I basically have a PHD in online dating. I’ve been on crazyblinddates (and TV). I’ve been on actual crazy blind dates. I’ve met winners and losers and lots of blog fodder. I met guys on IRC (old school!), on Spark Match, on craigslist, on Nerve, on OkCupid, on Facebook, etc (and never on eHarmony or Match because I am a cheap snob). And now I’ve gone and shacked up with a dude I met online and we don’t even bother to lie about how we met (Go ahead. Judge us! We’ll be over here making googly eyes so we probably won’t even notice.). I am a big fan of online dating mostly because it takes an activity (meeting people) that once required one to put on pants and be nice and makes it happily catty and pantsless! If online dating were a charity I would donate money every year. If it were a presidential candidate I would volunteer to work on its campaign and then pretend to be the father of its love child. If there were an "easy A" graduate class on it I would teach it. I know what I’m talking about. So trust me when I say that you’re doing it wrong.
Or if you don’t trust me; trust the data. I absolutely love the OkTrends pieces where the OkCupid people analyze their tons of online dating data to find out exactly how we are all screwing ourselves (instead of the people we could be meeting on their site!). The latest and greatest of these pieces is about the lies that people tell in their online profiles. All of the expected transgressions are there -- I’m taller! I’m richer! I’m bisexual-er! (?!?) Now, obviously we should stop lying because that is exactly how one ends up burning in hell but maybe also because one will get caught and then one will probably not get laid. In the article, the author muses a bit about how exactly the liars expect to get away with their lies once a relationship moves from screen to real life but I would contend that no one needs to get away with anything.
Most people have no idea what it is they want.
I am constantly hearing girls say stupid shit about how they would not ever ever never ever date a boy who is under 6 feet tall. Similarly, many boys seem to have an arbitrary body weight that they fear no date should be allowed to exceed. Some of these folks are just assholes. But I think most of them are ok people who suffer from two much more common problems:
- Belief that physical appearance matters way more than it actually does.
- Belief that they know what “tall” and “not fat” look like in number form.
I’m not saying that being physically attracted to someone is unimportant. You need to want to bang your significant other -- but (lucky for the future of the human race and evidenced by over population problem) I think most of us are actually willing to bang a lot more people then we’d like to admit. (Sluts!) And more importantly, I don’t think most of us have any idea what 6 feet or 135 pounds looks like on a real life body. Allowing yourself to draw a hard line between 5’11” and 6’0” means not going out on dates with a lot of guys that might be just right for you. You can continue pretending that there is no way you could ever want to have sex with a body that weighs 140 or measures 5'11” but don’t expect sympathy when you die alone. In the end, there is only one person responsible for your self-imposed limits. (And if you really can’t find someone in the 5’11” category attractive no matter what, then perhaps you really are an asshole! You can stop reading now!).
When you slowly get to know someone (through work or mutual friends or anywhere but the internet) you often learn to like them long before you think about if you like them like them. But online dating takes away this opportunity, instead you’re supposed to decide if you could ever fall in love with a collection of extremely self-edited snippets (most of which often aren't even the right snippets!). A smart boy won’t admit in his profile a love for Frito pie, old broken down trains and the smell of the top your head but its often exactly those quirks that make you want to bed him on date 3 or 35 or 310.
We’d all do well to accept these facts: You will never be given enough online dating factoids to determine if you could fall in love with someone. You might not fully understand just how flexible most of your deal-breakers really are.
But most people won’t admit either of these things (even to themselves) and so it pays to lie. It's very possible that claiming you’re 2 inches taller or 10 pounds lighter or 20K wealthier is going to get you on an actual date where you get the opportunity to prove that your jokes and astute observations and ability to order wine without embarrassing yourself can more than make up for stature and bank account. Just hope when you show up at the bar your date isn’t holding a copy of your profile in one hand and a measuring tape in the other. The lucky thing about love (or even about a really hard crush) is that it forgives a lot of transgressions.
Maybe I’m not cynical enough (this is the first time in all history that this possibility has ever been considered). I’m assuming that most people engaged in online dating would like to meet someone and fall in love and live happily ever after until they have a baby and realize that evolution totally tricked them into a life of green oozing feces and 3am screaming. (Surprise!). Obviously some people are trolling the Internet for amusement or a quick lay and probably some even larger number of people aren't ready to do much more then casually flirt (be it over a barstool or a computer monitor). But for the lovey-dovey mushheads out there (Put your hearts on your sleeve! Holla!) maybe go out with a shortie or a poor guy now and then. And go ahead and keep lying; it doesn’t matter.