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. 31
    Gina

    @ Dawn #32 – I totally agree. I would like more readers to address the fact that many women and men 50+ years of age have created a certain degree of financial stability for themselves, and may not want to jeopardize that stability by getting married. These women (such as myself) enjoy the companionship that comes with being in a happy and committed relationship, but do not want to be tied to our partners financially, nor do we want our income (which could be used towards building our own retirement) to be used to help support our partner’s children (I don’t have any children) from their previous marriage(s).

  2. 32
    Lynn

    I feel like I have wasted my time and effort posting my thoughts and insights on this thread. I imagine other people feel the same. One person’s posts and replies to them, have completely hijacked this worthwhile discussion!  The rest of us would like to be listened to, too!

    1. 32.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Sorry, Lynn, but people respond to whatever they want to respond to. And since Amy’s comments were so verbose and provocative, it did, in fact, end up taking over the thread. Writing with exclamation points isn’t going to make people listen to your insights.

  3. 33
    Ellen

    I knew someone would KICK AS* on Amy for her views, which btw, are pretty widespread imo.

    Amy wrote: 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.

    I have experienced this too, Amy, but not for the reasons you describe (THAT behavior- the man hating being beaten by a woman seems more prevalent among younger men in my experience). No, in the last three years of online dating I’ve met lots of men over 40, particularly over 50, who were still very angry with their exes and scared as hell about aging, running out of time.

    In my experience these older women described in the NY Times article have weighed their options and decided a man wasn’t worth it. My late Mom used to say “Why marry again? I won’t be a nurse with a purse”. And she was right. She lived to be 92 btw.

    I stay in the game ’cause I take bioidentical hormones, and well, still want a sex life, companionship! And I’m still a bit of a romantic, deep down. Have all this love and few to share it with- intimately anyway. For reasons I won’t go into, I doubt I can rely on my children in my old age (wouldn’t want to anyway) so the idea of having a live-in lover still appeals to me). It doesn’t bother me much he would probably pre-decease me!

    I am NOT afraid to be alone however, and have made my peace with it. My grandmother lived 30 years after her husband died, my Mom about 12. We are all Steel Magnolias down here. lol

    So I soldier on and “soldier” it is often. It’s difficult, frustrating, annoying dealing with middle-aged men often. It’s why I dated younger for two years before that, too, became annoying in other ways. Just glad I recently met a keeper (I think, hope and pray). This keeper btw also takes hormones!

    Finally, I refuse to do this (online dating) another year frankly….

    No, study after study is now showing men take longer to recover from breakups for the reasons Amy describes- not enough men have strong social networks like women.

  4. 34
    Zaq

    @amy

    Women are superior to men ? – give it a rest.
    You, Amy, are a prime example of what men find so frustrating in women.
    Women are NEVER satisfied. You know the saying “women marry men, and hope that they change, men marry women and hope that they NEVER change”.

    How on earth is it possible for one gender to be “superior” to another ?
    Our DNA doesn’t know about our value systems. It just produces men and women with a behaviour system most likely to result in the DNA being passed on to other generations.
    Unfortunately for men, women are hard-wired to be attracted to the finest examples of the male gender. They only have so many eggs, so they are picky on who fertilises them.

    If a woman is attracted to hot,tall,intelligent, successful, witty, empathic and communicative men, then it stands to reason they are going to be very thin on the ground. One in a hundred thousand.
    “good men are hard to find” you say. Indeed such men are.

    Men want a woman who is vaguely pretty. Plenty of them about.

    Women do not find the average man to be in the slightest bit attractive, and so most of them have to settle. They also allow their ‘feelings’ to be the ultimate arbiter.
    I loved the OKCupid study that showed that women found most men to be significantly below average in looks. It didn’t seem to occur to them that it was impossible for most men to be 3 out of 10.

    This probably leaves most women constantly dissatisfied with the opposite sex.
    Small wonder then that most divorces are instigated by women. 

    So are men inferior to women ? No, but many women PERCEIVE them to be.
     

  5. 35
    Ellen

    sorry for the double post, but Amy also wrote: 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 wouldn’t go that far ’cause I still try to see people as individuals first. And women HAVE had a little to do with that- recently young mothers are finally being told “let the man parent even if you perceive it as imperfect. He needs the experience and he will bond with the child faster”.

    Meher Baba, whom I follow said something fascinating once. Said women in the West were more spiritual than the men – in general, but in India, in the east, it was the opposite- the women were more materialistic. ! :) lol

    And re friends I agree with Amy. I have lots of male friends, cherish them, it’s just that God help you if you have to date them. Then a whole another side of them comes out I’d just rather not deal with frankly.  If you are not perceived as “the one” they just pretty much treat you like total crap in my experience, or subtly, which is worse.

    Finally, let us women vent some, ok? Even goodmanreport.com is getting across the message to men (FINALLY!) that they need to validate the woman’s point of view, not label it as “emotional” or “illogical” all the friggin time. The term is “gaslighting” , as in the Ingrid Bergman film (her husband, in an attempt to have her committed or killed (can’t remember) accuses her of being paranoid and mentally ill).

  6. 36
    P

    Evan,

    I actually highly doubt you’d get along with “Amy” based on the fact that you seem to be someone who takes reason and logic seriously. However, that would be for you to decide of course and you do seem to have a knack for tolerance. I’m just not sure Amy’s line of reasoning deserves much tolerance given that its roots are based in bigotry.  

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and her latest commentary really hit the nail on the head for me.

    We’ve all seen this argument and line of reasoning before, in great detail. 

    Throughout history, people have created psychological environments which support an argument and are used to dominate or suppress another group by proclaiming their group is superior or “better” in some way. We’ve seen this along racial lines, nations, and among the genders.  Its bigotry, plain and simple. What’s REALLY interesting to me though from a psychological and sociological standpoint is:

    Amy’s arguments are an almost a caricature of identical arguments that have been used for thousands of years in support of the supremacy of men. 
      
