Go Ahead Lie To Me

7 Jun
On the beach in Santa Barbara, CA TrottingBoz MeMarfa


I include my photos on my web site because the design works well that way and to satisfy the interest of friends and family (theoretically) clamoring to see more of Steve and his jet-set lifestyle. I have yet to have a problem due to having my pictures here. I have also had my photo on various dating web sites on and off over the years. Nothing bad has ever happened because of this. And oddly enough I do look like my pictures. Somewhat better in person but who doesn’t?

This essay used to be about asking for a photograph of someone you met thru an online dating site.  Someone who doesn’t have a picture on their profile. Recent events in my online dating experiences have conspired to change my mind (somewhat) about online dating and photographs.

This is what I had written previously:

Experience dictates that those women who refuse to send or don’t have a photograph to send are more likely to turn into a no-show when we are meeting. It has also been pointed out by many of the women I know that if someone flat out refuses to send a pic, they are hiding something.

For whatever reason a woman’s ability and willingness to send a photograph is a very good indication that they will be less likely to continue any online correspondence and much more likely to stand you up or cancel out on a date. Anonymity is a great hiding place. It allows you to get away with stuff you would never even think of doing to someone’s face. You could call it the passive-agressive dater’s best friend. So I guess the veil of anonymity that not  posting/sending a picture allows some people to be the worst that they can be: a chicken-shit.


Nowadays it seems that more profiles have a picture than not. Also asking for a picture from a woman who does not have a profile picture doesn’t seem to call up the old saw about me being so “shallow to ask for a photograph.” Instead I get one of two fairly common responses. The first, and most common response, is simple ignorance:

Here a lady has a digital picture a friend scanned in for her.


So she goes for the sympathy/ignorance route and then throws in a little bait (Which I fell for, by the way.)

Or you could go for all the mystical “I am a better person than you” route. Which, as astute readers will note, is very similar to the old “how dare you be so shallow” routine.

…Oh. My. God!

I’m not sure what any of the preceding has to do with not sending a photograph. But somewhere in that pint of blue mush she calls a brain it made sense.

Well at least the refusals are getting more entertaining…



Now about those recent events

You know the ones. the events that made me change my mind about always asking for a photograph? Yeah, those reasons. Well it seems that the year 2003 was a banner year for me. I ran into a lot of women who don’t look like their picture. With the number of exceptions countable on the “Fingers Of One Hand.” I have met uncountable (and thankfully so) women who think that sending me a photograph ten years out of date or that barely looks like their younger sister (from a long ways away, through the fog, at sunset) Will somehow get them more dates. Or at least a first date.

One in particular sticks in my mind, the way a particularly gruesome auto accident sticks in your mind. It started as they all do with a couple of emails back and forth. The content of which boils down to this:

ME: I am interested in you

HER: The feeling is mutual

Once that is out of the way we exchange a few “getting to know you” emails. Included in that is a request for a picture. She sends one. It looks somehow familiar.

I am a bit of a pack-rat. The nice thing about modern computers is that simply insane  amounts of storage space are really cheap. So there is no reason to throw out any of my old correspondence, pictures and profiles. In this case being a pack-rat comes in handy. I can mine it for material or find someone that I have already corresponded with.

In this case I found the exact same picture attached to a very similar profile. Someone I had never managed to hook up with in person. Three years ago.

So already knowing that she has sent me a picture that is at least three years old we speak on the phone and arrange a meeting.

I will draw a curtain on the actual events of the meeting, that is not the point of this particular essay. What is the point is that she looked like the picture in the same way my sister looks like my mother. Yeah it was an old picture. If I was a betting man I would set it at ten years minimum.

I Am Not Shallow.

No really, I’m not. Not any more so that most other men (ahem). The fact of the matter is that she didn’t do anything for me: I did not find her attractive. My right. But her sending me a photograph that was years out of date and didn’t even resemble her was lying. Plain and simple.

Regardless of how I come across in writing I am generally a pretty mellow, easygoing guy. I tend to pretty understanding, easygoing and non-confrontational. But it is times like that, that I wished I spoken up. And to hell with being nice!

Before the Internet (and especially Internet dating) became a commonplace thing. There was something called “a newspaper.” This newspaper in particular had personal ads in it. You could place a three line ad for free and had to call a 900 number to respond. The only thing you knew about the person on the other end was three lines of cryptic text that started something like:

That and a phone call is all you have to go on. And you thought that Internet dating as a shot in the dark!

(Bloom County by Berkeley Breathed)

(Bloom County by Berkeley Breathed)


The first lady I met thru the newspaper personals was quite a character. Julie was her name and she had done the newspaper personals for years and had a number of highly entertaining stories about her experiences. This is the story that sticks in my mind from Julie.

“So I am at the bar where I had arranged to meet Jack for the first time. I am scanning the crowd looking for a guy that is above average in height, a full head of brown hair and an athletic build. I am at the bar on time and I see no one matching that description. But before
long someone approaches and asks if I am Julie.”

“Yeah that’s me, who are you?”

“I’m Jack!” he says.

“Uh oh, Jack is the name of my date and this guys looks nothing like what Jack described  himself as. This troll-like creature is well below average height, balding and pear shaped. So I look Jack firmly in the eye and ask, What was it about your personality you thought I would find so completely compelling that I would forget that you lied to me about what you looked

With that I stood up and walked out, leaving this Danny DeVito wannabe with a look of  stunned surprise on his face.”

Julie is my hero.


I can’t tell you how many times that I have flashed back on that story upon first catching a glimpse of someone who has sent me a picture so non-representational that it leaves me stunned and gasping for air.



In Conclusion



Sending someone a photograph, one that looks just like you do now, before you meet them is a way of avoiding any face-to-face disappointment, awkwardness and searching the crowd for someone you know only from a vague description.

With the exception of people who make their money posing for the camera, no one really likes their pictures. So suck it up! Besides you are doing no one, especially yourself, a favor by sending out a picture that doesn’t even resemble you, except perhaps in your dreams.


Sure there are those people who are concerned about the potential publicity and it’s ramifications if their picture is published on the internet. Point in case is a woman I met who was a high school principal. She felt that if one of her students or parents found her picture posted on a dating site it could have a detrimental effect on her ability to do her job. Understandable, so instead of putting it on her ad she just emailed it to me. Simple enough.


As for the “I don’t have one” argument, that is a pretty lame excuse these days. Certainly you or someone you know has a digital camera. Heck, you could have a friend take a picture with a disposable camera. Most developers have an option for getting your pictures in digital format. You can also take a picture into a Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Kinkos and about any drug store and walk out with them on the media of your choice.

But for god’s sake, not to mention your own peace of mind, don’t lie.

Originally posted before I added WordPress to this site. Published date is approximate.


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