Is It A Date - Profile Mismatch?

It’s common for people to fudge a little here and there about things like their weight, height and age. We’ll show you how to handle these inconsistencies when it comes to online dating.

By Matt Schneiderman

e’ve all heard the stories: “In his picture he had a full head of hair, but when I met him he was bald!”; “She was 10 years older than what she listed in her profile!”; “There is no way he could be described as ‘athletic!’” It’s an unfortunate reality that dating site users aren’t always 100
Dishonest users may limit the amount of information they include in their profiles.
percent accurate in their self-appraisals — in fact, a recent study from Cornell University found that the majority of participants fudged their listed age, weight and height. And the differences between fantasy and reality can vary from slight to significant to downright outrageous. But encounters with the truth of online dating needn’t set you running. Here are tips for making the most of potentially disappointing situations.

Be realistic
“Accept and be aware of the realities of online dating,” says Manhattan psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona ( “Expect that you might encounter a certain amount of misrepresentation and understand that it is something that’s likely to always exist to a certain degree when it comes to meeting people online.” Regarding online dating as an adventure will keep your expectations more realistic when it comes to meeting new, interesting people — as opposed to expecting to find the perfect fantasy mate that a profile may conjure in your head instead.

Be on the lookout for “tells”
Dishonest users may limit the amount of information they include in their profiles. In general, liars’ profiles tend to be shorter, with sketchy “About Me” sections. They may also avoid topics that could expose them — e.g., food if they have weight issues or money if they’re lying about their income. On a subconscious level, liars will avoid using words like “I” and “me.” Want to know more about someone? Ask! “I’ll ask early on, ‘Is everything in your profile accurate and up-to-date?’” says Darrell G., 47, Chief Empowerment Officer at LA-based He once met a woman a decade older than the age she had posted. It is perfectly acceptable to request additional photos with timestamps, particularly if those that are posted online aren’t sufficiently clear enough for you to see much detail.

Prepare for the worst, expect the best
So what do you do if you meet someone face-to-face only to find your date bears little resemblance to the user with whom you’ve been communicating? “Know beforehand the answers to questions like, ‘Will I stay for the date if I arrive to find someone has grossly misrepresented who he or she is in reality?’” says Cilona. “Having a pre-planned strategy can help minimize any negative feelings and the stress of the situation when you’re in the moment.” Having been duped by one too-good-to-be-true user’s profile, Chris M., 57, a computer programmer from Reading, PA, changed her strategy: “Going forward, I put my date’s photo on my BlackBerry. If I cannot find the person that matches with the photo after I arrive, I just leave!”

Be tactful
It’s best to avoid being unnecessarily harsh when you encounter someone who’s been deceptive. “Most people who have grossly misrepresented
Avoid saying anything that you don’t mean just to be polite.
themselves are likely dealing with some issues around self-awareness, or other challenges,” says Cilona. Stephen R., 55, a technology executive from NYC, met a woman who posted pictures of her daughter instead of herself in her profile. “I try not to be confrontational, so I said, ‘Your pictures — you don’t look like that. Am I missing something?’ Her explanation was that if you date her, you date her family. But I did not make any more remarks — I’m not there to correct her or admonish anyone. I just moved on.” And while you may want to put off confronting someone about your suspicions during the date itself (especially if it otherwise goes well), you should still bring them up by email or phone — sooner rather than later.

Be direct — and brief
Avoid saying anything that you don’t mean just to be polite, like “It was nice meeting you” or “You seem like a great person,” advises Cilona. “Being truly polite is being honest without being mean or demeaning. Stick with short, clear, direct statements and avoid insincere niceties.” If you are faced with an excessively negative, inappropriate or hostile reaction when you bring up the discrepancies, do not engage, react or discuss it any further. Instead, “communicate succinctly that you are not comfortable and that you are now leaving — and then do so immediately,” says Cilona. The alternative is to risk being taken advantage of by the other person. “People should not try to suck you in with lies, hoping that once you’ve committed an hour (or a month, or a year) of your time that you’ll be reluctant to leave,” says Mira Kirshenbaum, author of Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay. “If someone lies about who he or she is when you’re both supposedly on your best behavior, just think of what could happen later!”

Stay positive
“Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for people to slightly misrepresent themselves online or that the connection you shared through emails and IMs falls short when it comes to in-person interaction,” says Cilona. “If you find yourself repeatedly being disappointed when online relationships graduate to real-world meetings, take another look at yourself, your needs, actions and your own possible role in the ongoing pattern of disappointment rather than just blaming the other person for misleading you. When patterns like these arise, there are almost always contributing factors on both sides of the relationship. The only place we have any real power to influence and make changes is within ourselves and how we approach situations to avoid repeating negative patterns in the future.” And when you do spot a liar, consider it a blessing: “Be grateful that you saw the real person — and get out now!” says Dan Crum, author of Is He Lying to You? For this reason, it’s better to meet someone who seems too good to be true as soon as possible. That way, you don’t waste time building a connection with someone who isn’t right for you.

New York City-based freelance writer Matt Schneiderman has written for Stuff and Sync.
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