    There’s a lot of study going on about this right now, with various sociologists noting that an environment is being created in some social circles which supports this reversal and thus creates the environment which supports the argument. (e.g. a group is continually told they are weak and lesser–from a psychological standpoint, that group will tend to begin to act in the way which supports this assertion).

    Look back through history and the numerous and various writings which have been done by men pertaining to the weakness of women and the “superior nature” of men.  What you will see is a set of reasonings that are almost identical to Amy’s commentary. Reasonings that include logical fallacies being used to describe the emotional weakness and destructiveness of women. Women’s lack of drive and attention to detail. Women’s inability to use logic and determine proper reasonable courses in life. Women are emotional creatures and ill suited to run world affairs properly. Women’s relationships with other women are fraught with competition and distateful strife.  Women are prone to actions based on feeling alone and incapable of dealing with life’s responsibilities. Womena are fragile and easily decompensate under emotional duress. The list goes on an on in these writings.

    Take Amy’s commentary, and replace the pronouns for men with those for women, and you have historical (and unfortunately, sometimes present-day) commentary made about women almost verbatim. 

    Amy’s commentary is now truely fascinating to see from this perspective. Right up to and including the almost obligatory reference to last week’s “conquest” making some sort of passing comment in support of the dominant reference:

    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.’”

    I can almost see male writers of past making note: “Just last week as my nubile mistress and I settled into our tryst she noted how grateful she was for my stability and purposefulness of nature.” Note this statement and the fact that it includes an element of sexual dominance in it by the reference that Amy acquired for herself a young sexual object for the weekend. The statement didn’t need to include any reference to this and could have been said that she knows a young man who doesn’t think people get married anymore. Instead, referenced in the way that it was, it gives off a clear message of sexual superiority, dominance, and conquest.  These types of references have been used by men for centuries as proof that women themselves were believers of male superiority.

    These arguments laid forth by men for many, many generations were wrong, horrifying, and infuriating to women.  Just as this line of reasoning laid forth by Amy and various factions of radical feminism is also wrong, horrifying, and infuriating to men. No argument of this sort has ever done anything towards the advancement of humanity in general, creating nothing but painful and damaging power systems that divide us and prevent us from seeing the complementary nature people can supply for one another. Both applications of the superiority argument use numerous logical fallacies, and as such are flawed from the beginning and nothing but progenitors of resentment, anger, and outright destructive conflict.

    And, directly to Amy: No…you haven’t dealt with the samples issues. You ignored it. Please see the logical fallacy known as “biased sampling.”

      

           
            

  7. 37
    Evan Marc Katz

    @amy #34 – For what it’s worth, I know you’re getting pilloried for some of your statements, but I do appreciate you making your case with your own facts and logic. I may not agree with your conclusion, but do believe that you’re a bright and worthy adversary who knows how to have a disagreeable conversation without personal attacks. And, on this forum, that says quite a lot. Thank you for the dialogue.

  8. 38
    Ruby

    The fact that so many women are staying single isn’t surprising to me. As my married friends tell me, keeping a marriage together over the course of many years isn’t easy, even with marriages that start out strong. Since women suffer more financially after divorce, it sounds like a lot of women are risking that for the emotional benefits of leaving a marriage that is stagnating or unhealthy. 

    Many divorced men don’t seem to me that anxious to remarry; maybe many divorced women feel that way, too. Again, not surprising given that the rates of divorce for second and third marriages are even higher than for first marriages, which for baby boomers has risen to 40%.  

    Traditionally, men have a much wider age spectrum available to them in dating, and some older men focus on younger women. Also, older women outnumber their male counterparts. So I don’t think that women are choosing to be single. Even if they leave an unhappy marriage, most divorced and still-single women would like to find a partner, whether they remarry or not. 

    According to the article, younger people have far lower rates of marriage than their elders as well, so we’ll be seeing even more aging singles in the years to come. I just hope we have the safety nets in place on both financial and social levels to accommodate them.

  9. 39
    P

    @Ellen

    No, study after study is now showing men take longer to recover from breakups for the reasons Amy describes- not enough men have strong social networks like women.

    There is some validity to this. However, it needs to be looked at contextually. Making sweeping statements that this is one piece of “evidence” that women are superior (kinder, gentler, etc) than women is simply logical fallacy.  In fact, a case could be made (which would also be a logical fallacy used for demonstration) that the opposite is true: Men have more issues after a breakup because they are more emotionally invested in the relationship and therefore women are colder, “meaner” and better able to simply “shut down” their feelings towards another person.  Is that argument valid? It uses the same type of logic…flawed logic, but its the same.

    Let’s look at why men have fewer supportive social connections, and let’s use history, sociology, and psychology to understand it, rather than claims of innate superiority of a particular gender. Historically, men did have complex social support networks–in many ways more than women did. Today, we live in a transitional time emotionally for men.  Men are expected to invest more emotionally and display more in an emotional context. However, some of the same previous “roles” for men are still in play.  There’s still a demand for men to be “independent”…there’s a social and psychological stigma that goes towards a man who displays “weakness” or emotional vulnerability.  Women push this as well–its not simply internally generated on the male side alone.  Think of the arguments that have taken place on this blog about the “alpha male” and his desirability. Men are taught, very early on, that they should handle their own problems, but at the same time are being taught that for successful relationships they need to be emotionally vulnerable–to women.  Men are, for the most part, taught NOT to be emotionally vulnerable to other men.  This is a product of our sociological psychology, and both men and women equally are responsible for this.  It does NOT imply an innate superiority or inferiority to either gender as is being inferred. 

    And re friends I agree with Amy. I have lots of male friends, cherish them, it’s just that God help you if you have to date them. Then a whole another side of them comes out I’d just rather not deal with frankly. If you are not perceived as “the one” they just pretty much treat you like total crap in my experience, or subtly, which is worse. 

    Ah…this artifact has more to do with how differently people treat “romantic” relationships vs. friendships.  The comparisons are not entirely valid in the context used, or in how they are being applied towards men.  How many times have we seen references to the fact that people will do things towards a romantic partner that they would never contemplate doing towards a friend?  That, in essence, is part of the problem I see with our methodology towards pair bonding today.  We project all our ideations, aspirations, expectations, and dreams onto another person, then respond with resentment and anger when that person turns out to be just like us: A flawed human being.  We expect a partner bigger than life subconsciously…someone that will make us happy by providing everything we want.  The results are as expected.

