Why Do Women in Their 30s Not Want to Date Men in Their 40s?

I’m 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. Any advice on how to navigate these new paradigms in the dating world?


Dear Adam,

You came to the right place.

And to directly address your email, I have to divide my response into two different parts: 1) What You’re Getting Right and 2) What You’re Missing.

Let’s start with What You’re Missing. We’ll do What You’re Getting Right next week.

Why Do Women in Their 30s Not Want to Date Men in Their 40sWhat you’re missing is that what you want has absolutely no relation to what women want. We’ve addressed this before, from an older man who couldn’t possibly fathom why a younger woman wouldn’t want to be with him. This isn’t all that much different. We can complain that the opposite sex is unrealistic and passing up great opportunities – and we’d be right – but it doesn’t change that people want what they want. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It just IS.

From 25-34, men play around a lot. Why? Because they can. They have a lot of dating options, they’re building their careers, and there isn’t a clear urgency to settle down.

Once a guy crosses 35, however, he (theoretically) tends to get more serious.

What you’re missing is that what you want has absolutely no relation to what women want.

Alas, the women with whom he wants to get serious are 27-34. This gives men time to court, fall in love, travel together, move in, get engaged, and enjoy a few years of childless marriage before starting a family.

The problem is that many women from 27-34 are independent professionals just like their male peers. They, too, have a lot of dating options, are busy building their careers, and don’t have a clear urgency to settle down.

Then she hits 35. Theoretically, this is when she starts to get more serious. This is also when all the problems start.

Because 35-40-year-old men who are ready to settle down still want to have time before becoming dads. Thus, their target market remains women, 27-34 – who may not be ready to settle down quite yet. These women still have money to make, places to travel and oats to sow.

The 35-40-year-old women who ARE ready for marriage, unfortunately, are roundly ignored by the men they desire – their 35-40-year-old peers. These women are youthful and find themselves far more attracted to men in their 30’s than their 40’s.

…the bigger takeaway is that ALL of us are very judgmental on age.

Which brings us to you, Adam. You say you’re looking for a woman in her mid-30’s. That’s perfectly fair. But if none of them are looking for you, your wheelhouse is going to be women in their late 30’s to early 40’s:

Find the people who want you. It’s the same exact advice I give to women in their early 40’s who want men in their early 40’s…except men in their early 40’s want women in their 30’s.

And around and around we go.

I’m being a bit unfair, Adam, because there IS a market for a 42-year-old man – and you can certainly be doing better than you’re currently doing. Pick up a copy of Finding The One Online and it should make a difference. Seriously. But the bigger takeaway is that ALL of us are very judgmental on age. To a 34 year old woman, 42 sounds OLD. To a 42-year-old man who wants his own biological children, anything above 36 is getting into risky territory. The lesson to all of you younger readers: take your love life seriously when you turn 30, instead of waiting until you’re 35 or 40.

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  1. 541

    Jason Bourne?

  2. 542
    David T

    @Ruby 560
    I am inclined to doubt your precipitous conclusion as the antilemma implied by Anathema’s relatively comprehensible use of prose is suggestive of a personage with a greater range of style than Paragon has effectively demonstrated. 😉

  3. 543

    @ Joe #566
    He must’ve been on my mind when I typed that! 

  4. 544

    Anathema = Paragon.

    The length of the paragraphs. The use of the comma after the word “But.” The lack of spaces when using parentheses. The use of dashes. The method of reply to individual commenters. The hostility toward women, both in general and toward female commenters.

    Ruby, Jennifer, and Nicole all had it right. It’s pretty easy to parse out. No one can hide it, even if he attempts to use more casual diction. Writing style is easy to identify.

    David T, love your attempt to write with excessive verbosity. But your own style is even nicer.

    1. 544.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Yeah, Anathema/Paragon, I thought I told you that your consistent antagonizing of my readers wasn’t cool. What part of that didn’t you catch?

  5. 545

    Why isn’t Anathema/Paragon/Bill/Steve enjoying married life with his much younger Asian bride instead of antagonizing women on an internet blog is what I’m curious about. Uh…because there isn’t one? And unlikely to ever be one given the undisquised misogyny?

