Should She Lie To Get Dates?


Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Middle Of Nowhere
Comment: Hey Moxie,
I am a 29 y/o single straight woman living in the suburbs working on my medical doctorate. I used to live in a larger city where I had a lot more luck finding men, but since I have moved into a program with mostly women and to a land filled with married men or men that just don’t interest me the dating life has slowed. It also doesn’t help that my school life keeps me very busy.
Anyway, I live about 45 minutes away from a city. Originally I had my real location in my OKCupid profile, and I found that while I mutually matched with quite a few men in that urban area, almost nobody followed up with a message or even responded to my messages. Then I tried the experiment of changing my location to being in the city and everything changed–every time I matched with someone, that generally was followed up with a message from them.
I totally get it. When I lived in a larger city, I would have never gone on a date with someone who lived in a borough that I didn’t have an interest in visiting. There were too many options that were more convenient. However, I can’t start dating someone with a lie of where I actually live, because once I tell them the truth I worry I am going to look shady or dishonest or something. How do I get over this and get men to give me a chance despite my slight geographic inconvenience?
Age: 29
City: Westborough
State: MA


Before we get into the various work arounds for your situation, I have to ask one thing.

Why, if you are in the midst of a time consuming doctorate program, are you trying to make your schedule more complicated by trying to date men who live an hour away? Why wouldn’t you want to simplify your life by dating someone local or – wait for it – not date at all until you finish the program? I’m not sure what your doctorate program involves, but I assume that your move to this isolated island with no menz is temporary, yes? Then why not just focus on school for the time being?

That’s somewhat of a rhetorical question, of course. I know why you’re trying to multi-task. Or I have an idea why, at least. You don’t want to waste your “good” years at school when you could be out there finding a guy. Only…you’re not wasting them. You’re furthering your education and making yourself more employable. The man you find on Tinder or OkCupid isn’t going to be something you can use to negotiate a higher salary. Your education is. It doesn’t matter if you’re 29 or 49 – this sort of self-improvement has a very long shelf-life, longer than most relationships. I assume that you have no plans of completing this program, working for a few years, and then quitting when you have children, yes?  You still have a good 8-10 (to possibly 12) years to get pregnant. What’s the rush?

Just some food for thought.

Now, as for your profile…

If you do decide you wish to juggle dating and your doctorate and you prefer to date them city folk, then you’re smart to change the zip code on your profile so that you appear to live in a more populated/urban area. The goal is to get your profile seen, and if changing your zip code accomplishes that, then by all means do it. To avoid looking sketchy, just state somewhere in your profile (preferably closer to the top) that you are currently pursuing your doctorate in East Bumfuck but you spend many of your weekends in Dazzle City.  If you have a car, make sure to mention that, too. You need to demonstrate to potential matches that you are not adverse to driving or traveling to them. You also need to accept upfront that you will probably be doing the majority of the traveling.

You’re right when you assert that most people who live in a city or urban area have no desire to date someone from a suburb. A huge component of compatibility is lifestyle choice, and the decision to live in a city versus a suburb is most definitely  a life style choice. City versus suburb mentalities are two totally different mindsets.  The former is more savvy, the latter more simple.  Sorry to offend, but it’s the truth.

I will never understand why people who live in suburbs 30-40 minutes away by car attend speeddating or singles events in the city. Spoiler alert: nobody wants to schlep on a train or sit in traffic when they could hop on the 6 or take the T or mass transit and be where you are in 20 minutes. If you really want to date someone who lives in a metropolitan area, then move there. Period. Common sense, folks: if a person is surrounded by viable options within a 5- 10 mile radius then it’s highly unlikely they will choose to commute twice that distance for love. Why? They don’t have to.