    This issue isn’t a male/female or male/female superiority one–though its often used in that context.  Similar issues happen in homosexual pair bondings.  An example of this is the high rates of domestic physical and emotional violence between lesbian couples, to use an one involving women. When confronted with this, most friends of said partners involved in such things have no idea that their friend could act as such.  Similar things are often said of individuals involved in heterosexual relationships where such activity occurs. 

    The point I’m making here is that you cannot compare friendships with romantic relationships–although you should be able to if people took healthy approaches towards said relationships in general.  Currently, we place them on different planes and therefore create different sets of expectations which therefore result in different sets of problems.  The problem isn’t male vs. female…but each of us as individuals.

    Finally, let us women vent some, ok? Even goodmanreport.com is getting across the message to men (FINALLY!) that they need to validate the woman’s point of view, not label it as “emotional” or “illogical” all the friggin time. The term is “gaslighting” , as in the Ingrid Bergman film (her husband, in an attempt to have her committed or killed (can’t remember) accuses her of being paranoid and mentally ill).

    Let’s take a step back here.  I don’t think anyone is proclaiming that Amy is emotionally or mentally ill, by current diagnostic methods.  I certainly am not..but I am deeply concerned by anyone who makes sweeping generalizations proclaiming an innate superiority of any group over another without a real understanding of what is going on, why its going on, and the external factors involved that they themselves are a part of.

    Venting can be a good thing…if done constructively.  Most people don’t do this, however.  In many situations, venting can quickly turn into a witch hunt, as group-think takes over…creating, in essence, a mob mentality.  Continual venting, without constructive methods of addressing such complaints, leads to generalized assessments such as the “superiority” issue being touted here.  What is needed is more effort towards understanding, and less effort towards developing a new, and equally flawed power paradigm.

    @Evan to Amy
    I may not agree with your conclusion, but do believe that you’re a bright and worthy adversary who knows how to have a disagreeable conversation without personal attacks.
      
    I’m going to disagree here and say that Amy IS engaging in a form of personal attack–its just on a broad scale. She’s attacking an entire subset of the human species (males) and proclaiming her (and her gender’s) superiority over them. Its going to be personal in that respect to any male. Ask any WOMAN who has lived with the arguments for male superiority if she feels it isn’t personal when said arguments are being told to her by a man who believes them, and therefore believes her (personally) to be an inferior being.
     

  10. 40
    Carrie

    Wow….what a discussion.   Pretty crazy stuff.  I personally believe it’s up to the individual and what they ultimately want and feel comfortable doing for them.  We all have a story behind our decisions.  I love what Margaret said…that since going through menopause she has no sexual desire.  I am right there with ya sister. Would be nice…but not like when I was younger and there was a longing for intimacy in that way.  Ellen…love the reminder…that we older gals are…Steel Magnolias.  I know alot of older women who are absolutely content without a man or being married to one.   I would have loved to stay married but it didn’t work out that way.  Second marriage done and over.  That was very sad.  I am open to meeting someone but I am not going to worry about it or try to go online or join a club or be in the “right” places to meet someone.  I am going to just live.  I don’t have a huge circle of friends but enough.  I have a job that I am not in love with but keeps paying for my mortgage, thank God.  My son is healthy going to school and my family are wonderful.  I am pretty content.  Right now I want more of a career, that is what I am concerned about now.   Back to the subject, sorry….men are wonderful people.  Like in everything there are good and bad.  Being concerned about who you are and how you are contributing to making the world a better place should be of concern at any age really. As I aged my needs and wants changed.  I grew wiser and much stronger.  These are good things.  Ideas and feelings I wish I would
    have had in my 20′s.  We get so distracted by the fun shiny things of life and when they aren’t there think life is horrible.  There is so much more to be and have in life…it’s where your priorities are.     It is so sad to hear the deep hurt and scars that are left by other people.  Really very sad. Time to rise up out of those ashes and make your life, whether partnered or not….count! Love to all.

  11. 41
    Helen

    amy, I enjoy reading your viewpoints even when I disagree with the basic conclusions. 
     
    You seem to make the presumption that people should know when you need help and offer it, and because women do this more than men, they are superior. I would say that women are more acculturated to offer help unasked, but that it is not because of a difference in kindness between sexes.
     
    My experience has been that whenever I ask men (including my husband) for help, they almost always (nearly 100% of the time) help. In fact, I can only think of one example in my life when I asked a man for help and he said no. Every other time, the men give and give and give, and almost never expect something in return except for appreciation for what they did.
     
    amy, you have more control over your relationships with men (including non-romantic ones) than you realize. If you want something from them, ask for it. You may be surprised at their generosity. Ask with an expectation of receiving, and both you and the men will benefit.
     
    I will mention the caveat that I don’t mind asking my husband’s help for things around the house, nor do I mind asking my male colleagues for help in professional settings. But I rarely ask other women’s husbands for help with things that aren’t strictly work-related, not because I think they won’t help, but because I don’t want to inadvertently offend their wives. That is why, in general, when I need help, I prefer to ask women than men.  That is not something to blame men for, though – no one really deserves blame here. It’s just respecting boundaries.

  12. 42
    Evan Marc Katz

    Forgive me for browsing my own website, but any time I hear stories about how there are so few good men out there, I remember that I have probably 1000 client testimonials from women who found amazing men.

    Check out this page and see if you’re still a skeptic about the ability for people to find love: http://www.evanmarckatz.com/coaching/focus-coaching/

    My guess is that if you don’t believe these women are truly happy – or believe that their relationships are ultimately doomed to failure, you probably won’t believe that anyone – myself included – is truly happy. Which says more about your worldview than it does the reality of the happily married people out there.

