Do You Want To Date People Who Don’t Want To Date You?

A reader called me up last week to inquire about my dating coaching services.

She’s 57 years old.

She’s been divorced and widowed to two older men. Neither marriage sounded like a happy one. In our time on the phone, they sounded loveless, sexless and painful.

For that reason, she really wants to get back out there and find love again.

But because of the pain she suffered in the past, she made a rule for her new single life – a rule that she was NOT going to break, no matter what.

“I am not going to date any man who is my age or older.”

This woman is 57.

However, because she had to take care of sick, old men in the past, she swore she was not going to get stuck doing the same thing again.

Most dating coaches don’t turn down money under any circumstance.

It didn’t matter that one of her husbands was 20 years older. Now that she’s 57, all men her age are old, and she’s sure as hell not going to spend her remaining days tethered to a withered man in a wheelchair.

I told her that I didn’t blame her, but that I couldn’t take her on as a client.

She was surprised. Most dating coaches don’t turn down money under any circumstance.

I told her that she was restricting her options so greatly that I would have trouble guaranteeing her a positive result. And that’s my job – positive results.

She didn’t understand. What’s so wrong with a 57-year-old woman wanting a younger man? Men do it all the time. “It’s MY turn to have fun,” she remarked.

I told her that I appreciated that; however, it didn’t really matter what she wanted.

She was still confused. How could it not matter what she wants?

“Because it takes two to tango. If YOU want a man who doesn’t want YOU,” I explained, “There’s no relationship to discuss.”

I tried to explain it the other way around.

“What if an 80 year old man wrote to you online?”

“I’d ignore him, of course.”

“Exactly. Even though you’re what HE wants. Therefore it doesn’t matter what HE wants, if YOU don’t want the same thing.”

She reminded me that she looked young for her age.

I reminded her that she should do a search on Match.com to see what age range 55-year-old men were searching. In fact, I decided I would do it myself.

EVERYONE thinks that they’re young for their age.

Here goes: These are the age ranges that men, 50-56, are looking for:

40-50

33-47

34-48

45-55

40-50

37-42

30-42

30-45

25-53

48-52

45-55

Notice that there are more 30’s than there are 57’s.

Now, to be clear, this desire doesn’t mean these men are GETTING these younger women. Oh, no. Women in their 30’s are almost universally creeped out by receiving emails from men in their 50’s. But that doesn’t matter.

Put a 35-year-old woman side by side with a 57-year-old woman, and ask yourself what most men are going to pick. It’s predictable.

But that’s online dating. A place where you have the PERCEPTION of choice.

You’re not just competing with your peer group; you’re competing with EVERYONE on the website who is younger, thinner, etc.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. It just IS.

Due to the inherent biases of both men and women, the secret to dating – and online dating in particular – is to find the person who is OPEN to dating you. Yet most of us spend our time trying to convince others that they SHOULD be open to dating us.

This is what I was trying to convey to this lovely woman on the phone – not that it’s WRONG to want a younger man, but that it’s counterproductive to restrict herself exclusively to a community of men who are NOT OPEN to meeting her.

Then there was her false assumption that every man her age and older was going to be in bad shape like her former husbands. This is one of the strange hypocrisies of dating.

EVERYONE thinks that they’re young for their age.

So why doesn’t it occur to you that if YOU’RE young for your age, there’s a MAN just like YOU out there?

This should be inspiring, not saddening.

If you’re a quality woman looking for love online, your partner is somewhere out there wondering how to connect with you. And chances are, that man is having the same exact doubts about whether there’s any woman who is suitably young and vibrant.

Lest you think that you’re the only person who feels frustration at how unfair the opposite sex can be, let me share with you the first time I learned this lesson myself.

I was 29.

I was a struggling Hollywood writer.

Focus on the men who want you, and you’ll find a man you want as well.

I was supporting myself by selling hair restoration products by phone.

I was out for drinks at a fancy hotel bar with a female friend.