As I have said time and again, “shady” is no longer really a thing when it comes to shaving a few years off your age or fibbing about your geographic location. This is part and parcel of online dating. Exaggerating the truth slightly or leaving certain unsavory bits out of your profile is almost required at this point if anybody hopes to get dates online. Now, does that mean you should say you’re single when you’re married? Of course not. That’s sketchy. But adding an inch or two to your height or leaving out that you’re currently unemployed does not equate to being a sociopath, regardless of what all the lady blogs say. That’s why the onus is now on both parties to ask the right questions. Do you have kids? Are you married? Do you live in the city? Are you a knife wielding psychopath with priors?

If you’re a pearl clutcher offended at the thought that someone might not offer total and 100% disclosure all the time, then do everybody a favor and pack it in now.

Let the flame throwing commentary commence.


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24 Responses to “Should She Lie To Get Dates?”

  1. D. Says:

    I got nothin’, other than that I appreciated the GIFs/location synergy.

  2. Noquay Says:

    I feel for the OP in that yep, some places are totally lacking in suitable, healthy men. In my mountain town, most of us educated women date “outside” and/or limit ourselves to folk coming up here to recreate or retire. Yep, fewer pitential dates but men a lot more compatible. They know what theyre getting into and are here by choice. Too bad you’re in a suburb, which, no offense, tend to be very sterile, aesthetically unappealing places. No real places to even go on dates.
    On the other hand, education is the one thing no one can ever take from you. Men may stay, men may bail, but your doctorate will be there along with the increased earning power and status it represents. The degree will give you access to higher quality, compatible, men in the future. There are some points in adult life where not dating is wise and this is one of them. However, if you choose to date, I think it is best to be up front about where you live and why. Add to this an extremely well written profile, great pics and those men who think you’re worth it will come. If you are at heart a city person and intend to go back there, say so in your profile. I dont think it is OK to lie in a profile though, yep, it happens all the time. Yep, doing so may get you more first dates, but folk do not like to be decieved and will dump you on short order. Just dumped a guy that totally lied about his fitness level though I made it clear that coming to altitude can have very serious consequences for the unhealthy. It did and wasted a good deal of my time besides. The point of on line dating is to get that second, third date and onward.

  3. Jeff Smith Says:

    The long distance dating never worked out for me.
    But then, I would not consider a 45 minute drive too long (if it really is that with traffic – google can help determine the true time if you map it at the time of day you would be driving it).
    If you can meet halfway at first, it might be fine. If you can get to the stage where an overnight would work, then it will not be a problem. It’s that in between period that is the problem.

    I don’t think it is unethical to lie, er mislead, but it could be a time waster if there really is strong resistance.

    • Bill Says:

      Jeff, I’m going to disagree with your advice. I live 5-10 minutes beyond the outskirts of a small/medium sized city (~200,000) and quickly learned that I was wasting my time driving 45 minutes or an hour out into the hinterlands. No need to since there were hundreds or thousands of appropriate aged women within 20 minutes of me.

      LW is trying to attract men from Boston and it just isn’t going to work. The meeting half way is implied when she states her real zipcode, and nobody is even corresponding, because they have thousands of “options” twice as close, even if they did meet halfway, which would, by Boston standards, still put them in the middle of nowhere.

      Moxie, when I read the title, I was ready to blast away… but, I gotta admit, you’ve given the OP a really good option. And, IMO isn’t lying at all if she puts her true location in the profile text. If she is willing to do the majority of the travelling initially, to meet in Boston, I think that she will find many guys quite willing to give it a chance.

  4. E-B Says:

    The goal of online dating is to show up on searches, and everything else will take care of itself once people talk or meet in person. It’s fine if the OP lists one zip code, and then states her actual location in her profile. If someone says that is being “deceitful,” they are aren’t worth it, anyway.
    That been said, the OP isn’t going to have much time for real dating, anyway. It sucks being a bit older and working hard in school, but it is worth it in the end.

  5. Alan Says:

    What does OP want from a dating life? Cause as I recall and discuss below working on a dissertation in Westborough and mixing with “outsiders” in the city is difficult unless your objectives are very limited.

