Is this deceit taken?
I'm a 54-year-old single man. I've discovered a troubling and apparently rampant trend among people around my age doing online dating — women not being honest about their age. I think the women doing this include the woman I started seeing, whom I otherwise like a lot. She listed her age as 55 but recently got flustered recalling the year she graduated from high school. I got suspicious and looked her up on people finder sites, which list her age as 57. Should I tell her, "Hey, I've been doing a little detective work, and your numbers don't add up"? — Just Trying to Find an Honest Woman
After a certain point — the French tactfully call it "un certain age" — a woman's birthday tends to come but once every two or three years. Sure, there are women who aren't willing to compromise their ethics just to shave off a few years: my glamorous grandma, for example, who was 31 until the day she died — at 90.
I'm always a little surprised when anybody's surprised that somebody they met on the Internet lied about something. In fact, as I advise in my new book, everyone on the Internet should be assumed to be lying about everything until proven otherwise. In other words, consider yourself lucky that she's female. And a mammal.
I write often about our evolutionary imperatives, like how men evolved to lust after healthy, fertile women — all the better to help them pass on their genes. The features men consider beautiful — like youth, unwrinkled skin and an hourglass figure — are actually indicators of a woman's fertility. And the older and further away a woman gets from peak fertility the more these features fade and the less desirable she becomes to men. Sure, a woman may grow wiser with age, and she may be a perfectly wonderful and kind person, but as I note in my book, "The penis is not a philanthropic organization and will not get hard because a woman bought a homeless guy a sandwich."
You could tell this woman you've caught her in a lie — if your goal is embarrassing her into liking you more. But it isn't like she said she was 30 and turned out to be bumping up against 60. By the way, it isn't just women who engage in attractiveness-improving fibbery. In the male camp, the lies include flashy cars beyond one's means, liberal interpretations of 6-foot-1, Rogaine and the poor man's Rogaine, spray-on "hair."
And the reality is, whenever you think you could get serious with a person, you need to look at her character over time — comparing what she says with what she does — to figure out whether she's trustworthy. As you're doing that with this woman, consider taking a counterintuitive approach — calling up a little compassion for where she's coming from. Chances are, she only lied because she figured out where all the honest women are: home alone being 57 instead of having a man like you spirit them off for a romantic weekend at Club Med Guantanamo to waterboard them about their real birthdate.
I have a friend I see about once a week, and all she ever does is vent about her various dating problems. The 10 percent of the time we actually discuss my life or anything else, she seems bored. I want to tell her I feel like she's monopolizing our friendship with her love life, but I'm not sure how. — Ignored
This isn't friendship; it's therapy without the copay. The question is, has she always been this way?
Even a true friend can go through periods of being needy, moody, selfish or otherwise hard to be around. That friend probably just needs a heads-up, like, "I know you've been on edge about your whole dating situation, but I've been feeling kind of bad that you never seem interested in what's going on with me."
"I'm feeling bad" appeals to their sympathy, which, economist Adam Smith noted, motivates us to try to ease others' discomfort or suffering. Tagging the problem to the "dating situation" suggests that they're a little wrapped up in their problem rather than that they, personally, are the problem. If, however, a person is narcissistic — truly self-absorbed — and if that's always been her orientation, there's probably no transforming her from a talker into a listener (not without duct-taping her to a chair and gagging her with a pair of old tube socks).