Women Choosing to Be Single Instead of Married in Old Age

I really didn’t plan on beating this marriage thing to death, but there have been a spate of articles about marriage recently.

This one validates something I already suspected from writing this blog for 5 years: that single women, in particular, are opting out of marriage and remarriage.

It makes sense from many perspectives. Women are self-sufficient in a way they weren’t 30 years ago. The stigma against divorce is largely gone. There are other single women with whom you can have a strong community. And there’s been an increase in people looking for happiness and being unwilling to suffer through unhappy marriages. These are all good things.

I agree wholeheartedly that it’s better to be single than to be in a bad relationship.

Because if it’s not abundantly clear from the previous Saturday posts on marriage, I’m not a dogmatist, I’m a pragmatist. I believe that marriage can and should be a positive force, but only if both parties are on the same page and willing to make the necessary sacrifices for that marriage. I agree wholeheartedly that it’s better to be single than to be in a bad relationship.

Just don’t forget who’s choosing the bad relationship – you.

Which means that you can choose a good relationship and a good marriage when you’re good and ready.

You don’t have to opt out of it for life as so many of these women in the NYT article do. Click here to read the article if you have a NYT subscription.

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    sarahrahrah!

    Thanks for this posting, Evan.  What I got out of the article is that older women are not so much choosing to be single as they just are becoming single.  I think there are a lot of dynamics at play, but considering that the older men get, the younger the age of the women they want to date and marry, it makes sense that there would be fewer (eligible) men available to marry older women.
    I appreciated this article shining a light on the implications of singleness for women as they age.  From my standpoint (and it is an obviously subjective perspective), there are certain intolerable situations within a marriage, the top being infidelity, abuse and financial recklessness.  My thought is that if women are becoming single at such a vulnerable time in their lives, then the circumstances leading up to those actions must be fairly significant.  It angers me that many of the women mentioned had or were raising children, but didn’t have a pension or retirement for themselves.  I feel that the United States is failing both women and children when women are essentially punished for being the ones who sacrifice their careers in order to raise children.  Shame on us as a society.  (And pardon my digression.)

  2. 2
    Jane

    This article was informative, but dealt mostly with demographics and trends, not so much with the personal side of things. 
    My question is, how do all these single older people. mostly women,  deal with their sex lives? Do they just shut it down? Do they have partners on the side just for the purpose of sex?  I’m only speaking for myself here, but a life of yoga, tennis and hanging out with girlfriends would only take me so far.  Physical intimacy is essential for both emotional and physical health and let’s be honest, it’s FUN!! I wish the article had addressed this issue. If older women are choosing to be single, are they choosing to be celibate as well?  I really hope not. Thoughts anyone?
     

    1. 2.1
      Steph

      I’m probably in the minority on this opinion, but I truly cannot see what everyone sees in sex? I was married for a short time many years ago and have had a few relationships over the years, but am far happier on my own. I don’t have to dread “bedtime” and the arguments that follow. There’s nothing wrong with my mental and physical health and it’s not down to being with or without a partner!  Sex is not “fun”, it’s messy, uncomfortable tiring and most of all BORING. How some people  feel it’s soooooo important makes me laugh. If people learned how to control themselves and their sexual “urges” (whatever that means) there would be less crime in the world. It’s been taken out of all context in the modern world where too many people act no better than the lesser animals who just have an instinct to procreate.

  3. 3
    valleyforgelady

    This article is dejevu….I remember reading over 25 years ago that for a woman over 35 to find a husband was a long shot.   Then I got married and tried to have a baby…another long shot.   I had the baby…and she is getting all As in college.   I am now divorced over 60 and hoping to fall in love and get married for the third and final time!  Give up…..NEVER. Giving up is not in my DNA!
    .
    I think to survive today you have to buck the popular pessimism that the mass media puts out!   I say Hope triumphs over bad experience if you are faithful and shrewd!  

        

  4. 4
    Lynn

    Thanks, Evan, for your thoughts on this topic! As a single woman at 50 years old (never married) I agree it’s better to be single than in a bad relationship, and that also, it’s possible to find a good relationship! I’m happily single even at my “ripe old age” of 50, but I would love to be happily married. 
    One comment above emphasizes women “becoming single” but doesn’t mention those many of us single women who have so far, “remained single.” I just wanted to mention that.
    The other comment above asks what single women do to deal with their sex lives. I’m sure there is a variety of things women do – some perfectly fine and good, some probably not healthy emotionally or physically. Personally, I have gone without for long periods of time, because I prefer to not have a lot of casual sex just to meet that physical need. I’ve had relationships, but when I haven’t been in one, I’ve just managed to cope! One way to release some of the tension is self-pleasuring. Another outlet I’ve found – and I’m not sure about it being a good or bad option – is online sexual relationships… Anonymous e-mailing and IM’ing with a man and having cyber-sex, erotic sex chat… whatever you want to call it. The problem there can be, becoming satisfied just enough that way, to not pursue love in the “real world.” 
    Anyway… in answer to Jane’s question: “If older women are choosing to be single, are they choosing to be celibate as well?” I think a very small minority actually set out to “choose” celibacy. I’ve had long periods of celibacy, not by choice (except that I chose not to have casual sex and just within a more meaningful relationship.  But I did not actual set out to be celibate as a goal.) 
     

    1. 4.1
      starthrower68

      While I certainly don’t find sex to be the burden or imposition that other might, I don’t feel my life is somehow lesser than because I’m not having it.  Sex can be a wonderful thing but it seems we put way too much hope in it.  I am purposed to have a rich, fulfilling life whether sex is part of it or not and I don’t feel that makes me someone to be pitied or looked down upon but that happens quite a bit in this day and age.

  5. 5
    Brooke Clarke

    Hi:
     
    If you’ve read “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality”, have children and know about the law marriage does not make sense.  For example if you “forsake all others” that means your children.  But not married does not mean alone.  My next door neighbors on both sides are couples that are not married.  Also seeing someone on a regular basis for intimate companionship sure is great.

  6. 6
    amy

    Sarah, I don’t think it’s a digression at all. The money issue’s a very serious one.

    I’m going to propose something radical: Women are better people than men are. Just nicer, harder-working, more responsible human beings. I’m proposing that there’s a reason why men use that unctuous “better half” phrase. We really are the better half. We make homes, we make life, we put up with tremendous crap, we don’t go browbeating each other in an effort to prove we’re best. We don’t become immediately insecure and aggressive when our partners are better than we are at varrious things. We notice what needs to be done. We notice when some proposed maneuver is utterly stupid. And the kicker: After divorce, women thrive, while men do very poorly. Separation and divorce is a time of high suicide risk and risk of violence against others for men; it’s not what you fear in women. They need us, in other words, more than we need them. In midlife I watch men hitting the wall around me, and I begin to think that that controversial Jewish prayer about thanking God for making one a man and not a woman — I begin to think it’s just meant to make men feel better. Because God knows I wouldn’t trade. It looks like a hell of a lonely, hard existence. (Sorry, Evan.)