    I am not exactly sure what a medical doctorate is but I do remember working on my qualifying exams, orals and a phd dissertation 35 years ago. I know finishing one can take way more than a few years. I remember it as a lonely, miserable period in my life and of course i know how important it might be for you in whatever spare time you can find to have some fun with someone compatible. As I recall it was very hard not to be thinking about the doctorate even in my spare time. If you haven’t experienced such a lonely extended period, you might counsel someone to wait but honestly I wouldn’t be able to do that.

    A few decades later from my personal experience as a doctoral candidate and living in NYC away from my university life, I dated someone significantly older than OP working on her doctorate and being too distracted to date someone who wasn’t immersed in her world. Very understandable and I broke it off and it was quite mutual. So i have seen the situation from both sides.

    OP is pretty young for a doctoral candidate and I assume to get a medical doctorate one also needs a medical degree which she may already have and also says she has already invested quite a bit in her human capital. So she needs some distraction in addition to her work and the gym.

    I think it would be very unusual for you to develop a solid relationship during your doctoral period with someone an hour away. It could develop into a great couple times a month fwb situation but if he wants more you can’t really give him much right now.

    When I was a graduate student I dated other graduate students mostly from different fields and no student I was teaching but I also wasn’t too concerned about dating from my own fellow classmate pool. I didn’t do this but there is no reason not to date post-doctoral research people and even assistant profs (thought probably not from your department).

    I can’t give advice as to how to game the on line dating sites like Moxie can, and it is a long time since I’ve been in a university environment but I remember the universities always have places for students (even grad students) to interact and events where you can meet someone. Maybe even university specific dating sites on line.

    I’d try to stay local even if it means limiting your pool. Since so many first and second dates don’t work out make it easy on yourself. Why schlep? Two graduate students dating rarely result in something long term after you get out at separate times and doctoral grad students are notoriously self-focused and unable to really have a committed relationship.

    But they can have fun and give each other an important distraction during a lonely time. Rather than focusing on the City, it’s easier to be more open to dating out of your normal specs, find something that you like and enjoy it for what it is.

  6. bbdawg Says:

    Moxie is 100% right. If the OP wants “regular” dating with more options while she is getting her MD in the middle of nowhere then she should move to the area where she can find more single men. It’s either commute and date more, or stay where she and accept her situation.

  7. mxf Says:

    I totally assume that people fudge a bit of info here and there in their profiles, but for some reason I’ve never been able to shave a couple of years off my age. Maybe it’s the window I started online dating in, but I feel like listing any age under 35 (I just turned 37) is a pretty big deception. If I were under 30 or over 40 I probably wouldn’t feel that way, though.

    For the suburbs question, I think Moxie’s advice is great. I’ve been out with a couple of people who didn’t disclose that they don’t live near the city centre until we were on our date, and it always disappointed me. On the one hand, it’s good to be more open-minded if you want to click with more people, but it adds another level of energy to dating that can sometimes tip the balance into ‘too much work’ for a connection to get off the ground.

  8. uesider Says:

    That’s fine to want to date men in Boston because the locals aren’t interesting to you, but a man with options isn’t going to pick someone on the 495 corridor when he can pick someone in Boston or Cambridge. You’re going to get responses from men who can’t get a date in Boston or Cambridge. Somehow I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for.

  9. Mandy Says:

    I got my PhD in a science/medical field (but not an MD) while working full-time (albeit with a very understanding boss and a flexible schedule) in my mid-late 20’s. I actually started dating my now-husband during that same time. We worked together, and lived about 4 miles apart. It was still tough to find any time to get together, and we had known each other about a year before we started dating, and before I was in school! Our relationship moved VERY slowly for a while, and was likely only kept alive by the fact that we say each other regularly at work, at some friends in common, and lived so close. I can’t imagine trying to meet someone completely outside of your circle, at least 45 minutes away from where you live, and get to know them in the midst of a PhD program.

