Are Professional Women in Their Mid-30s Too Independent To Settle Down?


Last blog post posed two questions. One had to do with how people discriminate based on age, and, by the time they get serious about dating in their early 40’s, often find that their options have become severely limited.

(This was the main reason for Lori Gottlieb’s famous controversial “settling” article — soon to be a book in February, 2010.)

The other question had to do with what independent, professional women in their mid-30’s REALLY want. To recap, let’s go back to our original poster, Adam.

I am a 42 year old single male who recently left a 5 year relationship for various reasons, but mainly because I wanted kids and she did not. I thought that since I was an attractive, fit, well-educated, financially and emotionally secure guy that I would have no problem finding a woman in her mid 30s to settle down with and start a family. I have tried a combination of online dating, speed dating, professional singles events, volunteering, happy hours etc. and have had very few dates over the past year. I thought that online dating would be great since you are essentially pre-screening people for dates. I have found that I get no responses from any women online and the only women who respond to my ad are usually much older and don’t meet any of my criteria outlined in my profile.

I am told that women want to settle down and have kids, etc., but their actions seem to be to the contrary. At singles events, women come in groups and are reluctant to talk to men. In online situations, women say they want desperately to meet a nice guy like me, but never answer my response to their profile. I am trying to remain positive, but two things are really bothering me. One, that younger women are no longer interested in dating men who are even just slightly (3-5 years) older than them and sometimes want to date men 5-10 years younger then them. Two, women seem to be content in the fact that they are independent and self-sufficient and have a career, family and friends that fulfills them and don’t seem to be interested in truly finding a relationship. I find the latter hard to believe, but find this mantra in every profile of every professional woman online.

There’s a cuter 35-year-old guy, and a funnier 38-year-old guy, and a richer 40-year-old-guy who are getting your women.

Any advice on how to navigate these new paradigms in the dating world?

Now, I must point out something that is uncomfortable, Adam, which is that you may be entirely overrating yourself. If this is the case (because we all like to think we’re attractive, smart, and secure), that might explain why you’re not getting results. It’s not that you’re not a good guy — but if you’re 5’7” or your profile is kind of bland, then guess what? There’s a cuter 35-year-old guy, and a funnier 38-year-old guy, and a richer 40-year-old-guy who are getting your women. In other words, in order for your perfect woman to fall for you, she has to “compromise” on age, since you’re not her ideal. The same way that you might have to compromise by writing to women 37-41. As always, you’re as valuable as your options and if all the people you desire aren’t responding, you either have to rebrand yourself or rethink your strategy. Blaming women for being unfair to you isn’t going to get you very far.

That said, you have touched on something important, and that is your perception — real or otherwise — that women are content being alone, with their fulfilling careers, friends and families, and are not all that interested in finding a relationship. Moreover, you intimate that this comes across in both their profiles and in their actions.

There’s been a lot of talk about this phenomenon here on my blog. And at risk of inciting the same women over the same issue for the umpteenth time, I’m just going to ask my women readers to put yourselves in Adam’s shoes.

Believe me, I know what it’s like for women — putting up with the players, losers, liars, weaklings, flakes, pervs and commitmentphobes that make up a good portion of the male population. I hear it every single day from my clients. That’s your reality.

But, for one second, I’d like you to consider Adam’s reality.

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s a solid, decent-looking, successful 42-year-old who has lots to offer. Let’s accept that he’s experiencing women who are busy, aloof, and uninterested in making an effort and commitment.

Is Adam wrong? Probably not. No more than you’re wrong that dating disinterested men can be a drag, as well. In fact, I think it’s highly probable that, yes, there is a certain group of women who are truly conflicted about what they want.

If your best friend met her husband in line at the grocery store, shouldn’t you get to meet yours in the same way?

In theory, they want to find love and have a family, but in practice, you’d never know it. They prioritize work over love, friends over love, travel over love, freedom over love, downtime over love — and still complain that they can’t find someone to love.

When it gets right down to it, the process of finding love — with all of its ups and downs, its failures and frustrations — is just too much to bear. Why put energy into something when it’s much easier to just wait for it? Shouldn’t love happen when you least expect it? Doesn’t it happen when you’re just happy living your own life — working out, going to yoga class, taking salsa lessons, working 50 hours a week? If your best friend met her husband in line at the grocery store, shouldn’t you get to meet yours in the same way?

Yeah, that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

I just got off the phone with a new client. She’s 38. She has a great career, she owns her own home, she has a personal trainer at the gym, maintains good friends and family. She’s very dateable and very likeable. As far as I know, my new client is FLAWLESS.

If you’re a woman who is reading this and is getting a bit angry, I will repeat myself: you may be FLAWLESS.

However, if you want to fall in love, get married and have kids, but have done everything in your power to avoid searching for a man, then guess what? You’re gonna stay single.

My new client joined Great Expectations…and didn’t go on the dates they offered. She’s a member of eHarmony…and never logs in to sort through the 300 men they’ve sent her.   So if a man like Adam has been paired with her in either of these places, is he to believe that he’s a bad guy? Or is it just that my new client has been ambivalent about putting herself through the topsy-turvy, insecure dating process?

All I’m telling you is that every time I hear some woman tell me “there are no good guys out there,” I am reminded that there are millions of men like Adam.