    On the whole. I’ve found, as a single mom, that if I’m going to rely on someone for help, that someone is almost always a woman. They’re the ones who not only come through, but are concerned enough to consider that I might need help in the first place. And that’s despite the fact that the men I know are universally acclaimed as “good guys”. An ordinary woman’s more reliable than a good guy.

    So if all that’s the case…well, hell, how much searching through haystacks should we do for the rare guy who’s suitable and good enough to marry? I figured out a long time ago that it’s a mistake to move or change career for a fella, so I live in a place now that suited me. Is it a great place for meeting the kinds of men I’d be interested in, no. Would I move myself and my daughter for the purpose of meeting such men, no. This is a wonderful place for raising a child, and, as it happens, quite friendly to women; her dad and dad’s family are also here. So I’ll stay till she’s grown.

    I think the question comes down to “how important is marriage, and what are you willing to do for it?” And I think the answer these women — and I — are giving is that while marriage may be important, particularly as we age, other things are important to. What am I willing to do for it? Well, I’ll substitute “find my man”, assuming such exists, since personally I’m not interested in remarrying. So what am I willing to do: the answer is “nothing that interferes with my happiness or material wellbeing or my ability to raise my daughter well.” Do I think I’ll eventually find someone, sure, but that’s because I’m just awesome, and because every so often powerful love comes along in my life. (I’m old enough now to understand that that’s because of me, not the guys.) I’m not worried about it, and not in any hurry.

    What comes first in the meantime is the child: that’s the job I picked and wanted. And I am amazed by the difference in the return on love, loving and caring for a child and loving and caring for a man. I wasn’t expecting or looking for it. But hands down, kids are the winners. The other day my little girl thanked me for giving her life. Can you imagine? My head almost fell off my shoulders. She tries to help around here, she wants to help. She speaks nicely and considerately, and she’s just a pretty awesome person herself. I’m floored every day.

    Oh and this celibacy issue, pish tosh. This is like a controlling-men concern that gets brought up as some kind of red herring. I have sex every day; it just doesn’t involve real live penises. It’s only men who regard masturbation as a demerit on the scoreboard.

    To be perfectly frank (and when am I not?), most men of my intimate acquaintance just haven’t been all that red-hot in the sack. And when real live penises are involved, there is unfortunately real live sperm and the possibility of real live disease to worry about. Who pays for testing and contraception? Not the men, I’ll tell you that. So, you know. If you’re celibate, that’s your own fault. God gave you hands and an imagination, no? And there’s catalogues galore out there, though personally I’ve never found anything to beat hands.

    1. 6.1
      Nissa

      Dear Amy,
      It is a very slippery slope you are on here. Making the comment that an entire group (men, minorities, low income, whatever) is less than equal…is just a very very bad idea. Your generalization here is vast. More importantly, it comes across as packaged with hostility and self aggrandizement disguised as self love. I think it would be most helpful for you to discuss those things with a professional so that they don’t drag you down in life. It has to be difficult to live with the isolation and lack of connection that such an attitude would engender in everyone around you. I genuinely hope that you consider this.

  7. 7
    Mimi

    I always intended to be married again…at any age.  However, I’m currently in my early sixties still performing, have an advanced degree and continuing my career. The translation is I’m really thankful for my independence, good health and energy. Aside from the bad marriage- good marriage perspective, however, I think there is a pragmatic side to things.  That is — the man’s health, financial resources, forced early retirement, allowances given to adult children  and a big one among men over a certain age—depression.  As a dating partner, I think these elements are a lot easier to deal with than within a marriage where both the wife and husband’s time and money may go toward  allaying the strain of these issues.

  8. 8
    mellie charnalia

    Hi, this sort of reminds me of another recent article about people who “never found the one”. Sometimes I get scared when I read articles like these, particularly combined with the frustrations of dating. Or people saying to me “boy, I’m glad I already had a partner before I moved to NYC–dating here would kill me” (gee, thanks!)
    But for every one of these stories, I hear even more of people who found love (and lasting love at that). Some were looking, some weren’t. Are the people getting out of bad, mis-matched relationships growing from them and determined to open their hearts for something GOOD? I’ve never had a good, healthy relationship but instead of thinking, oh damn, men suck (which I once did), I’m so excited about the possibility of having a GREAT relationship with a man for the first time! Or, of evolving to the point that I feel I would be a really wonderful partner (better than had I gotten married even a couple of years ago). So, this is a long-winded way of saying no one should stay in a bad relationship but at any point, like Evan says, we can choose to be in a good relationship. And it will happen, as long as we’re committed to our growth and to creating space in our life for it to happen. I keep trying to remember this when I feel like giving up, like once a week sometimes!

     

  9. 9
    helene

    I don’t think its difficult to understand why older women, once out of a marriage, might think twice about getting into another one. Because of the fact that men die younger than women, women have ALWAYS had to face up to the prospect that their most elderly, vulnerable years will be spent alone. In the past, an older woman’s life often went like this: children leave home, woman then realises her marriage is offering little in the way of closeness or joy, woman stays in stagnant marriage anyway, husband retires,woman  cares for progressively ailing husband throughout her 60s, husband dies, woman spends the remainder or her life alone. What is happening nowadays is that after the children leave, the woman in an unfulfilling marriage is  reevaluating and choosing to skip the  part where she stays in a loveless relationship and  cares for the man in his latter years, grabbing what remains of her active life for herself while she has the chance. Hooking up with a new man (unless he’s wonderful) is not something an older woman would jump at as she  realises  he will not be there to provide support and care for her OWN old age anyway- as one older friend of mine put it recently “Why should I reorganise my whole life to accomodate a new person if he’s only going to die on me in a few years??!” In the past, a woman finding herself alone in her 50s or 60s might have felt very vulnerable without a man – she might never have worked outside the home, lacked confidence outwith the domestic arena and was financially stranded. A professional woman used to the outside world and with her own income does not experience that same level of vulnerability – now, just as with younger women, she is only going to want a guy because she WANTS him!

  10. 10
    P

    @Amy

    I’ve been watching your posts for a little bit now, and your latest here seems to confirm what I’ve been suspecting: You’re angry at men in general because of events in your past involving specific men you were involved with. Whether those events or relationships were intimate or otherwise, you clearly have an anti-male bias here that seems to be self-confirming.

    This latest post of yours though…I had to state a few things and point out some flaws and fallacies in your argument. You state:

    I’m going to propose something radical: Women are better people than men are.

    What you are proposing is indeed radical, and radical feminists would be proud of you. So would Adolf Hitler, modern Neo-Nazis and just about any individual from history who has advocated the supremecy of one group over another based upon flawed and often incomplete assessments.  The problem with radical ideas, in general, is that they very rarely turn out to be correct. They may be a genesis for a modified theory or idea, but the original “radical” idea is usually thrown into the wastebasket after further analysis.

    Just nicer, harder-working, more responsible human beings. 

    Proof please, that involves  more than just your opinion based upon an emotional bias generated from your own specific life experiences and the limited number of specific men you happen to be aware of.  I know plenty of supportive, nice, kind men…who work damn hard at everything they do and are extremely responsible. Yet, I’m not saying men are better than women in these regards just because I also know quite a few irresponsible, mean, lazy women as well.  Speaking of which, your generalizations towards men aren’t exactly those of a “nice” or critically thoughtful person. 