She was Ivy League-educated, thin, Jewish, quirky. I didn’t have a crush on her, per se, but I had respect and admiration for her. She was the type of person I saw myself with, even if I didn’t actually see myself with her.

Which is why I took it so personally when she said she’d never date another writer.

She said that writers were neurotic.

True.

She said that writers were financially unstable.

True.

She said that writers were largely unhappy because their dreams were never fulfilled.

True.

And so she’d made her decision – a decision that had nothing to do with me – yet it felt like it had EVERYTHING to do with me.

In that moment, I realized that no matter how much I valued myself, there were always going to be people who valued someone else more.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow. Guys like me don’t like having restrictions on whom we can date. You probably don’t like having restrictions either.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t restrictions. I learned it firsthand.

If a woman said she wanted a guy with more money, there were PLENTY of guys with more money.

If a woman said she wanted a guy who is taller, there were PLENTY of guys who are taller.

If a woman said she wanted a guy who is laid-back and Zen, almost EVERY guy is going to get the nod over me.

I can wish that this weren’t the case, but you can’t be all things to all people at all times. You can only be the best person that you can be, and hope to attract the person that wants YOU, flaws and all.

If my wife couldn’t appreciate me despite all my neuroses, she wouldn’t be my wife.

And if a man doesn’t want to date you because you’re too old, heavy, short, or poor, well, then, he wouldn’t be a very good partner for you!

Focus on the men who want you, and you’ll find a man you want as well.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Lara

    This is wonderful advice which should be obvious to all of us but most of us don’t take the time to listen to that small voice in our head or heart.  Thanks, Evan.

  2. 2
    Steve

    I feel for that turned down client.   Rude awakenings from reality aren’t nice, for either the person telling it or the person hearing it.    It is no fun finding things like that out.   She sounds like a woman who deserves some happiness.
     
    I laughed at the part about everyone thinking that they look younger than they are.  It so true.  It might be fun to do a spoor online dating ad one day along the lines of “radical honesty”……..” I’m _ years old, but I look at least 10 years older than my real age. “

    1. 2.1
      RustyLH

      The funny part is everyone thinking they look 10 years younger.  That’s not realistic because if everyone looked 10 years younger nobody would look 10 years younger, because what you look like is what everyone your age looks like, so it’s logically not possible.
      However, the real truth is, some people do look younger, and some people look older than their age.  I know many men in their late 30’s and early 40’s who look older than I do.  Wrinkles, bad skin, poor health.  I think lifestyle has a lot to do with it.  If you are a sun worshiper, it is going to affect your looks when you are older.  Drugs and alcohol will also have a bad affect, as will loads of junk food.  Genetics may play a part also.
       
      Here’s something regarding the taking care of an older man when he is sick.  OK, I hear that from a lot of women.  They seem to still believe that they live 10 years longer.  No they don’t.  The longevity gap is down to less than 4 years an is still closing.  That is also affected by all of the things I listed above and more.  I read an article that said that the biggest factor in reducing the longevity gap was many men giving up tobacco.  In short more tobacco users are men…many more are.  I have never used tobacco.  I very rarely drink and never binge drink.  I drink so rarely that I put never for alcohol because the simple fact is, I am lucky to have one drink a year.  At a wedding toast, I will drink one mouthful of the champagne at most.  Maybe just a sip.
      My father took care of my mother before she died.  The nurses pulled me and my older sister into the hall one day and rave about my dad.  They said they had never seen a man so devoted to his wife.  they made it clear this was not something the say just to comfort people.  The said that he did everything for her while he was there and many times they walked in to see him doing things for her that most other men would have called them to take care of.  One nurse said they asked him why he didn’t call them to do it, and he said, “She’s MY wife.”  So far he has outlived her by over 20 years.  He doesn’t show any signs of kicking the bucket anytime in the near future.  This is also very likely to no tobacco, no alcohol, no drugs, and limited junk food, as well as not being a sun worshiper.
      So a woman who is somewhat overweight at 40, thinking she would have to nursemaid me?  Laughable.  The odds are much more likely that I would have to nursemaid her, just as my father had to do for my mother.

