“There’s something I have to tell you,” Brad* said. “And we should probably sit down.”
We had been walking around exploring East Point, a quaint little hillbilly hotspot off the Gulf Coast of Florida on a steamy summer day when the mood had taken a serious turn.
“I’ve been hiding something from you,” he said, taking a deep breath.
I couldn’t help but feel anxious. We had been dating for 10 months, and he had already told me about his two amazing kids and the messy divorce he had just finalized. So, what could this be? Was he in trouble at work? Sick? Was he still on Tinder?!
“I’m….. not 39,” he mumbled, his face pained.
He wouldn’t even say his real age, making me guess. Taking the Price is Right approach of not wanting to overbid, I finally worked myself up to the magic number: 46. He had lied to me by 7 years, making our age difference almost 15 years. Most people would have been a bit scared. I was turned on.
Anyone who knows me knows I have no age gauge. My last boyfriend was 8 years younger than me, and I am now dating someone who is closer to my mom’s age than mine. Braces or dentures, a razor scooter or a Hoveround scooter, bedpans or bunk beds – I don’t care if their mom changes their diapers or their nurses do – bring it! While Brad couldn’t have known that his age never would’ve bothered me, he didn’t realize that the fact that he lied to me (and for so long!) did. Even worse, I realized how he had to lie about other things for months in order to not get caught. I cringed as I remembered how excited I was telling him ideas for his big 40th birthday, which I had believed was only two months away.
In the end, we didn’t make it. When I later found out he had hidden something else, it compounded with the age lie to be too much for me. Fortunately, I dodged a bullet, too: a year later, a friend sent me a screenshot of his JSwipe profile, showing that he was not only 6 years younger, but that he had also changed his name. I also learned his divorce was still not finalized, and he was living on a different floor with his wife in his New Jersey home, not in his friend’s NYC apartment that he had passed off to me as his own.
I’m not going to get into why people lie about their age. There are quite a few reasons, and we all know what they are, such as: thoughts on fertility and children; wanting to attract a certain demographic; wanting to represent the age you “feel”; and just plain ol’ vanity – yes, it’s hard to admit even to ourselves how time flies. In any case, for this particular blog, I want to focus on the effects of misrepresenting one’s age on a budding relationship.
In reaching out about this general topic, the response was overwhelming. In the numerous calls and messages I received, I did not hear from one person who told me that he/she is currently in a relationship in which one of them was not initially truthful about age; nor did I hear from anyone who was able to continue a relationship after learning of this misrepresentation without any resulting conflict or resentment. In situations in which one person misrepresented age, it was not something that was able to be completely swept under the rug, and everyone who contacted me told me that he/she so badly wished honest had been there from the start. (Of course, when two people who have both misrepresented their ages online meet, that’s a match! L’chaim!) I do feel that when someone who is truthful about age begins dating someone who was not, the potential for a build-up of distrust and resentment – the #1 relationship killer – is significant. “I’m so glad she lied to me!” and “The best relationships start on a lie!” said no one ever!
I’m 32. I’ve never lied about my age, and I never will. In fact, I passionately believe each year is better than the last, as we continually become wiser and more self-aware. Yes, I know I’m a few years off that looming biological “cut-off” where my own endocrinologist (in addition to my Nana, of course) will pester me to freeze my eggs, and I know things will be different then. Fortunately for me, I was born without an age gauge. The truth is, my penchant for geriatric gingers and senior silverfoxes aside, I will never lie about my age for one very particular reason: I wouldn’t want to be with myself if I lied. I would hate knowing I’m hiding something. As a terrible liar, I’d be constantly anxious, and I’d have a panic attack worrying how I’d reveal it when the time comes. I could never do it. Forget what the guy might think of me – what about what I think of me?!
In the end, I think we should be honest – for our own sake as much as others’. If you fall out of someone’s arbitrary age filter on an app, then it’s not meant to be. Let me rephrase that: it’s not meant to be… ON AN APP! Perhaps, had you met in real life, you may have hit it off with someone you’d never have met on an app because one of you didn’t fit a filter. Hence, my point: get off these things and get out there, in person, as much as you can in 2018. Treat what you do and where you go as a “filter” of sorts: go to places and attend events where you’ll meet people in your demographic who may likely share your interests.
