The Real Reason People Lie In Their Dating Profiles


I recently gave my friend an analogy to online dating…buying/selling a used car. Bear with me. No, we’re not objects ‘for sale’. However the process of identifying and selecting a mate is nearly identical to purchasing a used car.

Picture an individual seller, trying to sell his/her car. They post old pictures. Avoid showing dents/rust/scratches. List the mileage from 150K to 120K, and take a 3-4 years off model. The buyer is excited, because the description meets/exceeds their wants.

The seller will get a lot more buyers interested. The savvy buyers will ask a lot of up front questions, and bail if/when the true details come to light. Less experienced buyers will ask fewer questions, come out to see the car, then bail as soon as they realize they aren’t getting what was advertised (“If the seller lied about the objective facts, what else is he/she lying about?”).

HOWEVER (this is most important), the buyers that remain will know they can negotiate down…aggressively. The buyer is in a position of power because both parties now know the car is ‘valued’ less than what was advertised, and the seller will need to make concessions to seal the deal. At that point an opportunistic buyer will exploit that leverage.

Online daters have to think about their ultimate goal. If the goal is to get more matches, lying on a profile will do it, but will also waste a lot of peoples’ time in the process…and lead to more disappointment. If the goal is to find a relationship, daters will be much more successful if they provide a highly accurate, clear, and truthful description…that includes pics. Yes, they’ll get less matches, but those that are interested will be much more likely to work out.

I’ll leave with one final thought. What ever happened to the concept of ‘undersell and over deliver’? Today’s online dating is focuses too much on ‘overselling and under delivering’. That means, in most cases, when the truth is revealed (age, height, weight, etc.), the your match will be disappointed and feel deceived. You have one chance to make a good first impression…why ruin it? – Tiured of Games

These are all valid points, but the reality is that many people lie on their profiles. There’s no getting around that. So you can either cling to the moral high ground or bite the bullet and accept this reality.  It would also behoove people to take a moment and ask themselves why someone might lie about things like their age, height, or weight.

Do you really believe that someone who shaves a decade off their age or adds four inches or posts old photos is being malicious? I don’t. I think a person who does that is just trying to get the interview, so to speak. More than likely, they’ve experienced a tremendous amount of rejection, not because they’re bad people, but because we live in a shallow society. Maybe they’re lonely and just want a chance. Someone intentionally misrepresenting a product in an ad is doing it for one reason only: greed. They just want the money. Sure, some people will lie just to get a free meal or sex, but be honest. Those instances are few and far between.

Willfully lying – either overtly or a lie of omission – when selling a service or product is fraud. It’s a criminal act. Shaving a decade off your age is not on par with being a criminal.  It goes without saying that dating in 2017 has become exponentially harder than it ever was. People are frustrated and hurt and lonely and just wondering when they’re going to get their turn. That’s all they want: an opportunity to shine. That’s it. That’s the main reason why people fudge the details. They just want to find someone.

If you were to ask me my preference, I would say I prefer to date a guy taller than me. But there is a guy at my gym – my cycling buddy – that I think is crazy sexy.  I’ve thought that from the first moment I met him a year ago. He’s maybe five foot seven, and I’m being genrous. If he listed his height on his profile at 5’6″, I’d probably skip right past him. But in person? I get crazy turned on just listening to his labored breaths after our cycling intervals. The most egregious development since the explosion of apps and online dating sites is that we’ve been groomed to determnine someone’s attractiveness or value based on a number or other one-dimensional criteria. Do you have any idea how many people are disqualified because they don’t qualify as conventionally attractive? Lots of people.

So the next time you bemoan the dishonesty involved with online dtaing, look in the mirror. We have created this monster.

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21 Responses to “The Real Reason People Lie In Their Dating Profiles”

  1. Speed Says:

This has long been a heated topic on this blog, but I’ll just restate what I’ve said before: humans lie. Part of being an adult is being able to deal with lies (or exaggerations, omissions, whatever). This means navigating the lies of others (even you detect them, you can’t always “call people out,” realistically), as well as telling your own lies. Most functioning adults can manage this.

    A person who claims they “always tells the truth” or “always expects the truth from others” has to be incredibly immature.

    In dating, people know, if they want to get past the first date:

    –A lie must be plausible (you can’t be +50 pounds overweight and mark yourself as “slim”)

    –That they have to come clean with any “big lies” very early on (if you’re “separated,” and not married, that has to be made clear soon

    –Lies cannot be chronic ( a new, major lie can’t be revealed daily)

    –A discovered lie must have some reasonable justification (ex: to add on an inch in height in the hopes of meeting someone)

    And so on. This navigation tool is the same thing that we deal with among work and, yes, even friends.

