Is Lying in Online Dating Profiles Okay?
A study has found that people are okay with, and even expect, a certain amount of lying in online dating profiles. But what happens when the lies are bigger than a few inches or a few pounds?
People you meet in a bar can lie about all sorts of things. Really, they can lie about just about everything: Where they live, where they’re from, what they do for a living, even their name. There are, however, a few things that they CAN’T lie about, and largely, these things are physical. Sure, there’s room for some embellishment—maybe you can convince someone you’re a year or two older or younger than you are, and so on—but generally, it’s hard to convince someone you’re 5’11” if they’re standing right in front of you and can see that you’re actually around 5’6”.
But when it comes to meeting people via online dating? You can lie about physical details, no problem. And most people, it turns out, are kind of okay with this.
Michigan State professor Nicole Ellison found in a new study (found via YourTango) that online daters say certain kinds of “misrepresentations” are fine. Furthermore, many of them actually EXPECT that people will fib. They key factor that gives this behavior the stamp of approval is time: That is, if a person says they’re about 10 pounds lighter than they are, and there’s a significant amount of time before the pair will meet in the flesh, then it’s possible that the person will actually have lost those 10 pounds before the meeting occurs. No one would be the wiser, and it wouldn’t ever become an issue.
What I find so interesting, though, is that there is SO. MUCH. ROOM. for lies when it comes to online dating—and yet this study focused on the physical things. Maybe this is because of the fact that those are the things you can’t lie about when you meet that hypothetical person in that hypothetical bar. But I wonder: How do people feel about lying on online dating profiles when it comes to more than just little physical things? What about all of those other things that the person in the bar can lie about? And what about all of those other things that the person in the bar CAN’T lie about? What about significant age differences? Or, more to the point, significant personality differences?