    I’m proposing that there’s a reason why men use that unctuous “better half” phrase. We really are the better half. We make homes,

    And men never make homes? Hmm…
     
    we make life,

    Oh.  I see. I hate to tell you this, but not without men you don’t. Those eggs in your body are absolutely, positively useless without male sperm unless you’ve somehow managed to modify our species to reproduce completely asexually. Yes, you CARRY the new life during gestation, but don’t fool yourself or confuse yourself into thinking you alone created that life. You didn’t. And I’m sorry that someone has to carry that fetus…but that’s the way it works. Nature chose that…men didn’t in some kind of unanimous “hey, let’s see how women like this” roundtable.
     
    we put up with tremendous crap, 

    As do men. For every example of male behavior you can cite that women “put up with”, an equal behavior can be cited that men put up with from women.
      
    we don’t go browbeating each other in an effort to prove we’re best. We don’t become immediately insecure and aggressive when our partners are better than we are at varrious things. 
      
    Perhaps not. But women also psychologically perform a number of similar actions which could be considered destructive. Women are taught to be consensus-builders, and as such typically will more often than not validate another woman’s behavior rather than challenge it, often times to the detriment of both. Women will engage in competitive activities that “put down” other women (cattiness in social settings and groups towards other “threatening” females).  
       
    We notice what needs to be done. We notice when some proposed maneuver is utterly stupid.

    Yes well…I don’t even know where you are coming up with this.  I’ve seen both men and women “not notice” when something needs to be done AND notice when something needs to be done. I’ve also seen both men and women perform utterly stupid maneuvers as well as hold rational thought.  This is a baseless statement.
     
    And the kicker: After divorce, women thrive, while men do very poorly. Separation and divorce is a time of high suicide risk and risk of violence against others for men; it’s not what you fear in women.

    Interesting. And an interesting way of reading into things. Statistically, up until recently, men have actually fared better after divorce than women have along a number of fronts. In the past couple of decades this has tended to equalize somewhat, with women approaching the same level of “wellness” after divorce that men have had all along. This is along multiple lines of wealth, mentalhealth, and so forth. This is equalization, however…not women surpassing men in that regard.
      
    On the whole. I’ve found, as a single mom, that if I’m going to rely on someone for help, that someone is almost always a woman. They’re the ones who not only come through, but are concerned enough to consider that I might need help in the first place. And that’s despite the fact that the men I know are universally acclaimed as “good guys”. An ordinary woman’s more reliable than a good guy.   

    Perhaps its how you view men and treat them which is the root of why nobody on the male side of things wants to be there for you…and I mean  you, specifically.  Nobody can be saying that women are superior beings to men without having a preconceived notion that translates, even subtly, into how they treat men.  I personally know plenty of women who have issues with their female friends.  It comes down to the people you choose and how you treat them as to whether someone is going to be there for you, not what sex they happen to be.

    What comes first in the meantime is the child: that’s the job I picked and wanted. And I am amazed by the difference in the return on love, loving and caring for a child and loving and caring for a man. I wasn’t expecting or looking for it. But hands down, kids are the winners. The other day my little girl thanked me for giving her life. Can you imagine? My head almost fell off my shoulders. She tries to help around here, she wants to help. She speaks nicely and considerately, and she’s just a pretty awesome person herself. I’m floored every day.     

    I agree.  Raising a child can be a rewarding an wonderful experience!  Comparing that to a relationship with a man though?  Apples and oranges…two different things completely and trying to use that as an argument point is ridiculous. A man in this context is an adult with adult needs and adult psychology. A child is a dependent, reliant upon you for everything and, especially when young, more pliable than a grown adult with their own wants and needs that aren’t necessarily the wants and needs you tell him to have. I look forward to you coming back here when your little girl is older and beginning to break away and express her own adult independence.  Things change then…its a different relationship.  Don’t compare relationships between adults with relationships between a parent and a dependent.  Its not an accurate, fair, or representational method.        

    To be perfectly frank (and when am I not?),

    I’d tend to use the phrase “obnoxiously biased”…but I digress… 

    most men of my intimate acquaintance just haven’t been all that red-hot in the sack. 

    I’m sorry to hear that. Then again, the only common element in all of your encounters with intimate acquaintances is…you…
     
    And when real live penises are involved, there is unfortunately real live sperm and the possibility of real live disease to worry about.

    Indeed.  And damn, when real live vaginas are involved there’s that whole thing with vaginal secretions and diseases…damn be all. Its time to cauterize the stump of humanity!

    Who pays for testing and contraception? Not the men, I’ll tell you that.

    Hmm…I know plenty of men who pay for contraception, testing, and so forth. So much anger…and lack of rationality based on that anger.  It saddens me that your little girl is going to learn hatred at such a young age. 

      

  11. 11
    amy

    P, I spent a long time agreeing with your view, and being annoyed with the idea that either sex is nicer, better, kinder, anything-er than the other. I thought it was offensive and reductive.
     
    Alas, experience proved to me that it may be stupid and reductive, but it’s also true. Not just my own experience, but the experiences of the dozens and dozens of people I talk to and whose stories I read. You know what? The nicest, most responsible men I’ve met agree. They shrug, they don’t like it, but they agree. They see the other guys around them are, by and large, dogs, and they feel bad that women have to put up with them.
     
    I maintain — for no very good reason beyond wishfulness — a belief that there are scores of genuinely good men out there. I just haven’t met them. The ones I have met? Here’s a nice man, a high school teacher, a dad, a coach — who ran from his marriage, leaving two boys to whatever, and is financially irresponsible (and blames others for it). Here’s a lovely man, a professor, who’s given his children the best, married for a quarter-century — and he runs around on his wife, and has spent her retirement out from under her. Here’s a columnist, a critic, a devoted father — who kills himself after a long history with alcohol. Here’s a social worker who’s so sensitive with children, what a nice guy — who’s violent and smears his ex-wives. I could go on for a year. I’d think it was just me, except all you have to do is get online and hear the stories. It’s not just me. It’s a very common refrain. I don’t believe the women are making these things up; I’ve seen too much for that. The post-divorce stories alone scare your hair off your head.
     
    What really shocked me most, when I got back into dating after marriage on the far side of 40, was the furious anger among middle-aged men. The violent resentment at not having made a mark, at feeling their youth slip away. If you want to be a target for these men, be a successful and self-confident middle-aged woman. I understand now why young women need protectors and mentors in academia and corporate life. The middle-aged men who feel it all slipping away are vicious, and they’ll hit as hard as they can. Because the very worst thing they can imagine, at that point in their lives, is being beaten by a girl. This is why I say I don’t envy men. It seems to be as deep a thing with them as the inability to have children is with women. 
     
    The men also are happy to go on ad-hominem rampages when they don’t like what’s been said. Like yours above.
     