    EMK

     

  13. 43
    Lynn

    @Evan #42 Evan, I realize people can respond to who they want to, and this is the reality of posting on the web. I could have gone without making my comment in that regard, I admit. However, your comment of “Writing with exclamation points isn’t going to make people listen to your insights” is rather uncalled for! (Yes, I used an exclamation point.)  I’m just an expressive writer and try to use a variety of things, such as punctuation, bold face and few capitalization here and there to convey my written thoughts.  I do believe my thoughts and insights are worthwhile, and just wanted to share them. BTW, I was standing up for men and fairness.

  14. 44
    Joe

    Lynn touched upon this briefly in her #30 post.  But I’d like to point out a certain fallacy that helene referred to earlier.  Yes, it’s true that there are more women than men, at any age, and that the disparity only increases with age.  However, it’s a fallacy that the average man is going to die at a younger age than his wife.  IIRC, mortality rates indicate that a woman who survives to her 50s or so is likely to live only 2-3 years longer than a man who survives to his 50s.  Yes, it may be harder for a woman that age to find a man to marry, but it’s false to assume that a woman who marries at that age will be a longtime widow.

  15. 45
    Laya

    Amy-

    I don’t post often but I read regularly. I think your posts have garnered a lot of responses because while it’s a distortion of the truth, you can see that there is a lot of pain and frustration underneath. I too am a single mom and have received much of my support and help from the women in my life. My father, however has equaled any woman in my life that has helped including my mother. I think men help in different ways probably culturally based. I have had men who were strangers help me carry my Christmas tree to my car as they saw I was struggling with it (kid next to me), picked up my dropped bags, open doors for me, stopped to help me when my car broke down or have given me free towing (tow truck driving by), and plowed my driveway without even asking (my neighbor). I think there are a lot of good solid men out there. I have dated online for close to 10 years. While I have met some good men, I haven’t met the right one for me until now. I think. We started dating 2 months ago so we will see. He demonstrates all of the signs of a good guy. He is surprising me with a get away weekend this weekend. I have no idea the destination.

    Amy, I would suggest you seek therapy. I did and it made a big difference. You are ultimately harming yourself and your ability to find a good man with your distorted view of men. You seem like a genuine person but genuinely a little lost in your relationship with men. Best of luck.
     

  16. 46
    miskwa

    hEvan et al.
    I would agree with many of the previous commenters that many of us older women are single not necessarily by choice. That said, as awful as it often is, being alone is much, much preferred to being with someone who cannot or will not respect you or shares your core values. I live in a small mountain town where there are virtually no men or women who share my values. I am a seriously educated, very physically active and fit environmentalist currently living in a town that worships mining and has very tolerant views about drug and alcohol use and abuse. There are no older, single, educated and healthy men here except the handful that I work with. yeah, lots of people say to “settle”; however, settling for someone you cannot feel anything for causes both you and them incredible pain. I have been on numerous dating sites and can agree with many of the other contributors that the pool of available men that share ones values and take responsibility for their health is dwindling. I find about one man in 250 that may be relationship material. They do not want to live here. I am not saying that the guys who are marginally employed, looking for someone to raise their kids, are uneducated, overweight, etc. are not great matches for someone, but they are not a match for me. I look at men up to 25 years older than myself (51). Many of the older women in my community have settled for men that had problems or have dated married men due to a lack of other options. I do not think these are good choices. Some of my women colleagues have become bitter and now hate men, I do not wish to go there either. Most of my fellow educated women, the running community, the artist community, have left. I have been told I should leave too. That means I would have to take a job that pays half my current salary, bail on my mortgage, lose my retirement that I put up as collateral on the home loan, and no longer care for my dad. Since I am a cancer survivor, I may not get health insurance at a new job. Also not good choices. I probably have to work 8 more years before being able to retire unless property values go up significantly. Its not like I am just sitting here doing nothing: I farm at 10,000′, I run ultramarathons all over the west, I folk dance. If there were a lot of men in this region (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah) that shared my values I woulda found them. For a lot of us older women, it sucks. I once had a wonderful 12 relationship that I had to leave to take a job that had health care, retirement etc. I did not want to make that choice. It makes it hard when you know what a good relationship is, should feel like, your choice is now bad or nothing. Like it or not, neither demographics nor social values are favorable towards older women.

  17. 47
    Zaq

    Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, and Adam said one day, “Wow, Eve, here we are, at one with nature, at one with God, we’ll never age, we’ll never die, and all our dreams come true the instant that we have them.” And Eve said, “Yeah… it’s just not enough is it?””

  18. 48
    Ellen

    My situation was somewhat similar to miskwa 52 in that I am an oddity here despite the area not being exactly a backwater. (super well educated, excellent tennis player always in search of a partner, liberal values for the most part, well travelled).I am one hr. from two incredibly sophiticated Southern cities. Still, I am an hr. away which is the key fact here….

    I would sugget to Miskwa to try a long distance relationship. Seeing a guy you care about once every six weeks or so is better than having nothing at all. BTDT, it’s hard, but can be incredibly romantic. I really think, too, the long distance relationships are easier when you are fully mature, 50+.

    What has also helped me is I am only two generations from the less educated, but still genteel Southern upbringing. So when I date a “good ole boy” I can relate to him ’cause my grandfather was (though I never met him). But boy! was my grandma a “good ole girl”. A can-do gal if there ever was one.

    So Miskwa, try to see the man’s soul, not the outer trappings. Lots of men are a bit rough on the outside, but true gems on the inside. Plus you’ll learn a lot. I’ve told my new bf I want to sail, fish more, try skeet shooting for the first time, etc. He also has a blind wolf as a pet, which is pretty cool. Oh, and an IQ of 150 though a solid Southern accent* (wish I had mine back but lost it at UofM unfortunately). Former mechanical engineer. Just my two cents hun….

    *the lovely Northern snowbirds who toured my mother’s townhouse last night let slip “…and we never expected someone so intelligent”. I just smiled. At one time my town’s aristocracy sent their boys to Oxford for their educations.

