Social Question

Unbroken's avatar

Online Dating: Are people often dissimilar to the way they portray themselves online in your experience?

Asked by Unbroken (9447 points ) November 12th, 2012

Offshoot of @janbb’s question.

I have tried online dating a few times. There seems to be a disparity between peoplems portrayal of themselves and how they are irl.

Is this a conclusion you agree with? A way to circumvent it?
Please feel free to share a funny experience you have had no choice but to laugh at via on line dating.

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9 Answers

marinelife's avatar

It depends on the person. I have met several people from Fluther who are exactly as they portray themselves online.

I also know of people who have completely fabricated their online personas.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I learned a long time ago to play it straight. I’ve never tried online dating. I can imagine the freak show it can be.

livelaughlove21's avatar

People are dishonest in how they portray themselves OFFline. Lying is a human condition. People focus on their perceived attributes and neglect to mention their flaws. And in online dating, the people they meet are left to discover those things on their own, just like everyone else. The difference, in my opinion, is that meeting people online is riskier and you never really know who’s on the other side of that computer screen.

I met my husband online, but not on a dating website. We started a friendship, met, and eventually began dating. I think dating sites make people disillusioned regarding what they’ll find. Unrealistic expectations are a bitch.

wundayatta's avatar

I think I’d be very unhappy at an online dating site. A friend of ours is a recent widow who has been dipping into the online dating world lately. She’s 60, and I don’t know who she is dating, but it sounds like there are all these even older men who are dying their hair and claiming to be a decade younger and a good deal richer than they actually are.

I think, as a general rule, that it is better to meet people doing something other than meeting people. Like at work, or at play, except not at a bar. In that way, you get to know something about them by observing them behaving in a real way, rather than having to take their word for who they are, and then trying to figure it out by interviewing them on a date.

Interviews are all about lying, even if you tell the entire truth, as you believe it to be. This is because we don’t actually know ourselves very well. We cannot see ourselves from the outside. We can only see ourselves as we mean to be. We are not as we mean to be, so any story we tell will be a lie.

The only way around this is to not tell stories about yourself. Let people see how you behave in real world situations. In this way, they can see more about you, instead of hearing you tell lies about yourself.

zenvelo's avatar

My experience has been that some women are a bit older and a bit heavier and a lot less active than they seem in their profiles.

But I also think part of it is that many people are so hopeful while reading profiles that they become blind to the humanity of the other person and are thus disappointed when they meet in person.

Jack79's avatar

I think people portray themselves in two ways:
1) the way they honestly see themselves
2) the way they want others to see them

Often it’s a combination of the two. Apart from extreme cases where some middle-aged man will go on a chat channel pretending to be a teenage girl, most people will just put their most flattering picture or not go into details about their disadvantages. My own picture for example is real, but old, and if you see me walking down the street the first thing you’ll notice is probably not a guitar in my hands.

My overall experience (having met a lot of online friends in RL later) is that you’ll never meet the person you imagined, even if in some cases the real person is just as good or even better. The ratio for me was something like 9/10 people were wonderful, even though nothing like I imagined, and 1/10 terrible (not necessarily lying on purpose, but unexpectedly different for the worse).

One particular girl for example said weird things in casual conversations. You never knew if she was being sarcastic or joking. Aparently she wasn’t. Talking to her was a very awkward experience. The same things online sounded fine (in typing) and her pictures were very nice (she was a very fat girl with a very sweet face). It wasn’t as if she was lying, and why would she put a full-body picture on an internet profile? But looking at her face only was misleading.

EDIT: my whole text above refers to the overall experience of meeting people online, not only for dating. I realised later the question was particularly focused on dating. My answer would be the same though. I have dated girls I met online, and can say they were probably better than the ones I’ve met offline. Come to think of it, the internet is a far better place to meet girls than any bar, stripjoint or football stadium, right? Though if I were a girl, I’d hang out at sports events more often ;)

Shippy's avatar

I think it also depends on the portal they are on. I somehow for example don’t think people here have fake profiles. Or if they do, they are few and far between. I am on IMVU and there, most people portray a fantasy of who they wish they were. But generally I have found congruency. I am also fussy though, and go with my gut instinct.

tedd's avatar

In my experience they are usually pretty much what they portrayed themselves to be by the time I meet them. I have done online dating of and on for 6+ years now. It was kind of a crap shoot in the earlier days, as it wasn’t very popular and few sites were well known. But especially in the last few years it’s become pretty easy to navigate.

In my experience (as a guy) I would contact maybe 20 girls in the course of a week (probably legitimately looking 2–3 times a week). I would read the profiles and examine the photos fairly thoroughly to try and determine if the person was a match. Of those 20 or so girls I would probably get responses from 8–10 of them (usually less than half). I would have e-mail conversations with those 8–10 for upwards of a week, and you could usually tell pretty quickly if the person was a match or not just from those conversations. Of those 8–10 girls you would set up dates with maybe 2–3 of them, and in my experience usually just one of them would work out, or you would start over from the beginning.

In my experience I got to the setting up a date point probably 5–6 times. The girl followed through or showed up on 3 such occasions. In all 3 cases I ended up dating the girl. One for a few weeks, one for almost a year, and on for almost two years (my current g/f).

Just really flesh out the conversation with the person before setting up a date. Treat it almost like a date, but over the internet.

Unbroken's avatar

Interesting to hear people’s stories, thank you for contributing.

@tedd I am so glad you have had success and found a method that works for you. I play dates by ear… No fleshing things out, I may or may not believe what I am told during a first date so I just try to see if a conversation flows well.

@Shippy I have noticed a lot of your q&a’s I think you have a great gut instinct.

@Jack79 That is perfectly fine, I liked the additional information.

@zenvelo Lol I can easily see that happening. I am sure you were gracious though disappointed. And they say a camera adds 10 lbs.

@wundayatta I agree with the interview part. I agree the optimal way to date would include some prior knowledge other then what is indicated by the source. However, I rarely like to include dating into my work or friend life. I am not saying I never do it, I just prefer there no emotional bounce back.

@livelaughlove21 True. I would lie more I just don’t have the imagination. : ) There is something weird about the earnest, maybe they reveal too much. Beautiful story about marriage. You seem like a wise soul in relation to the posts I have seen. Keep it coming.

@Adirondackwannabe Well sure, but it’s a brave new world. : )

@marinelife and how, I know people who completely fabricate their existence. : P

Once again, thank you for the insight. i don’t know if I was looking to get some personal benefit from this other then validation that it can be a crap shoot. Which I got but I also was able to realize it is not any more of a crap shoot then any other method.

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