Is It Ever OK To Lie In Your Dating Profile? #atwys

The topic of transparency and online dating came up over at The Frisky yesterday, and it stirred an interesting debate.orly_dr_evil

As I’ve said before, deception is an integral part of online dating whether we like it or not. It can be as innocent as fudging your age to as nefarious as scamming someone out of thousands of dollars. The levels of deception vary, but the exist, and it’s time that people just start excepting that instead of clutching their pearls.

The main focus of the article was whether or not someone should photoshop their photos. As someone with slightly photoshopped photos on her profile, I don’t see a problem with it.

 

 

 

meshoot4

This is one of my photos.  In it, my face has been enhanced a bit to make the features more clear. The original and untouched  photo is below:

DSC_1791

Now, to me. There isn’t much difference. I’m sure that somebody will manage to find something to pick at, but to me they look pretty much the same.

Here’s another one I use on my profile:

winetopnobra

Now, here’s the untouched original:

DSC_1917

Blow this sucker up and you’ll see the lines under my eyes. Oh, and you’ll see that my bra was showing. Do I really look that different? No. Since these were taken at the height of everything going on with my family and just a few weeks before my sister died, I knew that the bags under my eyes were due to stress and could be fixed with rest and aggressive skin care treatments (creams, foundation, not surgery). Therefore I really didn’t feel I was being too misleading by posting the retouched version. P.S. I eagerly await the running commentary from the peanut gallery offering sage advice about how to treat under eye lines and bags.

Now, do I think people should post egregiously misleading photos? No, I don’t. Of course not. But, boo hoo, I might show up on a date and have wrinkles under my eyes. You poor dears, I hope you’ll be able to muster through that date.

Anyhoo, in the comments of the article, I attempted to use some critical analysis to one particularly overused dating trope and it did not go over well. (For those of you who aren’t as  literarrrayish and wicked smaht writery writers like me, a trope is an overused and often cliched theme or plot device.) One of the writers for the site weighed in in the comments saying that if someone lies about their height or age or posts photo shopped photos, then it should be considered what other, more sinister, things they’re hiding. I then asked her whether or not her new husband that she met online had revealed in his profile that he was here on a visa that was about to expire. They had recently married, and she admitted that the fact that his visa was about to expire was one of the reasons they decided to marry so soon after meeting. I have a hard time believing that he did mention it, because who wants to meet up with someone who might be leaving?? (Other than people just looking for something casual, which is totally acceptable.) Of course, nobody over there agreed with my reasoning. While the writer didn’t answer me, many of the commenters chimed in saying that not revealing your citizenship or employment status in your profile/before you meet isn’t the same as lying about your age or height or posting photo shopped photos. “How would someone even go about addressing that?” one person asked. The same way we expect people who are not actually single but rather separated do. They simply explain the situation. Of course, if someone actually did leave out the fact they weren’t officially divorced, there would be an uproar. Citizenship or employment status? Eh, whatevs. That logic makes no sense.  And we all know I am all about the making of the sense.

Now, I don’t know about any of you, but if I show up to a date and learn that the guy who said in his profile that he lives in New York City actually lives in Stamford, CT, I’m going to be mildly annoyed. But here’s the kicker: if I find him attractive and we get on, I’ll probably overlook that misleading bit of information. Forget about it if he doesn’t actually live in the US and is possibly going to be leaving for several months if not permanently very soon. Not revealing that bit of information in some way before you meet someone, to me, is deceptive.  Same goes for employment status. If a guy checks off Executive/Management as his occupation but reveals on the first date that he’s actually unemployed and never mentioned that fact in his profile, I’m not going to be thrilled. But if I like him, I’m probably going to get past it. But just to be clear..that’s still a form of deception.

In any case, my point of the debate was that I believe statements like, “If they lie about X, then they’ll do Y” are poorly constructed arguments often used to justify being shallow or too picky. Yo9u can’t arbitrarily decide that not being upfront about one thing is different than not being upfront about something else equally as important. And, let’s face it, where someone lives and whether or not they have a job or are separated or have kids are important.