  19. 49
    Katarina

     I am in my mid-forties and at this time I choose to be single.  I am a single parent of 2 wonderful children who will graduate this year – top of the class – awesome kids.  I left their father when they were 5 and promised them that I would not get married (or co-habitate) until they graduated. 
    Why? Because too many times I have seen my male friends and females friends (and family)just jump into marriage after the first and sometimes have even MORE kids.  It is my personal opinion that if you have children and you are divorced, your responsibility to raise the children first and foremost in non-distracted atmosphere.
    My daughter recently said to me, “Mom, I am glad you chose not to get married.. it would have really messed up the dynamic”.  It is true, she really said that. Her friends have so many step- & half- siblings that they are in a constant state of flux.  Parents are always arguing.
    My ex was not the nicest person.  I used to describe him like this “He would stick his foot out and trip you, then blame you for not looking where you were going”. Nothing was good enough and he was one of the laziest people I have ever known.  He now sits at home unemployed at the bottom of a bottle.  He hardly sees his kids –his choice, not theirs.  My ex-boyfriend, I met him when we were both married.  I was headed for divorce and got a divorce.  I told him that if he wanted to see me, he would need to be unmarried, because it was just wrong.  A month later he shows up and says “I filed”. I was surprised – truly.   A year later he was divorced.  I never wanted to get married and he was OK with that.  We saw each other a lot but not much when the kids were around.  This was a good thing – went on for years.  He did a lot of home improvement projects.  Until one day someone mentioned something to make me suspicious.  I checked a few things. He wasn’t divorced – no, he never even filed.  As I took a look back – yes there were signs, but I was so busy raising my kids that there were times when I wouldn’t see him for a few days or whatever and that was OK.   This ended almost 4 years ago.  So there you go, my 2 major relationships were with men that were awful people.
    Does that make women any better? No. Did I make stupid choices? Yes. 
    I have dated a little since then. But nothing much came of anything – but I guess I didn’t want it to.  I am so busy, and my crowd  are all married.  It is slim pickins for me.  Does it get lonely?  A little. But I would rather be lonely, and admit I am lonely, than live a lonely life with someone. I have a high sex drive, and so self gratification is necessary -  but it is NO substitute for the real thing.

    These past 4 years have been some of the best of my life.   I have about 20 gray hairs, I do killer work outs 4 days a week and run when the weather permits. I still have my looks I am told.   I look great and feel great.  I fit into my kids’ jeans! (No, I do not wear them- I have my own).
     I admit I have trust issues.  The kind of trust issues that make me think “he doesn’t really care” or “what does he want from me?”  But I have hope.
    Now that my kids are headed to college soon, I am looking forward to a real relationship – and maybe marriage.   I am glad I chose to wait. I highly recommend it. 

  20. 50
    amy

    Evan: thanks for that link. I totally get you now. You’re that guy. You’re the smart one in high school whose head was exploding because all these girls were flocking to huge jerks (rather than smart and less huge decent guys) and getting crushed by the huge-jerk wrecking machine and then getting up and going back for more punishment, oh my God why. Because you could totally see how this was going to go and how the guys were using these nice, even smart, but inexplicably wacked-out girls. And then they’d come back to you for tea and sympathy, but take off to go do it again. Now that the girls are 30, 40, 50, they’re coming back and saying “Ow, that’s not fun anymore, help me Rhonda,” only now they have money and will pay for the help, and you now have a business.
     
    And that is awesome.
     
    So I see where you’re going with this, and essentially you’re telling women that they’re deluded about what they want, which in many cases will be true. In fact what they want is a sweet guy who…you know, he’s not a hero, he’s not off to shake hands with the King of Sweden, but he’s got a job, and what he really wants to do is come home to someone every night and be nice. And have someone be nice to him. That’s it. Maybe a garden, a vacation once or twice a year, dinner out. Those guys are out there in droves. Their marital crimes will be petty, the worst it gets is they screw up financially and are afraid to tell, or they have a desperate supply-closet affair and feel horribly guilty the whole time. I think the advice you’re giving for finding a simpatico one of these guys is spot on. What these women really want is to be married to a guy who wants to be married. Your program isn’t about falling in love: it’s about how to be happily married.
     
    I bet a very healthy chunk of your clientele finds that yes, in fact this is what they wanted. Domesticity. They didn’t really want things to be hard; they just got handed the wrong catalog, the excitement-cruise one, and thought they were supposed to want it. The spinal adjustment to being a sweetheart is, in the end, minor for them. And the rest of your clientele…well, you know, their guys will, like the rest, subside from courtship to being, y’know, guys. Ordinary guys, homebodies. Minimally verbal. Kinda pissy. Well-behaved but kinda dependent. Occasionally a nice surprise. Responsive to honeydo lists. Inarticulately, genuinely grateful that the woman’s still there and tolerating them, admiring of them, also wishing sometimes that she weren’t there. They’ll wear a C-PAP mask after the woman bugs them enough about snoring and heart attacks. (Sorry, I’ll stop.) And it turns out that domesticity isn’t what these women were genuinely after. They wanted a wondertwin, or a hero, or a prince, or whatever. So that’s where I say: Okay. You don’t want domesticity with an inoffensive guy. Obviously you’re not likely to find what you really want in a guy. Can you — to be crude, for a moment — can you decouple what you want from the dick, whatever it is you’re actually looking for? Because it’s plain there’s something you hunger for in your life, something that’s central to you, but I’m thinking that it’s not necessarily a guy, even though you might truly enjoy the company of a guy sometimes.
     
    It’s interesting that there are so many older women not marrying now. I tend to look at myself as an outlier, then find no, I’m pretty much in the gen-x swim. But I think that there’s a much broader sense now, for women, that they can live however they please. I remember there used to be an old-maid stigma: gone, as far as I can make out. Living arrangements seem much more…Californian. So yeah, you really can say, “Nurse with a purse, mm, no.” Or even, “No, I do not want another man napping on my couch.” And I think this is what that’s about: these women want something, but in the end, it’s not a guy. Not a husband, anyway. The husband turns out, per Maureen, not to be necessary. I’m aware that this makes plenty of men nuts, but…well, that’s not so much my problem.
     
