Whenever you’re checking out someone’s online dating profile, it’s pretty much a given to take some things with a grain of salt. But now, recent research is suggesting that even some of the most basic information on most people’s profiles is a flat out lie.
It’s 2014, and online dating is nowhere near as taboo as it used to be. Apps like Tinder and Grindr are growing seemingly exponentially in popularity, and sites like Eharmony, Match.com and a string of others have earned a stong reputation and have largely removed that old online-dating fear of meeting a serial killer instead of a hot date. If you’ve experimented with online dating or even met your match online, you’re certainly not alone. The global online dating market is valued at around $4 billion, and the number of users has tripled in the last decade. In America, nearly half of the entire single population is searching for their mates online.
There are some obvious perks to taking your search for love to the Web. Vetting potential dates online is probably preferable to meeting in person, instantly realizing there is no chemistry or compatibility, and then sitting through hours of boring small talk. Plus, online you’ve got complete control over your first impressions. Need a minute to come up with a pick-up line that will knock her socks off? Take as long as you need; conversations online can last for days and involve much less pressure than a quick conversation in a crowded bar. Don’t like that unsightly mole on your left cheek? Take all of your photos from a unique and flattering angle, say 90 degrees above your head and posing with your lips pursed in a dark, shadowy room.
Hm, on the other hand, maybe those latter aspects of online dating aren’t quite as positive as they first seem. Clearly, a large number of online daters today are more than willing to exploit a few loopholes in order to get a date. Take a look at the list below and see if you fit the profile of what the average online dater lies about – or just keep it in mind the next time you swipe right!
5. ‘Recent’ Photos
The one thing most online daters immediately check when browsing matches online is recent photos. Sure, reading about a person’s likes and interests can be amusing, but it’s much easier and more enlightening when you can put an (attractive) face to a personality profile. However, too often, it goes something like this:
Profile picture: an ostensibly spontaneous selfie in the car. Next, that time she casually ran a half-marathon. Next, a series of casual photographs of her at the beach, just letting it all hang out and having a great time. But wait a minute… Why is everyone in these photos wearing JNCOS? And how come she looks like she just graduated college, even though her profile says she’s in her mid-thirties? And woah – is that a Nokia brick cell phone?
According to OKCupid, metadata collected – including tags automatically uploaded through users’ cameras – indicated that the hotter the picture, the more likely it is to be outdated. Approximately 1 in 5 photos deemed to be “hot” by OKCupid researchers turned out to be two years old or older. Additionally, the older a user is the more likely they are to upload older pictures. Take a look at your own online dating profile. If your profile picture is less than 90 days old you’re outside of the norm.
4. ‘Stretching’ The Truth About Height
Online, you can be anything you want to be. Some people lie about how often they go out, how happy they are in their relationships and other innocuous things. But one of the most surprising – and virtually universal – lies that exists in online dating is one of the tiniest, most boring details about yourself. Your height.
According to online dating research, average heights as listed on online dating profiles are approximately two inches taller than the actual real-world average. It was the same for men and for women, although men experience one unique phenomenon: According to online dating sites, an overwhelming majority of men are exactly 6 feet tall. In reality, starting at about 5’8 men are far more likely to round their heights up to that common benchmark. As to whether or not the 6 foot mark has any impact on the success of those profiles – no definitive data. Sorry fellas.
Take a look at your own online dating profile or even your social network sites. Do your posts tell the whole story of your lifestyle, or just highlight your biggest moments, life events and humble brags? For most people, our public lives online are much more exciting, happier and more fulfilling than our private lives in the real world.
Framing your lifestyle in a more flattering way than reality actually dictates is one of the greatest – and most deceiving – aspects of online dating. A large number of online dating profiles include photos of their owners participating in 5ks, doing volunteer work and other impressive feats. In reality, most of those photos were one-time events that were purposefully recorded and milked for all the recognition and mileage one can achieve online.
Imagine you’re forty, single and making less than 50k a year. It’s not hard to imagine giving yourself a little bump or rounding up by 5k or so to increase your chances of getting a date. However, when it comes to online dating, people universally round their salaries up by 20% on average, regardless of their age or actual income.
However, similar to the “six foot” phenomenon noted earlier, $100k/year seems to be the most coveted – and biggest lie – in the online dating world. Consistently across age groups, the number of users who list that figure as their annual salary is about 4x the real-world average.
Additionally, and unfortunately not very surprisingly, this is one of the most effective lies in online dating. Studies show that if a man passes the age of 23 and is not making more than 30 or 40k a year his odds of finding a date online are 90 to 1. That’s rough.
Finally, one of the most surprising things people lie about online is sexuality. And not in the way many people would assume.
In the past, most people would assume the overwhelming majority of online daters would identify as “straight,” even if they actually had a same-sex preference. Today, a large population of the online dating world self-identifies as bisexual, when in fact they have a single preference.
Why? Dating landscapes have changed drastically in the past few years, especially online. For whatever reason, “bi” is in. Maybe women online think they’ll catch more attention or give off a more open-minded first impression. Maybe it’s a first step to users coming out as gay. The reason behind it could keep a sociologist busy for years. But the data from online dating sites is clear: only about 1 in 4 of online daters who self-identify as bisexual are actually actively pursuing or dating both sexes.