    Meanwhile — no, men do not notice what needs doing. This is one of the roots of the vaunted Housework Wars. The men claim they just don’t notice things, and the wives end up with the work of managing and nagging and pointing out things to do. After divorce, the men keep on not noticing, which is why they don’t know who the kids’ doctors and friends are, what they’re doing in school, whether the clothing’s getting too small, etc. Go have a look around. It’s not just me. And I think it’s generally accepted that one of the benefits of having a wife is that you’re likely to do less terrifically stupid stuff. In my ex’s relatively mild case: Brewing beer with an industrial-scale propane-fired kit in the garage next to the gas furnace directly under our daughter’s bedroom; buying a motorcycle; walking away from health insurance. Small potatoes next to other stupid things women stop their men from doing.
     
    As for why women tend to get along better after divorce? We help each other, that’s why. Men come out with no friends, and they have trouble being friends and helping each other. Women just do. Married or single, I find it makes no difference. We cooperate, we think about each other and our needs. We quarrel and make up, we love each other, we do for each other’s children. I wasn’t born with sisters, but I feel like I’ve got a dozen of them now. I can’t begin to express my gratitude to them. At this point I’d welcome being gay, but I don’t seem to be wired that way.
     
    Am I angry at men, period?  I’m highly annoyed, and definitely wary, which doesn’t mean I won’t give a guy a chance. I do routinely. Innocent until etc. But I really don’t see why I shouldn’t be angry. Every serious obstacle I’ve hit in my life, and every long-term thorn, has come from a man’s selfishness, violence, greedy self-regard, and shocking thoughtlessness. And I’ve seen more children hurt by these things than I want to think about. I’ve learned to play the game and hit back hard. I have to, as a breadwinner. But it’s terribly depressing and it makes me wonder what’s wrong with these people. Am I surprised at the one-in-five-women-raped stat, no. No, I’m not.
     
    So yeah, I’ve had to do some serious reassessment of what it means to be male v. femaie. I try to keep these things to myself, and talk up my daughter’s dad to her. I can’t stop him from behaving like himself, though, and she’s a very sharp kid. She sees. I can’t agree with the things she says — for one thing, she goes too far, I think, and for another I’m legally obliged to support him, and for a third I don’t think it’s good for a kid to be down on his or her parents. But the other night we were having some girl talk about what kind of man she should marry, and I said, “….oh, I hope he’ll be good and kind to you, and really be interested in what’s important to you, and not take himself too seriously, and have work he cares about and does without being pushed –” and she said,
     
    “That sounds like a lady. A very hairy lady.”
     
    And I had to laugh, because she was right.

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Amy, I agree with much of what you’ve said. I simply disagree with your ultimate conclusion. Your negative feelings about men will largely keep away any good men, just like a bitter middle-aged man will not be attractive to a woman like you. So while I wouldn’t even argue with all of your anecdotal evidence, it just seems to me that you should seek out the men of integrity that exist (surely, it can’t be ALL women) instead of railing against selfish and clueless men. It would be impossible for your gender to be the only one that’s interested in kindness and commitment. I know far too many happy marriages – but then, maybe that’s just who I surround myself with.

  12. 12
    amy

    I know some happy marriages, too. But I’ve learned not to scratch them, because too often I find that…no, they aren’t. In shocking ways. And again, I think some of this is to do with age, and time for things to go wrong. It’s a funny thing, and the longer I watch marriages, the more I wonder if it just isn’t a strange and unnatural state, particularly with long lifespans. The very most successful one? You know that part in Annie Hall where he stops the happy couple walking down the street and asks them about the secret of their success? Yeah, like that. And they are, i think they’re really content. I think of another one — a doctor/housewife marriage, beautiful kid, I thought it was terrific until they unwittingly got on a plane and had seats right in front of me. The woman was in all-out psychotic screaming rage, you know, it was all very ZOOL. The whole family seemed painfully accustomed to the experience. The guy finally noticed me and nodded, and none of us ever mentioned it afterwards. Will they stay married, I wouldn’t be surprised. The guy’s parents were survivors, and I don’t think it’s in him to let go easily. She’s entirely dependent on him, so she won’t go.
     
    I remain hopeful but, end of the day, realistic. Do I understand why men have so much trouble keeping just themselves together when I manage myself, a house, a career, and a child? Plan for the future, and all that? No. Do I understand why so many of the bright, hot, and talented ones are nuts and destructive, no. (I actually do spend most of my time on the brainy stuff and sex, so yeah, it matters. I feel very fortunate to be able to live this way.) Why self-pity and rage are mixed up in such a dangerous way in so many men, no. But I accept these things as realities. Just as I accept that the right one is the right one…but that even cities come and go.
     
    I have one piece of good jewelry, a ring. It’s massy, it’s precious, and it’s also beautiful, made by a designer whose reputation was well-earned. He’s dead now. I first saw his work when I was 20 and broke, and said that if I ever got married, I’d get one of his rings, because they were the only ones I’d ever seen that i’d be willing to wear my whole life. I got the ring when I was 32, though in the end I didn’t marry the guy.
     
    I wear it every day, and every day it’s pleasing. I’ve yet to find another piece I’d want to wear like that. If I lost it, i just wouldn’t wear any jewelry. A few years ago, though, in the shock of my divorce, I wandered into a jewelry store to window shop, and went upstairs to where they kept the good stuff. I was admiring a necklace when the owner came into the room and asked me if I’d like to try it on, and I smiled and said sure, but I couldn’t afford to buy. Well, he put it on me, and it was beautiful, it was for me. Sapphires in all different colors, teardrop-cut, in a white-gold mesh. How much, I said, and he said twelve thousand dollars. So I laughed, and said that was out of my range. (By about $11,950.) Today, he said. Maybe another day you’ll come and buy it. And that’s right, that’s the right attitude to have.
     
    I look up at the wall, and there’s an empty spot where my ex took a couple of his pictures six years ago. When I find the right thing, it’ll go up there. Till then, the wall doesn’t hurt anyone being bare.
     
    Is there love out there, sure. I’ve been in love too many times, since childhood, not to believe that. I don’t believe things like that happen for half a life and then suddenly stop. But I also know that there’s a certain sadness that comes with it now, because I’m old and experienced enough to know the score. I don’t think I’ll have that beautiful naive romantic hope again. I can’t not see that a man is frightened, or weak, or a liar, or irresponsible in a way that says he’ll happily use me. That he’s not going anywhere, that he’ll blame me for his life. Or, most of all, want me not to see all these things. I also know myself and what I want and don’t want. So I count it very unlikely that i’ll live with a man again before my daughter’s grown; her childhood comes first, and besides I suspect my tolerance for living with other people tops out at one. Afterwards? I’ll tell you, I don’t know. Someone up there, Helene, I think, pointed out that women generally outlive men, and that’s true. Women end up the caregivers, and it starts happening fairly early. In the home stretch it can be devastatingly exhausting. Do I want that? I took care of a sick man for a few years, and it’s not something I’m inclined to do again. It’s all a long way off, though. In the meantime, I do what I can to make sure my retirement’s secure on my own, and that my daughter won’t have to look after me unless it’s important to her to do so.
     