Bottom line? If you like ‘em, you’re not going to care. If you aren’t attracted to them, they’re just lying liars who lie and waste your pretty/handsome. That’s why all this ballyhooing about honesty and online dating is a waste of energy. There’s lying  and then there is lying. Fudging the truth and omitting certain bits of information, in my opinion, are acceptable so long as you come clean once you meet. Someone who decides you’re insecure or being maliciously deceptive because you shaved a few years off your age or added two inches to your height probably just isn’t attracted to you or has superficial reasons why the lie is unacceptable. That’s my two cents on the matter.

 

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26 Responses to “Is It Ever OK To Lie In Your Dating Profile? #atwys”

  1. AC Says:

    “Now, I don’t know about any of you, but if I show up to a date and learn that the guy who said in his profile that he lives in New York City actually lives in Stamford, CT, I’m going to be mildly annoyed. But here’s the kicker: if I find him attractive and we get on, I’ll probably overlook that misleading bit of information.”

    That last sentence says it all. Three weeks ago, I went on a date with a woman who said she was 44 in her profile but admitted she was 46 when we met. Guess what? The fact that she’s good-looking, smart, and funny allowed me to ignore her slightly fudging her age. We’ve been on three more dates since. I’ll admit had her profile said 46, I may have hesitated meeting her in the first place as I’m 40 and prefer not to date more than five years older. I think the same rules apply for location, I’ve met a few women who list New York, NY as their location but really live in Brooklyn or Queens. I’m yet to throw up my arms, end the date and say, “That’s it, you lied! God knows what else you’re hiding!” And people wonder why they stay single.

    The whole, “If they lied about one thing what else are they hiding?” is a lot righteous BS. As long as they’re not concealing a marriage, relationship or are in the witness protection program, let it go.

    As for photos – just look like your picture….or better : )

  2. Kyra Says:

    I believe there’s a difference in presenting yourself in the best possible way, (ie: slightly altering photos for better lighting or choosing a nicer photo than a 100% accurate of how you look on your worst day) than actually deceiving someone.

    I know that lots of people shave years off their age and make themselves taller, but I do actually believe that’s a form of deception and it makes me uncomfortable. I can’t exactly give a solid reason why it does, the idea just makes my skin crawl.

    My profile is 100% accurate and honest, and I would prefer if my matches did the same.

    • Lisa Says:

      I agree. Bc some things are UNCHANGEABLE FACTS that you are BLATANTLY LYING about. Others are, like adjusting the lighting, reducing the shine on your forehead and airbrushing the stray hair out of your eyes, arbitrary, subjective, inconsistent, variables.

  3. BTownGirl Says:

    Couldn’t agree more! As for the photo enhancements, well sh*t, I had a zit the day we took headshots for our company website. Hell yes, I had that airbrushed out – so would that make me shady as a professional? Of course not, right? Granted, business and the dating world are different animals, but image matters a lot there too.

    For example, let’s say a coworker mistakenly tells a client that I have more experience than I actually do in one very specific type of work and I don’t correct either of them. Deceptive, but if the client hires us and we knock it out of the park, are they going to care that I have three years of experience instead of five? Poor judgment call? Oh yes. Does that mean I’m not someone anyone should work with and definitely going to wind up winning The Amanda Woodward Award For Backstabbiest Employee EV-AH!? Most likely, no. That’s why perspective and critical thinking are so important in life and love.

  4. BostonRobin Says:

    Who cares. Just assume that everyone is going to lie or “fudge” or embellish. Go out and enjoy the date and if you two hit it off, the truth will come out eventually. Consider it practice to hone your dating instincts. If someone feels a bit “off,” they are probably lying about something and you let them go. But omg, TWO YEARS older than you thought? Really? It’s not like they’re lying on a mortgage application!

  5. Nicole Says:

    Totally agree with Moxie’s take on this. If you like someone when you meet in person, none of the stuff they fudged online is going to matter.

    Even when people are careful not to lie, you still don’t know everything about them from an online profile. And that’s fine. It’s out there for the world to see, no need to spill your deepest darkest secrets. You usually don’t learn exactly what someone does for work, how old their kids are, or how long they’ve been divorced until you start emailing or meet in person. And those are far more important to a lot of people than a few pounds or a couple of inches.