    The lonely, unloved, untouched, hysterically active portrait…mm, I don’t find it applies, maybe because I’m a mother. Kids love you so incontinently that you feel ashamed to take it all. I mean I’m aware that I got the best kid, but still…it’s wonderful. I don’t meet a lot of non-snuggly children, either. They’re just so hilarious and demanding. Sexual touch is another thing, but gosh, that’s not hard to come by. Thrilling, yes, if you find the right man, but you can’t do that all the time. Not for years. You’d lose your job, you’d forget to pay your taxes.
     
    I do think that painting the hen parties — the women keeping up the girlfriend social round — as sad is not just unfair but retrograde. I think there’s this image of sad waste, barrenness, that it drags along, but I just don’t see the need to live in that. After living on my own, raising a child on my own, for years, it seems like someone else’s idea: I’m going to waste because a man isn’t loving me. If someone genuinely feels that, then that’s what it is, but otherwise…meh. Who is this wonder without whom I’m moldering in a box? It seems to me I’m alive anyway. And I never, ever expected it of myself, but a continuous highlight of my week has been sitting and talking with the women at shul after the kiddush. For hours, while the kids play. It’s so nourishing. And it’s gone on for years. It was like life support when my daughter was a toddler; now…it’s just great, it’s like a spa. And it’s funny — I wind up feeling guilty, like I’m taking too much from these get-togethers, but then the other women confess to me how much they need them, too. So it’s great.
     
    (I will admit to crazy-active, but I look forward to the day, about nine years from now, when I go off-duty, and relearn what 8 hours’ regular sleep is like.)
     
    Anyway. I get now what you’re doing. But here’s what I think, Evan: I think you’re getting this OMG you-hate-women reaction over & over because you’re not only laser-focused on results, you’re laser-focused on results that not everyone wants. A woman shows up, says she wants love, and isn’t doing what you see will ***work***, and it makes you a little nuts. Because you’re like, “Oh my God, what more do you want? I’m showing you what will work! This isn’t about you and your identity, this is about effectiveness! You’re still you, just do these things that aren’t hard! No? Fine, you love pain, you’re all messed up and miserable and confused. Be that way.” It’s a very guy mode — totally the mode of that high-school boy whose head is exploding because the girls are doing these irrational things that lead to unhappiness (and also, coincidentally, not fireworks with him). 
     
    In other words, I think you’re being a little binary in all this. Yes, the women want love, and they don’t want to be maltreated. Not all want marriage. They may not even know this. It may turn out that the love or whatever that they seek isn’t something that has to come from a man, either. They may not know that either. Is it work to find out what you want if it’s not something that’s well-defined by the time you’re five years old, yes. Yes, absolutely. But I think that if you say, “Okay, you’re resisting me like hell here. Maybe marital bliss is not actually what you want. Maybe your job is to find out what you do want, and I can help you with this — or I can’t, but here are other people who might, or maybe no one can and this is something you have to do alone — but in any case you’re going to have to look at opening up your categories pretty radically, because the ones you have now leave you at dead ends,” this goes over better than, “I know what you want, don’t be an idiot,” or “Fine, you say you want love but you spurn my advice, you’re an idiot condemned to misery.”
     
    You might say, “Well, what’s the harm in trying? Try what I’m suggesting! Find a good guy, get married! Maybe you’ll like it!” Okay, Bubbe. The harm in trying is that it’s not 1940. The price of failure can be very steep, and not just for your client. Children come from marriages, even temporary marriages. Consider the scenario I laid out for Karin. That’s intensely painful, long-term, and damaging, and uncommon only because most women aren’t in the high-powered spot in marriages.  Custody fights are ridiculously common, destructive, and expensive. Lives are…well, disfigured. I’ve gotten off relatively light, but I’ll spend the prime of my life in a place with few job or romantic prospects because my daughter’s dad’s family is here. Yes, legally, I could go, but for what? It’d wreck her. And by and large it’s the women who’ll pour energy and time into managing the unpleasantness that goes on in the decades after divorce to see that the kids come out okay. It’s not good for health, career, finances. I know of nobody in the world who wants to be locked in battle with a stepmom, but if you’re an ex-wife with children, you may not have any choice about that.
     
    So if a woman is saying “I don’t dig it” to your method, maybe what she’s saying is, “I don’t dig this life you’re imagining for me. Something else is for me.” And i think there’s good reason to back off and try another tack, rather than running her down, accusing her of masochism or man-hating or lemon-sucking or whatever.

    1. 50.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Another extraordinary well-written dissent, Amy. I’m not even going to argue with most of it. I will simply point out that if the life you desire doesn’t involve a romantic relationship with a man, that’s okay. I don’t judge you one bit, whether you believe that or not. I just don’t understand why you’re turning to a dating coach’s blog, since my advice is for women who ARE looking for that kind of relationship.

      It’s like I write a blog about the virtues of steak and you’re the vegetarian who tells me that my tips are irrelevant to you. Fine. Then go find a veggie blog.

      Honestly, nothing you wrote is particularly offensive or even wildly inaccurate. But you nailed one thing, for sure: I’m very focused on results.

      And when someone tells me that she doesn’t want to sleep with her boyfriend until marriage, I’m going to let her know that this considerably narrows her dating pool. And when someone tells me that she’s upset that men are too interested in sex, I’ll remind her that this is universal and that there’s nothing that she or I can do to change the male gender. And when someone tells me that she keeps on dating emotionally unavailable men, I’ll tell her to stop wasting time on selfish guys and start considering men who make a consistent effort to treat her well.

      So yeah, I go nuts. Why? Because most of this is virtually unassailable in its logic and its effectiveness.

      If YOU think women are better than men and YOU’D rather be a great single mom with a rich single life than to make the necessary compromises to be in a safe, healthy domestic partnership, that’s YOUR prerogative. I’m not saying that you’re bad. I am saying that your way of thinking is not conducive to what MOST people come to me for: to learn how to have successful relationships with men.

      You’ve eloquently stated your case, Amy, but you haven’t taught our readers a thing about anyone but YOUR preference to be alone.

