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. 31
    Ellen

    I am a cougar sometimes and love it. Guys my age just look so tired and are often out of shape, sexist, ageist, what have you…The key is to lie about your age. Evan talked about this recently actually, how he agrees it’s sometimes necessary.

    I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve dated, from 30- 63 who had NO CLUE what my real age was, or thought it was what I had posted on the dating website (usually 49-51, depending on my mood). Well, ladies/gents I am 58. But I’ve taken meticulous care of my face and body for years (worn sunscreen daily since age 25 ’cause I’m a redhead for one thing) so look at least 10 years younger, depending upon the light in the room I guess! :) A couple of people have thought 39-40 even.

    But I’m on borrowed time and know it! :) Usually I fess up at some point, but sometimes I just don’t. It just depends. The last guy I dated, aged 55, put as his age range, 40-50. When we stopped dating after a month, I noticed he changed that to 32-47! I told him I preferred younger guys usually, had dated some in the last year and maybe he got bold and decided to go for it, I don’t know. He looks good for 55, but is the exception. But unlike him, I KNOW no younger man will want to be with me when I am frail, but why men can’t wrap their heads around that basic concept just amazes me!

    So lie and enjoy the younger guys. A few even want something long-term with you, though they are rare. But many love older women (I’d say about 1 in 4 now, and that number is creeping up given the popularity of the “cougar” concept), how free/experienced we are in bed, how sophisticated, how smart, relaxed about a lot of things, including money, children (we’ve already had them- we can’t get preggers – a huge plus).

    Try gocougar.com or cougarlife.com. Think I prefer cougarlife. And guys in their 40s sign up there too, not just boy toys….

  2. 32
    Jadafisk

    Wait… if many younger men think older women are so awesome, why would you have to lie?

  3. 33
    Gina

    As usual, this is a great topic Evan. I’m 49, and over the years have  been married twice and have not had too many problems finding a relationship. I just ended a relationship four months ago because I found out that after a little over a year of being exclusive, there was no future (I’d met this person online). Although I still have an online profile and date occasionally, my main focus is doing me. I love my life as a single person and feel that it is important to learn to work on leading a fulfilling and rewarding single life as I continue to look for that special someone who wants to share their life with me. In the event that I do not find that person, I will not feel devastated because it is my responsibility to create my own happiness and not to look to someone else to complete me or make me happy.

    In other words, I am leading a happy and full life as a single person and meeting a great guy would simply be the icing on an already delicious cake.

  4. 34
    Zaq

    I think I read somewhere recently that the cougar phenomenon is a myth and that statistics show that it is very rare.

    However, I have to say that it appears quite common in my social circle.
    One friend in her early 40s had an affair with a 20 year old, but when he proposed she got cold feet. A few years later she divorces and remarries a much younger man.
    Another single woman in her mid 40s is now living with a guy about 30.
    Another married a man 15 years younger and had another child with him. She is a professional and he is a househusband.
    And last year a woman 43 married and had a child with a 23 year old. He doesnt look 23 though. He looks about 17.
    This has all happened in the last couple of years.

    Observations:
    Most of these women sealed the deal – obtained a marriage certificate.
    All of the women were reasonably attractive for their age, and between 40 and 45.
    None of the men were alpha males – all beta
    Although they could have attracted older men with status, they appear to have leveraged their looks for younger men with less status

    My view, is that if a woman still looks fertile, she still has options

  5. 35
    Terri

    If you are an “Older Woman” , in good shape, good grooming and attractive, you will inevitably find a man in your age group or younger who is interested in you.  Used to be that older men had the monopoly on younger women with only a little snickering from observers.
     
    Now older women have the same social opportunities to date younger men and they can be found on a number of dating sites catering to this group.
     
    When I counseled abused women in a SE domestic violence clinic, one of my clients was 52 years old, married, with 3 grown sons.  She hooked up online with a 26 year old single man from NY and they fell in love online.  She brought him in to see me at my office.
     
    They were both 8s and a good physical match.  He had given up his job to come and “save” her from her abusive marriage.  They seemed very happy together.  Good body language and eye contact.  Her husband and sons were incensed about this situation and tried to talk her out of it.
     