  6. Tinker Says:

    How you look is how you look ( of course it’s smart to choose flattering pictures). How old you are is how old you are. Your height is your height. I don’t get how those things are up for debate.
    For me it’s not a matter of ‘what else are they lying about’ but ‘why aren’t you comfortable enough with your real stats to use them? Why does your desire to generate more interest trump my desire to date some X age, height or with a certain look, whether you think my reason is valid or not?’ I find it disrespectful. That’s why lying about the basics on a profile annoys me.

    • Tinker Says:

      And I wanted to add I find it entitled. You are not owed a chance with me, just as I am not owed a chance with you. So if we don’t meet each others criteria, then we just don’t. If we meet in another venue and find it doesn’t matter then yay for us, but if not oh well.

    • AC Says:

      People lie about height and age in order to appear in more searches. We know that.

      Nevertheless, you make a valid point.

      • Nicole Says:

        Actually I think there’s more to it than just showing up in searches (although that’s certainly a big part).

        I never fudged my age or height or weight, it would never have occurred to me to do that, because I’m happy with all those numbers. I don’t fit someone’s criteria, oh well. But I did frequently catch myself saying “been divorced 2 years” when the truth was I’d been separated for 1 year and legally divorced 1 year.

        I was insecure about it, I felt like it was a big red flag. I wanted people to meet me and realize I was over my ex, not dismiss me for being recently split. I think that people who lie about their age, height, employment status, etc, are probably insecure about those things.

      • Lisa Says:

        If someone is doing that (which would still annoy me), then they could at least put a disclaimer/explanation in the narrative section.

        I was separated for almost FIVE years! Ugh! I know that took me out of many searches, but I just resigned myself to that. I had to respect that other ppl have the preferences they have. They are entitiled to those preferences (even if I felt I was as good as divorced or whatever). I probably would have met better quality ppl if I had selected “divorced” but I muddked thru it and now I actually am divorced and have a great guy so it all worked out. What’s five years of my life? LOL

    • Speed Says:

      Fudging (lying, to be blunt) is not a matter of being “insecure about your real stats.” It’s a matter of marketing yourself effectively—such as showing up in more searches, attracting more people, etc. 1-2 inches in height, 2-3 years in age, a slightly airbrushed photo, etc.: those are extremely common and anyone who gets outraged about it is going to struggle in online dating.

      There’s also “lying by omission,” which is both unavoidable (if only from space constraints) and tied to marketing and discretion. All the skeletons we have in the closet usually aren’t (and shouldn’t be) in the profile and won’t come out in the first few dates (or weeks or months). These lies of omission, as some commenters wrote above, are usually far more serious than the slight fudging in the profiles.

      Part of dating, or just being an adult, is being discrete and judicious with the truth. Anyone who insists on “all honesty all the time” –especially with strangers–is either ridiculous or incredibly immature.

  7. mindstar Says:

    You’d be amazed what people lie about in order to appear in more searches.

    I did a quick survey among the women I work with (early 20s to mid 40s) and they told me of men who’ve lied about height, weight, age, education, nature of job, employment status, citizenship status, marital status, number of kids (ex. he said he checked off no children so he’d show up in more searched even though he has 3) and where they live. All in the name of showing up in more searches

    I met a woman on OK Cupid who insisted that living in Weehawken but saying she lived in Manhattan (so she could meet Manhattan men) was NOT deceptive.

    I have a friend who met a woman who claimed to be single and childless but had to finally confess that the litney of phone calls she got during their first (and only date) were from her ex and her kids. And I think we can agree that for both sexes the definition of what constitutes “a few extra pounds” has been stretched beyond belief.

    Some of these can be tolerated, though as Nicole said most of them do stem from insecurity, and others can not. Its all an individual choice How much deception will you tolerate?

    I think at the end of the day we may all have to adopt a practice one of my friends does. One of her initial questions when first meeting someone from a dating site is “Is there anything in your profile which was not accurate?”