    About integrity and sex: I’m sure you’re right. And two of my closest friends, old college friends, are men — one’s an old boyfriend who did me wrong and then worked hard for a year to get the friendship back. Do they do right by their families, I think so. They certainly work hard at it. Neither marriage has been easy (and I appreciate their wives tolerance of their ongoing friendships with me). But I must say, I think it would be very hard work, being married to either of them. They both need quite a lot of propping-up and managing, both have bossy wives who do the job.  Apart from that…gosh, I’ve been sitting here racking my brains, and…I’m sorry, it’s not happening. Men of integrity. Many charming men, many men who’ve been serious and talented in their work, men who’ve done me favors, men who’ve stood by their wives, men who wanted to be good but were scared…but it’s incredible how many were either courting me or wanted to confess things gone horribly wrong in their lives, their marriages. I remarked on this once to an old boyfriend, and he said, “You’re smart, and you’re not fat, and you look like you really like sex.” Oh. 
     
    Phew. It’s late, and I’ve got stuff to do — thanks for the correspondence. I think I’ll leave it at that.

  13. 13
    Gina

    I am 50 and have been married and divorced twice. Although the relationship that I have with my boyfriend is far more rewarding than either of my marriages ever were, getting remarried at my age would not be worth sacrificing my financial well being over, as I have substantially more assets than my boyfriend. Linking myself to him legally, would but a strain upon me financially. 

     

    1. 13.1
      petitlapin66

      Gina, 

      Here here! I’m 40, deeply in love with a man who, like me, came through a nasty divorce, and the last four years with him have been better than my entire marriage, even with the ups and downs that come with falling for someone too soon after a divorce. Anyway, I was coming to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, marriage didn’t need to be the end-goal of our relationship…when he sat me down, scared as hell, to tell me exactly the same thing from his side! So will we get married again? Meh… Who knows. Maybe we’ll change our minds and decide to do it. Right now, it’s not our end-goal. 

      What I was surprised to see in this particular section was a lack of representation for those who don’t see marriage as the end-goal, for whatever reason.

      Why does it have to be what we all strive for? Are people who walk down the aisle and sign the paper necessarily happier than those of us who “opt out”? I have my own answer to that, but just wanted to point out that an awful lot of “pressure to conform” seems to be going on here.

      Marriage is great, but it’s not the only way to have a happy relationship. :)
       

  14. 14
    Nadia

    I think the article was biased toward marriage, regardless of the statistics. And  I’m all for marriage so I have no real beef about that. I work in a primarily female industry and meet women constantly who have real peace with their single lives as they move into their elderly years. The article doesn’t properly reflect them. They aren’t worrying about dying alone. In fact, they don’t feel alone due to their strong social networks. Whether their husbands have died before them or they’ve divorced, they seem to see marriage as a phase of life that they’ve accomplished, and now they’re on to the next.  I draw strength from these women that marriage isn’t the panacea. It’s just one option for moving through life.

  15. 15
    Karen

    Wow. Amy’s responses are so well answered and contemplative and whilst people might not agree with her viewpoint, I admire the way she responds thoughtfully and with dignity to comments directed at her and never resorts to personal insults, which many on here, including the host,sometimes resort to. You should have your own blog Amy, I for one, would tune in.

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I was also going to recommend that Amy get her own blog, Karen, but for different reasons than you mentioned. She can have followers who agree that there a no good men out there. And I will have followers who think that there are good men out there. Her followers will remain happy being single and my followers will be happy in their healthy relationships with men. The choice is yours.

  16. 16
    Dawn

    I  certainly agree that it is FAR better to be single…then in a bad marriage. People often ask me if I would get married again. Yes! It was not the marriage that was the problem, it was the relationship between my ex and I that was the problem.
    I too believe there are men out there that want the same things I do in a relationship…however, I have yet to meet any of them who are single, or for that matter, close to my age.  Since my divorce I have dated more younger men because they seem to be the most interested in ME…and they have not yet been “damaged” by a bad relationship. 
    When male friends ask me why I date younger men…I tell them that most of the men I have met (and I do know there are more good one’s out there) seem to be bitter about relationships.  They hold back…they have decided NOT to give completely to a relationship because it failed before.  I even spent 2 hours with one man talking mostly about how he decided OUR breakup would go…and this was our first date!! Really??? Ugh.
    So, I continue to search out the right man for me…And I learn something from each one I meet in the mean time. I am learning about myself, and I am learning about men.  Dating has definitely taught me that men are as different as women are.  
    Thanks Evan!!

  17. 17
    Margaret

    @Amy:  Much of what you say resonates with me.  Yeah, you try to remain positive, but the fact is there are many factors working against women over 40 finding an available “good” man.  Not the least being men’s predilection for younger women, addressed many times by Evan. Your posts are very well thought-out and respectful.

    On another note:  Am i the only 50 year old woman here who has no sex drive?  I did go through the big M at 48, so I am sure that is the factor.  Sorry guys, sure you don’t want to hear about this.  Troubling as it is, it is almost a blessing in dealing with the lack of a man in my life.  

     

  18. 18
    P

    @Amy

    Part of the problem I see right now coming from your point of view is that you seem to be displaying a remarkable lack of insight. You speak very eloquently, but in general when I see someone applying a generalist approach to a complex problem such as gender politics and relationships between the genders I tend to find a lot of resentment over specific issues in their life which are driving a very sharp-edged sense of confirmation bias.

    Both men and women are prone to doing this, but women even more so in my experience. This is because women are taught very young to be consensus builders, and as such will confirm each other’s points of view with an emphasis on maintaining the individual relationship rather than the real emotional and/or mental health of the relationship partner. Thus, there’s a built-in mechanism for confirmation bias right off the bat.

    In addition, people tend to surround themselves with others that have similar viewpoints, attitudes, and problems. This tends to create tunnel vision…a rather narrowed view of reality which when looked at on the micro scale reaffirms their world-view and misses the macro view which is a much better and truer picture of reality.

    Amy, you speak of men by saying such things as “why self-pity and rage are mixed up in such a dangerous way in so many men”…speaking like you are familiar with enough men in the entire world to make such an assertion. I’ll even give you super-credit and say that you are intimately (not sexually) familiar on a regular emotional and mental basis with 1000 men. That’s impressive for anyone. Yet, even with that familiarity, you enjoy a viewpoint that consists of only 0.0006% of the male population of the United States. If you consider the world, then you’re looking at only 0.000033%. Representative sample? Not even close. So you say your friends support similar views or have similar stories. Of course they do…you’re going to gravitate towards those who have similar viewpoints and similar examples to support you. You’re going to remember the incidents you see which you can use to build your case, and ignore or forget the ones which don’t. I can say from years of experience in my field and countless open-eyed analysis that for every case you can come up with demonstrating bad relationship behavior in a man (or simply bad behavior in general), I can give you the same behavior in a woman. I can see that because I’m not biased in the way that you are. Everyone has bias to some degree, but you seem fresh with wounds that are dictating a very locked-in bias…which is sad in many ways.

