There are two sides to every story. Due to the overwhelming response to last week’s “Age Gauge” blog, I decided to sit down for an interview with Brad*, the man I dated for almost ten months before finding out he had lied to me about his age by 7 years (amongst other things). I asked him all the tough questions. OMG, so fun, right?! (Hey, I’d do anything for this blog, what can I say?!) In the end, it gave me a lot of insight, as well as a sense of resolution. Check it out below:
Me: Before we met, how long had you been on apps? Were you always a different age on the apps? Why did you decide to lie about your age on the apps? What did you hope to “achieve”? Did it work?
Brad: I had been on the apps for probably 6 months. It was something I always resisted because I thought they were for desperate people. A friend of mine told me he used it for promotional purposes for his business, and I literally thought it was a lie he told the girl he was dating. But one day I decided to use Tinder and Bumble to promote my business. It was very effective raising awareness and getting clicks, but both Tinder and Bumble kicked me off because of it. I rejoined and they kicked me off again for promoting. So I finally created an account that was sort of a dating/promotional hybrid. I figured if I flirted instead of promoting, I wouldn’t get kicked off. Then, I kinda thought, “Well… since I’m single and I’m here, I may as well go on a few dates.” The dates were pretty awful, to be honest. However, I thought the fact that I did go on dates would prevent my account from getting deleted. Since I was on it for promotion and for a business that caters to youth, I shaved off 5 years or so. I also had to change my age every time I created a new account or they would send me a message like, “Hey, not so fast, guy!” So my different Bumble and Twitter accounts all have different ages. I never really thought about it as a dating site, I thought of it as a business venture, so lying about my age never presented me with a moral dilemma. When I went on the few dates I went on, it never struck me as important to talk about and I think I even forgot what my age was on the app. When they asked me my age, I would in response ask them their weight, and the question wouldn’t come up again. Kidding. Maybe.
Me: Did you ever meet anyone else on the apps (besides me) in which age came up in a conversation or became an issue? What about the other way around? Would you care if a girl lied about her age to you?
Brad: I met and/or interacted with several women who were 29 or 39. To the point where it was statistically impossible. I assumed they were shaving off a few years and trying to limbo dance under the decade benchmark. If I met them and they looked 29 or 39, I didn’t care and never asked as a follow up. Keep in mind, I wasn’t on these sites to have a billion babies, so age as a barometer of fertility wasn’t an issue. Tinder is mostly a hookup site (or it used to be when I was on it), so I wasn’t going to make a stand about age integrity. The bigger issue for me with women was how they looked and acted, and if that was in alignment with their online presentation. Age wasn’t really a factor in that. As a matter of fact, if a woman said she was 42 and showed up looking amazing with a great attitude, it had zero effect on how I thought of her or if I wanted a second date.
We spend a lot of time convincing ourselves that “Age ain’t nothin but a number!” and “You’re only as old as you feel” so it’s not too impossible to trick yourself into thinking that any discussion of age is irrelevant if you’re young at heart. I realize that sounds like a crappy excuse. Probably because it is a crappy excuse. But hey, isn’t that what we do as humans? Find the perfect hypocritical logic to attack others and defend ourselves? It’s like “Wow, that jerk just cut me off on the highway! And look, he’s texting! What an asshole! I’m going to take a picture of him right now and post it to Instagram! Good thing I can steer with my knees!”
Me: What was it like to have to cover up this secret for 10 months? Why did you not reveal it sooner? Walk me through what you were thinking for the ten months this was not revealed.
Brad: Considering the first 6-8 months were nebulous and I never believed there would be a lasting relationship (for many reasons that mostly include my insecurity about several aspects of myself and my life), it didn’t really eat at me. Plus, it’s nothing that really affects a relationship at its bones: either you can connect intellectually, emotionally, or physically or you can’t. If I spent hours of every conversation talking about the disco era and how amazing Studio 54 was back in the day, then the generational bridge would manifest itself in a stilted, awkward relationship where dinners together would mostly be the sound of forks clinking against ceramic plates.
Also, when you’re dating a younger woman, you want to feel young as well. They make you feel young. You don’t want to start waxing on about the rain messes with your trick knee and your lower back pain. You want to live in the fun and optimism of a courtship while it still has that new car smell. I mean, look, all of us are/were on the apps because our previous relationships and/or previous attempts at relationships or marriages failed. You can reframe it anyway you want, but that’s the bottom line – there’s a sea of heartbroken men and women who are looking for second, third, fourth, and ninetieth chances. It’s a bunch of people who claim that they are the exception to the type of person who’s on an app, but at the end of the day, they’re all on the app. It goes back to the driving analogy. In truth, we are a little scared about the future and dying alone and we are all faking it with different degrees of proficiency. “I’m not like the other girls on Tinder” and “I’m not like the other men on Tinder” are hilarious declarations. The only way you’re not like the other people on these sites is if you’re not actually on them and someone else created the profile with your pictures….. Then again, in that way, you are like several other thousand people on Tinder.