    While your specific program may be all female (mine was as well), why not try to expand in your graduate school a bit. Not all PhD programs are all female! I would suggest attending volunteer opportunities and social events that are organized by your school and involve more than your specific program. If there aren’t lots of things already available, why not set some things up? And how about any friends of your fellow students? Make friends with girls, and maybe you’ll meet single men through them.

    With a schedule as busy as yours, and the location issue, I just don’t see online dating panning out for you.

  10. fuzzilla Says:

    My current BF and I were an hour apart when we met. It’s also true that we both lived in small towns without much going on for folks our age. People in that position just accept that driving to anything fun is a way of life. I never even considered approaching anyone in “Dazzle City,” as I knew they’d have tons of choices and didn’t have exhausting commutes for fun and companionship like I did.

    So, maybe she should be a bit more open-minded about folks who are local. I don’t think it’s “shady” to fudge details and target the city folk, but she’ll run into a lot of frustration when people are like, “You live WHERE? I’ve never even heard of that” and she doesn’t get a second or even first date because of it.

    A Ph.D. is certainly more important than a boring OKCupid date with someone you could care less about…but I hear some programs take up to 10 years. That’s an awfully long time to just put your desire for sex and/or companionship on the shelf. She’d have to be a nun to not at least want an FWB or two to scratch the itch.

  11. Nia Says:

    I think it depends on if the LW is going to *stay* in the suburbs, or if in 5-7 years (or whatever) she will go back to “Dazzle City”. If she plans on staying for a long time, I think it’s okay to put the city as your zip code, under the “major city near you so people know where you’re from” idea and then as early as possible explain “I’m in school in BlahTown, but since I have wheels I’m pretty mobile and I can be in Dazzle City in under an hour.–and I don’t mind driving to meet you :)

    Some people won’t even do a crosstown commute (those people are probably not the one for you anyway) as I discovered when I was doing online dating. I set my filter to 5 miles so that I wouldn’t get all into someone only to find they were three hours away (a serious issue with all the small mountain towns in CO) and were none too thrilled to commute.

  12. KK Says:

    I think the issue with this case is how long your program is, how much longer it will take before you finish. If it’s gonna take 5 years to finish, which it totally might, then date now. It takes time to find the right person. If it’s only a few years, then just wait.

    I am not sure that lying on your profle is that big a deal when the vast majority of dates are one-time only. Finding a mutual connection is so, so rare. If that happens, then just spend more time commuting to him. It will suck for you, but the sacrifice might be worth it.

    • bbdawg Says:

      Logistics are a big deal for most people. I had a logistic issue on my profile (no one farther out than a 30 min commute) but I met someone who lived further than 30 mins out and we had a connection so I let that go.

      I guess the OP would have to maybe filter out people a bit better before she meets them since it can get a bit tiring to drive about 2 hours round trip just for a date, without knowing if anything is going to come out of it. Maybe she should *just do it* and see where it goes and only then consider moving.

  13. brahman Says:

    I wouldn’t bother dating anyone from the city until you finish and move, any guy from the city willing to commute out to the suburbs is probably someone you wouldn’t want to date, I mean, why would they if they were a catch and lived in a city, right…unless they’re planning on moving out there, it sniffs of desperation on their part if they can’t find someone to date in their own city.

    • BTownGirl Says:

      You do realize that a woman who’s under 30 and already doing her doctorate is herself a massive catch, right? One of my friends is a doctor and she met her husband online. She was in Cambridge, MA and he was in Providence, RI and dude’s a good-looking surgeon, aka not a desperate loser.

  14. Kim Says:

    Moxie was spot-on when she wrote that there is nothing wrong with changing your zip code so that you come up in searches and explaining your situation near the top of your profile. Look, I get the fact that some people want convenience and there are plenty of eligible women for these men to date in Boston, but you never know who will be intrigued enough by your profile to be interested in meeting.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with dating while pursuing graduate education. I met my husband when I was a 36 year-old doctoral student. He was living in a different city. We fell in love and saw each other when we could. Not optimal, but the other (more-convenient) options just don’t matter if the person you want to be with happens to be in an inconvenient location or temporary school/work circumstance.

