How old are you…really?

When someone asks your age does the number slide off your tongue with ease or do you fudge the age factor?  For older gay men, admitting your honest age can sometimes stick in your throat like a chicken bone. Living in a youth-dominated culture can give anyone over the age of 40 pause about stating how many rings are around their respective trunks.

There is an old joke in my family that my mother didn’t tell the truth about her age for years, although she did it with a twist.  Her philosophy was that lying about your age was a ploy to garner some praise and a few compliments and it rarely worked.  Knock too many years off your age and instead of compliments you get the raised eyebrow of disbelief and compliments that barely veiled the ‘Who are you kidding?’ reaction.  Mom approached the problem in another way, arguing that if you are going to lie about your age, lie up.  That way, everyone tells you, “My, you look so good for your age!”… and isn’t that the point in the first place?

Not long ago I connected with a man online who stated that he was 57.  After exchanging a series of emails we agreed to a coffee meet-and-greet.  When he walked in the door, I saw a man who was elegant, well dressed and attractive…  but also obviously far older than 57.   People often trim a few years off their age in online profiles but the discrepancy hung there — how old was he… really?  It wasn’t the number but rather the obvious deception that I found disconcerting, indicative of a person who was trying to be something he was not.  I considered asking him directly, but kept expecting at some point he might say something along the lines of , “Oh, by the way, I should tell you that I’m not really in my fifties…” but that never happened.

On our second meeting I decided to address the issue head on and asked his age.  Instead of answering directly he did the equivalent of a bob and weave for a few moments, then finally admitted he was in his 70′s.  I’m glad at least that he didn’t ask, “Well, how old do you think I am?” since I cringe at guessing games.  I’m not sure which was more difficult for him — revealing his true age or admitting that he had been less than honest about it.  It underscored for me one of the problems with any kind of deception — eventually, you may have to ‘fess up about it.

Some guys think that telling their true age will scare off potential contacts and limit their options for relationships and sex partners.  I would argue that it improves your chances, since the people who are interested in connecting with you do so either because of or in spite of your age right from the beginning.  It never has to become an awkward question or conversation.  In the long run, your age is going to come out one way or another, whether through true confession or someone sneaks a peek at your driver’s license while you are in the bathroom.  Be authentic, be real and be who you really are.

Either that or lie up.

Your Gay Life Coach and Guide,

Jim Duke