November 11, 2004
Fibber Seeks Same
If there's any truth to the Yiddish proverb "a half truth is a whole lie," then there is a whole lotta lyin' going
on in the Jewish dating scene. It's time to start telling the truth about who's not telling the truth in the world of Internet dating.
Let's look at one site that caters to Jews, which shall remain nameless. With 20 "Body Styles" (Is it just me, or is "Body Style" more akin to a car chassis than a person's physique?) to choose from, how is it that "voluptuous" really means zaftig, "firm and toned" means the person goes to the gym but doesn't necessarily see results and "ripped" just means narcissistic?
A picture is worth a thousand words in the land of half-truths. Ladies, he's wearing that baseball cap to cover up a receding hairline, not express his unshakable love of the Dodgers! Men, she may have only posted photos shot from the waist up so you can't see where all the lokshen kugel went. And, does anyone ever look bad in a professional headshot? Visual half-truths, if you will.
There are gender-specific white lies: Men tend to lie about their height; women tend to lie about their weight -- little, well-intentioned untruths that we hope our future date will overlook once they get to know us.
Some people fib about their profession. One date was a bit vague about his job in the "travel industry." A Google search revealed that he specialized in porn travel. (Porn travel is like going to baseball fantasy camp with porn stars, which gives new meaning to making it to third base.) Who knew that such a travel category existed, let alone that nice Jewish boys participated? My date didn't exactly lie about the porn part; he just forgot to tell me about it.
Don't get me started on the essays. Do men really believe that going for a long walk on the beach is the perfect first date, or are they just telling us what they think we want to hear?
Are you truly funny if the funniest thing you can think of saying in your profile is, "I have a great sense of humor and like going to comedy clubs?"
Although I have no statistics to back this up, lying about one's age is probably the most prevalent untruth among the 35-plus set. Both genders lie, but in my biased opinion, women have greater reason to fib. How can we not, when 30-something men set a "Desired Age Range" capping out at 26, and 40-somethings cut us off at age 35? My informal sampling shows that men who have never been married have a greater propensity to lie about their age. And why shouldn't they when we ask, "What's wrong with him -- 48 and never been married?"
An honorable mention is in order for my last boyfriend, an irresistible yet geographically undesirable, vertically challenged, older lothario sans college degree. He managed to lie about his place of residence, height, age and education, all in the interest of scoring dates with the cream of the crop. Bravo! Would he have shown up on my Internet radar screen had he been truthful? Absolutely not. Was he worth dating and getting to know? Absolutely. He considered his half-truths to be rock-solid marketing techniques. Besides, he outed his white-lying self on our first date.
What if dating Web sites verified all personal information? Wouldn't it be nice to know your date's actual age, height, marital status, education, place of residence and relationship history before meeting? Perhaps the Web could level the playing field by sending someone out to take members' photos, kind of like The Recycler or AutoTrader does with cars? That way you could see if the "body style" was to your liking before taking him or her out for a spin.
On the other hand, learning about what someone chooses to fib about and how a person portrays him or herself in photos and writing can give you insight into that person's personality and insecurities. One of my guy friends thinks it all comes down to self-image -- "This is the me I know I can be, so I want you to see me the way I see myself. My potential."
If you can get beyond it, fibbing can actually pave the way for some truthful interaction.
Be honest, fellow Internet daters -- isn't there something in your profile that could be a slight misrepresentation? So, lighten up and overlook the occasional white lie. Can't we all just get along?
Go ahead and say you live in Los Angeles when you really live in Rancho Cucamonga. It may be the only way to get the babes in Santa Monica to click on your scintillating online profile. But, consider coming clean over the phone before you meet.
I hate to hoist my own petard, but after several years of holding steady at a sub-chronological age, my profile now reflects my actual age. And the whole truth feels better than the half-lies.
Andrea Gappell is a freelance food-stylist and marketing consultant based in Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.