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Asking for Age on Online Dating Sites is Discriminatory

Ashton-Applewhite-tnThis post was originally published on “This Chair Rocks,”  a website by Ashton Applewhite that also hosts Ashton’s blog Yo, Is This Ageist? Read more on This Chair Rocks by clicking here.  Read our Q&A with Ashton by clicking here.

 

A woman wrote in this week to my blog Yo, Is This Ageist?:

I am a 37 year old woman and I am suffering through online dating. Not only do I have to face the insecurity of not being attractive or witty enough to engage a man’s interest (supported by my 0/22 success rate for replies from men I have emailed), not I have to face that I am considered to OLD for many men my age. The number of men in his late 20s, early 40s who list their age range for women as 24-33 is staggering. I never thought that at age 37 I would be viewed as an “older.”

It’s a well-worn fact that men, unlike women, conventionally fish in a much larger pond than their female peers. It’s the rare boy bird who’s willing to date someone even a few years older than he. In his book “The Magic of Middle-Aged Women,” Daniel Evan Weiss sums up the sheer unfairness of the situation in this story from a friend. When she was in her late teens, her uncle tried to set her up with a guy in his late twenties. He wasn’t interested; she was too young. Encountering the same man online 32 years later, she dropped him a note. He still wasn’t interested. Now she was too old.

The ostensible justification is fertility, the proverbial ticking clock. Men are supposed to seek young babes with young eggs, and women to bag high-status provider types, which is why bankers marry bimbos. Leaving aside the fact that that decline in fertility has been way oversold, when’s the last time you heard a woman worrying that her date might be infertile? Or, for that matter, about the fact that birth defects and mental illnesses rise with the father’s age? Which is another reason the fertility issue is largely a red herring.

Weiss makes that point at the evolutionary level, writing that, “The survival of our species no longer depends on our ability to find a fit, fertile partner.” His book is a paean to the social, psychological, and sexual charms of older women, and an argument that more men of all ages should reap the benefits. “I have learned that I am much better off with veteran women, and so it is natural that they look good to me,” he writes. “I don’t think I am violating my genetic mandate; rather, I am accelerating its adaptation.”

Weiss “learned” (key word) to think differently. What would it take for other men to follow suit, in significant numbers?

I have a suggestion: dating sites should omit age and age range.

My friend – smart writer and online dating expert Virginia Vitzhum – respectfully disagreed with this brilliant idea when I posted it on Facebook. “I think hiding your age feeds ageism (like “passing” feeds racism),” she commented. “People want to know, and at some point, it’s weird not to tell the person you’re dating how old you are.” Virginia’s with my sister on “guys whose own age isn’t in their target range. F*** ’em. (Or don’t, actually.)”

Hiding or lying about your age is one thing, and misguided in too many ways to count. But if all profiles on the site deliberately omit age and age range, that question becomes moot. After they connect, people can ask via chat or in person. Age is not secret. It simply ceases to be a data point for first-order screening. Unless you’re into numerology, why make a person’s birth date the prime indicator of compatibility? It’s illegal to ask for age on a job application because it fosters discrimination. It has the same effect in the world of online matchmaking. Why should it be any more acceptable?

Should dating sites stop asking for age and age range? Please share your opinion in the comments box below.

6 comments
  • Steve V
    REPLY

    When I was 27, I dated a woman who was 42( with 6 kids ) . . . and she was a smoker( blah ) !! I’ve always preferred older women. However, now that I’ve turned 65, older women & women my own age are completely out of the question. I go to the gym, life weights, watch closely what I eat, and have been taking only the finest quality nutritional supplements since I was a teenager. I have no major health issues & my libido is as strong as ever, so you understand that I’m not all that anxious to start dating a woman who has serious health issues.

    Yes of course, things do eventually happen, and once things do happen . . . if I am committed to her & if I love her, then we will cross that bridge together when we come to it. However, I don’t think it’s too much too ask to at least have a few good years with her, before things start to fall apart.

    So, I have found online dating to be extremely frustrating & discriminatory, all because of that one stupid question which asks your date of birth. Why even go there ? The women have seen my recent posted pictures, and after we meet & have our first in person conversation, then they are absolutely welcomed to ask my age.

    All I ask is to be given a chance. But, the way the online dating sites have their profile formats set up, a person( male OR female ) can’t even get their foot in the door !!

  • Peter N
    REPLY

    Age is important, especially for seniors. I’m 63 and I’ll be retiring this year and expect to spend my retirement years traveling, so I’m looking to date other women my age, so they’ll be at the same stage in life I am. As you can image, a 63 y.o, man looking to date women his own age is in high demand, so I’m having no trouble meeting great women.

    But I’m shocked at how many women lie about their age. I’m a widower who was happily married for 27 years so I know a thing or two about what makes a happy marriage, and honesty is very high on the list. Major dishonesty like lying about age is a deal-breaker for me and I’ve walked out on women in mid-date when I found out they lied. There are lots more fish in the sea and at mu age I don’t have much time left and don’t like to have it wasted.

  • TLK
    REPLY

    “It’s illegal to ask for age on a job application because it fosters discrimination.”

    Unfortunately this is a common misconception and the author and/or editor should have fact checked this before publishing.

    In fact it is not illegal to ask for age or birth date or graduation year on a job application. It’s only illegal to discriminate on that basis.

  • D
    REPLY

    I think people should be able to display their age range instead of displaying their exact age on adult dating websites.
    Instead of publishing that someone is 41, the person’s age range could be published instead. For example: “This person is in the 40-45 year old age range.”

  • Walker Thornton
    REPLY

    That’s a tough one–as I’ve been passed over for younger women and I’ve experienced the frustration of men my age seeking younger women.
    The reality is that older women are far better catches–in all ways. These men who miss out on dating peers are just idiots–looking for some fantasy or a return to their youthful days.

    I think we should keep age. I don’t mind admitting my age–I’ll be 59 in about a month. the man who can’t recognize what I have to offer–the man who is only looking for ‘youth’ isn’t the kind of man I want to date. And, I suspect many other women feel the same way. Of course the question becomes, who then do we date? OY!

  • Marie Dina
    REPLY

    Age is relevant when on a dating site.
    I find that telling the truth filters out many of the younger men.
    I myself find no objection in dating a younger man.
    There are many sites that offer a variety of activity partners if this is your goal.
    Looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with is another story.
    I don’t wish to remarry, therefore
    I enjoy meeting marvelous men and having fabulous dates..Some are short relationships and others have blossomed into great friendships.
    Age should be a requirement on dating sites.
    I have my age on them and many are surprised at how great I look and how much interest I have in people, life and activities.
    If you start out hiding your age in the end you only fool yourself.
    Step up to the plate and be who you are. do not start a friendship hiding the fact that you are as old as you are.
    Many younger men adore older women and vise-versa.

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