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In any human interaction, there will always be some amount of posturing.
But online dating isn’t especially vulnerable to our collective weakness for self-flattering fibs. In 2010, Boston’s “Craigslist killer” was charged with murdering a woman he had met online (he later committed suicide in jail).
They’ve “given rise to a pick-and-choose shopping behavior that prioritizes looks more than ever before.” In reality, how someone looks in a couple of pictures is no indicator of whether you’ll be attracted to them.
That point was driven home for me during a small publicity stunt Ok Cupid ran to promote a blind dating app; we called it Love Is Blind Day.
But as I learned at Ok Cupid, men don’t necessarily end up dating young women, even if they think they’re gorgeous.
Men on the site tend to message women closer to their own age; very few men over 30 actually reach out to 20-year-old women.
Gwendolyn Seidman, writing in Psychology Today, explains it well: “Online daters realize that while, on the one hand, they want to make the best possible impression in their profile, on the other hand, if they do want to pursue an offline relationship, they can’t begin it with outright falsehoods that will quickly be revealed for what they are.” That’s not to say every profile is the gospel truth, of course. Ok Cupid has found, for example, that men and women more or less uniformly add two inches to their height.
Experts say that one-third of recent marriages in the United States started online.
Those couples tend to be happier, too, research suggests.
Although there are no comprehensive numbers, executives with other sites report similarly low levels of abuse.
Additionally, dating sites have taken steps to respond to concerns.
It’s an all-too-common trope: Online dating has made casual sex easy but relationships hard.