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    I lie about my age, and I don’t see anything wrong with that

    Age is the only thing Nicola Prentis lies about when dating.

    Nicola Prentis; Getty Images; Chelsea Jia Feng/BI

    Nicola Prentis has lied about her age since she was in her 20s.She thinks society judges women so much that age has become a loaded topic.Men often don’t respect her privacy and try to find it out anyway.

    I’ve lied about my age for so long that, on any given day, I forget exactly how old I am. I could do the math and work it out, but why would I want to do that?

    I don’t celebrate my birthday, and until I was outed by their father, I lied to my kids or avoided answering the “How old are you, Mommy?” question. Their father knew I didn’t want anyone to know because I’d avoided telling him my age when we got together. It was a subterfuge I’d have happily maintained indefinitely, but he accidentally saw a police form I was filling out for a stolen wallet. I’m half sure he told my sons out of spite once we’d split up.

    I was in my 20s when I started lying about my age

    When I started lying about my age, I was 24. That was when I first experienced negativity and judgment from other people when they asked how old I was.

    At 22, I graduated from university in the UK with a philosophy degree. Philosophy isn’t exactly a major with a clear career progression, and I spent a couple of years aimlessly taking temporary jobs in local warehouse depots and backpacking in Mexico.

    For the first two years, when anyone asked me what I was planning to do with my life, I’d say I didn’t know. “You’re young, you’ll work it out,” they’d say encouragingly. But, at 24, that turned into comments basically saying, “It’s time to grow up.”

    As I got older, the pressures linked to my age morphed into expectations around marriage and having children. This was at its height when I lived in Turkey, and my Turkish ex-boyfriend’s family said I was too old for him at 34. He was 34 too. In the subsequent relationship, when I did eventually have two babies without complications, they were labeled “geriatric” pregnancies because I was no longer under 35.

    Internet dating creates an unacceptable requirement to reveal your age

    Being on dating apps raised the issue again because you’re required to list your age front and center on your profile — even, ridiculously, on apps where users typically use a handle that’s not their actual name.

    In real life, that’s not how we introduce ourselves to people even in a dating context. You’d find out where they’re from, what they do, and about hobbies. The spark comes from a hundred other things than the number of years since you were born. So why should I have to reveal my number before we’ve even met?

    I combatted this by either paying for a profile so age was optional or I just registered with a fake birthdate. Nowadays, no longer internet dating, I just refuse to give a number rather than lie as it gets too difficult to remember who I told what to.

    I’ve heard people claim that lying about age is a huge red flag because it means you’ll lie about other things too. That’s simply not the case. That’s the only thing I lie about in all my relationships, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

    Women are judged constantly about their age

    It’s a sore point for me because age is none of anyone’s business, just like my weight, diary, or latest PAP smear results. If people stopped asking this invasive question, I wouldn’t have to lie about it. The wrong here is that people ask in the first place. We all know the question isn’t a judgment-free inquiry.

    “How old are you?” is loaded with society’s expectations of what you should look like, act like, or earn for your age. Your answer determines how worthy and how successful you are.

    This is especially the case for women. We’re judged harshly for getting older, but somehow we are also at fault for not embracing it. Every day I am bombarded with headlines in the media criticizing celebrities who are aging as well as those who are trying to reverse aging with fillers or surgery. “Age gracefully” is shorthand for “don’t look older but also don’t try not to.” Men who try to defy aging, on the other hand, are celebrated as “biohackers” and inspirational visionaries for what the human body can achieve.

    Far worse than my evasion or lie is how people, especially men, don’t respect my privacy or boundaries even though I don’t ask or care about their age. Several men have searched my social media profiles for clues or threatened to look for my passport. Would they do the same about my weight?

    I understand that it’s impossible to keep my age a secret forever in a long-term relationship. There’s simply too much life admin to do together to hide it. But until that point comes, I will continue to avoid the topic or choose an age I think I can get away with. My real age is no one’s business.

    Got a personal essay about dating or life as a single parent that you want to share? Get in touch with the editor: [email protected].

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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