It’s not too late to make another resolution for 2018. Here’s to being honest. It’s not too late to be honest about being dishonest, either. Be happy, be kind, and be open. Make this year your best year. Make your age the best age.
*totally not his name. Never dated a Brad in my life (seriously!).
P.S. Many of y’all have asked me to address the following: “Is posting your age as younger or older by one year the same as three or even five? Is revealing your real age in your profile, before the first date, on the first date, or months later the ‘right’ time? Is lying about your age any different than misrepresenting your height or weight?” I want to hit on all of these points, but for the sake of not making this blog entry a novel, I’ll have to turn this into a series. In the meantime, ask yourself what feels right to you, and don’t be a hypocrite! (If you misrepresent your height and judge someone for misrepresenting their age, c’mon now!) Make sure you can truly feel NO resentment toward whatever you decide is acceptable to you, and stick to your guns. And, lastly, check out what y’all have to say about it below:
“I don’t get why people lie on their profiles. Do they not realize that if things go well, they’re going to have to come clean at some point? I am sometimes sad that my age is a number that will make people choose not to want to meet me, but I also sometimes choose not to connect with someone because of her age. If I met someone in real life, it’s not top of the list of things I’d want to know, but weeding through tens or hundreds of people online, it’s helpful to have some filters.”
“I did date someone for a while that I met at a party, and when we talked about age (after about three or four dates), we realized that she thought I was younger than I was, and I thought she was older than she was, and we were actually 10.5 years apart. And it’s hard for me to say whether age factored into the end of that relationship; she had some very serious immaturity issues, but I don’t know that time would have done anything to mellow those out, especially with her family constantly reinforcing those behaviors.”
“I think fudging the age to appear in more searches is ok, but the real age should be disclosed within the profile or very early in in the convo. Certainly before meeting in person. Photos should be current.”
“I dated a guy who told me he was five years younger than he actually was. Once I found that out, I also was told that he had a kid, and had been divorced – after we had been dating for a month and a half! Lying about your age, in my opinion, is a gateway lie to more lies. Needless to say, I don’t recommend it!
“[People] look at it like fudging a resume to get a job interview. If a guy says he’s 5’8 she won’t even give him a chance, so he says he’s 5’11. I’m not saying it’s right, but sometimes it’s understandable.”
“I’ve seen so many women lie about their age that I have trouble trusting ages of women I see online.”
“I definitely judge men somewhat by their age – I’ve always wanted someone who feels like a peer. Plus most women I know (myself included) have learned long ago that the date-worthy never married 40+ yr old guys are much more the exception than the rule.”
“I did an experiment once where I lied about my job and height to see if I would any any better matches, and the one match from it I was too bashful to message because I felt like a scumbag. I dunno, I guess age shouldn’t matter as much but it does – it’s your story. I think it’s much more attractive to see someone at any age who’s done something with themselves and can hang with whatever age person they’re looking for. I want to know the facts right away and really hate being misled or manipulated ever.
“It’s a bit frustrating that you can’t tell whether the age of a woman is accurate. I’ve also had matchmakers fudge their clients’ age calling a 39 year old mid-30s. Non-specific means hiding something. I’m not into lying – it changes an already difficult unnatural dynamic of a swipe date or set-up.”
“I don’t want to lie, but I also want to be in more ranges. Hoping that someone who would normally have cut me off likes my picture and maybe an exchange and give it a try. (Like getting foot in the door.)”
“I am proud I look nothing like my age but I am seriously worried I will never adore someone and be a wife and mom so this is why I think sometimes I should lie. There is something to say for 31-35 but past that, it is hard.”
“None of this is fair, but apps have ‘commodified’ something that used to be romantic and organic. That is why meeting IRL is so great!”
“Women and men should not lie by more than one year. End of story.”
“So while men think maybe they are not subject to judgement, this is not true. Once they reach 40 and over, women don’t trust those ‘never marrieds’ (divorced is different).”
The featured image for this blog was created by Cecile Dormeau for the piece found here.