Would You Wear Yours on a Tee Shirt?
OK, party game! Everyone put on a tee shirt with your age on it and walk around a giant party full of strangers. Wanna play? If I bought you a shirt that said, “I am 40 years old,” would you wear it? Would you give everyone the chance to judge you before they even met you? And what if you were sorted by that same shirt? What if you couldn’t enter certain rooms in the party because your shirt said you were 40 and these rooms were only for people 38 and under? Then would you wear your age on your shirt?
As a Certified Divorce Coach who also helps clients rebuild their lives after divorce, I advocate equally for both men and women alike. However, this one time I feel the need to step out for “all the single ladies.” And it helps to not just ‘walk the walk.’ Being single has exposed me to the world of online dating as it stands today and trust me I can ‘talk the talk’ in all languages too.
I have to admit that coming to this world after being off the market for twenty years was like riding in a DeLorean to the future with Michael J. Fox. I got out and people may as well have called me Donna Karan for the label in my underwear. I had no idea where I was and what the heck was going on!
And the interesting thing about online dating, if you tell the truth of course, is that you are branded by your age before people even have the chance to meet you. And if they sort you by your age then they may never even get the chance to meet you at all. Or see your best looking selfie, how adorable you look when skiing, and the awesome photo of you and your fifteen best friends on New Year’s Eve!
So I have tried all of the popular online dating sites and definitely walked the walk so to speak. The issue is that I didn’t like the feel of the artificial turf crunching under my feet. I am 45 years old and didn’t have trouble meeting men online. The trouble I had was that the men who were approaching me were 10-15 years older and I found it confusing. I quickly learned that men have this new perspective that they are entitled to date women 10-15 years younger. And not only has this somehow become OK, this has somehow become the new normal. When did this happen?
I started canceling each of my online dating accounts because you have to list your age up front and I was getting branded and sorted before I even had a chance to show who I was as a person. I never have this problem when I go out. I often hear, “Why are you still single?” or “You have so much energy I can’t keep up!” Men don’t tend to ask me how old I am but when they do I always tell them. I just don’t want to wear it on my shirt before they’ve met me.
So what about you? Am I the only one who feels this way or is it time to tell online dating services that age should be an optional listing like religion and height or weight? Obviously people could still ask for it. But what if they could see us as people first? What would that do to the online dating experience? Would it, perhaps, make it a bit more authentic?
If I had the keys to the DeLorean believe me I would travel back in time and just keep dating the old- fashioned way. There are still plenty of ways to meet men without the filters of screens and algorithms telling me what I should do and who I should meet (and so often getting it so wrong). I come from the world of IT and I still can’t embrace it.
So what’s the key to changing the dating game for 2017? I tell you the same that I would tell any client who walked into my office: The key is to remember that you are in charge of your own dating destiny. What do you want and what do you not want? Think it through, define it, and stick with it. Don’t let the systems in place tell you how it’s going to be for you. You can probably figure out what I’m going to do. So I ask you again, if I bought you a tee shirt with your age on it would you wear it? What are you going to do in 2017?
This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.