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The Bitter Truth About Online Dating

Jun 3, 2008
In his photo he had a chin.

Okay, so the photograph was snapped from a distance, but looking back she swore she saw a chin. Maybe it wasn't a chiseled George Clooney chin, but there was some kind of separation between the head and neck.

"He seriously didn't have one," says the 30-something woman who stepped up her love-hunt game by joining an online dating site.

"I swore I saw a chin in the photograph," she says.

That's the power of photography.

If taken at the right angle, under flattering lighting, and from a safe distance, a photograph can conceal our more undesirable characteristics.

Then comes real life -- and it's on that first face-to-face date when lying can come back to haunt us.

"In the age of digital photography, there's no reason not to have a great photo," says Kim Hughes, editor-in-chief of the online dating site Lavalife.

"You're not doing yourself any favours by putting up your college photo if you're 40. Avoid the baseball cap and sunglasses. (Online dating is) not intended for people who want to be online indefinitely. Sooner or later you're going to have to meet in person."

Another woman recalls entering a restaurant and walking straight past the "athletic" guy she'd met in cyberspace.

Carefully scanning the crowd, she was beginning to wonder whether she'd been stood up when she heard her name.

There he was. Live and in the flesh.

"And there was a lot flesh," she recalls.

The guy who'd described himself as being in good shape weighed in at about 300 pounds. Talk about stretching the truth.

In another story, a woman said she made a promising connection with a man she had a great deal in common with. Well, except for one thing -- his wife.

Beyond their virtual chats, he proved tricky to pencil in for an in-person face-to-face meeting.

"So I said, 'Why, are you married?'" she inquired half-joking.

"That's when he admitted it. I was like, 'Okay, no thanks.'"

Since then, she has fallen in love with a man she met on Lavalife. The couple recently announced their engagement.

Unless you're looking to become a one-date wonder, lying is bound to backfire. Your date will not only feel deceived, but will question your trustworthiness as a potential partner.

Certainly we all want to put our most polished foot forward in our effort to meet Mr. or Miss Right, but highlighting our great points doesn't mean fudging the truth.

A survey entitled Manners and Behavior released by the website engage found that 30% of men and 19% of women believe telling white lies online is acceptable.

Lying about income levels was most common at 21%, followed by weight at 16% and age at 14%.

Suddenly we go from being 40 pounds overweight to carrying just a few extra pounds; a five-foot-sixer jumps to five-eight, and a 40-year-old makes a snap return to her 30s.

Their are also lies of omission that can occur whether you meet by chance at the deli counter or in cyberspace. For instance, he has children, but fails to mention them; she's taking a small break from work, but really she was fired two years ago, the wedding ring has somehow slipped off the finger, you get the drift.

While fibbing singles may be trying to get an advantage, a Harlequin survey released this year found that more than 41% of men and 51% of women believe honesty is one of the most important qualities in a mate.

Dating site true has taken steps to bust liars by offering background screenings designed to keep felons and married folk from setting up accounts. Meanwhile on the matchmaking site eHarmony, aspiring members can be rejected without explanation after answering hundreds of profile questions.

"(By lying) you could miss out on the person who wants to meet the five-foot-five guy who has a few extra pounds," explains Hughes.

"Sometimes people are a little nervous . . . (but) honesty is the best policy as a general rule."

It's your job to sell yourself, but false advertising won't get you beyond a first date. If you need help highlighting your great points, ask friends and family for input.

Beware the old photograph. Most digital cameras offer date-stamped images and it's a wise feature to use -- and look for -- when searching for love online.

When chatting in cyberspace, ask direct questions such as: What do you do to keep in shape? How do you spend your spare time? What does your typical work day look like?

If you've been duped, keep your manners in check. At the end of your date, simply wish them luck finding what they're looking for.

Love relationships can be challenging, confusing, and exciting. It's important to remember that communication, trust, and respect are the most important parts of a healthy relationship.

Most people begin dating when they are in their teens. These relationships can be fun, exciting and a great way to learn more about yourself and your values. But dating can also be a source of worry and confusion.

Dating and sex can be fun and exciting, but they can also be confusing. Whether youre just starting to think about relationships or youve been dating someone for a while, you probably have lots of questions about things like how to show youre interested in someone, dating, intimacy and sex.

When you think about falling in love you may think of the sweaty palms, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, and giddiness that many people experience when they are first attracted to someone. You may also think of the intense physical attraction that you can feel for someone you want to be with. These feelings can be part of falling in love, but love, if given the chance, develops beyond infatuation.
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