Gwendolyn Seidman, writing in Psychology Today, explains it well: “Online daters realize that while, on the one hand, they want to make the best possible impression in their profile, on the other hand, if they do want to pursue an offline relationship, they can’t begin it with outright falsehoods that will quickly be revealed for what they are.” That’s not to say every profile is the gospel truth, of course. Ok Cupid has found, for example, that men and women more or less uniformly add two inches to their height.In any human interaction, there will always be some amount of posturing.People have always sought out casual sex — flings are key plot points in “Pride and Prejudice” (1813) and “The Fires of Autumn” (1942).
Those couples tend to be happier, too, research suggests.
This assumption is so prevalent that MTV has an entire show, “Catfish,” devoted to investigating whether people in online relationships are representing themselves honestly to their partners.
But online dating isn’t especially vulnerable to our collective weakness for self-flattering fibs. In 2010, Boston’s “Craigslist killer” was charged with murdering a woman he had met online (he later committed suicide in jail).
In 2013, Mary Kay Beckman sued for $10 million after a man she met on the site came to her Las Vegas home with a knife and an intent to kill.
Some commentators credit it with helping singles feel more secure and confident, while others blame it for “ruining romance,” “killing commitment” and contributing to the rise of the hook-up culture. While women generally prefer men around their own age, men are most attracted to 20-year-olds, period.
As the head of Ok Cupid, I worked diligently to untangle many of the misconceptions about finding love on the Internet. That’s why the Daily Mail calls straight women over 45 the “plankton generation” — at the bottom of the romantic food chain.
In one extreme example of an online lie, Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o was tricked a few years ago into virtually dating a woman who never existed.
But while it’s tempting to shave off a couple of pounds or add a couple of inches, studies show that online dating profiles are, fundamentally, quite honest.
After all, the best way to beat long odds is to take lots of chances, and even for older users, dating sites provide millions of romantic options.
It’s an all-too-common trope: Online dating has made casual sex easy but relationships hard.
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