    You made an interesting statement, referring to men, in your last post: “Do I understand why so many of the bright, hot, and talented ones are nuts and destructive, no.” Sure you do if you really think of it. Its the same reason why so many of the “bright, hot, and talented” women have self-destructive psychological traits. You see it in our popular culture all the time. In this society, “hot” is going to be the more operative word in what you wrote because, unfortunately, our society right now values that above the other two traits. Though you mentioned the other traits…it was interesting that you made sure “hot” was in there as well, giving definition to the type of man you’ve tended to look at in your life. Someone with ALL THREE traits. In this society, being “hot” gives one a lot of attention.  Being all three–an overwhelming amount. For both men and women, having this attention…having this constant affirmation of “greatness” gives one a sense of entitlement, and (again unfortunately) dehumanizes others who have lesser amounts of these qualities. Being a “good person” becomes less important because the incentive to develop such a trait is not there. We put up with a lot from someone who has those qualities…although we shouldn’t. Therefore, those people who possess all of them either consciously or unconsciously realize this and are therefore able to “get away” with having a personality like a plugged toilet.

    My point to this is: If you are look at THAT demographic of men, or even some subset of them that incorporates this, then OF COURSE your point of view is going to be skewed radically. Your (and your friends’ experiences) are going to be colored by a particular subset of human beings.

    I think it would be absolutely beneficial for you (although I’m not sure how that would happen in an honest setting) to hear what men have to say about you, and their perceptions of you. I think you might find it interesting and instructive and might put some things in a different light. I wish I could invite you to meet the people I know, both men and women–you might be surprised at how different things can be when you aren’t locked into a particular world-view.

    One final note: Do you think its possible that the reason so many marriages seem so dysfunctional might have to do with the criteria people are using when picking mates? That they are projecting ideal qualities onto partners that, when they become human (inevitable), results in disillusionment, resentment, and the unhappiness they feel? Do you think perhaps that it isn’t some innate quality of MEN that is the problem (or women for that matter) but a social and psychological selection process that has been made out to be ideal and followed religiously, but in reality is flawed and ultimately unworkable?  Perhaps, just perhaps its not the men and women that are the “problem”, but our own expectations and projections onto others which creates an illusion of love that is prone to cracking and coming apart, rather than true human bonds that are accepting and nurturing from both sides, which works together towards overcoming obstacles rather than pointing blame. Just some food for thought. Amy, perhaps it isn’t the men you know that are the problem…perhaps its your selection of men and the ones you choose to know that is.

          

    1. 18.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thank you, P, for having the patience to say what I would have said if I weren’t so tired from saying it every single day. Those were my sentiments exactly.

  19. 19
    Michael

    I’m not convinced that most people are at peace with growing old alone and happily single into their senior years.  In my experience most people want a connection with another, someone to share their happiness, sadness, hopes and dreams.  Clinically its healthy to have someone to speak to on a regular basis.  Human touch and intimacy all lead to a healthy mental outlook on life and add years to ones life. 
    As for a means to that end, marriage may not be the vehicle, it does have some troublesome financial and social issues if the relationship doesn’t ultimately workout.  However, in the last couple of years, I’ve worked with many people over 50 who are seeking long term relationships, even marriage and are making the changes necessary in their lives to find the right one. 
    I think “happily single” is a “current state” issue, having more to do with circumstances than desire.  Its like asking someone if they want more money, of course they do, as long as they don’t have to do anything unpleasant for it.  I see “happily single” as kind of silly, since what is the alternative? “Unhappily single”?  Most people strive for happiness even if not currently in a relationship.  Doesn’t mean they’ve chosen to remain single for the rest of their lives. 
     
     

  20. 20
    Karen

    @Evan
    Why do things have to be so absolute with you? I enjoy reading what Amy has to say but don’t have to agree with all her sentiments. I know both good and not so good men so am happy reading about both!

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Oh, and Karen? I allow Amy’s long dissents on my blog. I’m not the one who’s making absolute generalizations about men. And I even acknowledged that much of what Amy saying has a basis in truth – I just strongly disagree with her conclusions. So what, exactly, is “absolute” about me? And what is there to learn from a “men suck” perspective? What man would ever devote himself to a woman who fundamentally seems to look down on his entire gender?

  21. 21
    hespeler

    From my personal experience, I do see the point that Amy is making regarding women faring better after divorce.
    My ex-wife is re-married with a kid while I still struggle to find someone and remain optimistic.  And yes, there have been some dark moments because of a lack of support from friends and family.
    I’ve also seen it in my dating experience with divorced women.  Most (not all) speak of their former marriages more like a break-up than a divorce. 
    As a matter of fact, I recently spoke to my ex-wife and I told her how much I’ve struggled the last couple of years and she pretty much told me how pathetic I am.  Unreal.  She went from the women who adored me to regarding me as pathetic and self-defeating.  And no, I did nothing to scorn her like cheat or anything like that.

    1. 21.1
      ComfortablyResigned

      There is yet another aspect to the why a woman is middle aged and not married story. Well, I married once. A youthful marriage from age 19 to age 28.  Husband decided grass was greener on the other side.  I decided to pick myself up, dust myself off, go back to college and then find mr Right because everyone knows “success is the best revenge.”  It’s funny..Everyone I knew was so sure he’d be the one who was sorry and alone and I’d be happily remarried with a 2d chance at love. That’s not what happened.   I’m still single. Haven’t had a date in 4 years. Men seem to look right through me as if I don’t exist, and the few who do talk to me want to be just friends (without benefits lol).  I’ve yet to find anyone to love and marry. He on the other hand, married for the 2d time six years after the divorce, he’s still happily re-married nearly 20 years.  There are times that if I’m not careful, I start to compare and feel like a complete failure because of all this.  My point: one never know what life may hand them. It’s not all in our control.  I didn’t “choose” to divorced. He left. I didn’t choose to be middle aged and single and alone all these years. It just happened.  Realistically, my chances for re-marriage at my age (52) is pretty slim.  Why would any man want to marry me when there are plenty of younger, thinner and prettier and less “complicated” women out there? I’d have to make so many physical and psychological changes that I wouldn’t even be myself anymore.  So rather than mourn about what’s not going to happen, the one thing I have chosen is to prepare myself for life alone and to not believe in fairy tales.  Happily ever after is great for some, apparently it’s not meant for me.  I’m sure some will criticize me and say I’m negative, but I’m merely talking reality…and let’s face reality isn’t like the rom-coms where everyone gets to have a ‘happy ending.’

  22. 22
    amy

    I’ll point out that both P and Evan are saying (repeatedly) that my problem is I’ve surrounded myself with the wrong people. In other words, it’s my fault, and if I’d only done something right I’d agree with them that men are basically awesomesauce. I believe they call that one blaming the victim. I notice too that they’re a bit deaf to the women here and elsewhere who echo what I’m saying.
     
    We’re not saying there are no good men, guys. We’re saying there appear to be few. If it takes this many women this much hunting, wonderful men are not thick on the ground. And I’d wager that if you stacked up men and women, you’d find fewer good men than you’d find good women. That imbalance matters. Starkly put: No, there won’t be a good man for every good woman. Not only that, but for some women the hunt will be so expensive it’s sensible to question the effort, or even to leave it alone.
     
    P, if what you said was true re numbers, you wouldn’t take so much as an aspirin, because we wouldn’t have clinical trials. If you do some stats reading, you’ll find out why small samples are acceptable. I’m not, incidentally, saying my samples are anything but accidental.
     
