From online dating pundit, Virginia Vitzthum:

My competition for online dating talking head status gives women tips in the form of blame. He first directs women not to believe anything a man says on a date. He also gives contradictory advice in two of the steps — contact men, we love that, says #8; only go for men who are searching for you says #4. This is the guy I paid for online dating advice — for book research — who told me to lie.

Now, let me be clear. I respect Virginia Vitzthum. She writes well. And I have no trouble with her mentioning me in a blog.

It’s the “taking things completely out of context” part that doesn’t work for me. And because there’s nothing worse for a writer than to feel misunderstood, the instances where I’m taken to task can be explained thusly:

“He directs women not to believe anything a man says on a date”

Actually, I said that women shouldn’t think that having a great date means anything more than “I had a great date”. Women are often hurt and surprised when their incredible nights lead to nothing. I was merely trying to point out that if a man’s job on a date is to show you a good time, don’t be surprised if he shows you a good time. It just doesn’t necessary portend a future relationship. I emphatically did NOT say that everything that comes out of a man’s mouth is a lie. If you read it that way, as Virginia did, you’re getting it wrong.

He also gives contradictory advice in two of the steps — contact men, we love that, says #8; only go for men who are searching for you says #4.

These points do not contradict each other whatsoever. The only thing that would contradict my advice that says “Contact men” would be “Don’t contact men.” But I never said “don’t contact men”. What I said was that, if you’re a 45 year old woman who wants to date a 45 year old man, and you find that he’s only looking for women 21-31, don’t waste your time. Instead, focus on the men who ARE interested in dating a 45-year-old woman.

As I’m writing this post, I can’t even believe that my words could be so wildly misinterpreted, by an intelligent and experienced writer, no less. What’re ya gonna do?

But finally, the juicy stuff. The lying.

When Virginia recounts her story of how I encouraged her to lie, I can only assume that this, too, has been taken out of context. Any reader of my books or of this blog knows that I’m not an absolutist on anything. It’s never my way or the highway. I look at a situation, try to assess it as objectively as possible, put myself in the other persons’ shoes, and offer my two cents. When a man who is taking care of his sick parents asked me if he should lie about his living arrangement, I said yes. This doesn’t mean I am an advocate of lying, per se. It means that there’s far more nuance than moralists like Virginia would have you believe.

And let’s face it, it’s not taking much of a stance to come down AGAINST lying. It’s quite stronger to empathize with a woman who has gained twenty pounds and would rather not list her weight, or to understand how a woman who crosses the border from 49 to 50 might feel insecure as she drops off many men’s radars.

Finally, there’s a HUGE difference between “lying to be seen” and “lying to deceive”. Lying to deceive is claiming in your profile that you’re 35 and saying when you meet that you’re 40. What I advocate – what I have advocated – and what I most assuredly advocated when Virginia Vitzthum called me for research on her book – was this stance, which has been my answer to the lying question on the E-Cyrano quiz for four years now.

It’s okay to lie about your age (within a couple of years) as long as you tell the truth later in your profile.

If you list yourself as 49, but come clean in your profile that you’re truly 50, and the person still chooses to contact you, I’m not sure exactly who’s getting hurt. One thing I am sure of: this kind of lying is not indicative of any character flaw beyond insecurity.

Virginia and I exchanged pleasant emails after I read her post, so this isn’t any sort of Online Dating War as the title might indicate.

I was just hoping that someone would take the headline out of context and run with it.