Should You Lie About Your Age?

Should You Lie About Your Age? ©iStock/Valentinrussanov

We’ve all heard the horror stories before – your best girlfriend met the greatest guy online through OKCupid. He’s tall, handsome, and at the age of 25, he seems to have a really good idea about what he wants in life. Even better, he’s actually on the path to getting there, and doesn’t just dream big while wasting time in front of the television. All of a sudden, this fantasy love affair falls apart. Prince Charming loses track of his lies, and all of a sudden it’s revealed that he’s actually 40. Also, he has a wife with a kid on the way. I guess he was too good to be true after all.

After your friend takes about a billion showers and swears off dating for awhile, she might have a few questions. Sure, she knows why he lied about being married (because hello, he’s a disgusting cheater who saw an opportunity for some side action), but why lie about his age? After all, it’s becoming more and more common for women to date men that are a bit older, and a little more established in life. It could have been part of the personality that this loser was trying to sculpt, or maybe there was more to it.

The sad news is, people lie about their age all the time. If they didn’t, the fake ID business wouldn’t even exist, nor would the phrase “twenty-something”. While certain situations seem harmless, others can get you into a lot of trouble. If you’re tempted to fudge the numbers, here are a few situations that’ll land you in more trouble than you bargained for.

1. The New Job

Here’s the scenario: You’ve been searching for a job for what seems like years, and you finally found a great opportunity for an entry-level position at the brand new start up company the next town over. At the age of 30, you’re hardly looking to put your foot in the door… however, you’d do anything to get out of the abusive environment that makes you wonder on a daily basis if life is still worth living.

Here’s the possible outcome: For one, your salary will probably suffer a bit. When people seek entry level, they’re truly looking for the naive college graduate who doesn’t understand how much their time is actually worth. If you’re the type of person to bond with your coworkers, you might miss a few pop culture reference that a 23-year-old wouldn’t dare be out of the loop for. And then there’s the big one: If the news is ever revealed, your boss might figure out what other aspects you lied about, like things that’d potentially hurt his or her business. All around, it’s a bad move that’ll guarantee a poor reference for the next job you’ll have to get after being fired.

Plus, why would you discredit yourself? If you get the interview, be real — tell them why you’d love to work for them, and what you have to offer that a 22-year-old can’t.

2. The New Boyfriend

He’s 32, and he thinks you’re 26. Why? Well, because if he found out you’re closer to 30, he’d assume that you want him to settle down immediately based on your fertility clock. Plus, when you met at the bar, you were seriously curious as to whether or not you could pull off the role of a younger woman, and now? Now it’s been a month of non-stop contact. It probably felt good at the time, but you’re in for a world of hurt when the truth comes out.

If the backbone of your relationship is built on a lie, you’re going to want to fess up immediately – especially if you actually like and respect the guy. The earlier you come clean, the easier it’ll be. If he’s about the propose and you decide to tell your secret while he’s down on one knee, chances are he won’t be putting a ring on it. He’ll be putting that ring back in his pocket and getting a refund at Zales.

Ladies, if a guy likes you, he likes you for you. If he wanted to date you solely since you’re a younger woman, he obviously doesn’t have his priorities in check. Don’t risk it by trying to pretend you’re someone you’re not.

3. The Brand New Friend

It’s hard to make new friends when you’re older, so when you meet that cool new girl at yoga, you don’t want to scare her off and tell her you’re closer to 40 than 20. Plus, your social life has been lacking recently – she could be the key to a whole new social group that actually does stuff, and doesn’t just complain about taxes and family. What’s the big deal, right?

Well, here it is. The social life you have at 20 is much different at 30, and even more distant at 40. When you’re 20, it’s totally fine to stay up till 2 AM on a weekday and still function at work the next day with the help of caffeine. When you’re 30, you need the whole weekend to recuperate from your wild night on Friday, and it’ll still take you a while to fall back into a normal, human routine. Pretty soon, it’ll catch up with you — and your cover will be blown.

Not only that, but your friend might think you’re kind of creepy for weaseling your way into a younger crowd. Chances are, she’ll think you’re pretty cool regardless of your age. You could be the older sister she never had, instead of the seventh BFF she already has.

4. The Internet

Back when you were a kid, you probably used to make up fake profiles all the time. In 1998, the “world wide web” assumed you were a blonde 18-year-old from California in that AOL chat room, when you were truly an awkward 15-year-old who was trying desperately to talk to guys. When you were younger, this stuff was new and ripe for social experimentation. Only later did the horror stories and the Craigslist killers come out of the woodwork.

If things are truly anonymous, what’s the harm in saying you’re 20 on that wedding message board? I mean, it’s not like these people actually know you, right?

It could be harmless, but it’s kinda-sorta a form of trolling. Also, it’s pretty gross, especially if there’s no reason for the brand new identity. It’s possible that 85% of the people on that board are lying liars, but the online community would be pretty vacant and pathetic if everyone felt the need to lie about themselves. For example, if you’re 40 and you’re full of helpful wisdom about marital spats, that’s amazing. But if you’re actually a 17-year-old who isn’t even in a relationship yet, posting about the best way to avoid marital spats, how useful do you think your advice truly is? Seriously, get a hobby or something.

While lying about your age might seem like a fun at the time, nine out of ten instances, it’ll bite you in the ass. Always remember that honesty is the best policy, and if you couldn’t get the job or land the guy by being the true version of you, they weren’t worth getting in the first place.


Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.