    Using a lie on a dating profile is probably not ideal, but on the other hand no profile is entirely free of any kind of lie (omission, exaggeration, etc.). People who are chronic “truth blasters” as a pain, a bore, and show weak social skills.

    Lies are part of the fabric of our world. It’s called life on planet earth, not life in Utopia.

    • Tired of Games Says:

      Let’s accept your premise…humans lie. Since I obviously like analogies, let’s also accept the premise that most people regularly exceed the speed limit. While few people believe driving 60 in a 55 is a big deal, we should all agree that driving 75 in a 55 deserves a speeding ticket. However, the “speeder” who’s ticketed for driving 75 will try to justify their behavior by saying “Didn’t you see all the other people on the road breaking the speed limit too?” While technically correct, most reasonable people understand there’s a big difference.

      Few people (even us truth blasters) will blink if you say you’re 39 when you’re actually 40. Or 6ft when you’re really 5’11”. Or posting last summer’s pictures, after you’ve put on a few winter pounds.

      Unfortunately there are a lot of “speeders” out there that will latch on to the “everyone lies” excuse to justify their bigger lies. That’s how you wind up with so many 32 year-olds that are really 40.

      I’m 6’2″, and say so in my Bumble bio. I showed my profile to a friend for feedback. Her exact words were “You should say you’re 6’4″, because no one will believe you’re actually 6’2″” Ugh, really? So now lying is no longer optional…it’s become mandatory? Oh, what a wonderful world…

      We have different definitions of what’s considered a white lie versus a material lie. I disagree with your list…a material lie is a lie. If you’re separated and say you’re single, you’re lying. If you’re divorced and say you’re single, you’re telling the truth…because you are single. Here’s a good rule of thumb…if you’re apprehensive about revealing the truth, it’s probably material.

      People who believe lying is part of the fabric of society aren’t comfortable with people who value honesty. They find it suspect. Truth is (pun intended), people who value honestly make those who regularly lie feel guilty. So, instead trying to be more honest, the response is to tell honest people they’re abnormal, or wasting their time striving for some utopia.

      For those we respect and trust (police, elected officials, clergy, etc.), we expect, actually demand, truth and honesty. However, some of us are perfectly comfortable lowering that standard for how we conduct ourselves. Isn’t that strange?

      • Speed Says:

        Everyone values honesty, and tries to conform to that whenever possible. But everyone also lies, too. For various reasons, not always nefarious.

        That’s the human paradox. And if you think that the police, military, doctors, politicians etc. are professions full of absolute honest truth-tellers, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

        It doesn’t mean that one has to devolve into cynicism or lie without good cause or lie constantly, but the average human has to lie from time to time. A person who claims they never lie is “suspect” for that reason: They are claiming an almost superhuman level of morality. It’s not credible. It sounds like, interestingly enough, “a lie.” And a ridiculous one at that.

        But if you are truly strolling through life as an honest saint, blasting truth wherever you go, never telling a fib, and holding everyone around you to such exacting standards, then I say more power to you, brother. World certainly needs more saints.

      • Zaire Says:

        “Unfortunately there are a lot of “speeders” out there that will latch on to the “everyone lies” excuse to justify their bigger lies. That’s how you wind up with so many 32 year-olds that are really 40.”

        And guess what? There’s nothing you can do about these people so skip it. Then learn how to deal with this sort when you encounter them. Honestly, it’s easier to deal with the world as it is than to bemoan what’s wrong and why. Especially when it comes to social contracts.

        I know people in the medical profession and you’d be shocked at how underhanded some of these people can be professionally and personally. Not to mention a doctor lying is far and away worse than a person lying on a dating to file. A doctors lie can result in death or serious injury whereas the typical Tinder/Bumble lie at worst is annoying or results in a wasted evening (or a few). Not even close.

        • Parenting Says:

          So we start out with 40 year old women claiming to be 39 and men who are 5’8 claiming to be 5’10. Then these lies become the norm so men know that 39 year old women are actually 40 and men who claim to be 5’10 are actually 5’8 and with this knowledge we have regauged our filters. So now, if you are a 40 year old woman, you’d better claim to be 36 and a 5’8 man needs to claim he is 6 feet tall. Just curious if all women on the internet will eventually claim to be 18 and all men will claim to be 7 feet tall.