    As for bright/hot/talented — actually, I do find a puzzling difference between men and women in that regard. I’m in arts in nationally-prestigious circles (and most arts in this country have very small, fickle audiences, so public adulation doesn’t really come into it much unless you’re big on cardigan-wearing retired women who’ll comprehensively misunderstand your work but find it “inspiring”). I don’t want to try to explain the correlation, but you don’t see a lot of “bright and talented” without “hot”, by which I mean not just sexual attractiveness but conventional good looks. And the men, baby, are in general a hot mess. Why? I don’t know. Are there nutso women, sure…but so many more of them are not only mothers but good mothers; they’re far more disciplined, they do their work, they have property and manage it. The straight men have women-groupie-wives who mother them, raise their kids, and take care of everything so they can go do their genius thing; the women…yeah, there are a few with banker-daddy husbands. What I see i more often is that the women manage all their own stuff and are either childless or raise their children. There are alcoholic women in these circles, but most of the alcoholics are men; the men are just more reckless, more apt to say “screw it” and throw things away.
     
    The women fret, and they can be bitchy and neurotic and irrational, and at high levels they’re dangerous turf-fighters. But destructive..on the whole, no, not so much. They just aren’t big babies, put it that way. Why this difference when the men and women hold the same day jobs? I’ve no idea. But, again, I accept it as a reality while remaining hopeful that outliers exist for me to meet. In the meantime my sense is that the men just aren’t made as well as the women. I find that — on the whole — women are psychologically much more stable, know themselves better, handle setbacks and illness *way* better. I mean they’re very tough, tougher than the men. And maybe in a marginal, tough racket like arts that’s what makes the difference.
     
    P, you want me to hear what men have to say about me. Well, I beat you to it. Men usually find me scary and tell me so, and explain when I ask them why. The digest version’s that they like to have some bullshit room, and it freaks them out to be seen through consistently. At our age, they’re not too excited about my being in better shape than they are physically, and they — you know, I’m hard to keep up with, I’ve done a lot of different things, had a lot of adventures, I work really effing hard and know what I want, and the head doesn’t often turn off. I get “force of nature” a lot. (Keep in mind here that I spend the vast majority of my time at home, either doing my work or taking care of my child. We’re not off the excitement charts, here.) I’m also impatient if a guy makes like he can play and then it turns out he can’t — that happens all the time, a guy comes courting and is fronting like crazy. So the men are admiring but say yeah, never in a million years, you’d eat me for breakfast. Which is fine. They do respect and like me, though, and if he hasn’t been a louse to me we get along.
     
    I have had a few complain that I don’t need them. I respect that this is a real thing for them, but it’s totally not my job or place to make them feel necessary. That’s up to them. Because yes, it’s true, I’ve lived decades without them, and I could likely go the rest of the way without them, too. If I’m with a guy it’s because I want him, not because I need him.
     
    There’s also a contingent of men who get ABSOLUTELY FURIOUS at whatever I’m saying or doing. Some will come back years later, admit I was right, remind me what I was right about (it’s long gone from my head), and essentially tell me I shouldn’t have put it that way and pissed them off so hard. I also get married men who apologize to me for men.  They say, “Yeah, it’s gonna suck for you, and it shouldn’t be that way, because you’re amazing. It’s just that men suck. I’m sorry men have hurt you.”  And I say, “It’s not so bad.” Then they tell me about how nothing they’d be without their wives, whom they give hard times and shouldn’t. I think it must be a real problem for men.
     
    Here’s what the men who wind up in my bed say: “You should have someone better than me.” They’re right. And if I knew such an available fella, I would. It’s nice of them to say so, though. There are also men who’ve been through the fire in their 50s, 60s, who wince at my emphatic nature and find it childish. Chide me for it. Totally guilty there. There are great virtues in calm, quiet, openness, subtlety, humility. I tell them I expect I’ll calm down & broaden with age, but for now, this feels like where it’s at for me, and I don’t fault them for not sticking around for it.
     
    In the end, I totally don’t blame a guy for wanting ease and comfort and admiration. I think most people want these things. But that’s not what I’m for, unless he’s a peculiar kind of guy who finds what I’ve got comfortable.

    1. 22.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Without knowing you, Amy, all any reader can see here is that a) you’re full of yourself, b) your “no-bullshit” policy is probably somewhat tactless and insensitive to others, c) you don’t care much about what men need, d) women are simply superior – kinder, more together, more creative, “anything men can do, women can do better”, and finally, e) you take no responsibility for any of this, except for one nod at the very end about humility.

      You’re clearly an impressive and articulate woman and I have little doubt we’d find much to talk about in real life. But your sweeping and negative generalizations about men, your desire to fight these kinds of battles, and your failure to realize that anyone who dates you will never get the ease, comfort and admiration that HE desires pretty much explains why you’re single – moreso than the fact that 99% of men suck and aren’t worthy of you.

      I sincerely thank you for your contributions, wish you all the best and hope that you find a man that makes you happy. But, as you said, if men are pathetic and they routinely find you scary, it may be somewhat challenging.

  23. 23
    amy

    hespeler — friends. Friends are crucial. Men have trouble sometimes being friends together, but if you find local mixed-sex groups to do with activities or social services, you’ll find people, women especially, who’ll help draw you in. They may not be the people you’d want to hang around with forever, but they can help you get to feeling stable and part of society after work’s done. Is there anything around you? I know that here, anyway, the local social-services needs are so great with the rotten economy that volunteers are welcome. It also feels good to feel like you’re doing for others.
     
    Biking and running groups are also big around here, and they’re pretty long-lived.

  24. 24
    Lynn

    @Michael
    You are misinterpreting what I meant by “happily single.”  I clearly explained that I would like to be happily married. What I meant is that while I am single, I am happy. Believe me there ARE “unhappily single.”  If I can’t find someone to be happily married to, then I would choose single rather than trapped in an unhappy marriage. It’s a matter of being happy as a person in whatever status you are in. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t prefer to be married. It doesn’t mean we aren’t actively looking. And just knowing the benefits of being married, doesn’t make it happen. It still takes time to find that person, or they may never find him or her.

  25. 25
    Lynn

    Something that I don’t think anyone has mentioned about the number of women remaining single is this:  A matter of numbers! In the U.S., there is a disproportionate number of single men vs single women! More women are available than are men, and the older the age group, the worse the number difference grows! I’m not meaning to discourage anyone (including myself) from finding a good man, but I am pointing out that it’s not a matter of “very few available good men.” There are less available men in general for the number of us women! Simple math.  At least that’s one factor behind the growing number of single women.
     
    In regard to the views that there are practically no good men left… I just have to say, as a woman, on behalf of men, that it’s very unfair to judge them all as a group! When women are stereotyped, it makes me so angry, because often, I DO NOT fit the generalization! How often do we hear things like, “Why do ALL women do……?” As women, we don’t appreciate that kind of statement, and it’s just as wrong to judge ALL men or NEARLY ALL men the same way!!  My opinions are not such because I’ve not had bad experiences with men! On the contrary! A large part of my life I spent with bad attitudes toward the “males species” in general because of bad experiences with my father, brother and more…. I likely  kept some good men away, because I gave off such a negative and attitude unintentionally. Finally in my mid-40’s, and came to a point of changing my thinking about men, forgiving the ones that had hurt me, and really trying to understand men and how they think… what makes them “tick.” Now I actually LIKE the males species in general. I think the good, decent ones are in the majority. Unfortunatatly, it seems that the  number of available ones have dwindled as I’ve reached 50.
     
