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

mature couple at a restaurant drinking wine and laughing

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

She’s 57 years old.

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

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

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

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

This woman is 57.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I tried to explain it the other way around.

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

“I’d ignore him, of course.”

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

She reminded me that she looked young for her age.

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

EVERYONE thinks that they’re young for their age.

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












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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EVERYONE thinks that they’re young for their age.

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

This should be inspiring, not saddening.

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

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

I was 29.

I was a struggling Hollywood writer.

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

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

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

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

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

She said that writers were neurotic.


She said that writers were financially unstable.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join our conversation (60 Comments).
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  1. 21

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

  2. 22

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

  3. 23

    Good Article Evan.  

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

  4. 24

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

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

  5. 25

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

  6. 26

    JB #25

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

  7. 27

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

  8. 28


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

  9. 29

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

  10. 30

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

  11. 31

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

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

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

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

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

  12. 32

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

  13. 33

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

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

  14. 34

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

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

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

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

  15. 35

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

  16. 36
    Christie Hartman

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

  17. 37

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

  18. 38

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

  19. 39
    living la vida loca! loving it!

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

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

  20. 40

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

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

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

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