I’ve found unfailingly that when people find out I’ve done a bit of Internet dating, they have things they want explained. Which is fine as long as they understand, as I say in the title, that I am an idiot. The fact that I’ve been on 100 Internet dates doesn’t mean I’m really good at it. If I were, I would’ve been on like 3 dates, met someone awesome, and deleted my charming and alluring dating profile. But that’s not what happened. I’ve been on 100 of these suckers because after each date at least one of us has left saying “well, no way hell I’m going out with that asshole again.” Asking me how to handle a date is kinda like asking a guy in jail how to get away with the perfect crime. If I had any idea, I wouldn’t be in this situation, now would I? But hey, you’ve got questions and I’ve got answers and clearly neither of us has anything better to do, so let’s get to it.
The first thing people always ask, after wondering if I can take my hand off their leg, is “how often do people lie in the world of Internet dating?” The answer: a lot. “BUT,” I then say dramatically, “how often do people lie in the world of traditional dating?” then they nod, getting my point, and being entirely blown away.
Look, people lie on the Internet. I’ve been out with people who lied about their age, appearance, accent, job, sense of humor, political affiliations – really everything imaginable. I even went out with a girl who lied about the level of her religious devotion. Cue story…
Before the date she asked me a lot of questions about Judaism – was I Jewish, did I have a lot of friends who were Jewish, had I ever been to temple, had I seen Yentl etc etc. I told her I happened to grow up with many Jewish friends, and was jealous of any culture that found a reason to eat potato pancakes on a regular basis. However, I said, religion – regardless of the faith – was not a big thing for me, and if it was for her that we may not be a great match. She said “don’t worry about it, I was just wondering.” So we decided to meet.
Now, when someone says “don’t worry about it,” what you should do is worry about it. Worry about it a lot. But, like I said earlier, I’m an idiot. And I’m a motivated shopper. I want to find a great girl, so I’m willing to put up with a little complication. So I didn’t worry, took a chance, bought her a drink, and spent 90 minutes hearing about how hard it is to find a boyfriend when you’re in the process of becoming a female rabbi. Which she knew about firsthand from the time she’d spent trying to become a female rabbi. She then let me pay the bill, told me she could never date someone who wasn’t Jewish, and left in a huff. Why did she lie about not being that into religion? Who knows. Who cares. The point is: they all lie. And if I met her in a bar, she probably would’ve told the exact same lie at first too. Internet really has nothing to do with it. Whether you meet them online or in line at the supermarket, they all lie. Even the rabbis.
So here is my advice on lying: do it. Within reason. Describe you on your best day, or – even better – what would your Mom say about you if she met a friend at the drug store? There’s your dating profile. (Unless your Mom is at the drug store to pick up a prescription for the weird rash you have on growing on your private parts. Then say something else.) Somehow people got the idea that anyone who…tidies up the truth a bit on their dating profile is dirty nasty liar. Horse feathers. The idea here is you’re trying to get dates. This is like a job resume, except instead of employment, you’re trying to get laid – so go ahead and rosy things up. Smoke everyday? Maybe change the description to “socially.” Losing your hair? Pick pictures that minimize it. Insecure about your job? Feel free to brush past that in the employment section of your page. Internet dating is essentially a sales job, and you wouldn’t focus on the bum muffler and shitty transmission if you were trying to sell your car, would you? And yes, shitty transmission is a metaphor for impotence. Well done.
But you can NOT say anything aggressively untrue. Don’t think that I’ve given you carte blanche to put “athletic and toned” down as your body type if you’ve never seen the inside of a gym. That’s not cool. And if that car we mentioned was made in 1981, you can’t say 1987 and hope they don’t notice. That’s bullshit. They always notice. And furthermore, when the buyer shows up and sees that the “car” has bald tires and is roomier in the trunk than they expected, you’ll be crossed off their list entirely. Not because you don’t look how they hoped, but because you were lame enough to lie about it.
In my experience, men lie about their height and women lie about their age, and everyone lies about their weight. So be prepared. If you’re in the danger zone on any of these categories, work on fixing what you can (go on diet, invent time travel) then present the rest as optimistically as possible. But no aggressive untruths, jerky. Also, daters tend to be hesitant about the divorced, smokers, the unemployed, and Republicans. So consider how you might rosy them up while still living generally near the truth. And if you’re a divorced, jobless, nicotine addicted Conservative, lock the doors and turn out the lights. It’s all over for you.
One last thing – always always always post real, up to date pictures. Do that and some soft selling on the words will be forgiven. But when in doubt, just tell the truth. Like David Mamet says, it’s the easiest thing to remember.
Now please, do the exact opposite of everything I said.