          • K Says:

            Yup, sadly until the market corrects and some company/app figures they can cater to ppl who are tired of constantly meeting ppl who are lying about certain common factors such as height/age/old pics. My guess is you’ll have to get those things verified and go take time stamped real pics. Someone is likely already working on this, until humans start cheating again…

      • ATWYSingle Says:

        I’m 6’2″, and say so in my Bumble bio. I showed my profile to a friend for feedback. Her exact words were “You should say you’re 6’4″, because no one will believe you’re actually 6’2″”

        And that’s why people lie in ther dating profiles: because of ridiculous people like your friend.

        If you’re separated and say you’re single, you’re lying.

        That’s your opinion. You don’t leave any room for nuance. If that person is able to date without it being considered cheating, for the purposes dating online they’re single. You don’t get to decide how people identify. How many people call themselves fit who actually have an average body type? These people don’t owe you 100% disclosure.

        People who believe lying is part of the fabric of society aren’t comfortable with people who value honesty.

        Have we met? I’m all about honesty when it truly matters. If I end up on a date with someone who posted an old photo, oh well. Thems the breaks. I don’t take it as some personal affrontage. It’s just a part of the process. People who get so offended at these lies are projecting their own frustration at their lack of success.

        • UWSGal Says:


        • 40something Says:

          Yes, Moxie! It seems thatt there are some who are frustrated by what other people do. I understand it but it doesn’t mean that it will change. So you’re right. The choices are to accept this reality or don’t participate. Peeps will do what they do.

  2. EANx Says:

    “If you were to ask me my preference, I would say I prefer to date a guy taller than me. But there is a guy at my gym – my cycling buddy – that I think is crazy sexy. I’ve thought that from the first moment I met him a year ago. He’s maybe five foot seven, and I’m being genrous. If he listed his height on his profile at 5’6″, I’d probably skip right past him. ”

    How is a female preference for height any different than a male preference for slimness? Yes, I agree you give exceptions for people you have experience with. The people you don’t are my point.

    • mgm531 Says:

      “How is a female preference for height any different than a male preference for slimness?”

      Easy…you can do something to change your body from being overweight to slim, or at least healthy and/or fit. You can’t change your height. It would be more apt to say that a woman’s preference to a man’s height is equvilent to a man’s preference to a woman’s breast size. Just as some women like taller men, some men like women with bigger breasts. And vice versa. What’s puzzling is why is socially acceptable for a woman to discount a potential man because of a height preference but it is socially unacceptable to discount a potential woman due to their breast size. One is seen as being an ‘attraction preference’ while the other is viewed as being sexist body shaming.

    • Nia Says:

      Well, it’s not. The only difference I can see is this:

      For men’s preference of more slim women, women don’t have the same preference in return (ie, “he must outweigh me by a significant amount”)

      I don’t see many female profiles that state “I prefer jacked, built, huge men that outweigh me and make me feel slender and willowy”. Sure, they exist, but it’s not the norm.

      But for height, men and women *both prefer* that a woman be shorter than a man by a significant amount.

      There are outliers, for sure. Many, many shorter men have approached me, full well knowing that I’m almost 6 feet tall in bare feet. (And before this gets ugly, I have dated *plenty of them*) But I’ve also had men bow out after I double check “Hey, I’m 5’11” in bare feet, is that okay with you?”

      This could be explained partly because of the belief on men’s part that women want taller men. But it’s also due in part to the natural selection that men make of more petite women. Have you ever seen a guy who’s like 6’4″ with some chick who’s 5’2″? I see it a lot.

      Why aren’t more couples choosing to date people in their own heigh bracket or very close to it—like shorter men choosing women who are their own height, and taller men choosing taller women? Because men tend to favor petite women *no matter what their own height is*.

      Men *often* say outright in profiles that they want “petite” women. That doesn’t mean someone who is 6 foot and a size 8. (Although that’s very thin). It doesn’t mean “fit”—there are many women at 5’8″ and 9″ who are jacked and fit who would not fit the profile of “petite”.

      That means *short and slender with a small frame*. If I had a nickel for every man who asked for a “petite” body type, I’d be in Florida sipping an umbrella drink right now.

      I also want to add that just based on the comments here and Moxie’s own view, it is not “socially acceptable” to discard or overlook a man *strictly based on height*. Whenever commentors try to defend that, they get blasted big time.