  6. 546

    it seems very hard these days just to find a good woman to date, especially that many of the women today are not very nice at all. women in their thirties hate to date guys in their forties, and that should not matter. i am in my late fifties, and it is much harder for me as it is to meet a woman to date. i had been married at one time, but my wife was the one that cheated on me. we were together for fifteen years, so going back out into the dating world is very rough for me now. i never realized that we have so many women now that have an attitude problem, and they are so hard to communicate with. and yet they will go after the ugliest guys, and i just can’t understand it. and they seem to go for the bad boy type of men, especially if they have a lot of money. go figure.

  7. 547

    I ran into the same problem when I started to date again this year after divorcing after 15 years of marriage.  I was 40 years old and still wanted children (my ex “changed her mind” about having kids), so as you indicated if you find a woman who is 35 you’ve got to be awfully quick to make it work, and chances are they’re not interested.  On online dating sites all the women who contacted me were 37 or 38 years old, already had 3 children, and didn’t want any more children.
    What was I to do?  Women have every right to decide who they want to date.  Then I did something kind of crazy.  I remembered one of my relatives married a woman from the Philippines.  So I put my dating profile up on an international dating site.
    The response was overwhelming.  I had 400 women try to contact me in 10 days before I hid my profile.  Now it is true that you have to weed out the ones that just want money from you, but I found there were a lot of nice women on the site just looking for love and a future.  Eventually I found myself being practically stalked by a beautiful 31 year old with a 6 year old kid.  The funny thing is, we really clicked as far as personalities go.  One time I realized she’d stayed up until 3 AM in the morning to chat with me.  6 months later I went to visit her and we got married.  Now we’re just waiting for the paperwork so she can come here with me.
    Guys, it is a case of supply and demand.  My advice is go where you are in demand.  There’s absolutely no reason to be alone.  Some of her friends are dating 70 year old guys.  Heck, I had 18 year old girls seriously trying to get my interest, but I preferred a woman with more life experience and maturity.

  8. 548


  9. 549

    Julia …Good observation  

    It seems you are right. RT/Anathema/paragon/Bill/Steve has become very tedious 

  10. 550

    You are totally deluded. Women detest younger men. I am a 40 year old guy who routinely dates women from 21 to 33 and I can tell you that they view young men as boys. The problem lies in yourself. Maybe you are boring. Yes women want a responsible “adult” in their lives, no they do not want to date a weak feminine man. They want a real man who has balls and knows how to entertain and take care of a woman. Be more assertive and you’ll get dates.

  11. 551

    Also, online dating is not effective for men. The women get swamped with emails and they view men who are too afraid to ask for a date in person as losers and so they end up ignoring their emails and waiting for a guy to actually man up and ask them out.

    1. 551.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Hey, Anon. Go on Match.com. Do a search of women 21-33. See how many of them are searching for 40 year old men. Oh, wait, maybe that’s what would explain why you think online dating isn’t effective for men. It’s not effective for YOU.

  12. 552
    health junkie

    Using synthetic hormones based BC Pills is the reason Western women lose their fertility so quickly. It’s weird that doctors push those endocrine disrupters instead of non-hormonal UIDs. My grandmother was pregnant with my mother at 45 years of age, within a few weeks after starting a relationship with my grandfather (12 years her junior) whom she later married. My mother had her last abortion at 56.

  13. 553

    i find it sickening that men refuse to date women their own age. i’m 30 years old and have an online dating profile, and my search preferences are set to age 25-35. however, most of the men who message me are aroundmy dad’s age (or older. the oldest was close to 70). i’ve never been married before, have no kids, and am not very experienced with men. i also look very young for my age. the last thing i want is to be with some guy who could could be mistaken for my grandfather. i think it’s gross, and men are very shallow and unrealistic to expect this. i recently got a message from a 52-year-old (about par for the course) and when i looked at his profile, HIS preferred age range was 18-37. i was so outraged i wrote him back, wondering if this was an oversight? seriously, 18?? that’s bordering on illegal, and a pedophile if you ask me. i didn’t say all that, but did (politely) ask him about it, and he wrote a very friendly, calm-sounding message back in which he clearly indicated that he sees nothing wrong with it. now i’m getting angry all over again. as for the guys my age? well, they seem to think they can get a supermodel, so most of them ignore me.

  14. 554

    ps. my last boyfriend was seven years younger than myself, and some people called me a “cougar” while we were dating, but we got along great.

