Liar, Liar Pants on Fire: The Lies People Tell on a First Date

A man who's telling lies

A man who’s telling lies | iStock.com

First-date impressions are important. You want your potential love to stick around, so you make an effort to present the best version of yourself. Unfortunately, this leads some daters to tell a lie or two (or three). The pressure to make a good first impression can sometimes get the best of you. Before you know it, you’re presenting an elaborate version of yourself that you don’t even recognize.

A study conducted by special events company Chillisauce found that roughly 61% of daters lie on the first date. However, men and women lie about different things. Men generally fib about their income and past relationships, while women tend to lie about their age, hometown, and sometimes even their name.

Online daters are more likely to succumb to the urge to stretch the truth. A study by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered roughly 80% of online daters tend to lie about their height, weight, and age. The researchers surveyed participants on dating sites such as Match.com and Webdate and asked them to fill out surveys about how accurate their profiles were. The results showed that an overwhelming amount of online daters are liars. The researchers assert online daters feel more of a need to exaggerate or lie in order to be more appealing to potential dates. Competition can be stiff in the online dating world, so this may influence decisions. 

Too good to be true?

Couple sitting at a table

First date | iStock.com

Most lies evaluated in the Cornell University/University of Wisconsin-Madison study were small, but some lies were quite extreme. The researchers saw some significant disparities among some participants when it came to height, weight, and age. “Although the large majority of observed deceptions were slight, there were nevertheless a few extreme lies in the sample, including a three-inch lie about height, a 35-pound lie about weight, and an 11-year lie about age. These rare but extreme lies would be highly salient and memorable when encountered. This may be one reason that people believe lying is so rampant in online dating, especially since these extreme lies are more likely to be circulated,” observed the researchers. So if an online dating profile seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How to tell if you’re being lied to

It’s not always easy to tell if your date is fibbing (unless you meet an online date in person and he or she lied about their appearance), but there are some tell-tale signs. Relationship expert Suzanne Oshima said it’s best not to ignore your gut. Your instincts and intuition are often the first tip-off that something isn’t quite right. Body language is also another means of observing whether someone is not telling the truth. “We all tend to think the best of human nature and that people wouldn’t lie, but that’s not always the case,” said Oshima.

Giving liars a chance

student studying

Online dating makes lying particularly appealing | iStock.com

Relationship expert Evan Marc Katz doesn’t advocate lying, but he does say he understands why people do it, especially when it comes to looking for love online. “Given the pervasiveness of online lying, I came to the conclusion that lying, while not morally defensible, is at least understandable from a practical standpoint. People, for the most part, don’t lie because they’re bad folks who can’t tell the difference between right and wrong; they’re just insecure that telling the truth will eliminate them from contention before they ever get a chance to meet you,” said Katz. So the next time you catch a date in a small lie, maybe you should cut him or her some slack. Chances are, you’ve stretched the truth more than you care to admit.

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