  8. D. Says:

    I dunno. To me, fudging things like age and height aren’t problematic because they suggest other nefarious motives. It’s more that it just indicates someone who’s insecure about whatever the issue is that they’re fudging.

    I mean, if you’re 5’7, why say you’re 5’9? If you’re 38, why say you’re 35 or younger? Just own who you are, particularly for immutable things like age and height. As far as the whole “Well, it’s to show up in searches” argument, I dunno. That doesn’t carry a ton of weight for me. The people who want to find you will find you. Do you want to try to convince someone who thinks they don’t want you that they do? I don’t. I’d rather someone accept me as I am when it comes to stuff like that.

    For things like body type, sure, that’s subject to interpretation. Ask three guys what body type a girl would have and one will say “average” the next “curvy” and the last “overweight.” So for that, yeah, I figure use accurate pictures and let someone decide for themselves.

    As for the pictures, a little touching up isn’t a big deal. If it’s an otherwise awesome picture but you had a zit in it, I see nothing wrong with photoshopping that out. It’s not like it’s a permanent feature. I dunno, I figure photoshopping is more about giving a good representation of yourself. That could be you at your best, but it should still be you, not you with 20 lbs digitally shaved off of what you normally look like.

    With the rest of the stuff…I dunno. I figure that’ll shake out as you get to know someone. Plus, I think it’s pretty unhealthy to approach dating as a constant effort in filtering/weeding-out/disqualifying people. Have your preferences, must-haves, and dealbreakers, sure, but when you spend your time looking for problems with people, you can end up taking a very “negative” view of the world which can lead you to disqualify people who’d otherwise be fine if you weren’t being so rejection-happy, or worse — you can find yourself overreading positives and ignoring negatives just because someone made it past your supposedly fool-proof detection skills.

    • mindstar Says:

      Agreed D. but then you have situations where the characteristic lied about is a dealbreaker for the other person.

      Example you don’t want to date smokers for what ever reason and the other person has lied about not being a smoker.

      Many men make having a slim figure a dealbreaker so they’ll be ticked at the woman who shaves 20lbs off with photoshop.

      Many women want their date to be tall. They will be ticked if the 5’11” on the profile guy is only 5’8″ in real life.

      • D. Says:

        Well, I guess I have two related attitudes, both of which may reflect what was an eventual kind of exhaustion at certain approaches to dating.

        First, I stopped worrying about whether I needed to divulge every attitude, preference, or caveat in my profile. That actually came as a result of advice Moxie had posted on here. I didn’t try to “screen” or “weed out” people quite as intensely, and didn’t try to help people screen me out either. I ditched the disclaimers about “If you’re XYZ or into ABC, don’t bother.” I didn’t have anything putting people “on notice” about me, either, like the way people put in their profiles that they’re recently out of a relationship or whatever, but if I had, I’d have eliminated that, too.

        Second, all of the above led me to stop worrying about whether everything was laid out for me in the other person’s profile, and whether the other person would waste my time. I could spare half an hour to meet someone, and if they didn’t look like their profile pictures or whathaveyou (and that only happened to me, like, 3 times ever), I’d just bail on the date.

        I decided that I trusted myself and my instincts enough that I could gauge situations on a case-by-case basis. As a result, I didn’t worry as much about “What if they’re wasting my time/lying to me?” If they were, I trusted myself to figure it out and say “Fuck it” and move on. If her pictures show her to be 20lbs lighter than she is in person and that really bothers you, you can do the same. If his profile said he was 5’10 and he’s really 5’8 and it bothers you, you can just politely cut the date short. Trust yourself to spot that and the more deeper-seated issues.

        I think when you have that attitude — when you trust yourself to spot red flags or things you don’t like — it makes dating just a lot more fun and relaxing, rather than this process of trying to find the “perfect” person or the obverse where you eliminate anyone who doesn’t fit your model of perfection. (“you/your” in the general sense, of course, not specific to you, mindstar)

  9. bbdawg Says:

    I like shaving a couple of years off, I’ll admit it. And I assume most people lie about something (projection on my end?) The issue is when the lie is a HUGE lie, like being married, or being 10 years older, etc…I have had a couple of men say on the profile they were 40 when they were 50 and 52 respectively.

