ok to be honest. Short guys are cute. :)


Anonymous said...

Roz, I didn't lie. But I think it's not passing someone over simply due to height, it's opting to draw a line to decide what height (age, income, weight, whatever) we deem a minimum/maximum. And people have an absolute right to determine what criteria go into their dating decisions.

It's when they set that limit based on expecting everyone to be lying that isn't so good for everyone.


Rye said...

I'm 6'0 tall with a good head of hair. When I had my picture on JDate, I would get very flirtatious and fun IM's and emails from women. Now that I am on JDate with a pictureless profile; I get less email and IM's in terms of volume, but they all profer a greater sincerity in their message. Ultimately I find that more satisfying.

Anonymous said...

I gotcha Shaun.