What Is the Winning Combo for Online Dating?


Gabrielle White

We’ve all showed up for a Tinder date to find that the prospect was, well, not exactly as advertised.

Lying in online dating is so common: of the 15% of Americans who have used online dating services, more than half of them admit to lying in their profiles.  Women are more likely to lie about their age or looks, while men are more likely to give themselves a more flattering occupation description.

This comes at a cost: most of us become a little suspicious when something or someone seems too good to be true. A study from the University of Iowa suggests that, in fact, to increase your attractiveness in online dating, it’s best not to try not too hard – or at least, to appear not to be trying too hard.

Researchers looked at the combinations of two dimensions: the extent to which people edited themselves favorably, versus how much people backed up claims about themselves with external information like links to portfolios, bios or websites.

The most attractive combination? “Warranting” with fact-checkable information while not dedicating much profile real estate to “selective self-presentation” comes off as reliable and more attractive. Meanwhile, people who make big claims about themselves without any verifiable information come off as untrustworthy. Profiles that show high amounts of both behaviors get perceived as arrogant.

The bottom line: even though the dating pool is a marketplace, there’s no need to sell yourself. You’ll probably fare better if you don’t overthink it, so you and your bad self can just keep it real.

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