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Dear 4-Way,
Recently I joined an online dating site. I’ve been out on some good dates, but I’ve met a lot of people that just flat out lie on their profiles. People have lied about their height, their weight, their marital status, their income, their roommate situation … you name it. Basically, if it’s a field on a dating profile, I’ve found someone who’s lied about it. People even post pictures that were obviously taken years ago! I’ve asked a few friends about this and they say it’s common knowledge that people lie and that I just have to keep going and wait for the cream to eventually rise to the top. It feels like a big waste of time. Any ideas on how to find out if someone is lying before I go out with them?—WT, Alpharetta, Georgia

The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
Sure, tell them to send you some other pictures of themselves that aren’t featured on their profiles. Maybe I missed the clause that said you’re supposed to lie about your age, weight, height, color, and sexual preference when I was dating online. I mean, if you do actually go out with someone, you’ll clearly notice the truth sooner or later. I say print out your dates’ profiles and take them with you on all future dates. When you see someone is actually 5'2" when he said he was 6'2", call him out on it. If he said he lives alone and you discover he has a roommate, ask him why he didn’t say that on his profile. Not that it matters at that point, but why lie? Ask if there was a typo or if he forgot to proofread before posting. You’ll get a better personality read and at the very least, you’ll be doing the next person a favor.

There’s probably no way to verify if someone is telling the truth until you meet him or her in person. But be careful not to go into every date expecting a lie from someone to emerge. It might come across that you’ve had many bad dating experiences and may make your date wonder what about you caused those bad experiences, or it may turn the person off altogether. Just look at online dating as another way you may meet the person of your dreams and see it as one element in your quest to meet Mr. or Miss Right.

The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
A lot of people lie in cyberspace. Although given recent developments with our business executives and government officials, I’d say a lot of people lie, period. Your question to us is an interesting one. How can you find out about the online lying sooner? To me, that’s like asking how can you find out about our economic recovery sooner, or about when the next congressman will have an affair—who the heck knows? Yet I sense you’re wondering about something deeper.

It seems like what you really want is not to be burned and to meet an honest and forthright guy. And although I can dish out pessimism with the best of them, I do believe that there are good people out there in the world who are ready to date—yes, even on Internet dating sites.

I suggest you change your mindset. Sure, there are liars out there and you may meet some of them online, however, you may also meet some genuinely nice guys. Many people believe that we get what we create. So be open to meeting nice people. However, when you meet a man whose online profile says he’s cute, wealthy, loves to cuddle, that he’s fit, communicative, and has no issues, you might want to activate your B.S. detector. Then again, would you go on a date with someone whose profile described him as a couch potato, with crazy parents, who has a fear of spiders? My point is that the truth will come out. Most of us want to put our best foot forward, even in cyberspace. So proceed with caution, but please do proceed.

The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
There’s no foolproof way you can tell if someone is misrepresenting himself online before you meet him. Sure, you can chat with him on the phone and slip in a few questions along the way to verify things—“So will your roommate/wife care that you’re talking on the phone with me too long?”—but I doubt that will bring you full piece of mind until you meet in person.

You just have to decide if you can continue. If you’re tired of online dating, then take a break and join up again in a few months. No harm in that. If you want to go back online, do it. If you don’t, then you didn’t waste any time or money on the site. But you said you’ve been on some good dates, so I think the online thing has been fairly good to you. Why not continue?

Let’s be realistic. Some of those lies you talk about are not all created equal. For instance, someone who says he is 5'11" but is actually 5'8" is stretching it—literally—but his lie is certainly not so bad as someone who lies about his marital status, right?

So, decide what factors are most important to you (hint: that your date isn’t married) and continue from there. Perhaps when you’ve found someone who’s the real deal, you’ll lie, too—right down next him … when you’re ready, of course.

The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
Oh, honey. If I had a dollar for every time I found out that someone wasn’t really divorced yet, that they actually lived in a different city than they said on their profile, or that they were more follicley-challenged in the hair department than their picture depicted, I’d have … well, okay, I’d probably only have like $16, which isn’t a lot of money. But in the world of dating, that’s certainly enough lies to turn a person off.

I think when you online date, you get a more intense experience than you’d get in the meet-in-a-bar-or-by-happenstance dating world. You’re probably going on a higher volume of dates than if you just trusted your destiny to fate, so the number of “alcoholics, workaholics, sexaholics, commitment-phobes, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits, and perverts” you meet will naturally be higher in online dating—but that doesn’t mean you won’t meet liars in the offline world, too. (Bridget Jones left “liars” out of her now infamous rant, but I’m pretty sure that’s covered somehow in the “megalomaniac” category.)

So don’t give up. There’s a nice, honest one out there for you somewhere. I think the only way to avoid meeting the liars is to develop a strong knack for listening to your gut during the pre-date communication. Is there something a little off about his emails? Something strange said in a phone call? Thousands of new people put up a dating profile every day, so if you sense you may have a liar on your hands, just turn the page and move on to the next one. Good luck.

 

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