L.A. Affairs: Age-subtracting men are multiplying, and it doesn’t add up

(Michael Hirshon / For the Los Angeles Times)

L.A. Affairs is our weekly column about the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles -- and finding romance in a wired world. If you’ve got a story to tell, we want to hear it. We pay $300 per published column. Past columns and submission guidelines are at

I’d never really been single in Los Angeles since I moved here from Chicago in 2007. Watching my friends go through dating ups and downs, some suffering through catastrophic heartbreak, I remember feeling extremely lucky that I didn’t have to experience dating in this new era of social media and apps — especially as a woman in my early 30s. But, after a sudden broken engagement followed by a year of rebuilding, I decided it was time to get my groove back and do the unthinkable: I would check out what everyone was talking about: Tinder.

One of the first men I’d connected with was a talent agent in his late 30s, or so I thought. After exchanging a few messages, he wrote, “Listen, I just want you to know that I’m really 44. I hope that’s OK.” At least he was upfront about it, and even though we never ended up connecting offline, I figured it was just a fluke. I didn’t realize that this would represent a trend: a very strange pattern of men in L.A. who are lying about their age.


My second encounter of this kind was with a well-known yet quirky character actor famous for his role on a popular HBO series. Again, we connected through Tinder, and after weeks of back-and-forth comedic banter, we exchanged phone numbers. We didn’t actually end up hanging out for another couple of weeks, when he asked me to join him at a wine tasting. Just 20 minutes before I was to walk out the door, he texted me: “There’s something I have to tell you that’s kind of embarrassing ... “


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“I’m not 34. I’m actually 41. If you don’t want to still go out with this liar, I understand.”

Perhaps the most drastic example of this phenomenon was a man who contacted me on Facebook through mutual friends in regard to a new venture he was launching. I did my research — he was a successful Broadway producer and entrepreneur — so I decided to meet him for lunch at the Soho House. I later realized that it was a date masquerading as “business.” But the immediate surprise was his appearance. The man in his “early 40s” was 49 at best (although if I was a betting woman, I’d say he was closer to 55).

Weeks later I was swiping through Tinder on a boring Saturday and came across a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Apparently he had regressed in age during that time. “Thirty-eight? Please!” I teased upon our “matching.” “Forty-eight,” he wrote back, making light of it. When I saw him a couple of weeks later, I decided to ask why someone like him, an established television producer, would lie about his age. After a long pause he finally mumbled: “Because … I’m old.”

There doesn’t seem to be a good reason for lying about your age if you are actually looking for companionship and a possible relationship. So what happens when things go beyond a few dates? Do these men keep up the ruse? More than likely these men who feel the need to make themselves years younger aren’t looking for their soul mates — maybe it’s a fling or a one-night stand.

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Perhaps the most honest answer came from a college freshman who, on Tinder, looked more like a high school student than the 38-year-old man he claimed to be. I had to know more. I swiped right. “I like to date older women,” he told me. “Changing my age range is the only way they’ll find me on here.”

This fascinating phenomenon was something I’d never expected before exploring the online dating world. I had always thought older men, especially those in L.A., had no qualms about dating women in their 20s or 30s (in fact, it’s become somewhat of a cliché). So it’s ironic that, in a place where a giant gap in age is seemingly accepted, men are now worrying just as much as women about being considered old.

What I’ve learned from dating a few older men is that romantic maturity has nothing to do with age, and although I’d probably never go out with a guy in college, they may actually be more open and accepting of a relationship than the eternal bachelor pretending to be seven years younger than he is. Of course, this is Hollywood, where fiction typically seems not only better than the truth, it is also widely accepted.

At the end of the day, I don’t think age matters that much. I won’t think you’re weird if you happen to be 45. I will, however, think that you’re strange if you’re 45 and pretending to be 32. I’m not discouraged from meeting people online, however. Now I will just make sure we have at least one acquaintance in common — so I can cross-reference.

Kira Coplin is a journalist, filmmaker and coauthor of the novel “Pop Tart.”

L.A. Affairs chronicles dating in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, write us at