Why Do So Many People Lie In Online Dating?

There are millions of Americans seeking love on the Internet. Little do they know that teams of scientists are eagerly watching them trying to find it.

A recent New York Times article titled “Love, Lies and What They Learned,” indicates that collectively, the major dating sites had more than 593 million visits in the United States last month.

Research involving more than one million online dating profiles was partly financed by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The in-depth studies found that about 81 percent of people misrepresent their height, weight or age in their profiles. On average, the women described themselves as 8.5 pounds thinner in their profiles than they really were. Men fibbed by 2 pounds, although they lied about their height, rounding up a half inch. Another study found that women’s profile photographs were on average a year and a half old. Men’s were on average six months old.

According to the studies, liars tend to use fewer first-person pronouns. Professor Catalina L. Toma, an assistant professor in the department of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said this is an indication of psychological distancing: “You’re feeling guilty or anxious or nervous.” Liars use more negative words like “not” and “never,” yet another way of putting up a buffer. Liars use fewer negative emotion words like “sad” and “upset,” and they write shorter online personal essays. (It’s easier not to get caught if you say less.)

“I was personally really shocked,” said Professor Rose McDermott, a professor of political science at Brown University whose study was published this year in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. “People were much more likely to say ‘I’m fat’ than ‘I’m a conservative.’ ”

Personally, none of this is surprising if you’ve dated online. You may find it exasperating, but I just think it’s human nature. WE are insecure. We know that online dating presents a lot of choices. We know that men are looking for younger and thinner and women are looking for taller and wealthier. We know that if we tell the truth – I’m 5’8″, not 5’10”, I’m 55, not 49, we’re all but eliminated from the search of the most desirable candidates. So we fib a little to “get in the door” and hope that we don’t seem too different from our descriptions.

Given that 81% of people lie, I think it’s time to stop getting so bent out of shape when they do, and simply assume that everyone is fudging a little bit – some, more than others. At the end of the day, it’s better to be pleasantly surprised when someone does tell the truth than bitterly disappointed when he doesn’t. It’s too predictable to get angry about.

Read the full article here and let me know your thoughts.

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  1. 91
    Teresa W.

    OMG this is so much BS!

    “Another study found that women’s profile photographs were on average a year and a half old. Men’s were on average six months old.” HA!  Are you serious? I’ve been dating online for about 10 years off and on and continue to see OLD pics from 3-5 years from men! I’ve seen a profile on Match.com where it stated the guy was 58 then saw him the same day on Fitnesssingles.com as 51! this is just one example out of hundreds or more. Nice try Evan! Of course a man wrote this crap

    Don’t even get me started on women lie about weight and men by only 2lbs??? Eod, I wish it was just 2 lbs. ! lol Evan, did your eyes fall out of your head as well as your brain?

    To be “fair”, men and women alike lie about age, height, weight, etc. What do you expect, It’s a dating site; like thinking everything you hear within the media is the gospel. And the biggest joke of all is YOUR paying for it. Feeding the beast. You think you can sit on your couch with a  laptop and find the person of your dreams? Or be a guy and have some lame list of about the type of women you want when you have failed to posses the same traits! lol Tip: People who lie online are broken, your paying for these people. Yep, over 81% lie and cheat…..Knowing this and still you complain.

  2. 92
    ms kaye

    I’ve never misrepresented myself,  I provide exactly my stats and post the most current pic of myself,  portrait to body shot, so there’s no deception upon meeting. Now, on my profile I make message clear: no old photos  (style of clothes are dead giveaways), cropped or altered photos with former GFS or significant others, no bathroom selfies or no photo at all… I do not correspond.

    Weeds out the losers, but the process in meeting that honest person is quite the challenge which sometimes is worth the wait.

  3. 93

    The one thing I will lie about is how much money I make.  If there are high categories I low ball it.  I just don’t want to date anyone where lots of money is a part of their criteria.

  4. 94

    I think with online dating it’s just a risk you take and hope for the best. It comes with the territory.

  5. 95

    I just opened my profile a month an a half ago. I met three people in person so far and have a few dates lined up. I’ve read a lot of Evan’s materials and they have helped me feel more comfortable dating online.  Online dating feels similar to catalog shopping. You normally aren’t critically comparing him/her to everyone else in the room when you meet someone in person. I have an honest profile and prefer to have it back. I am separated (2 years). Truly separated and in the process of divorce. I would probably get more responses with “divorced,” but I don’t want to lie. I wouldn’t be comfortable meeting someone I did.  I’m 5’1 and of average weight. I am ruled out by a lot of men’s profiles for that alone. I don’t even care abt a man’s height and am minimally interested in his income or education level. They don’t matter if they’re a great person and we hit it off.

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