      My job is to teach women about how the good, bright, relationship-oriented guys (such as myself) think.

      So, I thank you for your genuinely entertaining contributions to my blog, and I will go back to the women who actually believe in my help and worldview. And if that means that I inadvertently alienate all the women who don’t want my help and don’t want the kind of relationships I’m describing, I’m 100% comfortable with that. You’re not my clients, anyway.

  21. 51
    amy

    Miskwa and Ellen —
     
    I think your stories are not uncommon at all. By midlife we’ve made a series of choices, and if we’re bright and brave, the choices often take us into adventuresome territory, far from large groups of people who’re very like us. Or we keep going till there just aren’t many like us, period. So then if we’re single, we’ll likely stay that way, for very practical reasons. We want to be able to retire. We have children whose needs trump ours. And the “oh, just pick one!” advice isn’t such a good idea, because habits, values, education matter. I’ve learned not to fight those things. I’m not particularly liberal anymore, but I find that many of the 40s/50s never-married men with whom I get along are sort of ferociously pink. I’m not interested in their politics, but they have aneurysms about mine. And, well, if it matters that much to them, then they’re right, we’re not a match.
     
    Unfortunately, the LDR’s a risky thing, not just because men prefer to find someone local, but because of the sort of story Katarina tells. Imagine how much less you know about a man when you only see him every six weeks. You don’t know his friends (you don’t know if he has friends). You don’t know who he lives with. You don’t know what he really does for a living, whether he’s an addict of some sort, what the story is with his ex-wife. Assuming she really is an ex-wife. You don’t know who he’s diddling in the meantime, what microscopic presents he’s bringing you along with romance. And there are all sorts of reasons why men strike up online/LD romances — boredom, sport, the thrill of the forbidden, the chance to prove something. So I don’t think you can expect sincerity.
     
    It’s easy to say that a woman is full of herself or blinded by self-importance when she starts talking about how much better-educated etc. she is than the men around. I think it’s a dodge. I’ve met few men who’re genuinely content, over the long haul, with the lower rank. I didn’t know it till after we divorced, but my ex had never actually gotten past his bachelor’s. (He made out like he was on a PhD track and dropped out with an MA, and why would I go checking his transcripts? Fact: no PhD program, no MA. One semester in the MA program.) In the end, I think it’s the habits and values that led to the disparate ranks that really cause the friction. Are there some who bridge the gap easily, yes, but I think it’s actually pretty rare. 
     
    At this point I don’t look for men who haven’t got a good professional degree or doctorate, or dropped out of a prestigious PhD program. I actually don’t care about the degree and have no interest in getting a doctorate myself — nothing there looks useful or enjoyable to me, they teach some terrible habits, and I think the academy sucks. But at this point, most men of a suitable age with enough drive and brains for me will have either dragged themselves through these horrible programs or have gotten into top ones, seen how awful they were, and dropped out. 
     
    On the other hand, I have a friend who found her husband on Match. List of what she wanted: tiny. She’s sweet and kind, she lives to make community, she’s all about her family. Yeah, it’s interesting…Evan’s market, his success stories, are the “you thought you were Miskwa, but you’re actually Amy’s friend” segment. And this feeds into an old narrative about telling women what they are. Because we’ve always gone to Miskwas and said no, no, you’re really this other kind of woman. And in the last maybe 30 years, we’ve spent a lot of time telling girls, no, no, you’re really Miskwa. The reality? I think there probably are a lot more Miskwas than ever, because now it’s so much easier for a woman to get there. Plus the STEM academy has incentive to push girls in that direction. But I think in the process we’ve generated a lot of confusion, and that the consequences of relative isolation have come as a big surprise to a lot of middle-aged women. 
     
    To me it says we have to do a better job of laying out the map for young women. Saying, Here are probable paths, and here’s where they lead, and here is how happiness is found and not found along them — today. Young women can’t possibly be expected to sort through and choose with any serious foreknowledge, but it’s no small thing to know what other roads are out there and have a sense of where & how they go. Or to understand that things change, and change, and change, so you want to keep your penknife and canteen handy.

  22. 52
    amy

    @Evan: Sorry for hogging the bandwidth. I actually can’t remember how I got here — I clicked on an old link and said oh yeah, wonder how that one’s going? And here I am. But I think dating, marriage, sex, all these are, you know, big general concerns.
     
    I love romance. I love sex, I thoroughly dig the male/female psychosexual drama. Wowie! It’s at the core of most every story, isn’t it? And why shouldn’t it be? If you believe the biologists, we’re here to mate, multiply. And there’s nothing in the world like love in all its variety. But I’ve found I’m really not interested in marriage and domesticity, I’ve got too much else going on. Maybe when I’m 70.
     
    Anyway. Apart from being generally annoying, I think what I’ve been doing here is opening things up in a way that may be intensely aggravating to you right now, but I suspect will help your head and your business eventually. (This is a side-effect. I’m doing this for my own thinking, not for you. Even so.) Because I’m talking about women’s experience, amplifying and arguing with things other women are saying, in ways that go across the grain of what you’re trying to do. And I suspect that if you listen to this stuff — me and others less windy — it’s going to open your head up about what women are actually after and what you can do as a coach.
     
    Or maybe not. Because I think maybe your business is predicated on your understanding men, not women. You understand what men want, what men are like, and how men use women. All the mines are visible to you, and you can steer women around and get them to the goal. But not steering women takes a lot of patience; it’s a different way of thinking.
     
    Anyway. I think it’s interesting. And I am so unbelievably far behind on work now.

  23. 53
    Joan

    Thanks Evan- As a divorced woman in my mid 50′s I agree that happiness is the key. I was unhappily married for 5 years and decided to leave. Now I am much happier!

  24. 54
    Curioser and Curioser

    You rock, amy!

