It was his driver’s license that gave Robert* away. He’d just told me to pick out a movie on his iPad, with a casual “passcode is my birthday” from the other room. I knew his birth month, ofc, but didn’t want to admit I’d blanked on the exact date, so I reached into his wallet.
And then there I stood, staring, mouth wide fucking open. I got out my phone’s calculator to check the math I fooled myself into believing was my error. But nope: He was fully FORTY-FIVE years old—not already-pushing-our-age-gap 35, as he’d said.
When the two of us first locked eyes at a rooftop bar, I could tell Robert was slightly older (regular 20somethings don’t wear watches that cost more than my rent), but I also didn’t notice any deep wrinkles that looked like my dad’s. And hey, at 23, I was all too eager to meet someone who didn’t consider Chipotle a date-night spot. So I accepted his invitation to take me out for bucatini.
Robert impressed me with his knowledge of fine wines and classic cinema, and I leaned into his kiss at the end of the night, even after he shared that he was 12 years older than I am. How lucky I thought I was to have found this L.A. producer who seemed genuine (lol).
From that point on, we pretty much dated exclusively. He met my family, and I met his friends. They were nice enough when we met up for big group dinners, but they never went out of their way to get to know me—which, in hindsight, makes total sense. (Robert later admitted that the “bros” wondered how long he could “keep up this act.”)
“What IS THIS?” I asked after learning the truth, waving his license in his face. The DMV had made a mistake, he insisted. Then he accused me of snooping (an A+ example of gaslighting, friends).
Here’s the part that really haunts me tho: I didn’t break up with him right away. Like any not not stable 23-year-old, I made a pro-con list. Pro: He’d get a senior citizen rate on movie tickets soon. Con: What else was he lying about?
Listen, had Robert told me his real age straight up, I might not have let it get so serious, even though I liked him for more than the year he was born. But the lying, the gaslighting, the plotting? Hard pass.
I’ve since moved on, but it’s still all I can do now *not* to say, “Can I see some ID?” whenever I meet someone new.