    There is NO PERFECT MAN out there! Neither is there a PERFECT WOMAN! What I DO believe is that there can be a “perfect match” for us – a perfect match of the good and the bad in each of us…. So that we help each other grow into better people just by being the person that we are. Setting out to “change” a man isn’t the thing to do. I wouldn’t want a man to marry me, not knowing he’s thinking of how to change me when we’re married. That won’t work on a man either, and I don’t blame them for not liking that!
     
    Whew!! This is a hot topic…. Thank you Evan for your blog!
     
     

  26. 26
    P

    Amy, I’m not sure why you’re tossing me in with “fellas”…but, I presume your biases lead you to make assumptions.  This is clearly pointless–you’ve made grand, sweeping decisions about men, confirmed your bias with your limited surroundings, and I see no point in continuing this with someone so close-minded.  As Evan said, good luck.

  27. 27
    Dawn

    It’s unfortunate that this dialog with Amy seems to be shutting everyone else out…
     
     

  28. 28
    P

    Oh, and Amy, I’ll bet you my Ph.D. that I understand statistics much better than you do. Your retort about clinical trials was clever, but not relevant. Clinical trials are accomplished using controls which reduce variables, and random sample sets. Your “clinical trials” of men are contaminated by your bias and by non-random sample selection. Please review your methods accordingly.

  29. 29
    amy

    “You’re clearly an impressive and articulate woman and I have little doubt we’d find much to talk about in real life.”
     
    :) Thanks. And I agree, I think we’d get along like a house on fire. (Though that last post of mine…er, a little inarticulate, there, careful editing’s a plus.)
     
    I never said that 99% of men suck. I said that a good man’s hard to find, a sentiment not exactly novel. And I said I bet there are more good women than there are good men, which, if true, sets up a very real problem. Maybe expressed best, and with irritating anomie, by the hot, talented, bright, and waaaay too young guy who stayed over last weekend: “I don’t think people get married anymore.” (Sorry, whoever said above that she only dates younger men. I feel super-uncomfortable in the teacher/lover role, and there’s only so many times I can bite my tongue before “you’ll understand when you’re older” pops out.)
     
    Do I care much about what men need…um, yeah. I do. Because they’re half the species, so it’s important. Do I feel obliged to provide it? No. I don’t see why I should. I take care of myself, and a whole lot more; why can’t a man take care of just himself? I don’t get this “men need something, therefore women should provide it” pov — where does that sense of entitlement come from? And this supposed punishment: “Well, then you won’t have a man” — um…okay? So wait, I’m missing out on having a needy guy live in my house? I already have a person here who needs things from me.  Only when I do what she needs, I’m also teaching her to, someday, be an independent person who can do for herself, and someday she’ll go off and largely do that. She’s itching to already, which is awesome.
     
    I mean look, when I’m in a great relationship, what we give each other besides hots is just about the deepest friendship I know. It’s love. It’s not about…I don’t know, the basic business of getting by. Catering to psychological needs best attended to by us ourselves. If being with me makes him feel great, then that’s terrific. But “be a particular way, do a particular thing, because I need it”? That kind of creeps me out. I wouldn’t ask anyone to do that for me.
     
    As for “women are simply superior – kinder, more together, more creative, ‘anything men can do, women can do better'” — look, man, you just can’t argue with experience. Not just mine, but the experience of the dozens — hundreds? — of other women I’ve talked to over the years. I mean ship some kind, together, helpful men out this way, and I’ll happily reassess. Until then — it’s women who call and email and ask me how I’m doing, if I need something, if my daughter can use something. Who remember an emotional tone in a bit of conversation and come back to it two weeks later, asking if something’s going all right. Who remember to include my daughter. Who are there to watch her if I need to go out of town. Who take care of not just themselves, but their husbands, psychologically, in a crisis, and who catch their marriages before they fall over a cliff. Shoot, I don’t even support gay men’s initiatives anymore. They come calling around, and I say okay, when’s the last time you did something for the women’s center? You want my help, but I don’t see any coming back the other way. And they mumble something about focusing on one thing. Well, go get your petition signed elsewhere, then.
     
    It’s not like I set out with some a priori “women are the awesomest” idea. My closest friends before marriage were almost always men. But I find that now that i’m into the part of life that involves responsibility for other people, it’s totally women who come through. And that, unfortunately, the “helpful man” is generally the “macking man”. And, again, that my experience is widely echoed. In fact it’s very much changed my assessment of my man radar. I used to go around thinking that gosh, I must just be a terrible judge of character, I keep getting screwed over by men, I’m going only for lousy ones, maybe I’m damaged somehow and there’s something wrong with me. I wish women would stop blaming themselves this way. Yes, there are obvious mistakes out there. Stay away from the alcoholic, the guy with the restraining order, the one who blames everybody in his life for his troubles. But if most men are just not so terrific — and a healthy proportion flat-out appalling — then the problem ain’t you. The problem is you expect Chanel and you mostly got a ride to Filene’s Basement.
     
    At the beginning of this thread, Sarah pointed out the injustice of women being treated horribly by men, then left to raise children and be poor. She’s right, and it’s because we don’t value, with money — that stuff you need to get through life —  the serious work women do as mothers and caregivers. Women do it anyway, day in, day out, and the nights inbetween. While trying to fit their own lives in around the corners. If that’s not reliable, kind, together, etc., then I don’t know what is. The irony is that the only way to get paid in your own name for this work is to get divorced. And that, to me, is pretty screwed up. 
     
    Here’s what I think is your killer question, Evan: “And what is there to learn from a ‘men suck’ perspective?”
     
    I think that’s a totally awesome question. Just for the moment, assume it’s a valid perspective, though I’ll modify it to “most men suck”. Well, so what are you going to do? You can…
    …focus on tracking, defining, and aiming yourself at some imaginary set of non-sucky men, trusting that it’s real, in which case perhaps you ought not be open-ended about it;
    …ask yourself if you really, really, really can’t be gay and make things easier on yo’ ass;
    …question whether this whole enterprise of finding happiness with a theoretical man might not be off in some way;
    …ask if there are things in life that also make you happy and are not men;
    …ask yourself a serious set of questions about what sex from men and the usual “manly things men do” are really worth to you, how important they are and why, how replaceable or irreplaceable they are and why.
     
    I think it opens things up kind of amazingly on the distaff side. On the men’s, there’s a serious question: If most men suck…well, why? Is it necessary? Can we get babies and tall buildings and space expeditions and overpriced restaurants without all these problems? Also, what is with this king-of-the-mountain business — is it sociobiological, nothing they can do anything about even though it makes everyone, including themselves, miserable and anxious, or is this a case of men just hazing the hell out of each other for no good reason? Can the sucky men learn something from the non-sucky men, or is it a biological thing, built in?
     
    I think it’s a terrific, terrific question.
     
    P, re samples, I think I already dealt with that.

  30. 30
    Laine

    Amy,

    Whatever. Now back to War and Peace :)  

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