    I left the agency shortly thereafter and never found out what ultimately happened with this interesting couple.

  6. 36
    Christie Hartman

    I think Evan makes a good point that one should focus on who wants you as much as who you want. However, the idea that a 50-something woman can’t get a date with anyone but an old man is absurd. Online dating shows us what men hope to date in their fantasies, not what they can get and not what they’re willing to actually date. Most older women can realistically aim for men in their general age bracket, and some older women have even more options.

  7. 37
    JB

    @Ellen #31….yes you are right some women that have taken care of their skin can fool a lot of men with makeup on their face but make up doesn’t cover the neck and the hands.On SOME women those are dead give aways….LOL I’ve seen plenty of 47 yr. old women that look 57 and vice versa.Let’s face it most of us men in our age range(45-60)don’t really care about the age “number”as long as we find you attractive.It’s not like we’re looking to get married and start a family….LOL

  8. 38
    Gina

    I belong to the baby boomer population, and focus on dating websites that cater to seniors who are looking to meet other seniors. At the age of 49, I have found that men will contact a woman (in spite of her age) if they find her pictures attractive. I don’t believe in lying about my age because of the negative view that most of our society has towards older people and aging.  if I did NOT mention how old I was, people would not be able to tell that I’m pushing the big 5-0. I tell the truth about my age because I want to change the perception in many people’s minds that a 49 year-old woman has to look old. It also helps that I’m African American because black, generally speaking, don’t crack! LOL!

  9. 39
    living la vida loca! loving it!

    @zaq, when i started getting into my 30′s (which i am now) i started noticing really hot younger guys flirting with me. it was crazy! i thought it was my imagination and these guys were in great shape, had nice cars and honeslty my own car was just a little bug. i didn’t look like i had much financially (which i don’t). i just assume these younger guys found me attractive, simple as that. if they’re doing better than i am, are buff and hot as well, why would they look my way? free beer, like some douche on here said? well, i don’t drink anyway. but mu dating options have gotten better since i hit my 30′s. i don’t have to date older, out of shape men (sorry, older men but it is what it is). i can date younger younger guys who have a lot on the ball…and they aren’t as boring to deal with as older men. they treat me better and when i talk i feel like they appreciate what i have to say; i’m not just some “younger woman who’s just arm candy for them to show off in front of other men” like i experienced with older men.

    to each his own but frankly i “love” it! i love dealing with younger men! they want relationships and something meaningful with me, and value, and respect me. i didn’t get that with older (and much older men because in my personal experience it was just my youth they were after, not my conversation) guys.  everybody has different experiences and these are mine. good luck ladies!

  10. 40
    Ray

    Here’s another suggestion… don’t give into cultural expectations just because someone says that is the way it ‘is’.

    If these men can’t find (actual) younger women to oblige them, they will be forced to date women their own age or be alone.  Supply and demand.

    Ladies.. if you genuinely do look younger, then lie about your age.  Sorry, we all have a hand we are dealt.  And if men want ’younger women’ to make them selves feel better then give them that fantasy.  who cares?  Let them think they are walking around with someone younger than them.         

  11. 41
    Chris Alison

    I totally disagree with this article.  I’m a 61 year old woman who looks more than 10 years younger than my age and that’s not what I think, this is what the people around me think.  I hang out with people in their late 40s, both men and women and most of them thought me their peer.  I always tell them my age to which their are aghast.  I’ve been mistaken for my oldest son’s GF & wife at least 3 times by strangers (he’s 37).  I am a widow and since I started online dating I have dated men in the mid-40s.  I am currently in a semi-relationship with a man 54 and believe me there are a plethora of younger men who would like to have me in their lives.

    I know lots of women who are dating and happy with men far younger than themselves.  The men who need a younger woman on their arm are totally insecure.  And I will add there are few men my age or older that meet my minimal requirements both physically and sexually.
     

  12. 42
    Jessica

    I’m 34. I have always dated near my age in my 20s. I am now in a relationship with a guy 10 years older. I have a few friends who are in their 40s, single, and looking. And you know what I feel slightly guilty. Because they tell me guys their age are looking for younger. He wants more kids, I want kids so it is biological in one sense. I messaged him but never would have seen him in  my search my upper limit was 40. But I saw him in the featured singles and his profile was funny. I said I’m shorter and younger than what you’re looking for….but you made me laugh. He, like the OP, thinks of himself as being a young 45. But when I tell my older female friends I kinda cringe on the inside because I wonder if they’re thinking she’s in her early 30s and took a guy my age. 

