The Internet is no longer a novelty; it’s an integral part of modern life. Over the last 20 years, the majority of people over 40 have become well acquainted with the ins and outs of sharing information on the Web. We all know that you should take just about everything you see online with the proverbial grain of salt – especially in online dating. But, when you’re presenting yourself in that world, it’s to your advantage to be as honest and straightforward as you can possibly be.
I don’t mean that you should spill your guts on your profile or even when you’re on your first date (I’ll post an entry about that later). You simply cannot have an honest relationship without being honest about yourself. And that begins by being honest with yourself.
Yes – we all want to look a little younger, be a little more athletic, or, if you’re married, see what it’s like on the other side of the fence. But, lying about those critical facts is not worth it. You end up in a much worse situation than if you had been honest at the start.
Submitting accurate details – age, marital status, body type, orientation, etc. – is a no brainer, and there is absolutely no excuse to lie about those very basic stats. You might get to a certain point by fibbing, but eventually, being untruthful will result in pain and disappointment for all parties involved.
I won’t turn this into a sermon – the gods know I’ve been a little less than truthful on a number of occasions. But, being on the receiving end of these lies, fibs and half-truths, I can tell you that it it hurts when the lie is discovered.
Even fudging on body type or height can make things really awkward. Nowadays, online dating sites are sensitive enough to not ask for specific numbers, but there is a place for general body type: thin, average, athletic, a little extra, big and tall, BBW, etc. The only site I know of that doesn’t even ask for that information is eHarmony. And I’m not really sure why. So, I put my body type – a little extra – elsewhere in the body of my profile.
BE HONEST. You might be able to fudge a little on weight and height – I don’t know of anyone who brings a measuring tape to a date – but, be as accurate as possible. A first date with a guy who says he’s 5’10” is going to start off badly if you are able look at him eye-to-eye with your 5’6″ self. As far as weight goes, men are just as bad as women when it comes to disclosing one’s body type. I’ve seen a number of profiles of guys who disclose that they are of ‘average’ or even ‘athletic’ body type, but you can tell in the photos (if they’re recent), that ain’t accurate.
Do not fool yourself into thinking that it’s okay to fib, because once he or she gets to know you, they will come to really like you, despite the deception. Au contraire, mon ami! It’s likely that body type isn’t as important to your potential date as you think it is. But being truthful is. I don’t mind a certain amount of extra weight on a guy. But, I do mind if he lies about it.
There are other details you really can’t avoid disclosing without extreme awkwardness. A real-life example is Mark (not his real name). On the profile he seemed like a nice guy. Fairly attractive from what I could tell in the photos, we talked on the phone a few times before deciding to meet. At no time prior to my laying eyes on him, did he mention the small matter of him being an amputee.
I watched as he went from his car to the restaurant door with a walker. It was all I could do to not let the shock show on my face, although I certainly felt the blood drain from it.
FYI: I have gone on dates with guys in wheelchairs. I have no prejudice toward the disabled. But, at this point in my life, I need someone who can keep up with me. But, the fact that he withheld that information guaranteed that there would be no second date.
I didn’t want to make a scene, and a part of me wanted to understand his reasons behind hiding that little fact from me. I wanted to give him a chance to redeem himself. His justification for hiding his disability was simple, but misguided. “I am not my disability,” Mark said. “It is not who I am.”
While that is true in a very broad sense, it is not true in the context of a relationship. A disability is ever-present. It may not be all of who one is, but it is part of who one is.
It’s hard to look at yourself and be brutally honest. Believe me, I know! The common excuse is, “but I’ll never meet anyone if I tell them that I’m (insert unappealing statistic here)!” I’ve had long arguments with myself about that very thing.
But, I’m here to tell you that it’s not true, especially with those who do not have an unreasonable laundry list of desired attributes. We tend to hate that part of ourselves so much, that we start out by lying about ourselves online. But you might find, as I did, that that once you let go of that laundry list, you may become more accepting of yourself.
The benefits of being honest are palpable. You don’t have to keep track of the truth. The smile on the face of your date when you first meet will be genuine, not forced – or worse, absent. You can relax instead of worrying what he or she is thinking now that the deception is over.
Truth, as we all should know, is the foundation of trust. And trust is the foundation of a good relationship.
And that’s why we’re all here, right?