  15. 555

    i have read this entire page. Can we please now come back to reality? 1) most males marry someone their junior not senior. 2) Most big age differences, the man is the older one? 3) women in every age bracket are more likely to wed a man 10 or 20 years her senior than junior by a LONG shot in terms of numbers. That is a fact verifiable by looking at government statistics and is consistent in every country on earth. Most females are with someone their senior. Thats just a fact. Could be 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or 30 years. There are couples 33 years apart in marriage.

  16. 556

    Once you have made an adjustment for the “normal” two year age difference, British statistics (I gave a link far above) show about equal number of large age difference marriages whether man or woman is older.  However, the divorce risk is increased the older the woman and decreased, the older the man, except that the highest divorce risk is the “normal” two year age difference. The graph is a sloping line with a peak intruding in the middle.

  17. 557

    stats are interesting but you can have a “normal” relationship with a man taller, older, who earns more, has the same religion,  background etc and it still disintegrate. I,m sure we have all had that experience.
    yes your relationship may be unusual but a pie chart or graph in a govt office is not going to determine its success or failure. 
    “I,m breaking up with you because I saw these stats in the paper!”
    If you,re  an outlier, pay more attention to shared values and goals, how well you get on, Whether there is genuine love or you,re just going through the motions. actually that applies to everyone.  And screw what anyone else thinks. In fact, being overly concerned with what others think may be more of a problem than the relationship itself.
    that said if you,re obsessed with ONLY dating the very young or old or someone sixteen months and a day older/younger  than you, you may not be helping yourself.

  18. 558

    The conclusion that I draw from the British statistics is precisely yours.  The people with unusual differences are the ones who have more stable marriages.
    Some unusual differences are more stable than others but they are all reasons to stop and think.  As well as the British age difference statistics, there are American ones dating from about 2002 for international marriages arranged through internet marriage agencies.  The research was done because some US loby groups imagined that the women were divorcing as soon as they had sustained the three years required for a green card.  In fact, at the 5 year mark, the international marriages had a divorce rate one fiftH of the normal US 5 year divorce rate.  So the final legislation was about protecting the women and the social security system from inept males.
    When it comes to interracial sexual desire, the UK has many examples of single white mothers with mixed race (African) babies.  There are far fewer interrracial marriages.  I don’t have good figures.  They haven’t been published since the 1991 census; presumably the figures are not conducive to good race relations.  There are mixed race (Celtic British/Malaysian and English British/Punjabi) marriages in my family.  Those involved seem to make extra efforts to deal with problems and deliberately set aside time to talk.
    As you suggest, people with extreme differences may actually think more about what they are doing than allow themselves to be swept along into marriage by sexual desire. Thus they end up with more stable relationships.  Anyway, it’s the class barrier that counts in a well organized society! 🙂

  19. 559

    @Zaq.  I am myself guilty of studyitis or at least statisticsitis.  However, Psychology and sociology are about as scientific as climatology.  They are trying to observe multi-variable, chaotic systems in which genuine experiment with prediction generating results beyond the small sample studied are impossible.  Also, the strait jackets of peer review and funding criteria maintain conformity of opinion.  It’s not physics.

  20. 560

    Basically, women in their 30s start getting a clue as to what is good not only for themselves, but also for families and society. And what is not good for them or society is some guy (i.e. many if not most) who was “meh, whatevs” to all the women who had been taking him seriously while he was biding his time doing his own thing. A lot of women in their 30s are being, and I testify, abused by this economic way of looking at dating. Even referring to is as a market isn’t good for people or society. And a guy in his 40s looking for a woman to breed with is as transparent as they get; the only way he’s going to come off smelling like a rose in this search is if he actually is a widower. You don’t marry a woman who does not want to have children saying that’s ok, and then divorce her when you change your mind but she doesn’t. You aren’t a man if you cannot form an honest and stable relationship with a real woman and then commit to her according to what is fair for her interests – not what feels like a good deal for you. And then you find a social, unselfish way to still be a man in your relationship and society and fulfil your familial urges, for these are laudable, in some other way than being your own family patriarch. Because ultimately that urge, as well as the wish to get a younger woman, is about status.      

  21. 561

    Hello, I am now a single man 49 after 24 years of marriage and have no children and pretty much given up on having them because not many women under 40 want to date a guy my age. I am in great shape, dress nice, and am social. My problem is I am finding it hard to date women in my age bracket, say 45-51. Either the women had a bad relationship and are wary or something. I understand them being concerned about the next “guy”. So far, it has pretty much been a dud in the relationship scene.

