In the latest Pew Research Center’s online-dating and relationships poll — the group’s first look at digital dating since its last survey in 2005 — people’s mistrust about their online partners emerged as their biggest concern with computerized matching services.
Now, 38% of singles who are “looking for a partner” use a dating site or app.
(MORE: Online Dating: Women Want Younger Men) And, according to the Pew poll, more daters expect that the people they meet on the site will lie about themselves.
Faking any part of an online-dating profile, however, may be a shortsighted strategy.
Sure, you may get the attention you want initially, but eventually a match is bound to discover your lies.
And even if the lies aren’t immediately discoverable — such as not being truthful about previous marriages or a desire to have children, for example — those types of lies can do long-term damage to a relationship, says clinical psychologist and relationship expert Michelle Golland.
“People think that it’s something they won’t have to worry about, but it is a huge problem that’s harder to overcome later in the relationship,” she says. And more important, if so many online-dating users assume people are garnishing their profiles in some way, why do they continue to look for relationships on these sites?
Golland says it’s easy to understand why people fib online: “Unless you’re a sociopath, it’s generally easier to lie on a profile than it is to lie to someone’s face.” For some, lying may also seem like the only option for finding dates.
“People who lie on their profiles fear that they’re not worthy and may never have a relationship because of their job or how they look,” she says.
That can lead to a desperation with serious consequences; 42% of women who used online dating felt that they were harassed or contacted in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, according to the poll.
Klimentova says her bad date harassed her online for weeks.
(MORE: More Satisfaction, Less Divorce for People Who Meet Spouses Online) Understanding why people still find digital dating appealing, despite its shortcomings, is a little more complicated.