Why People Lie In Their Online Dating Profiles

Anyone who’s been on a few dates from either a dating website or a dating app knows that while some people resemble their profile, others erm… don’t. Whether it’s knocking years off their age, adding inches to their height, or selecting their aspirational body type rather than their actual body type, a lot of daters are, how shall I put this? Economical with the truth.

why people lie in their online dating profiles

I recently went on a date where the guy in question lied about his age and got caught out via the bar’s ID machine. When I blogged about this experience, a commenter responded with the following:

At the same time, though, I can understand why people lie about such things. Not to excuse them, of course. But while some may do so for malicious reasons, I think for most people it’s born out of frustration. Frustation that they can’t get in the door, can’t even get an interview because of what they perceive as other people’s unfair criteria. It’s why men fudge their age or height or income, it’s why girls take photos from the neck/shoulders/cleavage up, it’s why single mothers keep mum about having kids until the third date, it’s why older women shave years off their age – they all think that if the other person actually gets to know them first, then it won’t matter that he’s two inches shorter than the cutoff, that she’s 25 pounds overweight, that he’s five years over the threshold, that she has a three-year old at home, etc. Of course, this strategy almost always falls apart once there’s a real-life meeting. But I suspect that the advent of online dating has exacerbated this problem because it partially reduces finding a partner to checking boxes and entering data.

And it got me thinking. Does reducing potential partners down to a picture, short bio, and list of attributes and combining that with the sheer number of options at our fingertips mean that people’s expectations are becoming unrealistic? And is that why people then feel the need to bend the truth?

I’d class myself as what you’d call “averagely attractive”. I can dress up and turn a few heads, but I couldn’t earn a living from my appearance. This is me here, if you’re interested:

online dating unrealistic expectations

I hear people claim that women get hundreds of messages when online dating. I find I get some, but I’m definitely not inundated. I match most times on Tinder, but again, I receive some messages but not a huge amount. And most people I get talking too fizzle off. In the real world, my looks have never been a barrier, but online I feel like with all the choice out there men are looking for a supermodel, and I need to up my game.

In real life, all kinds of people find love. Yeah it helps if you’re hot, but often even the people who are sought after aren’t especially beautiful. More often than not, they’re reasonably good looking with an outgoing, sociable personality. And even ugly, less outgoing people manage to find relationships. You some degree of physical attraction, but after that it’s about personalities clicking. Online however, you don’t really get the chance to get to know someone and click, so people judge and filter by a list of criteria. Must be X height. Must earn X much money. He’s not fit enough. She’s not fit enough. And so on.

Take height. General rule of thumb is, the man has to be taller than the woman. I’m a tall girl, so height is a bit of a thing for me. But the average woman is 5’4″, so overall, height helps but it isn’t a massive issue. I know guys on the shorter side who are renowned for their success with the opposite sex. I know tall guys who live in the friendzone. But online, suddenly, EVERYONE cares about height. If a man includes the fact he’s 6’3″ in his Tinder bio, suddenly he’s swarming in matches. Put that you’re 5’7″ on the other hand, and tumbleweed. Behind a computer screen, everyone can specify their ideal partner, and you get women who are 5’3″ who decide that they now “don’t date anyone under 6’0″”. So inevitably men get frustrated, and think, why not stick a few inches on to get a foot in the door? Then they come across someone like me, and end up looking stupid.

Age is another biggie. Yes there are some people who will lie about their age in order to gain access to younger men or women. Some of these lies are more plausible than others; while some knock a few years off to fit under an age filter, many people have a story of meeting someone who’s 10< years older than they said they were. However, for others it’s also down to frustration. With so many older men aiming to date women at least a decade younger than them, some older women take to lying about their age just to get a shot with men in their own age bracket. My flatmate is 43, and he met a woman online who claimed to be 40, but in person she admitted that she was 50, but had to lie just to get responses to messages from men her own age.

