The Juice & the Squeeze

Authenticity in Online Dating: Why imperfection guarantees better matches than any filter

Just be you, silly!

Two people kissing

If you’ve just emerged from a twenty-year slumber, welcome back to the wild world of today! Things have changed, and one significant transformation is how people present themselves, especially in the realm of online dating. With high-tech phones and photo-editing tools, anyone can create a digital facade that differs dramatically from reality.

But if you’ve been awake all along, you’re probably well aware of this phenomenon. A trip to the r/IntagramReality subreddit shows how many people distort images of themselves on Instagram, sometimes looking like different people altogether. Mostly, though, they’re laughably bad examples of photo editing with distorted backgrounds or frightening, Picasso-ish aberrations.  

But even if not that extreme, In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to be inauthentic. You no longer have to be yourself, not if you don’t want to be. This is the central premise of the popular TV show “Catfish,” where individuals adopt fake online personas, only to reveal their true selves when they meet in person. This disconnect between online and real-life identities leads to heartbreak, drama, and plenty of entertainment for MTV viewers.

While Catfish is an extreme example, many of us engage in a milder form of this behavior from time to time. It’s called kittenfishing: making yourself seem more desirable on a dating app. It’s not outright lying about your identity, like catfishing, but altering your appearance on your dating profile radically from what you’re like in person (posting photos with deceptive angles or from years ago, lying about age, height or occupation, or wearing hats to cover up baldness) or bending the truth in other ways to seem more desirable (fibbing your occupation or hobbies). 

There’s no need to pass judgment here because we’re all guilty of it to some extent. We engage in kittenfishing because we’re chasing the illusion of perfection and seeking validation in the form of likes on dating apps.

However, perfection is something that’s sold to us; it’s not an achievable goal. And being “perfect” doesn’t necessarily make you more desirable. For example, studies have shown that we are more likely to find asymmetrical faces more attractive than symmetrical ones. That is, our perception of what is perfect is subjective and not actually universally appealing.

Rejection, although painful, is a natural part of life. If it makes you feel any better, even those who appear “perfect” face rejection. And while being rejected after being “real” with someone is like being stung by a hive of bees when you have a bee allergy, in the dating context, it’s much better to be rejected early on than to invest time in someone who doesn’t have any interest in the real-life, authentic you!

Everyone deserves love and acceptance for who they truly are. It takes courage to be authentic, especially when facing the possibility of rejection. However, it is also the only surefire way to find someone who genuinely appreciates and loves you for being yourself. When you find that person, it’s like witnessing a fireworks display of genuine connection and understanding.

Being yourself leads to a more honest understanding of who you are, creating a first date experience that is confident and free of mismatched expectations. It increases the likelihood of a better first date, a second date, and a more fulfilling dating experience overall. So, in the world of online dating, embracing your imperfections and showcasing your authentic self can lead to the most meaningful connections.

So. In a world where authenticity shines brighter than any digital filter, being yourself is the compass that guides you to genuine connections, ensuring that your search for love is an unapologetically true and rewarding journey.

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