      1. 2.1.1
        catpet

        At my high school reunion…. I was shocked how old my peers looked.  I had been living in Northern Europe where the women looked great and were thin well into their 50’s.  Some americans are just too fat.  A thin woman with good skin and hair is she 35 or is she 45? who can tell?

  3. 3
    Steve

    FWIW,  I have a friend in her early 60s.   A few years ago she was tired of being single.  She started online dating.   She went through a lot of crap and dated a lot of losers.   She found a good dude about her age, they are entering their second year of dating and they are very happy together.
     
    Her boyfriend is the exact opposite to her politically and both of them have strong political views.  Think James Carvell and Mary Madeline.     My friend, having been a shrink for over 30 years thought his personality and how he treated her was more important than him agreeing with her politics.    She did date a few men who were liberal like herself  who turned out to be zeros for her for other reasons.
     
    In any event, she did all of the things dating coaches have cajole their clients to do:   accepting reality as it is, being open, etc.
     
    She is very happy with her dude.
     
     
     
     

  4. 4
    Honey

    I manage 4 PhD programs, and I have to give people bad news gently all the time (“we’re not a good fit for you”).  It’s amazig how many people think they “deserve” things they’re not capable of.

  5. 5
    Born Again Virgin

    I feel for that woman because I just turned 55 and am in the process of divorce from a nearly 33-yr marriage to a closeted gay man.  Wanna talk loveless, heartache, sexless?  We had two children, but there comes a time when even fantasy doesn’t help a gay guy have sex with his wife, let alone any woman.

    So, here I am just moments from being “legally” allowed to date, and I know my options are limited due to age.  I will try on-line, and I’m actually quite content to date a guy my age or a little older.  I had one guy 10 years younger than me try his darndest to get me into bed via on-line chats in a private support group for spouses of gay/lesbians.  I was flattered, but I could see this was just going to be sexual gratification (which would be nice), but not realistic.

    Do I want 70-yr-old men knocking on my door?  Um, no.  I’m watching my mother at 78 dealing with her 93-yr-old husband just withering away, peeing his pants and drooling.  What are my chances?  I dunno.  I’m 40 pounds overweight (which bothers me), but that’s down 65 pounds.  My problems are (neoroses, as Evan puts it) are severe trust issues (that should be obvious why) and fear of rejection (another obvious one) and self-esteem (from wondering what was wrong with me).

    Will only 70-yr-old men knock on my door?  God, I hope not, but I’ll try to be open.  If anyone wondered about my “name”, it’s what women in my support group call jokingly use to describe ourselves–because of years with lack of sex or any intimacy. Born Again Virgins.

  6. 6
    Teresa

    OKay makes sense I am 54 and just starting to date again I get that women over 50 are at a disadvantage because men our age for most part aren’t interested. But I will draw the line at men who are over 70 my parents age or for that matter men young enough to be my son.

  7. 7
    Ruby

    There are 57 year old women (and men) who look 65 and 57 year olds who could pass for 10 years younger. There are 60 year old men with health issues, and 60 year olds in their prime who will live another 30 years. Certainly there are 55 year old men who are open to dating a woman a mere 2 years older. For many people, age ranges are just guidelines anyway.

    If this woman really wants younger men, there are dating sites just for that. I have been contacted by numerous men 20 years younger than myself on OK Cupid. I almost never respond because they are just too young, and I’m looking for a serious relationship and suspect they aren’t. The 57 year old says it’s her turn to have fun…if she really wants a younger man, getting him isn’t an impossibility.

  8. 8
    Angie

    I had to comment, not specifically on the age thing, but the post.
     
    Lady, I am 29.  Do you know how many men in their late 40s through early 50s have messaged me on okcupid?  I had a 47 year old man message me multiple times, none of which I have responded to (and okcupid also shows you who looks at your profile – he is always looking at my profile).
     
