L.A. Affairs: So what, I lied about my age. Is that a serious dating crime?

The attorney and I matched on the League. He was a handsome Left Coaster who had a charming profile to go with his beautiful smile. I’m a New Yorker without an anti-L.A. bias, so I swiped right. So did he.

Our relationship started with texting, then moved to the phone. We never lacked interesting conversation, and our calls frequently lasted an hour or longer. He always ended his late-night texts with “Good night and sweet dreams.”

We had so much in common. We are both single parents with one college-age child. Both are around the same age, liberal, Jewish, active, sports fans (definitely not the same teams!) and, most important, we were both looking for a serious relationship and hopefully marriage. He was clear that if we did end up together, I’d have to move to L.A. That wasn’t a dealbreaker. I’d move for true love — and the bonus of better weather.

The attorney and I started chatting in late October. In November, he excitedly told me that he would be on the East Coast for Thanksgiving. I understood that his reason for telling me this was that he was going to be in New York. We would be able to meet in person! I showed his pictures to friends (one and all said how handsome he is and what a lovely smile he has).

Then he went quiet. He did send a picture of his attractive family enjoying Thanksgiving dinner (presumably on the East Coast). But he didn’t arrange to meet. That should have been a red flag, but I apparently suffer from red colorblindness.

A couple of weeks later we had the following conversation:

Me: Been thinking about you. … I really like you, and we’ve really connected. Obviously our busy lives and the geographic distance are a huge obstacle. Texting and the occasional phone call isn’t a sustainable way to try to build a relationship. Rather than just fading away, why don’t we commit to meeting in person the next time we are on the same coast at the same time? If it’s real, our chemistry will survive …

Him: Thanks for staying in touch. I have been terribly busy with work and the campaign. We are entering the final stretch. How are you doing? And I like your suggestion about getting together.

My nest was empty. My son was off studying, and I had long promised to visit several California friends and clients. I booked a ticket to L.A. Finally we were going to meet in person! I wouldn’t have stayed with him, but I was surprised he didn’t offer his guest room.

My college best friend and his husband lived nearby. I love staying with their family, so I planned to stay in their guest room. The attorney and I made plans. He was going to pick me up at the airport so we could spend a romantic L.A. day together.

It never happened.

A few days before finally meeting in person, he asked for my address. Because he portrayed himself as a hopeless romantic, I assumed that he wanted to send flowers, but none arrived. The day before I was to leave, my phone rang.

No hello, just a hostile voice on the other end announcing my exact birth date. Without hesitation, I told him the truth: I was a couple of years older than my profile age. Did he perform a background check on me? Contrary to the evidence, he denied doing so. Then, because we had only communicated via phone or text, he demanded to know if I looked like my photos (which I do) and he proceeded to go over each photo to find out the exact date it was taken. I offered to FaceTime him later that day, but he declined my invitation.

The next day we had our final conversation (via text because he was too cowardly to deliver bad news over the phone).

Him: I apologize but I have decided to opt out. I can call you later today if you would like to further discuss this. I wish the best for you.

Me: Thanks. That’s OK. I wish the best for you too! You totally blindsided me when you called Wednesday. One of the things I liked about you was that we had interesting conversations, and you don’t seem superficial. … You asked, and I told you the truth. We live in an ageist society. I work in tech. It sucks to be judged on something you can’t control, but that’s reality. I recently interviewed for a gig with a 28-year-old CEO who called his 56-year-old mother a senior citizen. Ouch. You were planning to meet me at the airport, so we could spend the day together. I was going to stay with friends. After speaking for months, my only worry was we might not have the same chemistry in person. Now we’ll never know.

So nobody in L.A. or online ever lies about their age? Sure. According to a study I read about in Woman’s Day, 80% of all profiles include a lie about one or more of the following: age, weight or height.

Certainly if we had met in person instead of online, he would have been too well-mannered to ask my age. If he had been looking for someone younger with the search parameters he set, we wouldn’t have matched. For me, as long as a man appears to be within five years of his stated age, I’m fine with that. When I remember to tell someone I’ve met online that I’m a couple of years older than my profile, they usually say, “So am I.”

For me, his age was irrelevant. After months of communicating, I wanted to meet the person I connected with. If the attorney turned out to be a few years older or a few pounds heavier, I didn’t care. The packaging didn’t matter.

I agree with Oscar Wilde, who once said, “One should never trust a woman who tells her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.” I thought that was universal. I definitely thought it was true in L.A. But maybe not.

Lisa Mogull lives in New York City and is trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. She was a social media pioneer, TV producer and currently coaches and advises entrepreneurs. Lisa is writing a memoir about her terrible taste in men. She remains hopeful that she will find love (on one coast or another).

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.

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