    I dated a man who told several lies on his profile, which he came clear when asking e out on a second date. he said, “jusyt fyi before you agree to meet me again here’s what I lied about…” The deal breaker for me wasn’t actually the lies (several inches in height (I don’t care about height at all), a few years, and a master’s degree that was non-existent), but the fact that he wasn’t looking for a serious relationship.

    I went on a date with a man once who claimed to be 41 but REALLY looked like he was 48-49. I did not ask him about it, it was obvious that he was not 41. Again the lie wasn’t the reason why I did not connect with this person. I might have been an added minus, but that was not the reason.

    There is a difference in degrees of lies. The man with the three lies above told me “we are all selling ourselves and looking to reach a wider audience”. I agree with him, as long as the lies are within reason, that’s Ok. My “must haves” are that a person lives in the neighborhood where they said they do and that they are within the age range they mentioned.

    Basically the person has to come across as a normal person who may have fudged this and that, not some fake character. That most people can tell pretty quickly once you meet someone.

    Pictures are deceiving, that is the nature of photos though. As long as it’s the same person you can’t hold it against someone if they look better in photos. We had this discussion on another thread, but the woman who is the “most popular on Ok Cupid definetly has photoshopped photos. She has a noticeable scar on her face which is all but invisible on her photos, but quite visible on a video interview. Flawless photos, great make-up…which makes everyone super attractive, are all photoshopped. It’s like, hello? No one looks like that in real life. Not even supermodels or actresses.

    • Nicole Says:

      Ok, after reading this comment, I have to amend my earlier position that I’d have forgiven someone I really liked for fudging his profile. I never would have cared if a guy changed his age or was heavier than his pics. If I was attracted to him in person, who cares? But if a guy had admitted he lied about his education, I would probably have left in the middle of dinner. For me, that does not fall into the category of “within reason”.

      I think a lot of us (me included, obviously) could basically sum up our position as “it’s fine to lie in your profile, as long as you don’t lie about anything that’s really important to ME”. Problem is, everyone has different must-haves and deal breakers. So you never know if your lie is going to be a problem for a given person.

      • D. Says:

        Which is why I say “Just don’t bother.” Omissions are one thing. Lies are something else. Don’t bother with a lie. The way I see it, it offers almost no upside gain (or if it does, it’s pretty short-lived), and really only down-side risk that the other person will get pissed. I mean, I don’t think that a lot of the things folks lie about are actually a problem, but again, that’s just my own personal opinion.

        In bbdawg’s story, I’d have been pissed about lying about a non-existent master’s degree a lot more than the age thing, I think. Others might not care about that. But, as you point out, the very fact that people can have such differing opinions makes me think it just isn’t worth it. The gain is almost imperceptible and fleeting. Someone may agree to go out with you up front, but might just as quickly decided “You lied about XYZ, so we’re done here.”

        • bbdawg Says:

          In retrospect, I see that the fact that there was a lot of red flags from him (he mentioned his LT gf had just “moved out” the day before the date about 10 minutes in). He was also cheap on dates (drank more than me, I barely drink, and asked me if I was going to “contribute” for the drinks bill) which was the biggest tun-off of all. After the lies came up and I had met him in person I felt like I was “above his league” and therefore expected better, since he was also 13 years older than me. He was charming and good company though, I slept with him despite all of this. Last but not least: he was the small penis guy I mentioned on another thread.

          When he mentioned he didn’t actually have a Master’s I told him I didn’t understand why he would make that up, since that is something that was going to come up and that was no big deal, if a man has an advanced degree or not. He said he worked in finance and “most people were expected to have one”. Not true. I have a master’s degree and do not care at all if a man has one or not.

          I actually dated him casually while going on dates with others, and keep in touch via FB, knowing there was no future/he wasn’t someone to consider for a serious relationship obviously.

  10. Lulu Vuitton Says:

    I just don’t think you should fudge on things that are facts. You should certainly know how tall you are, where you live, how many children you have, what you do for a living and your actual age. Weight? Well, that’s a moving target, and one you control, so don’t share the number if you look smaller than your weight suggests.