  25. 55
    Henriette

    A lot of fodder here: in the article, Amy’s novellas and the other responses. 
    I’m a big believer in marriage.  In fact, the reason I find myself in my 40s and never wed is because I think marriage is so serious that I couldn’t undertake it if I didn’t really, really think we could make it work.
    I am also a big believer in pre-nups.  I wouldn’t get married to take financial advantage of my spouse and I would not expect him to do so, either.  I’d like to have it in black and white: I’m not a whore and neither are you.  
    So I find it interesting that so many people are foregoing marriage/ re-marriage and instead just living together in great part, it seems, because they want to be together but not financially beholden to one another.  I’d argue that getting married and having a pre-nup is actually a more secure way to ensure one doesn’t get taken for a ride, financially.  At least where I am (in Canada), living together very quickly leads to common-law which very quickly leads to all sorts of serious financial consequences.  Of course, living together with a pre-nup equivalent would offer similar protection but I don’t know a soul- not ONE – who is living together but has that kind of legal documentation in place. 
    And for those of you who I know will spout off how sophisticated and European it is to ignore marriage and just live together with no sort of legal agreement, I resided in Europe for 10 years and most of those couples who scoffed at my bourgeois suggestion that they get some kind of legal agreement before setting up non-married house together have now split and are going through expensive and heart-breaking court cases. 
    In short, I think those who are living together to avoid the pitfalls of marriage and reap the rewards of easy companionship are fooling themselves.  It saddens me that so many people become anti-marriage after being taken to the cleaners in divorces when, in my opinion, they should just become anti-marriage -without- a -prenup.

  26. 56
    AnnieC

    @P

    Thank you so much for your posts. It is so wonderful to see a person who not only can debate with a rational tone, but more importantly whose posts also hold rational Content. 

    Imo This view that Amy holds, is unfortunately very wide spread. Men do not deserve these recriminations. 

  27. 57
    Peter

    @Amy.  The whole Arty Creative strategy for attracting women is to be screwed up.  A writer/poet/painter who enjoys a pint at the pub with his mates rather than agonized obsession over death, women, God or whatever has a Fail sign over his head when it comes to sexual attractiveness (See J R Tolkein, C S Lewis).  Rock Stars hit the bottle, the dealer or the groupies.  What otherwise is the point of being a liberated artist?  Creative arts are about letting your self indulgence run wild,  Without the craziness there is no drama to produce the novelty.

    If you want creativity without the drama find an engineer (software or hardware).  Engineers are, of course, never hot.  Bill Gates had to become mega rich and also famous before he could date a junior employee.  Maybe Dave Packard was hot when young.  He was tall but Bill Hewlett was always a bit round.  Both were family men.  No mistresses emerged at the reading of wills valued at billions.

    Amy.  Are engineers hot?  Recompute?

  28. 58
    Peter

    @Gina 14 and staying on subject.

    Gina you have a point and not only about money.  Women marry up and not only financially.  By 50+ a woman’s list of requirements for a man starts to get very long.   At 50+ most of the available men have had time to demonstrate their failure to meet these standards.  They are therefore invisible to older women.  The ones who do meet the standards and are thus noticed find it a lot less demanding to seek out a younger woman.  If they can pole vault over the advanced level check list of an experienced 50+ year old then it is no trouble to hop over the requirements list of a woman under 45.  And women of childbearing age are more sexually attractive.  If you are going to have a long check list then make sure that what you have to offer to those who pass it is worthwhile.  At 50+ for a woman it is not sex appeal, although appearance still matters as a guide to personality.  As Thomas Jefferson said “a man after 40 is responsible for his own face”.  As discussed elsewhere, I am probably not in the invisible group.  My dog is in the “vast age difference” fight rather than the overlooked group.

    A man your age wouldn’t think twice about marrying a poorer woman.  It’s not financial caution.  It’s natural behaviour.  Women marry up.  With small variations, women peak in sexual attractiveness to men about 22-25.  70% of 22 year olds can get any man they choose.  Increasingly they don’t choose to their disadvantage as I tell my daughter.  After that, the longer she defers, the less choosy she has to be and the more she has to put on the table by way of charm, style, support for the man’s delicate ego, submissiveness etc..

  29. 59
    Peter

    @  Amy 25.  My experience is “meet a new woman, meet a new neurosis”.

    Any suggestions of somewhere we can meet in a chatroom and exchange broadsides, rather than hog the blog?  I have some comments, generally sociobiological in tone, mostly about age differences scattered around Evan’s blog but I think that you are just mixing in the wrong circles.  Perhaps you like the showing off of insecure people?  You didn’t find out about your husband’s degrees until after divorce?  Nah.  It won’t be the same.

  30. 60
    Susan61

    I am 50, never married.  I still have a fairly strong sex drive but have been celibate for about 3 years. Sigh.  It saddens me but as another poster noted, casual sex at this age just isn’t an option.  Emotionally I don’t think I can handle it so I just deal.  Some people peg me for 40 – 45, and I am petite and in great shape so I still attract men… it’s just that I don’t find any of them attractive for various reasons.  My litmus test is:  do I want to kiss him?  The last man I was attracted to and did have a relationship with dumped me, mainly because I was a mere TWO years younger.  I know his ideal is a woman under 40, he is 52 and doesn’t have any money but he is very good looking so he won’t settle for me – an attractive woman who is just too damn old.  He is divorced and does not want children.  We had tons of passion, a lot in common yet he can’t give up on his dream and he routinely spends time with people 15-20 years younger.  I find this behavior pathetic and confusing but hey, he wants what he wants.  It was the most painful break up of my life…
    I have tried to give the men who are pursuing me a chance but if I still have no desire to kiss them after spending several dates or casual outings with them, I just think…well, what would be the point?  I have plenty of companions and I don’t want to be in a sexual relationship with a man I am not attracted to.  This is why I am still single.  I haven’t ruled out the possibility of marriage, in fact, I still have hope that I might fall in love again and who knows?  Maybe it could lead to marriage.  I do know that I won’t settle for men more than 10 years older than me just to have a partner.  Men don’t want to date much older women, why should I be forced to?  I always remind myself of the good things in my life and that it could be much, much worse.  I have a good life even though there is no man (currently) in it.  As a side note, I do wish fervently I had avoided the sun more in my youth but I grew up in the era when tans were sexy and “healthy”. 
     

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