Match Dot Con
  A woman wrote me on an online dating site. Her profile said she was 42. I’m 37, which isn’t a big age difference, so we went out. We had a blast and were planning to go out again when she e-mailed and confessed she’ll be 49 in August. She seemed really cool, had a great sense of humor, and looked older than 42, but was definitely still cute. Should I be worried she might have other surprises in store?  
— Numbers Racket

  A seasoned shopper on an online dating site doesn’t just wonder if everybody’s lying, he expects it. People will tell you right in their profile that honesty is extremely important to them — then sandwich that claim between more fudge than you can buy in one of those candy stores you see in the mall. And, because men and women have different hard-wired preferences for what they seek in a partner, they lie about different things. Men tend to lie about their height and income. Women are likely to lie about their age and weight.
 {mosimage} Deception has always played a big part in romantic marketing. Mascara is a lie. Wearing a slimming color is a lie. Frankly, deodorant is a lie, but let’s hope the masses continue to embrace olfactory dishonesty. Online, people can get away with much more. When they create their dating profile, they aren’t lying to somebody’s face, they’re lying on a resume they’re sending off into the ether. And, they aren’t doing it as themselves, but as GolfBeast or ChocolateLuvr89. So, you see “Husky dude with most of his hair and a quirky sense of adventure...” — instead of “Male-pattern-balding, out-of-shape weirdo, teetering between thoughts of suicide and mass murder, seeks model.”
  Many of these hyperbolists seem to forget that there’s going to be some point of reckoning. Or, they keep telling themselves they’re planning on losing the weight or rolling off the couch and looking for a job.
  As for Miss 42-and-counting, try to have a little compassion. Guys tend to go for younger or much-younger women, and guys on dating sites do searches with an age cutoff, which means she never gets the chance to be judged for her looks instead of her age. Regarding your worry that she might have “other surprises” in store, consider it a good sign that she confessed her real age after the first date. If you don’t think she’s too old for you, keep dating her, and see whether she seems inclined toward convenient dishonesty. There’s a good chance you’ve heard the worst of it.
  (c)2008, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
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