    To me, the problem with fudging about facts is that you are considering only YOUR preferences and not the other person. Oh, once she meets me she won’t care that I’m shorter than she is, am morbidly obese, live 100 miles away, am 75 but in shape, or that I am still living with my future ex-wife. Yes I will, yes I will, yes I will.

    • Noquay Says:

      I agree Lulu; as I live in an isolated town where there are no suitable partners for a huge radius, I really can only meet men on line usually 100 miles away. A little lying is the norm for most. Yep, and I am one of those bothersome folk that is 100% accurate with her own stats, photos, etc. One of the reasons I gave up on on line is the expense; multiple 100 mile trips to meet guys who blatantly lied about themselves is an expensive hobby. Blew up the turbo on my car last year in the middle of nowhere coming back from one such adventure (the 40k screwup). Apart from costing me lots, there are other serious issues with big lies: one, the height thing; I love to dance, really miss it, to dance well, a chick needs her lead to be a minimum of 4 in taller unless you enjoy being smacked upside the head during twirls, I am 5’7″, do the math. Weight/fitness; I am a serious runner/hiker/farmer apart from my day job which involves teaching pre med subjects; clear on the ol profile including pics of me competing with a 2014 race number. I don’t specifically state the dude must be fit, which one shouldn’t do, but anyone who reads the profile should understand that a couch potato isn’t going to have much in common and lies about your health are sussed out in 10 seconds. I live at high elevation, clearly stated; how is one’s health issues one is lying about going to be affected? Search and Rescue gets lots of business from unhealthy folk who overexert here. Not being self supporting or being underemployed; again, we are talking a 100 mile drive to our respective homes; I show most interest in self supporting retirees interested in living in the mountains and skip over the minimally employed. If a guy cannot afford to drive the distance, that means all expense of maintaining whatever relationship we have is completely on me. Why lie about your job/income status, it will be sussed out fast. Perhaps major lies about self are more tolerable when one lives in a big city with fewer consequences and more choices. Out here, they cost this chick serious dollars, time, are a form of self sabotage, and could be life threatening.

  11. ThatFatBish Says:

    I’ve been told to do this and I did shave off some years on my age on OKC but then I kept wondering how I would “confess” once I met someone and that seemed awkward so I just went back to my real age. There’s nothing else for me to lie about. I am 5 ft tall. I am divorced. I have no kids. I am gainfully employed. I live in the city. I am not thin (though I have a defined waist and others describe me as curvy/hourglass). I post accurate pics because this is what the fuck I look like and this is who you will meet. Don’t leave the house to meet me hoping I am thinner, taller, younger and so on, because no.

    P.S. I think you look great in your pics Moxie, love that dress in the first one!

    • fuzzilla Says:

      Exactly. I post flattering pics, but they look like me. My profile says “working on Master’s” when it’s actually a graduate certificate. They’re the exact same classes you’d take for a Master’s, though, I’m holding my own next to Ph.D.s and shit, there’s just not as many classes required. I just wanted the shortest distance between me and a new job.

      Does it make me Sweet Polly Purebred that I *don’t* assume everyone lies online? Not that I’m shocked (SHOCKED!) that some people do. I figure it’s free and open to the public and you’ll get all kinds, but I also figure those are the people I hope to weed out before getting to the meeting stage.

      It is true that I met someone who told a big whopper lie and I got past it because I liked him. However, I’m probably extra cautious now because of that.

  12. BostonRobin Says:

    Maybe I just have good cross-examination skills that gets people to spill the beans, but I have never met anyone online who didn’t lie about something. Sometimes it’s major, like being married (I’ve gotten really good at subtly working that into first date conversations). Sometimes it’s a lie of omission, like saying “self-employed” when it’s really more like “self-unemployed.” Everything comes out eventually, sooner or later. I just think if you accept this and go with the flow, you’ll be able to date with much less stress than getting up in arms every time you catch a “lying liar who lies.”

  13. jaclyn Says:

    Moxie, I don’t think your photoshopped pictures look substantially different from the originals. They are slightly enhanced, which will help increase the number of initial emails while still giving potential dates a realistic idea of what you look like.

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