If asked, most people would say that they try not to judge people by their age. I was born in the 70s, and most of my friends were born in the 80s. Fine. No problems, except for when they refer to 80s music as “oldies,” which makes me wince a little.

If age is really relative, it might seem strange to establish age as a determinant in either dating or not dating a person. If theoretically, you’re only looking for someone to age 40, it makes no sense to reject someone just because he’s 41 – in all likelihood, he’s no different in terms of his ability to enjoy life and act young than any 40 year old is. And also, we all know people who act way older or younger than their actual calendar age, and so we know not to judge a book by how old its birth certificate says it is. (Yes, enjoy that mixed metaphor.)

But what’s happening online is something different. Everyone who fills out an online dating profile indicates a preferred age range for potential partners. And a woman in her thirties who indicates that she’s looking for a man in his thirties or forties will likely encounter that the men in their thirties and forties are looking for women in their twenties. Then comes the next part: men in their fifties contacting women in their thirties, even if that’s not the age range they’d prefer.

Of course, we’ve already said that age doesn’t matter. But is a woman still entitled to reject a man’s advances online if he’s over a certain age? After all, some of the men online are employing artificial age cutoffs themselves, mostly because it’s required by most dating services. Does this make her a judgmental person? Or is she just using her best judgment?