Getting to Know You

By Sandy Fernandez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 30, 2005

Online dating traditionally has been a pretty solitary affair: just you and your computer, flipping through profiles with the hope that somewhere, typing away, there's someone else who enjoys Montecristo sandwiches, the Faint, and late-night viewings of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

You have no wingman amusing her friends barside as you chat up the cute brunette in nerdy glasses. No reassurances from your cousin that her neighbor, though a little strait-laced, is "a really nice guy." And if that athletic 28-year-old you've been e-mailing turns out to be a dumpy, married 35-year-old, no recourse but to go back online and try again.

But now you can roast 'em on one of a handful of new Web sites that are making it their business to let users review their online dates.

"This dater takes great photos, but when you meet face to face, he's small and skinny. The face is the same, but none of his photos show his true size," says a typical posting.

Singles, be afraid. Be very afraid.

One of the sites creating the biggest buzz is Truedater.com, which launched in January and claims, says co-founder Mark Geller, "tens of thousands" of users so far. On Truedater (which features the quote used above), visitors can input online identities from four dating sites -- market leaders Match.com, American Singles and Yahoo Personals, plus the more nichey Jewish site JDate-- and search for reviews that'll tell them if, say, Lovinit62 isn't quite the six feet he claimed, or if Cutedoctor14 seems longer in the tooth than 32.

Helpful links take you to the target's profile with a button click. Users can also post anonymously, under an online name (Truedater advises people not to repeat the handle they date under). The site's basic question: whether the person reviewed is a "truedater," i.e., truthful in his or her self-portrayal.

"What we're trying to do is create a system of feedback, so people understand that they can't just get away with lying," says Geller, a veteran of online dating. "Our real goal is a growing movement for more honesty."

There's little doubt the online dating world could use it.

Falls Church resident Jeff Martin, 32, went on Match.com in 2003, after his divorce. He estimates that, in the year that he used the site, he went on dates with 60 women. About a fourth to a third differed significantly from their profile, says Martin, most using a picture that was "five years and 20 pounds ago." His biggest shocker? A woman who sent him photos of a tall, athletic blonde -- one of her lying on the beach in a red bikini -- then flew herself out from San Diego to meet him and turned out to be someone else entirely.

"She probably outweighed me by 30 pounds," says the 185-pound Martin. "Her face was not at all the same."

He squired Ms. Someone Else around all three days they'd planned. She never copped to the deception. Love did not bloom.


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