Me: Do you think starting a relationship on a lie sets a precedent, or is it reparable? Do you think lying abut something like age is a “gateway” to other lies?
Brad: I think lying about your age is an act of insecurity bordering on cowardice. No one is ever proud of it. It’s not like you can talk about it with heroic but tortured pride like you were in the trenches during WW2. But it’s understandable, I think, to most people. I met a woman who was 94 who wanted people to think she was in her 80’s. I mean, WTF? There is a human need to present yourself to the world as younger because society commodifies youth as more vital and vibrant. On the other coast, Hollywood, it’s not nearly as big a deal with actors as it is with writers. Writers above 50 are discounted almost automatically as “out of touch,” so they all lie about it or hide their age to protect their business opportunities. There’s a story from the show “Felicity,” where one of the writers of the show said she was 17 when she was in fact 30. She had written on the show for years and had written amazing episodes, but once they found out her age they fired her.
I mean, look, I think it’s an act of low integrity, particularly if you are considering really starting a life with a person. However, I don’t think it represents a degenerate mind set.
Me: What do you believe is the “right” time for someone to reveal the truth about age? How should he/she do it?
Brad: The “right” time is the first date. That goes without saying. Or even before the first date. Full transparency is always best. Again, I think as human beings stuck in these shitbox machines we inherited that haven’t evolved since 30,000 B.C.E., we screw up! Like we’re old Pontiacs living in a Prius world. Give us a break when we blow out! If you are the person who can legitimately cast out the first stone as a person without sin, good for you. Seriously! But usually I find the people who scream the loudest have the most to hide. Some of the folks ranting the most about illegal immigration are the ones who are secretly employing these migrants the most, y’know what I mean?
Me: Ok, so why do you think it was easier for you to immediately share with me your situation with your divorce proceedings and your two kids, but you couldn’t tell me your real age?
Brad: The divorce and the two kids are things that can and will come up. Phone calls, birthdays, emails…it’s nearly impossible to hide. Age is something that, in a magical utopia of big love and great sex, it literally never needs to be an issue. I knew a gay couple that was together for 28 years. When one of them died in 1998, he told me he never even knew his partner’s age. He figured he was “around 60.” I couldn’t believe it. He told me that was the secret to their long relationship – being loving but “holding your cards close to your chest.” Hey, it worked for him. In some alternate universe, there’s a reality where it wouldn’t come up and wouldn’t have to come up. Imagine if I lied to you and we were together for years and years without you knowing. Then suddenly, I’m getting tons of senior citizen discounts on stuff! Surprise! That’s a nice surprise, isn’t it? Ok, bad joke.
Me: Yeah. So, if you could go back, what, if anything, would you have done differently?
Brad: I would have told you my real age from day one. It’s arrogant to do otherwise. I get that. Doesn’t mean I don’t get why I never brought it up.
Me: How do you feel about the whole thing?!
Brad: I guess I feel pretty silly now that I know you have a weird fetish for guys with prescription pill planners and tennis balls on their walkers. I don’t really regret it because I blew it for other reasons. Plus, that’s just where I was. You had every right to be mad and to not want to date me any more and all I can say is I’m sorry. Lesson learned.
Me: Thank you. I know you were going through a lot, too. I prefer Hoveround scooters to tennis ball walkers, by the way. Anyhoo, once we broke up, why did you go back on the apps with a fake name and an age even younger than the one you had told me? When a friend found you on JSwipe and sent me a screenshot of your new profile, which I sent to you, how did you feel? (Are you still on the apps?!)
Brad: I went back on the apps because I’m an overgrown manboy and it was a weird protracted revenge. Like “Screw her, I’ll get even younger girls!” When I saw that screenshot on Jswipe you sent me, all I could think is, “Awwwwww…. she still cares about me…” Uh, do you still care about me? Kidding. Maybe.
Me: Haha. Any closing words? Anything you want people to understand about this “age gauge” issue today?
Brad: Be honest, everyone. It really is the only way to go about it. Even if it’s just a short-lived thing, there shouldn’t be an ounce of wasted energy thinking about it or worrying she’ll find out. You can act like it doesn’t matter and no one should care about age, but on the flip side, no one has ever gotten mad at another human for being honest about their past and who they actually are. And if they do get mad for being the person that existed in the world before you met each other, then they suuuuuuck.
Me: And on that note, that’s a wrap! Brad, thank you so, so much for talking to me about this. This could not have been fun for you!
Brad: It actually kinda was…. Haha.
*totally not his name. Never dated a Brad in my life (seriously!).