  13. 43
    judy

    I think that you can meet nice guys in daily life and creeps as well, at any age.  On a dating site (as in real life) you can say what you want about yourself but what you are comes over after a while.
     
     

  14. 44
    JGirl

    This is a conversation close to my heart..at 52 I am considered over the hill and feel  invisible in San Diego.  Yes.  the numbers listed above are totally right on.  I really do prefer men in my age bracket, 5 years younger to 5 years older…but I was told by a dating coach that I should be looking at 60 – 70, since men in their 50′s in my town want women under 45.  Men lie about their age to attract younger women..women lie about their age to attract men their own age.  
    I’ve given up on the internet dating and maybe will meet someone in “real life”

  15. 45
    Nick

    As a 53-year-old man in Los Angeles, my online dating experiences (and the comments in this thread) make me wonder what the “appropriate” age range for a man my age really is now. I am not looking for 30-something arm candy – I’m generally interested in women in the 45-to-50 range, of course with some flexibility in those numbers. But it seems increasingly common that many of the most desirable women in their late 40s make it clear they strongly prefer men younger than themselves – many won’t even consider a guy who is 5 to 8 years older. Are men in their (early) 50s really over the hill now? Jeez. 

  16. 46
    faded jade

    Nick@45-I did specify an age range in my profile, and am willing to go younger or older. But I’m a bit flexible.  I also specified that I want someone who lives a healthy lifestyle.  What I am looking for isn’t so much a number, but a combination of maturity (not to young emotionally) and good health and being in reasonable physical shape.  I’m pushing 60, and I know EVERYONE says it, but I am often mistaken for much younger.  About a year ago one man I dated in real life (not through Online dating)  asked me if I was willing to have another child.  I think he was shocked and disappointed to find out that I was around his age, and past my child bearing years. He thought he was getting a younger woman.  I’d gladly date a man in his late 60′s or even early 70′s if he was in good health and was a good man.  I avoid the men with serious health issues.  I know it sounds cold, but I think they are just looking for a nursemaid, and I don’t want to play that role.  I will consider a younger man too, again good health and maturity required.  I get messages from men in their 30′s tho, and that’s a NO WAY !!!! I don’t want to be a nursemaid OR A MOTHER !!!!!  I might even go as young as mid to late forties IF he had already had children or a vasectemy.  There are some men in that age range who after years of being a player are scrambling to find the mother of their children.  Of course, they aren’t above playing with the women who are too old for that role, until they can find a sweet young thing to breed with.  Nope, don’t want to be the stop gap booty call either.

  17. 47
    JGirl

    “ There are some men in that age range who after years of being a player are scrambling to find the mother of their children.  Of course, they aren’t above playing with the women who are too old for that role, until they can find a sweet young thing to breed with.  Nope, don’t want to be the stop gap booty call either.”
     
    Oh Faded Jade..you are so right on.  I like your post and what you had to say, especially this quoted paragraph.  I have met MULTITUDES of men who are in that position, the last one 53 who claims on his profile to be 43 (his own words: to meet younger women).  Never married, lives with his mom and really wants kids.  YET..he will date women in their late 40′s and early 50′s…although, I’m sure he still looks around for the young’uns.  
    Its not all about age, it’s about honesty and being open minded.  It would be great if they would take the age thing out of the whole picture and just leave it at ‘wants kids’ or not.  
    Nick@45:  I WISH I could find a man of 53 who would consider dating me.  Women have put up with ageism for so long, I guess many have decided to join in.  I’m not one of them..and don’t fret, there are many like me!

  18. 48
    Paula

    I see nothing wrong with shaving 5 years off your age.  It is really hard to tell w/in 5 years a person’s age and you are at least in the same basic generation.  Basically who cares.  Guys who want younger woman are generally going for people 10 or more years younger so you probably what end up in their sites.  
    Just a side note–short guys almost all do not tell the truth about their height.
     

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