“Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.” Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac
I don’t have anything against lying. It’s gotten me out of a lot of tight jams — several proposals, in fact. I’ve only been married once, but it would have been more if I hadn’t lied. That’s why so many people are married. They never learned to lie well enough or play dead. I’ve been dead nine times.
My friend George, accountant and elk photographer out in Wyoming, is also a big proponent of playing dead, even though he’s married now. His wife, a very sound and deafeningly quiet person, likes him playing dead. The silence in their house is hard to handle, but I know what they’re doing. Sometimes I go down there just to brush up on playing dead. We don’t talk for days.
The research didn’t mention this, of course, because they produce more tosh than anyone.
But let’s get back to lying. It’s absolutely rampant on dating sites these days. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single profile that doesn’t have one fib or another. According to Russ Ruggles, who blogs for Online Dating Matchmaker, we only do it in the interest of desirability. Men, for example, tend to exaggerate their height. Women tend to exaggerate their thinness.
In a study done by OpinionMatters, 53% of respondents admitted they lied on their profiles. The other 47% were lying. The research didn’t mention this, of course, because they produce more tosh than anyone.
By definition, lying is a way of distracting others from knowing the truth. We do it because the truth is, well, pretty boring. Our lives are pretty boring. If telling porkies makes us seem less boring, we do it the same way people get Botox injections. It’s not a complete lie. We have lips.
Looks are secondary, although they won’t say no to a six-pack with manners.
Outside of being pretty boring, we’re also worried about the alarming decay of our attractiveness. Take men, for example. When men are twenty, they’re looking at twenty-two years olds. By the time men are fifty-five, they’re looking at 47-year-olds. It’s a sliding scale with very little rhyme or reason.
Men don’t think they necessarily age better than women. They’re simply what’s known as “reachers,” meaning they want something better than themselves, what’s known in psychology circles as delusional or stupid. And since men initiate 81% of messaging on dating sites, they go for the “new nubile,” since the “old nubile” is decaying at an alarming rate.
Women can be “reachers,” too, only they’re more interested in finding someone who’s “active, loyal and knows how to treat a lady.” Looks are secondary, although they won’t say no to a six-pack with manners.
For all we know, she’s still down there, doing yoga and talking to coconuts.
Now, here’s the problem with all this lying. It makes us judgmental. We see all these wonderfully slim, healthy, overly active people, and they become our barometer. If we meet someone who isn’t all of the above, we ain’t interested. We dismiss them as not-quite-perfect candidates. Pretty soon, nobody’s perfect, and we start playing dead during coffee dates.
People play dead online, too. Their profiles remain, but they themselves have lost the spark. Like the woman who bragged about getting 200 messages the first day she signed onto Match.com. Why is she still there a year later? She went on dates, she got disheartened, she went to Cancun. For all we know, she’s still down there, doing yoga and talking to coconuts.
Saying you’re six feet may get you to the alter, but the truth always comes out when you’re hanging pictures.
Michigan State University did a study which found that 28% of online relationships break down in their first year. Seems exaggerating the truth or pure prevarication comes back to haunt us. Saying you’re six feet (when you’re five three) may get you to the alter, but the truth always comes out when you start hanging pictures.
So if lying isn’t the answer, what is? It goes back to what our mothers told us before our first date. “Just be yourself,” they’d say, meaning be honest about who you are. That was a weird plan in my estimation since it didn’t involve playing dead, something that got me out of most adolescent relationships and gym.
Mothers place great faith in our attributes, since they gave them to us, and most mothers think a lot of themselves. The fact that we’re still single is a big disappointment, but not irreversible. We can still be ourselves, even if we’re boring. What’s the worst that can happen? We end up with someone equally as boring, which is what happened to George and his wife. They don’t even know they’re boring anymore. They have to ask each other if they’re playing dead. If they’re not, they go out and photograph elk.
There’s a lot of logic in being yourself — especially online these days. The whole purpose is to stand out from the crowd. Isn’t that why you lied in the first place? Being yourself—telling the truth—puts you in a different ballpark altogether. You’re no longer competing with others since everyone else is either lying or playing dead. That gives you a clear field.
Not that you won’t get fibbers and a few who can’t hang pictures. But you’ll also get dates who won’t screw up their faces when you meet or sneak out the back of Starbucks.
As I mentioned off the top, I like to think my lying has kept me out of a few marital logjams.
I passed this by George the other week. He, in turn, passed it by Martha who was on the rug, either reading or playing dead. “Ha,” she laughed, which is a good sign when you’re playing dead or living in the state of Wyoming. “You being yourself?” she said. “That’ll be the day.”
I didn’t say it wouldn’t take some work. As I mentioned off the top, I like to think my lying has kept me out of a few matrimonial logjams. I’d still like to try this honesty approach — even if Martha thinks it’s a hoot, and George must agree, since they were still laughing when I hung up.
I must be onto something if they’re laughing. Nobody laughs in Wyoming — not unless someone like me says he’s going to start being honest. They could be laughing for days over this. You can’t take pictures of elk when you’re laughing. Elk don’t mind a certain amount of levity, but it’s rare in Wyoming and makes certain animals uncomfortable.
Just like honesty is rare on dating sites. I think it could work, though. At least it’s different. Martha thinks so, anyway. It gave her a giggle.
Robert Cormack is novelist, humorist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.