Is it okay to lie about my age?

Is it okay to lie about my age?

Is it okay to lie about my age?


Dear Jeremy,

After dating the same guy for over a year, he left me for no reason.  Now I’m back in the dating pool and am having no luck.  I’m 32 years old and the only guys that are into me are over 45 years old.  Can I lie and say that I’m younger?

-Cassandra, New York, NY



Dear Cassandra,

I got your email about an hour before I got a similar one from a former client.  You asked me about fudging your age and he asked me about fudging his employment status.  For a moment, I thought about the coincidence — the serendipity — of receiving two emails that were so similar.  Upon second thought, there was nothing coincidental about it.

Daters tend to be deceivers.  They always have been and they always will be.  Study after study tells us that men lie about misreport their height and income, and women lie about misreport their weight and age.  Rarely is there any malice behind it; everybody is just looking for that slight advantage.

Believe it or not, people don’t lie about their age in just one direction.

Radio personality Susan Silver wrote a cute defense of lying about her age.  Her justification for chopping off a few years was essentially that everyone did it, so she could, too.

Blogger Stephanie Dolgoff went the other direction.  She told people she was older than her actual age!  At 43, she decided that by telling people she was older than her real age, she could pleasantly surprise them.

Here’s my feeling….


The fact that you even ask me the question means that you had trepidation about misrepresenting yourself.  It seems like you want validation that it’s okay to toss your trepidation to the wind.

When all is said and done, the only two people who care whether you fudge your age are you and your potential partner.

Can you live with yourself for slicing 2 or 3 years off your age?  If not, then don’t do it.  If yes, then skip to the next question.

Can your potential partner live with you slicing 2 or 3 years off your age?

Well, that has a lot to do with your potential partner’s view on life and love.

Your potential partner may be the type of person who fudged a bit, too.  Maybe he fudged his height or his weight or his income.  Maybe his picture was a few years old, and he didn’t have quite as much hair as you expected.

Would he mind if you shaved a few dozen months off your birth certificate?  Probably not.  To him, that is just a fib.  A white lie.  A mathematician might call it rounding.

On the other hand, your potential partner may believe in truth-in-advertising.  What he says about himself is the truth, and he expects you to abide by that code.  Would he mind you dialing back the clock?  Probably.  He would call it lying.

As you can see, the answer to the question depends on the participants.  Unfortunately, in the dating world, you don’t know how your potential partner feels about fibs versus lies.  So what do you do?


When I give my lectures, I often talk about the way your personality is made up of five traits, known as the OCEAN or Big Five personality traits.  They are openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

I have always felt that list to be incomplete.  You know what belongs on it?  Honesty.  Your tendency towards truth or falsity is a huge part of who you are, and it has giant ramifications in the dating world.

How much dishonesty would you tolerate?Sometimes when you are dating, you lose sight of the long term goal.  You’re so worried about getting your potential partner’s number, nailing the first date, getting to the second date, and so on, that you forget that the ultimate goal is finding your special someone.  Your goal is to turn a potential partner into a life partner.

In all likelihood, you’re going to share a home, a mortgage, a bank account, a retirement plan and….children.  Do you know what you don’t want from that person?  Deceit.

The prospect of sharing a home, a mortgage, a bank account, a retirement account and children with someone who lies to you is scary.

One of my favorite dating bloggers, Moxie, wrote that shaving a couple years off your age was okay, but that shaving a decade off was not.  Her rationale was that a few years here and there might make you pop up in more online searches.  True.  But worth it?  You’ll have to decide for yourself whether some extra emails are worth the risk of turning off your potential partner when he or she finds out the truth.


Age certainly does factor into the size of your dating pool.  When you’re 32, you don’t appear in online dating site searches for people under 30.  When you’re 32, you can’t go to a 20’s singles event.  But you have to seriously ask yourself whether that’s the reason you’re single.

People tend to be attracted to confidence.  Are you letting your age sap your confidence?  If so, your problem is not your age, but the way you feel about it.

People tend to be attracted to those who are well dressed for the situation in which they find themselves.  How do you go out in public?  What does your outfit say about you?  Maybe your outfit says that you’re more of the same.  Or, worse, maybe it says that you gave up.

People tend to be attracted to those who are optimistic.  Do you come across as a glass if half full person?  Or half empty?

You can tell people whatever you want and whatever age you want, but your actions will ultimately speak louder than words.




  1. Hezekieli says:

    Since not so long ago, people didn’t even know how many years old they were. 😛

  2. Crystal Crum says:

    No…if somebody is going to start off lying about their age then what else are they going to lie about?! A lie is a lie.

    • Jeremy Hamburgh says:

      Crystal, it is true that a lie is a lie. You know how I feel about lying about age. But I’m going to challenge you: Is there a situation in which both partners benefit from a lie? (I.E. Do you believe in “white” lies?)

  3. I find this a big problem on dating sites. I can’t lie on dating sites because you can’t change your age like you can your profile details. People are usually surprised at the gym when i’ve told them how old I am. I wouldn’t date a women my own age because they have done everything, many have children and are now incapable of having children. I would have nothing in common with them given my aspergers and maturity levels. My knowledge is like a 70 year olds but my emotional maturity like someone considerably younger. I want to meet someone who’s still got some youth left in them. No disrespect intended to older women. Speed dating have limits like 20-30, 29-40 etc so they are out of the question. I have never had a girlfriend and don’t like someones gran for a partner. When women see my age on dating sites that is an immediate deal breaker. They don’t even give me a chance. If they meet me in person they might find out theres more to me than meets the eye.

    • Jeremy Hamburgh says:


      It is very common for older men to be attracted to women of child bearing age. Some of those men do end up dating younger women. But plenty of men who swear off women their age end up with women their age — and have wonderful relationships. Keep an open mind and you open up the world of dating possibilities.


      • You haven’t seen the state of some of them who are my age and where I live. Probably down to their lifestyles e.g smoking, excess drinking and nightclubbing to all hours. I hate nightclubs and smokers. I would like to meet someone attract and ordinary. You have done very well for yourself.

        • Jeremy Hamburgh says:


          You and I may live in very different places. I live in New York City where there are 8 million people to meet, and all of us are unique. You may live in a very different place. But that doesn’t mean that there are no women there for you. Why don’t you start by listing for me/us all the places you are looking for potential partners, and maybe we can help you think of new ways to look.


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