Dear Coach Paradise,
I always thought that Internet dating was for losers, but am fast changing my mind. I have friends I like and respect who are getting online, dating and meeting people they really like and even marry. So I have joined the crowd, got a friend to take some sexy photos and wrote up a profile. I answered all the questions truthfully except for my real age. I took 10 years off my age because everyone says I look that much younger, have the energy of someone younger and that men won't respond if I say how old I really am. I did feel a little weird doing this, but did it anyway.
I've gotten some responses and am testing the waters. What is bothering me is that I have gotten that eHarmony list of "must haves and can't stands" from a couple of guys, and on their "can't stands" is "lying." Whoops! I'm conflicted and am writing to see what advice you have for me. I don't want to eliminate men who I might be interested in and visa versa, but if I lie about my age am I ethically challenged? I haven't actually met any of these men in person, so I haven't figured out how long I would keep up the charade or what I would say. Different folks tell me different things. What do you think?
Online Dater in Distress
I can tell from your letter that you are not a liar by nature. It you were, this tweaking of your age wouldn't bother you one bit. You'd figure out a way to justify, rationalize and handle your man so that this would be the last thing he would really care about after you've met and hit it off, sparks flying. The other, morally outraged guy would be history in no time. Haven't women lied about their ages since time immemorial? What happened to the coy "not telling"?
Ethically challenged, morally questionable -- a lie is a lie. In the land of absolutes you have indeed told an untruth, and will be punished accordingly. If it really bothers you to tell a lie, don't! Find other ways to meet people or figure that the person who will honor your true age is the one you are seeking anyway.
In the land of Internet dating, being "tall, dark and handsome" or a "hot babe" or "very attractive and highly intelligent" is open to interpretation. I figure that putting yourself out there is an act of courage requiring some marketing savvy and a fair measure of chutzpah (Yiddish for "guts"). When someone says they are 6 feet tall, does anyone ask if they have been measured lately? Is the weight quoted on some profiles the person's actual weight or their goal weight? If these details really matter to you or to your potential date, then "discovery" will be everyone's undoing, and the truth will set you free -- to move on.
I'd check in with your intention. It may be to have a loving relationship and connect with another person, to have fun, to test your dating wings, etc. -- the promo and the actual packaging may be the least of what really matters in the end. The whole process may be a great opportunity not only to meet the love of your life but also to discover that things you thought mattered don't and things you didn't think were important end up closing the deal. (As in first date is the last date, or happily ever after.) It all helps you to refine your picture so that the person of your dreams reflects what really counts and ups the chances of your waltzing into one another's lives -- on or off line.
Editor's note: Coach Paradise (AKA Anne Nayer), Professional Life Coach, is a member of the International Coaching Federation, an MSW clinical social worker-psychotherapist and a medical case manager with 30 years experience working with people of all shapes, sizes and challenges.
For further information about her services, call 774-4355 or email her.