      One of the reasons I could posit for the difference in reaction when men “request” a thin body is that it is (in general) very difficult for a woman past a certain age (like, her early 20’s) to maintain that slender but curvy frame. It’s just harder as women age to keep the slender waistline and overall thin-ness. Some can, for sure. So men are favoring a stat that is far outside the normal bell curve, meaning that many men are all chasing the same small subset of women.

      However, the average height for a man is 6″. So the bell curve favors women, they aren’t asking for something that is hard to find or only found on very young men. So all women are not chasing the same small subset of men. They are actually just rejecting a small subset of men.

      When men reject a majority of women (67% of women in the US are plus sized, meaning a size 16 or above) it’s a cultural thing.

      When women reject a much, much smaller subset of men, it’s not a cultural force.

      However, based on this column and comments…neither “attraction preference” makes one look good in online dating. :)

      • Isaac Says:

        Avg. height of American male = 5′ 9″, according to The Atlantic Magazine:

        • Nia Says:

          Heh, if that’s self-reported data at all, it’s really 5’6″. :P

          Okay, so women are asking for something that is outside the bell curve. And it’s annoying, same as when men ask for a body type that only exists in Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show models—thin limbs and trunk, fleshy curves on booty, hips, and bustline.

          The thing is, I didn’t really have guys that were 5’9″ banging down my door and being baffled when I said “no”–because I wasn’t saying no to that.

          I had guys who were 5’5″, 5’4″ (yes, really!!) or 5’6″ and very small-framed being confused when I was like “um….I just feel like we’ll both be really uncomfortable with this. I’m 5 inches taller than you in my bare feet. And I don’t go on many dates barefoot.” :P

  3. Tired of Games Says:

    “Do you really believe that someone who shaves a decade off their age or adds four inches or posts old photos is being malicious? I don’t.”

    I don’t either. It’s not malicious at all. My point isn’t about calling people devious or malicious. I’m asking a simple question, “Is fudging the truth really improving our chances of finding a relationship?”

    When I meet someone irl for the first time, my primary concern is whether or not our personalities will click, that’s it. Not concerned about anything else…I’m pretty confident that if she was attracted to my pics and bio, she won’t be disappointed when I show up in person. WYSIWYG.

    Had I used “alternative facts” (sorry, had to have some fun there) in my profile, I’d go into that first meeting with much less confidence. “What happens when she realizes I’m 8 years older, or 30lbs heavier, or 4 inches shorter…” Now I have to worry whether (1) she’s disappointed with the real me, (2) she thinks I’m a liar, and (3) our personalities click. See how that backfired…I fudged the truth to improve my chances of getting a match but, in reality, actually lowered my chances of success by giving her even more reasons to reject me.

    I’m not a hard ass, and am 100% empathetic to those struggling with dating…I’m living it. My suggestion (being more honest) may get us fewer first dates, but could ultimately improve our success in finding a genuine match, someone who matched with the real me. Hell, everyone complains how hard dating has become…why are we making it more complicated?

    So, I’m going to have a little more fun. Moxie, I’m calling you out as a closet “truth blaster.” Yup, putting the scarlet “TB” on your dress! I’ve seen your profile. Sure, you fudge your age…but then come clean in your bio. You post clear pics. Accurately describe your personality and likes/dislikes. You present a very clear and honest picture of yourself. Truth Blaster!! Truth Blaster!!

    You’ve disclosed, and are addressing, reasons that could be creating relationship obstacles. Honesty isn’t one of those obstacles…

  4. ATWYSingle Says:

    ““Is fudging the truth really improving our chances of finding a relationship?””

    Yes, because it’s getting people more dates. The date is when attraction is truly solidified. If the rapport you buid with someone offline is strong enough, then a couple of inches or few years or few pounds – within reason, of course – isn’t going to matter. Ten years? Five inches? Fifty pounds? Sure, that is going to complicate things. But a couple years or inches isn’t going to matter if the other person is truly available and open. My opinion is that the people who use such minute “problems” as excuses not to move forward with someone are harboring their own issues that make them difficult to date.

    • 40something Says:

      Yes, and here’s the deal. Sometimes those aren’t the issues. Hell, I had a friend who said he could not move forward with the girl he was dating because she didn’t like to ski. Guess what? He’s married and they don’t go skiing. That wasn’t the issue. People say all kinds of shizzle. They just don’t want to move forward because they are holding out for something they perceive to be better or different . Their choice. And their wait.

      Good luck to everyone!