This isn’t a judgment. It’s an observation. If every waking hour of your life is filled with work, friends, travel and hobbies, when exactly do you expect to fit in a husband? Fact is: it’s nearly impossible to fall in love if you never meet single men, nearly impossible to fall in love if you don’t go on first dates, nearly impossible to fall in love if you don’t make an effort to be available for a relationship. You can have a great, fulfilling life, but you will not find a partner unless you get really, really, really, lucky.

To recap: there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with being single. There’s nothing wrong with being alone. There’s nothing wrong with leading a rich, fulfilling solo life. There’s nothing wrong with staying in on Friday nights. And, no one is telling you to be desperate, to settle, to give up your dreams, or any such hooey. So please, don’t even go there.

All I’m telling you is that every time I hear some woman tell me “there are no good guys out there,” I am reminded that there are millions of men like Adam.

But if you don’t take the time to let him in — because it’s simply easier to NOT let him in — both you (and Adam) are going to have a hard time finding each other.

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  1. 61

    Men and women are both afraid to take the risk, and as we get older more so. We just think up different excuses.  

  2. 62

    …some men prefer currently separated..

  3. 63

    at 50, we don’t get selective, we get sensitive…

  4. 64

    Paul 59 and Hunter 63
    It really does work both ways.   Women (sorry this woman) would like a loving relationship with a man.   And yes, I can see for myself that some men are very sensitive.   (the way he can see that too).   Maybe it’s fear that gets in the way.   Because a man has been hurt before (and so has the woman).
    Both are waiting for the other to start the ball rolling.
    Example? HE wants to stay in contact with me, asks me to call him. I contact him, he gives me his GSM, we meet, he runs away.   I play it cool and he comes running back, at which point, I’m wondering, what exactly is this????
    And I think it’s fear.   Plain old fear.   (Or messing about!!!!)

  5. 65
    Karl R

    Bill said: (#60)
    “And it is very sad that we don’t have the Real Good women like we had years ago that Accepted their men for who they were which Money wasn’t such an issue that many of You want today.”
    Which decade (or century, or millennium) are you referring to?
    When in the past did the chronically unemployed (or underemployed, or impoverished) have an easy time finding women who thought money wasn’t an issue?
    Bill said:  (#60)
    “it is just too bad that we don’t have a Real Time Machine to send many of the women back in time to see how Rough the Real Women Really had it, and most of the women today wouldn’t never been able to have handled it.”
    I’m curious. How well would you do if you were dropped into the wilderness with just a straight stick and a piece of flint?
    You don’t strike me as being any more capable of handling hardship than the women you’re criticizing. Your hypocrisy may be amusing, but it’s not going to earn you the respect of women.
    Bill said:  (#60)
    “It is Very Obvious why many men like us can’t meet a Real Good Woman Anymore, Especially with the Attitude Problem that many women have Now.”
    I got back into dating in 2006. I got married in 2012. I dated a lot of good women along the way. I met very few who had an attitude problem.
    A woman with an attitude problem can only prevent you from dating one woman … her. You’re having difficulty dating because your own attitude problem is hurting your chances with every woman.
    You can’t change a woman’s attitude problem. (She can change her own attitude problem, but she’s only going to do that for her own benefit, not yours.) The only person you can change is yourself. You can either change your own attitude (and reap the benefits), or you can refuse to change … and inevitably end up complaining some more about how you can’t find a woman.
    Choose the option that sounds more appealing.
    (Maybe you’ve already made that choice, and chosen complaining as being more appealing than changing. In that case, don’t expect any sympathy from me, since you’ve chosen the option which is more irritating to others.)

    1. 65.1

      First of all most of these women today do really stink,   especially when you try to start a conversation with them and they’re very nasty to us.   I know other men that would try to approach a woman they would want to meet and the woman would be very nasty to them too.   I had this happened to me so often which just shows you how many women are very Rude nowadays.

      1. 65.1.1


        ….ratio is 1:10, approach  nine women, and the tenth will talk to you….  

  6. 66

    …men make   ‘phone calls….we do like to check on the herd…

  7. 67

    Hunter 66, yes indeed.   (Or maybe…..when they sense that they’ve lost you……they go back to find you).

  8. 68

    I really love this blog, okay here I go at 46, what I’ve learned is you have to find that person who connects and click with you on both levels, far as independent your only doing what single people are suppose to do, My boyfriend who is very successful we both are but… we both are very independent people. What turns me on about him this is going to sound off to some, he is very comfortable with himself, he’s not insecure, he wants me, we really don’t NEED!!! each other we have an equal relationship where he has a full life  outside of  me and vice versa, you have to love and know you before you enter a relationship via marriage. we both work hard, play even harder, we argue and we make up keep it moving. Someone noted that they were online and when the women says     I LOVE TO TRAVEL’ they immediately log off, so do I and have and the man that I’m dating has been all over the world, it’s called shared interest, I like men who are confident and knows who and what they want, far as successful sorry that don’t intimidate me I have dated men who I know for a fact didn’t like me because I was doing okay in life, what they did was belittle me, gave me backhanded compliments, these are men that I really liked the last guy left me and married a   woman who has a rap  sheet as long as any US intersection.. go figure, I said then, I was going to date men on my level who is just who wants me s just as I WANT THEM!! the needy damsel in distress, and the men that’s looking for a women to take of them.. I’m sorry those people for me are toxic, I need other  forms of stimulation beside crying and winning, a need pit will suck the life out of you. call me what you want!! please find you fit!!

  9. 69

    Most of the women in their mid 30’s that have their careers are very independent, selfish, spoiled, and very power money hungry which really speaks for itself since they will never at all be wife material to begin with.

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