    From the other end of the age spectrum, I can tell you that I am horrified that men who could have fathered me think I want to date them, but Evan is RIGHT.  They certainly aren’t ashamed to try, despite being 12-20 years above my oldest specified age range (27-34).  It’s not like they are 1-2 years outside the range.  They are 20 years outside the range.  These men are shameless and creepy.  I’d prefer a “Nice legs, you dtf?” from a 33-year-old than “You are intriguing, beautiful and I’d love to spoil you” from a 53-year-old. (REAL MESSAGES)
     
    *I also had a man who was 28 (1 year younger than me) message me after I had looked at his profile, but his specified desired age range was 18-24, which made me suspicious of him (because a, I think HE is too old for 18 year olds, and b, I couldn’t take him seriously based on that alone).
     
    On the flipside, Ruby #7, is correct.  I saw a special 6 months ago on TV about women your age meeting men in their 30s on some cougar/cub website.

  9. 9
    Gem

    At 45, the men my age online are looking for 30-42 yr. olds. So it’s already begun. For me, I date men from 40-57 so my net is cast wide but it does sting to know that my “expiration date” has already been reached by a large number of men my age.

    And I DO look young for my age, ;) According to what I’m told anyway, so the botox, exercise, and healthy eating must be working. Now, where’s my man?

  10. 10
    still looking

    I made two assumptions when I began dating.  The first assumption was that as a 48 year old, slim, athletic, attractive professional I would be sought by women of all ages.  The second assumption was that I would only be interested in women between the ages of early 30s and 45.

    Dating has certainly been an eye opening experience for me!  For every wink/msg I receive from a woman younger than me, I probably receive 5 from women my age or older.  I’ve also learned, painfully sometimes, that women will pull away just as quickly as I will if there is no chemistry.  Of course the rejection stings, even though I know that rejection is inevitable. Evan’s blog has been invaluable in helping me see the obvious truths of dating.  Thanks Evan!  Today’s post, for example, has once again hammered home the message — don’t waste time on someone who isn’t interested.  I rarely initiate contact first and I have found this to be a huge time saver.  It obviously cuts down on the number of women I’m corresponding with but at least I know that the initial attraction is present if she sends the first wink or email.

    The biggest mistake I made when I started dating was focusing exclusively on younger women.  I thought they would be more vibrant, more fun, more personable, more fit, more sexual, etc.  I was guilty of stereotyping women based on chronological age and ignoring the fact that younger women tend to have young children at home and some are quite a bit less mature than women my age.  

    I recently took a chance by going out with a woman in her early 50s and I had a great time!  Since then I’ve had numerous dates with women between 50 and 55 and each of them have been fabulous.

    Many men will probably make the same mistake I did of focusing exclusively on younger women when they start dating.  Hopefully they will learn as I did, that age really is just a number.

  11. 11
    Ruby

    Angie #8

    Actually I’m about to turn 48, and these guys are 20-somethings. The youngest was 18. Flattering, but crazy!

  12. 12
    Jane

    I am a little surprised by Evan’s numbers and I think they are influenced, perhaps, by region.  When I look at the age range, I find several men, not just a few, who are willing to date older than they are but I do not live in an urban area so because the pool is limited, that criterion may have loosened for them.

    As well, I am contacted by men who have posted an age range younger than I but— I have a nice, big smile so they may be influenced by that, the point being, they can be influenced.  I also have a smashing profile that is the product of Evan’s profile writing service.  Sometimes I get messages whose purpose is simply to compliment my profile!  

    So, I think region and photo are two influential factors in who messages.   

    One fellow told me that when he was first on-line he felt like a kid in a candy store but reality shaped him up…… just sayin’

  13. 13
    Theresa H

    I’m 40 and had my Match age range set as 35 – 45…but once had a lovely email from a 34 year old saying although he was younger than I’d specified he liked my profile and would love to meet….we had some great dates together.
    What I’m really interested to know (if you’re allowed to tell us Evan)…is how is your mum getting on with her dating??!