  5. 40something Says:

    Loved this entry. I subscribe to this theory. Ready? People should discount potential partners/dates for whatever reasons they choose. Don’t like blondes? Don’t date them. Don’t like women about a size 2? Don’t date them. Don’t like men under 6 feet? Don’t date them. Don’t like people who like to eat raspberries? Don’t date them. Don’t like people who don’t make six figures? Don’t date them. Really. It’s a matter of preference and choice. However, the caveat with all of this is that the pool, which is already pretty small at certain points, becomes even smaller. That means that everyone is absolutely entitled to wait for what they want and be prepared to wait until their deathbed and some circumstances. I don’t say that to be morbid or snarky. However, it is become more of the norm and our culture. Is everyone like that? Of course not. But if someone is holding out for a unicorn that is their choice. Everyone has choices. And we all also have an expiration date much to the chagrin of many. And I don’t even mean our market value. I mean in life. People have to decide what’s truly important to them. If they want a partner then they are going to have to compromise. However, they will never be able to change that other person. Not. Happening.

    My ex husband is 6’4. He is a man in demand at 44. My last boyfriend was 5’7. I don’t care how much someone makes, or how tall they are and never have. Me? I’m almost 45. I have been frequently described as conventionally attractive although I’m not sure if that’s true. And I’m divorced with three kids. There are so many people who don’t want to sign up for me and that is their choice. I don’t know much about online dating, although I might start doing it in the next couple of months. I’m fully prepared to keep my expectations low because I meet people in real life that lie about things. And you know what? I’m a big girl and don’t blame them if they don’t want me. Does it suck to be rejected? Phack yaaaasssssss! But no one owes me anything. So the key Is to have faith in your judgment. People will do what they do whether we agree or not.

    • Tired of Games Says:

      Agree 100% with what you’re saying, but that’s not the point of the discussion.

      You have preferences and/or qualifiers for the person you want to date. You set them because you know what you want, regardless of how stringent or lax as they may be. But your potential matches don’t care about your preferences…they want to meet you. So, if being over 6′ is one of your preferences…well, then your potential matches will say they’re over 6’2″ (even though they’re 5’9″). Loving raspberries is another of your preferences…well, I your matches now LOVE raspberries (in reality, they’re allergic). To hell with your preferences. Who cares if they really meet them, they’ll craft their profile so you THINK they do. What the heck, they owe you nothing, right?

      If/when you start online dating, you’ll soon learn that most men who don’t have kids won’t match on a profile that mentions kids. On OK Cupid, there’s a check box that identifies your parenthood status (i.e. ‘No kids’, ‘I have one child’, ‘I have children’, etc.). Is it wrong for you to check ‘No kids’, because it will lead to more matches?

      I say lying about objective facts is counterproductive and wastes everyone’s time. Others say “If it gets you more matches, check ‘No kids’.” What you do will determine which camp you’re in…”truth blasters” or “speeders.”

      • 40something Says:

        Oh I hear you and agree. But I did online for a few weeks (and know l lots of people who online date and have for years) and actually, the people who asked me out had, you got it-0 kids. The only people who actually asked me out. That was who I had to choose from.

        And I agree with you 100% it would great if people were honest. Really. Because it does waste everyone’s time. I watched lots of friends waste time with men who didn’t know if they wanted to have children. Now, I knew that they may or may not want to have children but they were planning on having them with the one and they were dating. But my friends had to find out for themselves. But the fact of the matter is that we all know that people are dishonest to keep their pool open. Just like men who say they would consider having kids in their 40s or 50s when some of them have exactly 0 intentions of having children. (And I don’t blame them. I would not want to start parenting in my late 40s or 50s but that’s my opinion). It would be fantastic if people were honest about what they wanted, but unfortunately that’s probably not always going to happen. Everyone will just have to weed through what the options are and make their own choices.

        And you are right, perhaps I am missing the point of the discussion. When I took away from this is that people wish people were more honest because when they’re not it waste everyone’s time. That was my interpretation but I had outpatient surgery last week so I’m still a little groggy :-). I could totally be wrong in my interpretation. My point is that people do what they do. I can’t change what they want or whether or not they proceed forward with me. Does it suck for the people who are actually looking for someone? Sure. That’s just the risk we all take in pursuit of any relationship.

  6. Todd Says:

    When does glossing over the flaws become glossing over the truth?
    Apparently when the reader says so.

    We have an aversion to accountability in this country, and a culture that permits blatant misstatements: think almost every car commercial..
    Lease this BMW for $399/month …(after $4,200, taxes & fees at closing)

    Same BS… different setting

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