Women Choosing to Be Single Instead of Married in Old Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    sarahrahrah!

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

    1. 1.1
      debi

      That is exactly what happened to me in this system. Homeschooling stay at home mom of 20 years, husband successful, chose to be with younger women, and I was left with nothing,determined by a male judge. Long story but very very unjust and sad. Could have written a book and readers would have thought it was fiction. I have since am trying to turn this into a positive..

  2. 2
    Jane

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

    1. 2.1
      Steph

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

      1. 2.1.1
        EJW

        I am guessing you ever had a simultaneous orgasm? Best ever!!!

        1. EJW

          Should be “never”

    2. 2.2
      Susan

      You are going to be in for a rude awakening when there are no men left because almost all of them are dead by age 70 or 75 or they are married.

      Sex isn’t essential for health or anything else other than reproduction.  It’s just frosting on the cake of life, not the whole cake. 

    3. 2.3
      Laurie

      I don’t think physical intimacy is a requirement for a fulfilling life at all. It’s called a vibrator and it honestly pleases me more than any man ever has. I’m 33, female, and I’ve opted out of dating and sex. Men are too demanding and needy. I’d rather have my own life.

    4. 2.4
      Susan B

      I was married for over 30 years and then I left my husband after my daughter left the home.  Being single have been the best years of my life I had men interested in me but the thought of another relationship left me cold.  I am now 70 and still loving the single and sexless life style.  I love that I no longer have to try and please someone and that I can make my own decisions without the usual “you should, why don’t you, why can’t you etc.

      1. 2.4.1
        EJW

        Absolutely agree. I divorced at 50 and am living the life I had when I was young. My own place, my own money, my own life. Am 67 and feeling great.

    5. 2.5
      Ann

      Self sex…. learned how when I was miserably married! 🙂 I have dated some and had typical sex but self sex isn’t bad at all.  I don’t have to worry about getting an STD or pregnant! Not planning to ever get married again. 49 and happier than just about all of my married friends.

       

       

  3. 3
    valleyforgelady

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

        

  4. 4
    Lynn

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

    1. 4.1
      starthrower68

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

  5. 5
    Brooke Clarke

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

  6. 6
    amy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. 6.1
      Nissa

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

      1. 6.1.1
        Evelyn

        Nissa, I think perhaps you haven’t experienced enough men to understand what Amy is talking about. Amy is not saying men are not equal, rather she finds that women are better at the things that she values.  For what it’s worth, my experience matches Amy’s pretty closely.

        1. dandy

          Not sure how old this post is but as a fellow single mom I have to agree.  My brothers, dad, and friends’ husbands are great about helping me out in a pinch, as well as my women friends.  Playing the needy damsel in distress or letting men outside my circle know that I’d like their help (car repairs, home repair issues) had never gotten me anywhere.  I’ve just gotten blown off and told to look it up on youtube. So I have to do it myself, have a man in my tribe help me out, or pay a professional.

        2. Jan

          Mine too. Thank you Evelyn. I’ve tried over and over to have solid relationships with men. Each and every time, I’m the one that has lost out emotionally and financially when the relationship is over. Now, at 50. I’ve tried online dating. Yuck! And I’m not wasting another moment looking for a relationship. I’m investing in myself instead. And I agree with Amy, I can take care of myself sexually. I’m a very sensual person and sex is an important of my life. I don’t need a man to have it. After awhile, men are a turn off anyway because of their demands and selfishness. I no I am not alone in ths. Every marriage I see out there, I would NOT want to be in. So that tells me something right there.  I’m not totally giving up on men, but I don’t want to waste another precious minute. Life is short.

    2. 6.2
      Trina McLeod

      Amy,

      I loved reading what you wrote, you are awesome and so am I.  I am a 62 year old woman who has spent most of my life single and love it. I was a little down today and you uplifted.  Thank you

  7. 7
    Mimi

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

  8. 8
    mellie charnalia

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

     

  9. 9
    helene

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

  10. 10
    P

    @Amy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

    1. 10.2
      Chris St Pierre

      News flash.  Older women are angry at men.  Shocker.  We realize that and thus seek younger women.

  11. 11
    amy

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

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

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

      1. 11.1.1
        Susan B.

        Why do you assume that women want to find a man?   I had a husband for over thirty years and left him after my daughter went to university. I think being married was a good thing at the time and my husband was a great father and family man. However, now I am into a different phase and it is for personal expansion of mind and soul.  This is better done when alone.

        I have never been happier than I am now living alone. Us senior women especially appreciate living alone.  We still have friends and family they are just not living in the building.  Not for everyone, but I have lived both lifes and really find that living alone works best for me.

        1. Jeremy

          And that is the flip-side of the men in Amy’s comment.  Men and women each have their desires, their foibles, and their cruelties to the other gender.  Both are capable of taking what they want from a marriage and then acting selfishly thereafter.  The cruelties just come out differently.

  12. 12
    amy

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

  13. 13
    Gina

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

     

    1. 13.1
      petitlapin66

      Gina, 

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

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

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

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

  14. 14
    Nadia

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

  15. 15
    Karen

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

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

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

      1. 15.1.1
        Evelyn

        Geez, Marc, me thinks you are protesting too much. You need to believe that women aren’t giving up on romantic relationships and marriage.  You remind me of the corporate managers who tell workers that they have to stay positive even after they’re being laid off for the nth time.  Sure, there are great men and great relationships out there. But reality is women are much more likely to encounter bad experiences.  You would do a much better service with your blog to help people navigate reality.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          This is not the first time I’ve been somehow called Marc on my own blog. It is the first time, however, that I’ve been told that I don’t have a good grip on reality. Thanks for the insight.

  16. 16
    Dawn

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

  17. 17
    Margaret

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

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

     

  18. 18
    P

    @Amy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          

    1. 18.1
      Evan Marc Katz

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

  19. 19
    Michael

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

    1. 19.1
      Susan

      Speak for yourself.  You don’t speak for me or any other single person.

       

    2. 19.2
      Susan B.

      I do chose to be single so do not impose your point of view on others.

  20. 20
    Karen

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

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

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

      1. 20.1.1
        Susan B.

        Evan I do not think men suck, I think they are wonderful creatures, for the most part, I am just not interested in being with one now that I am a senior. Why is that so hard to understand?

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @Susan B.

          I see this dynamic playing out on both sides of the gender divide with respect to seniors.  I have no desire whatsoever to be in a long-term relationship let alone remarry.  Yet, I still date.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          I do understand. What are you doing posting multiple times on a site for a dating coach who helps single women who want to find love? In other words, it’s of no consequence to me whether YOU are interested in meeting a man, however, my advice is practical for my clients who ARE interested in meeting a man.

      2. 20.1.2
        Susan B.

        Sorry Evan, I didn’t realize that this was a dating advice site and have no idea how up I ended here. I was responding to the article above, that is all.  My apologies I respect whatever people chose to do with their lives.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          It’s okay. I don’t judge single people at all. But I don’t understand single people who attack those who are only trying to help singles who want to find love.

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