  14. 14
    Tish

    Jane #12 – I like what you had to say.  I know a couple of guys who thought that the whole internet dating thing was going to get them by just on they’re looks alone.  Nothing in their profiles of substance.  Well, needless to say everything fizzled after a while of date after date with women who were either “strange” or had posted photos of themselves that may have been taken about 10-20 years ago!  LOL

    I dabbled a little in the online dating scene and had pretty good luck from a shallow perspective.  Met and dated some really good looking guys, but no connections.  One guy even went back to his old girlfriend after telling me she left him because he didn’t want to marry her.  Not that he didn’t want to get married, but he didn’t want to marry her.  Go figure.

    I’m older now (Not 35) and I need a man of substance.  When I’m ready to date again (just ended a long-term relationship), I think I’ll reach out to Evan for a profile write up too.

    For now, I’m working on some core belief stuff, thanks to Evan and the Soulmate Summit crew.  I’m evolving.  Thank you Evan!

  15. 15
    Ruby

    i, too, was a bit surprised by EMK’s numbers, so I did my own match.com age range search in the major metropolitan are where I live (NOT L.A.). Here’s what I found among 55 year old men, on the first page of my search. A glance over the next few pages showed similar results. 

    45-52

    45-60

    47-57

    49-57

    50-58 

    25-50

    37-55

    44-58

    45-57 

    45-65 

    Sorry, but an 80 year old man contacting a 57 year old woman is not analogous to a 57 year old woman wishing to date men a handful of years younger. Sure, there are the older dudes looking to date much younger, but in my searches, they are not the norm. Also, most men 45+ either have already had kids or long ago decided they don’t want them, and much younger women tend to want to have kids.

  16. 16
    starthrower68

    This is excellent advice for the people who care enough about a relationship to take it to heart, which those of us here do.  It’s the other “whatever” percent of the dating population that don’t have enough awareness to realize this or at least the desire to seek out such wisdom that we still have to deal with.  We know we can’t change them.  It’s surprising that anyone ever becomes a couple.

  17. 17
    melie

    This was an interesting article and truly is great advice Evan!  Now if the men would just get it too.  I would love to go out with a man my age or a few years older that isn’t a womanizer or out to be the kid in the candy store.  Let’s face it.  At our age alot of us are forced into the dating pool because of a mishap: divorce, widowed, cancer, etc.  And it is not the same dating world we knew as kids!  Yes, the convenience of the internet has allowed our pool to have maybe a broader range, but those creepy fat guys (and I mean morbidly obese) that think they are great catches, have another think coming!  If you really think you are going to attract a woman any age with a huge gut and neanderthal facial growth, and only a few teeth in your grin?  Well what planet did you come from??? Have you looked at the messages I get? Oh my goodness!  I wouldn’t date some of these guys no matter how much they want to go out with me!  But i got your message: separate the chaffe from the dross and make a choice that is good for you!  You’re a good advisor Evan!  Keep up the good work!

  18. 18
    Trenia

    I think this post is pretty spot on, but there has to be room made for potential outliers. Now, granted, you don’t cater to outliers but they do exist. An example of this would be interracial dating. Many people dating online say they want to date someone of their same racial/ethnic group, not because they are closed off to dating people of other races, they just feel like the odds are better this way. But they may come across a profile of someone who they find attractive and reach out. I think the same can be said for age and body type.

  19. 19
    bejewelled

    The OP`s post is a prime example why younger women need to think very seriously about the consequences of marrying a significantly (20+ yrs) older man.  The OP was probably the hot younger wife to a much older man, and now widowed in her 50`s, feels she missed out on the fun and now is at a disadvantage in the dating pool.  Marry a man close to your age when you have the chance.

  20. 20
    Tontae

    Thank you, Evan – I read your posts as a “primer” for when I am ready to date, and have chosen to try online dating eventually. I am @14 like Tish – I was in a horrific relationship for many years – although it barely passed the definition of “relationship” and now am busy with myself, working on my issues that keep me from developing healthy relationships with people in general, not just men. Love the comments and insights from posters as well.