And yes, some women use face shots while listing their body type as “average”, or use photos from many years ago, and turn out to be… more than average. Which is a pretty stupid idea, as of course people are going to notice. But you get the girls who just use… a helping hand. A bit of photoshop here and there. A good angle. A nice Instagram filter. And then men make complains like “She was 1.5 points lower on the scale than her pictures!”. But to be honest, this is also down to frustration. With men shunning normal-looking women and pining over Instagram models, or holding out for the next Gigi Hadid, who can blame women for upping their odds a bit?

My opinion: there’s no point in lying. They will know as soon as you meet up, and the last thing you want to do is start the date with a disappointment. I personally find that if a guy said he was 6’1″ and turns out to be 5’10”, fine, he’s still taller than me, but I start the date with a feeling of disappointment as I was expecting him to be 6’1″. Even with something like age where it’s not immediately obvious, if you plan on sticking around they’ll find out eventually (or you may just get caught out by the ID machine). And dishonestly is also a huge turn-off. I once considered taking my height off my Tinder bio or changing it to 5’3″ to get more messages, but I realised as soon as they saw me they’d be like “holy shit!”, so I continued to target the niche of guys who prefer tall girls. Ultimately if someone’s got a set ideal in their mind, you’re not going to change their mind in the space of a 2-hour date, so it’s better to be upfront. The quantity of your dates may decline, but the quality will increase and you’ll probably get more second dates.

And when it comes to online dating, be open minded. Think back to the people IRL that you really liked. Were all of them supermodels? No, so give people a chance. I mean, be a little picky, otherwise you end up on too many bad dates. But does it really matter if they don’t look like a model and earn X much money per year? Be open, and see where the chemistry takes you.


6 thoughts on “Why People Lie In Their Online Dating Profiles

  1. You’re right. There is no point in lying in the long run. People aren’t dumb and will find out. This tendency to lie is precisely why I stayed clear of online dating. I’m honest to a fault, and would not be able to tolerate the white lies that are excused to “get one’s foot in the door.”


  2. Thanks for seeing both sides of this. That’s rare in online dating. It seems many people (men and women) seem to want to be able to lie while chastising that in others.

    I think the availability of a large number of singles at once has made some people lose sight of what is important and so they become picky. They always think they can go one better simply because of the range of choice – with little regard for whether (or how many) of their dating pool will actually want to date them. One woman even told me I was “one inch too short” (her exact words). I’m 5’9″, not a giant but certainly not a midget either.

    I was honest about everything in my profile, including the time I was separated. I didn’t want to claim I was divorced when I was not, or to lie about having been married. Although a couple of women I contacted were not comfortable with dating a married (albeit separated) man, I get the feeling that those I did go on dates with appreciated the honesty.


    1. I’m always honest in my profiles even when I know I could probably get more messages if I lied a bit!

      Yeah I find that with online dating, a lot of people seem to have “lists”, when IRL it probably wouldn’t matter if you were a few years older or an inch shorter than the “cut-off point”.

      Yeah honesty is always a better idea. Would have been much worse if you said you were divorced then they later found out you were separated…


  3. I like to be honest except I do not like to post my age. IRL most men do not ask me my age. Really – they just don’t and never have. They either find me interesting and attractive or not. I lie about my age because I would rather say “age withheld”, but that is not an option on most sites!
    Most guys I meet, I can tell if they are too old or too young for me. And when I meet them they can see if I am too old for them – or if I am young enough – even though I am older than what I posted on line.
    Honestly, most people have no idea how old I am. I don’t really care, except that at my age (59) most of the men who reply are over 70. That’s okay, except that most of them are in terrrible physical condition. I’d like to meet a man say 36-65 who is at least reasonably fit. I am in pretty good physical condition.
    Is it stupid for me to shave a few years off? It is not as if I am representing myself to be of child bearing age, which seems to be most significant if the man is looking for a woman to have a child with.
    Am I totally wrong on this?
    What do you think?


    1. You’ve made a good point- a lot of people will put an age restriction on their profile whereas IRL if you find someone attractive, you find them attractive. I’d say honesty is the best policy, but sometimes men online have unrealistic expectations with their age range so I’d completely understand if a woman knocked a few years off.


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