  15. Cooldude Says:

    Only thing I’ll throw in that is if this was the reverse scenario (man who claims to live in a city but actually in the suburbs), I can already hear the woman complaining to her friends “Can you BELIEVE it? His profile stated he lives in Manhattan but he ACTUALLY lives on Long Island. The nerve!”

  16. Katie Says:

    I can understand what the OP is discussing; I got my MD degree and pretty much did zero dating during my time (my choice though). One of the reasons? When it came to my residency options, I didn’t want anyone dictating where I would live or move. Maybe that was selfish of me, but I’m now doing residency in a big city at my first choice program that I love doing work in a field that I love. I work with lots of formerly single female residents who have all been able to find someone despite working 80 hours a week……although all of these guys are local (because in the small amount of free time we have, you want someone who lives nearby, and it’s easy to find in a big city).

    Moral of the story? You have time. Get your MD degree and move somewhere big to do your residency. You’ll be able to meet someone, or have better chance of meeting someone. I’m always going to have my residency training from a great program to help me in life, wherever I go. The guys I could have dated in medical school will never be worth that.

  17. Dori Says:

    How about a compromise? List your work zip code (I presume Worcester) instead of home (Westborough). Explain it in the text of your profile. Or fib a little and put Framingham (unlike Westborough people actually know where it is located). And most importantly instead of dating in Boston date in Metrowest. Plenty of single men either work or live there.

    And join Match. It worked much better for me than OKCupid.

  18. Kyra Says:

    If there are disclaimers in the profile and someone is just trying to get a chance, then I
    Say go for it.

    But if your profile says you’re 6 foot, athletic and you have nice looking/recent photos, then I expect that guy to show up to the date. If you show up 50 lbs overweight and come up to my shoulder (true example!) then I’m going to feel mislead, and disappointed and not really want to give you a chance – no matter how awesome you are because you misrepresented yourself.

    Small fibs I can overlook, big fibs will make me wary of you.

  19. BTownGirl Says:

    Bless our little Massachusetts hearts, we can be a little dramatic-al about driving distances! I live in a small coastal town that’s about 15 miles from my neighborhood to the heart of downtown Boston and people have said to me, “OHMYGOD, it must take your HOURS to get into the city!” Cracks me up every time and, if I was doing online dating, I’d seriously consider taking Moxie’s advice on this one. Bottom line, it sounds like you have A LOT going for you and, while guys in the city may have more options, you may be the more quality option, ya know? Good luck! :)

  20. John Says:

    Moxie says:
    “City versus suburb mentalities are two totally different mindsets. The former is more savvy, the latter more simple. Sorry to offend, but it’s the truth.”

    Gotta love how Moxie lives in a NYC rent controlled apartment but forgets to mention that. Must be nice to pay less than market value for your residence due to government subsidization. Pretty savvy.

  21. Maria Says:

    I tend to agree with all of this especially about location. I used to live in the upper east side and did go on dates wth guys who lived in the same area but, nothing stuck. I decided that maybe my age was holding me back (34 at the time) and decided to check out messages of guys who lived in outer boroughs or Long Island but I made it crystal clear from the very first message that I live in the city and do not drive or have a car. I also asked them if they come to the city often for work or anything else. When a guy would say he did not come to the city ever I usuallh did not follow up. Then I met somebody who lives on Long Island who also doesn’t come to the city every day, but I enjoyed our conversation so much and he knew about my car and driving limitations and was still more than willing to come to the city for our first date I just couldn’t say no. He’d come to the city for every one of our dates even though I did offer to come to meet him on his town. We slowly started to get more serious and stared sharing the commute a bit and I eventially moved from my overpriced mouse infested shoe box on the ues to a nice big place In queens.
    Location is temporary and like moxie said you probably won’t live in your town forever. I think changing ykur location and adding a blurb about school is your best bet. You’re not deceiving anyone. And anybody who eould hold it against you is probably best avoided.

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