  21. 21
    Sherell

    In person people make assumptions based on how you really look and act.  Online they read what you  write .  If you truly do look younger then you age, its difficult online.  Men generally date younger online.  I understand where she is coming from but don’t limit yourself.  If you are in fact a youthful 57 year old then there is a male counterpart.  He may not search for you online, by using a younger parameter, but you could search for him.  Also men are very visual.  I get contacted by men much younger then what they state they want on their profile.  They always ask if my pictures are current and I say yes less then 3 months.  The overall response is good. My dates range from 38-56.

  22. 22
    Teresa

    EMK numbers are right on as far as the LA area goes.  I live in the LA area and I have gotten the same results when I have done searches on Match.  So at least for right now I won’t be using Match.

  23. 23
    Venus

    Good Article Evan. 

    I am 45 trying to meet someone in my age range 45 – 53.  I generally get contacted by guys who are either much younger or much older (grey and out of shape).  Guys my age who do contact generally don’t fit the bill.  Those that catch my interest, are looking for someone younger (much younger).  And so it goes…

  24. 24
    MySecondHalf

    I was widowed just weeks after turning 47 and was leery of ending up with another sickly person.. My husband had his first heart attack when I was 28 and he 32 so I had never had a long term relationship with someone that was healthy and had the energy for life that I have.. I am sure this issue made me pickier as I carefully read profiles for anything that possibly was code for sick or disabled….  An inexact science , to be sure.  Happily, I met online and have been dating for over 1 1/2 yrs, a great man who is healthy and active and have been enjoying doing things with a partner that my husband was not able to do for most of our long marriage. We are close in age and we both fell within each other’s desired age range..

    Don’t give up…. the relationship you want is out there! 

  25. 25
    JB

    To Ruby and Angie…I know you guys find the younger men emailing you “flattering” but really a main reason men email much older women isn’t because they find them so attractive or are even interested in dating them.They do it because none of the women that are their age or desired age range won’t and don’t email them back.So they keep going higher and higher in their search ages and start emailing the attractive women 15 yrs older to see if they’ll email them back. A lot of times men get so frustrated by not getting any responses they start emailing ANYONE and everyone just to see if they can get someone to respond.

  26. 26
    Ruby

    JB #25

    I’m not getting why a woman the in the same age range as a 26-year-old wouldn’t respond to him. Most of these guys are 18-30 years younger than me. I’m sure there is some fascination for these younger men with a more “worldly” older woman, but I am MUCH less likely to respond than a woman their own age. 

  27. 27
    Angie

    @JB #25 – I don’t understand what you are referring to.  I’m 29.  There aren’t many “much younger” guys than me on internet dating sites, although I have gotten more messages from 18 year olds (maybe they are younger high school kids and lying for entertainment, b/c I’ve seen many more “18”s than 19 or 20’s), than say… 24 year olds.
     
    Perhaps my original post was unclear.  I just meant I had checked out a 28 year old guy’s page and his “desired” age range was 18-24 year old females.  I am creeped out that a 28yo wants to date an 18yo in the same way that I am creeped out when a 53 yo wants to date me, so I was put off and didn’t reply to him for this reason, even though I thought he was cute and otherwise thought his profile and message seemed ok.
     
    Actually, Evan might not agree with that thought process, but it’s how I think.

  28. 28
    Sayanta

    Angie

    I feel the same way about the guys who write 18 to whatever age on their profile. Some of these guys really do have decent profiles but I can’t bring myself to respond to them either for that reason.

  29. 29
    JB

    @Angie – The guys under 21 just want you to buy them some beer….LOL C’mon be realistic why would a 19 yr.old guy want a 28 yr.old woman?I’ll give you a hint….it’s not to get married and start a family,nor is it to teach him how to be in a happy healthy relationship….lol Gee….what could it be??

  30. 30
    Jadafisk

    The same reason 19 year old guys want 17-19 year old girls, except with less hassle. They aren’t thinking about raising kids and settling down with them, either. If they WERE thinking about it, that’s who they’d be thinking about it with, but generally, that’s the furthest thing from their minds.

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