Of course scientists want to quantify dating and romance. That's what science is for: to suck the fun out of everything by analyzing it to death, or at least down to the little nibbly bits. I happen to love science, but this article in the New York Times looking into the trove of information on the human condition now available because of online dating sites is a little deflating, if you ask me.
A caveat: I've never used one of these sites. I absolutely believe it's the equivalent of meeting a guy in a bar, like that time honoured way of my youth, but I haven't. I have friends who actually met and married after meeting on line. I know lots of people who give it a shot. But am highly suspect for all the reasons revealed in the article: the amount that people lie in their little introduction paragraph. Apparently, everybody lies. In my head, Leonard Cohen just sang that. Anyway. Women lie about their weight and their age and use old pictures. Men lie about their height and their age and how much money they make. Seems both genders are shallow and critical. Wait. That sounds just like being in a bar.
I remember a bazillion years ago, you had to go the 'Personals' section of newspaper classified to find love. I also remember my sister Roz (who will kill me for this) and I used to read those obsessively. It was mean; it was awesome.
One day, it must have been thirty years ago, she found a keeper. Some guy had run an ad saying he was 3 and a half feet tall, had no teeth, body odour, was broke, and lived in his mother's basement. Something like that. Because this was thirty years ago, there was a phone number with it. She called him. He'd apparently had tons of calls, and they laughed for a few minutes, and then she called me. He was some English guy who thought these ads were a scream.
Now, a professor of psychology at Berkeley (of course) is trying to understand a) what people lie about and b) why they lie. Duh. A guy in the piece laments that if he puts that he is (correctly) 44, people will automatically assume he's 48. It's like the world's biggest, dumbest bell curve.
I remember talking years ago to that friend who was using dating sites about his bio. I told him I should write it, not him. He had no clue what his best attributes were, and writing your own bio is like tickling yourself. You can't do it. He thought that was a brilliant idea, and of course I decided on the spot I could set up a whole business around it. I meet you for 15 minutes, then I write you a bio. Done.
Reading this article has tweaked that, however. I read about people meeting for coffee, then having to escape because the tall, dark and handsome guy who made the date sent the 3-and-a-half foot guy from the Toronto Sun personals ad in his place.
I think all those first coffee dates should write the profiles of the person they just met. Think about it: honesty all around, and such great reading.