The truth about lying (about your age)


Today I’d like to talk about a problem that is widespread everywhere, particularly bad in the gay community, and epidemic in scale on gay dating web sites: Lying about one’s age.

Over the past few years I have been struck by how many people lie about their age online. While it is true they lie about other attributes and (ahem) measurements, age seems to be the most rampant. The obvious reason is that our society is youth obsessed. Which is another way of saying we are afraid of dying. We are afraid of even the taint of mortality. This pervades the culture and causes people to lose all sense of proportion when sizing up potential dates and even friends.  I would estimate that about 60 percent of the gay men I have met lie about their age. (Anyone out there care to estimate how many women do the same? And increasingly, straight men?).  The incidence of lying about one’s age goes up the older one is. Some will shave just a year or two off, to fit into some magic box like “under 40” some will routinely take 5 or 10 years off reported age, telling themselves that “Hey, I can easily pass for it, all my friends say it, so why not?” Maybe people are insecure enough to think that if it weren’t for just this one thing, this one undesirable trait (age), they would generate a lot more interest. Maybe they are even right about that. But starting out from a place of lying is not the best way to begin any kind of relationship, at least if you believe that good relationships are built atop a foundation of honesty and trust (which I do). Maybe if all one is looking for is a one night stand, who cares? Roll the dice and see who believes.

I have always though that hey, if you are going to lie about your age, at least lie UP, not DOWN. I am 42. If I were to tell people I am 50, they would shower me with compliments, asking my secret to looking so young. I would smile humbly and tell them a simple life rich in healthy foods, exercise and meditation keeps me vital. If on the other hand I were to tell people I am 30, they would say “Really? wow…” and be thinking “…this guy has had a ROUGH life….how much partying has he done? he looks like shit.” So I don’t lie about my age. If someone is more interested in a statistic than what is in front of them, so be it.

I do wonder what would happen if everyone in our society stopped lying about age. If everyone celebrated exactly where they were in life as being a unique opportunity to experience something new. Something now. Ultimately that is all we have, and I believe we are happier people when we live in the now. If we as a culture stopped obsessing about our youth, stopped obsessing about our aging and mortality, it would effect enormous positive change. That probably won’t happen in my lifetime. But each of is, through our own actions, has a chance to subtly change the terms of the debate. Each of us, by choosing to represent ourselves honestly can move things a tiny bit. And bit by bit, the world will be a different place. A place that is accepting because we accept not only ourselves, but others as well.


  1. Jasper says:

    I totally agree. So put your money where your mouth is and add the year to your date of birth on your facebook profile! ;-)
    By the way, I think you are quite handsome and well preserved.

  2. David says:

    Aside from the rather sweeping (and incorrect) assertion that people lie about their age out of some fear of dying, I agree with most of it… (people do not lie about their age b/c they fear dying; they lie about their age for the other reason you identify — the fear of rejection)… I still love the bit about telling people you’re 50, not 42… good stuff.

  3. Stephen says:

    Thanks for commenting. Actually, the fear of rejection comes from the fact that our society makes judgements about age. And it is these judgements that represent a fear of aging and dying. So no, I don’t think the assertion is at all incorrect.

  4. David says:

    Still not convinced. Why does the fear of rejection, at its base, have to involve a fear of dying? It seems much more likely that the fear of rejection and lying about age relate to perceptions (misperceptions, perhaps) that “beauty” is exclusively reserved for the young — that these things may go hand in hand doesn’t imply any fear of death, but simply a judgment about what is and what isn’t beautiful…

  5. anthony says:

    4 the record, I’m (10.5 X 4) + 1. will copy on facebook.

  6. Tory says:

    I agree about not lying about your age. I want someone to take me for who I really am (at least that’s what I tell myself). Love my age, but still not ready to post my year on Facebook.