Friday, May 16, 2008

Dudefile #20 - The Lying Internet Profile

Hey DW,

Thank you for all the good you're doing. Really.

Here's what's paining me. Why is it not okay for a woman to post an out-of-date photo on her dating site profile, but if a man's profile photo is from back when he had a trim waistline and hair and neither situation now applies at all that's not a problem?

At least I looked to see if the fella I'm supposed to meet for a drink had posted anything new, so I saw a photo which has gone up since I agreed to meet him (although it is small, taken from a distance, and not the profile shot), and won't walk into the bar expecting one man and getting someone else much larger and shinier and having to cover my reaction.

Is it because we're expected to care less about looks and more about inner beauty? Is it because straight men are not as conscious of how they have changed as straight women and gay men tend to be? Does my caring mean that I am shallow?

Maybe I am. Certainly I am. And I do understand that men in my cohort (I'm 38), no matter how athletic they were as youngsters, are not going to have exactly that body anymore. Hell, I certainly don't; I may be the first woman yet to write to you who is not protesting her hotness (I don't hurt the eye, but I'm also not Hollywood quality). But I am scrupulously careful to put up an honest and recent photo (without makeup, even, and including cat: they might as well know the worst of it). It seems to me to correlate with honesty about oneself in general. So when a guy puts up an old photo and then in person is not at all what he claimed to be, how am I supposed to respond to that?

I bet I know the answer to this: if a man is actually aware that he doesn't really look like his photo anymore, perhaps he thinks if he puts up an honest photo, nobody will respond. But that's BS. There are plenty of women out there who are interested in heavier men, and bald ones (I sure am on the second point). Isn't it better to be up front with what you've got and know that the fish who bite are the ones you're really going to be okay with, versus putting a potential date in a really awkward situation where she has to say, gee, you're not what I was led to believe you are at all--and leading her to question your truthfulness on other matters? Because when I've talked to other women who've been through this, that's what they've all said: "if he's not honest about this, what else can I expect him to be dishonest about?" That is exactly how it reads to women. How do men not get that?Thank you for any insight you might have,

Frustrated in Oaktown

ps. I thought your response to Slutty in SF [DW Note: See Dudefile #5 - The Checkered Past ] was spot-on--at her age, fourteen partners ain't nothin' to worry about.

Hi Frustrated,

This one is pretty easy. As a woman, it’s a lot more important that you be attractive into your thirties than it is for a dude. He doesn’t need to be as forgiving about age and wrinkles and flab as you do, and that’s why it’s okay for him to fake you out with his pic a little bit.

(Joke. JOKE!)

Look, a dude should represent himself reasonably accurately in an online picture just like a woman should. There’s no separate set of rules about it being more okay for one gender or the other to duck into the Wayback Machine. Sure, it’s human nature to cherry pick the best looking moments in your life and post the black and white photo of you, hands on hips, deep in reverie as you look over Death Valley at dawn (even though you were in DV for all of seven hours on your way through to a conference at the Days Inn Fresno) over the one from your friend Sal’s birthday where you’re half-drunk, hugging that jerkoff who never called back, one eye closed, and hot dog in your teeth (even though it seems like your whole summer was half-drunk with some jerkoff at Sal’s with hot dog in your teeth). But if you’re dropping yourself a couple boxing weight classes and a Nielsen bracket, that’s just lying whether you’ve got a penis or not.

And speaking of gender equality on this issue, the DW would like to dispel one notion implied by your letter. The Comically Ridiculously Asinine Photo Of Laughable Accuracy (CRAPOLA) is hardly a phenomenon particular to dudes. The DW internet dated, too, and he can assure you there is no shortage of ladies who graduated from Photoshop University with a double major in Caboose Narrowing and Yearbook Poaching. This is just as exasperating and preposterous a phenomenon to dudes as it is to you. Just sayin’. And what’s funny about that is, wholly aside from setting a tone of lying, it’s a pointless exercise. There is no way to anticipate what a particular dude likes. Just as you are fine with the heavy baldies that might repel other women, Frustrated, a dude might prefer a little extra rump or have thing for smaller boobs or whatever it is a woman is trying to hide and thinks that, stereotypically, no dude desires. He might not. But he might.

All this said, the DW thinks you should stop worrying about being shallow just because you dare to assert that looks matter. They matter. To Everybody. If they didn’t, and attractiveness truly was based solely on accomplishment and personality, the DW would think about Terry Gross when he spanked it. Which he doesn’t, thanks for asking. Think of Terry Gross, that is. He only thinks about his wife. That’s his story and he’s stinking to it. Note to self. Stop typing about this. Now. Okay.

So why would a dude (or lady) put up a picture they couldn’t match in person? The DW thinks you’re on the right track: Dude figures that’s the way to get a response. It’s a Get A Foot In The Door strategy. Ever fudged a resume to get a job you really wanted? The CRAPOLA is the same kind of idea, only instead of maybe puffing up some details and adding “exciting opportunity” a couple extra times to the cover letter, as everyone does, it’s claiming you very nearly, back in ’05, cured diabetes on your lunch break. Which is too much. And a little crazy.

So yes, the DW thinks you are right to be seriously suspicious of the CRAPOLA practitioners. As your girlfriends say, What else is he gonna lie about? The answer might be plenty. Or, even if he’s not a liar (which the DW thinks he is) he must be either delusional or insecure about his appearance. And frankly, none of those three traits are the best to be throwing out there as a first impression.

One final caveat. For what it’s worth, the DW does think that there is a less liar-ish quality to the dudes (and ladies) who put up the faraway photos or the fuzzies or the neck-ups rather than the straight up ten years and twenty pounds ago nonsense. At least the faraways et al are technically accurate. Those dudes are probably way more on the “Jeez, I don’t look like I used to,” or “I can’t believe I’m putting my picture on the internet!” end of things and may deserve a little more of the benefit of the doubt, if you’re feeling charitable.

How do you react if this happens again? Sounds like you’re doing just fine. Don’t put up with it. Move on.

Best of luck finding a stand-up bald and proud knock yer socks off dude,
the DW

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