Algebra In The Dating World

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by someone much younger than myself; a 20 year-old, who we’ll call TY.  I figured this must be some kind of spammer, Nigerian 419 scam, or someone with “services available to a generous gentleman”, because seriously I cannot picture a 20 year-old attempting reach out to me.  So I played along and replied to the e-mails.  It was all too perfect: she lived in my town, she’s just looking for new “friends”, and according to her my profile made it seem like “it would be fun to get together”.  Uh huh.  A total scam.  Having worked in then computer security field I was very careful not to reveal any identifiable information about myself: I have alternate e-mail aliases, IM accounts, means to text message, and even a different phone number to give out if that were ever necessary.  So lets play.

It started the way I expected.  TY’s profile had a photo, but it was too dark to see anything other than the outline of a face.  Her profile talked about how she likes all music — vague, that way we’re sure to have some types in common — she’s a “girly girl” and that she “likes to shop”; other signs that I’ve seen on spam profiles before.*

The e-mails started coming, and it was the type of conversation that I expected.  She was going to be spending the afternoon shopping at Victoria’s Secret buying some new panties; red and purple. Those are her favorite colors apparently, and she wanted to get a pair that would look nice crumpled up in the corner of a bedroom.  Seriously!? She was oh so anxious to meet me so that we could get to know each other.  Oh, and a few days later she mentioned that had to cancel plans to go shopping again that day because she was out of money.  I smelled the scam coming to a head and expected that I’d soon get the message saying “but if you wanted to give me money to buy some panties to wear for you…”  All the signs of a scam were right there.  Right?

A couple days later, after very non-commital responses — “oh, that’s interesting”, “that’s too bad” — I received another message.  She was sitting in class at the local community college, bored.  She talked about her day; a real person’s day.  She talked about the weather in the neighbourhood here — not just “cloudy” or “sunny” — specifics about how the clouds broke and how it was foggy in the morning and more; someone that actually was in town and saw the weather.  She sent photos of herself.  Not risque photos to try to entice me, but just real photos.  Goofy photos. Silly faces and the like.  Suddenly I realized… this is a real 20 year old that lives in my town and really seems to want to meet me.  I doubted it at first, but it really did begin to add up that she was not some scammer sitting at a terminal in some far off land.  She was a 20 year-old taking photos of herself of nearby landmarks.  I had an actual 20 year-old reaching out to me.

If you’re single and planning to date**, you need to have an idea about the kind of person you’re looking for: hair color, eye color, build, religion, height, if they’re nice to their mum, do they have kids, the custody situation with those kids, drinking, smoking, and more.  If you’re going to do the online thing you’ll likely to find yourself in a place that you have to carefully pick exactly what who you want.  Don’t worry; usually you’ll have the option to choose “any” as your response.

Then there’s age.  For age you usually have to make a hard and fast choice, picking both a top- and bottom-end age.  Sure you can pick 18-99, but that’s a little weird — or desperate — so make a choice.  But how young is too young for you?  How old is too old?  If you choose an age too young are you a pervert?  A cougar?  If you chose to0 old… well then what are you?  Are you more concerned about how much you like a person that age, or what others will think of you if you’re seeing someone that age?  What if… someone outside your preferred age range chooses YOU.

Prior to the online dating world I’ve never really thought about age that much.  Many of my friends are younger than myself by around 10 years.  Some more.  If I happened to meet someone I liked and we hit it off, age usually wasn’t the first thing on my mind.  About six months ago my friends informed of what the “standard” is that should be followed:

[minimum age of person you should date] = [your age]/2+7

It makes sense to me.  It means that as of today, I have to limit myself to someone 28.82 years old or older.  (I think I’ve dated outside the formula once.  She was 25 and I was 40, short term, and I really wouldn’t call it “dating”.)

Is this formula right though?  One of those friends that told me about this formula later revised it to say that I shouldn’t date anyone under 30; 28 was “much to young” for me.  The person that said it is 29 years old and female.  She and I get along great and share some common interests, though neither of us would consider dating each other.  When we inquired further we found that her revision was based upon her standard that she wouldn’t want to use the formula in reverse:

[maximum age of person you should date] = 2([your age]-7)

She actually isn’t comfortable dating anyone over 35, nor anyone under 23.  So is the formula crap?  Should you simply pick ages that you’re comfortable with yourself?  Or should you pick ages that society or your friends feel are appropriate?

My choice is simple: I choose to date someone that I like.  Someone with whom I share common interests; music, concerts, the outdoors…whatever it may be!  I don’t want to conform to a formula.  I don’t want it to be okay for me to date a 72 year-old.  I’m sorry, but that’s just too old.  I also don’t want a 21 year-old to be able to date my 17.5 year-old daughter.  As a father, I’m not very comfortable with that idea.  (More on that another time.)  But if I want to date someone under 28.82 years I should be able to do so, for no other reason than we like each other and not because a formula says it’s okay.

As far as TY goes… well 20 is way too young for me, regardless of any formula out there and regardless of any common interests we have — none by the way.  “Didn’t think you were real…you’re too young…bye.”
*I know there are actually girls out there are truly are girly girls and that like to shop, but I’m guess you have more in your online profile than only those facts.

**If you’re not single but still planning to date, you may have a whole different list of criteria to look for.  I’ll discuss that another time.

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About Fresh Start Dad
Early forties, divorced dad of two teenagers, surviving back in the single world. Here to share stories and any survival skills I pick-up a

6 Responses to Algebra In The Dating World

  1. thordora says:

    My self, I really don’t often look under 25 or 27, and hold my upper limit at around 45 (I’m 32) I find below either end of the spectrum, interests, needs and plans are just far too different for me to handle. I try not to judge, but in my experience thus far, this has held true.

    And really-what would I have in common with someone at 23? two completely different worlds for the most part.

  2. Beth says:

    I think its more of what you are comfortable with. My range is 28 – 48. Any younger and they are out in the bars with the college kids and I cant hang with that anymore. Anything older I am afraid I would break a hip or feel like I was dating my dad.

    Do what works for you, but I completely get being 41 and having nothing in common with a 20 yr old…. she would just be something to show off any way….

    • But for a 41 year-old to be with a 20 year-old, there’s nothing there in my mind to even show off! I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable with it at all. Twenty is closer to someone my daughter’s age, and they would have more in common than with me! It makes me wonder what would actually drive someone that young to contact someone so much older than themselves.

      • Beth says:

        Maybe she is looking for a father figure. Or she saw you as someone that could take care of her. Being 20 is hard.

  3. Lisa says:

    I agree with Beth… she is probably looking for a father figure type.

    With my experiences on match.com and so on… I usually put 30 – 45. I’ve dated a couple of guys under 30 and that wasn’t much fun. Well, fun for them, but not for me.

  4. Tiffany says:

    Wow… I totally would have figured it for a scammer (I’ll tweet you a link to my posts on that subject.) i had a 25 year old …intelligent, educated, good career… everything… reach out to me (40) and was genuinely into the whole thing. But..well…just nothing in common. Especially after he IM’d me after a night of drinking asking if he could send me a pic of his..um…yeah. (BTW we’d never talked about anything that would remotely indicate I’d be interested in such things.) I just think that…well… there are differences in how we approach things when the age difference is so great. Wouldn’t work for me. #notacougar 🙂

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