  22. 562
    Karl R

    Tim said: (#588)
    “My problem is I am finding it hard to date women in my age bracket, say 45-51.”
    That’s a very narrow age range. We’re no longer in high school or college (where we’re surrounded by hundreds of women within a few years of our age). While you’re probably willing to expand your age range to younger women, you’ll see better results if you expand it to include older women.
    Tim said: (#588)
    “I am now a single man 49 after 24 years of marriage”
    If you’re a recent divorcee, people will be wary of that. People looking for a long-term relationship don’t want to be your rebound relationship.

  23. 563
    David T

    I am sorry you are frustrated, Tim. First, I am 46 and recently dated an attractive woman 13 and change years younger who was very into me.  I broke it off after two months because of my lack of attachment, but the point is there is hope if you still want to have children. Just don’t make that a dealbreaker, maybe. Be open to the younger women, just don’t count on it.
    Outside of that I have had little trouble finding dates with quality women of substance (and getting second and third dates usually when I asked for them) when I have tried during the past year and a month. I am taking a break these last few months because I am tired of leading women on with my emotional unavailability. So all I can think is there is something in your approach or dating style that is Not Working. 
    Evan still takes on some male clients, though if he is super busy right now who knows if he has time.  Contact him through the website. He was very gracious about talking to me about my issues when I approached him a year ago, though in the end we determined he could not really help me with my problem.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Give it a shot. 
    P.S. Not having a dating life does leave ample time for things like exercise, volunteering, hobbies, faith if that is part of your life, and friend relationships. Make the most of enjoying these other parts of your life and think of finding a happy relationship as a nice addition to it. It can be an important goal you want, just don’t live in that need. 🙂

  24. 564

    Thanks David. My ex wife and have have essentially been separated for more than two 1/2 years and the divorce was recent, in fact I am the one who initiated it. I do keep myself busy working out and church, and singles meetups. I am not in a rush to get married again so I don’t believe a relationship would not be a rebound.  I have dated one gal, she is 41 but like yourself I felt little emotional attachment. It may take some time I just cannot worry. I feel once I relax then things will fall into place. Good luck in your adventure.

  25. 565

    I’m impressed, Evan.

    I recently started online dating–and seriously so.  I am 35, active, and quite youthful both in body and spirit.  I’m overweight, yet I’m frequently told–mostly be older men–that I’m sexy.  Men in their 50s and 60s LOVE me, but they are not what I need.

    I used to always like men who were a little older, and would consider a guy who was 10 years older, because guys in their 20s are often idiots.  I would still consider a 45-year-old at this point, but there are two different kinds of men in their 40s:  young men and old men.  I need a youthful man.  I need someone who is healthy and can keep me going.  I plan to mountain bike when I’m 80.  That’s kind of hard to do if my life partner can’t keep up with me.  Think about what I said–this is a health issue more than an age issue.  If you look old, chances are, something is going on.

    Another issue is that many guys in their 40s don’t want kids, either because they’ve already had their kids, or they’ve had vasectomies.  This is *completely* unfair to me.  I’ve never been married and I don’t have children.  If I meet “the one” and we marry, I want to be the *only* mother of his children.  For religious reasons, divorced men are off limits. 

    Unfortunately, men in their 30s do seem to be more particular, and I don’t seem to be the right type for most of the guys I message.  Mind you, I contact guys who have a lot in common with me and who I think I would really hit it off with.  While most of my messages go ignored (they do check out my profile), those who responded and *have* read my profile responded quite favorably.  Apparently, I have a great profile and these guys appreciate my intelligence and depth (some have actually written, “Great profile!”).  Either that, or the “competition” isn’t all that.  😉

    The good news is that the guys who are my age that are responding to me seem to be quality men.  Perhaps that’s the very thing they have over those who aren’t responding.  I’m also finding that now that I’m in my 30s, I really enjoy men who are my age.  Most of us are in the same place in our lives and men in their 30s are just so much better than those in their 20s.  My advice for the 40-somethings:  embrace women in their 40s.  Those who take care of themselves will more than likely be fertile.  Women in their 40s who are treated well greatly enjoy sex (I hear it gets better with age according to my older lady friends).  And older women, I think, are more likely to be open and honest–no crap–which is really ideal for men.

    Evan totally nailed this one.

  26. 566

    Selena (#7) said, “You don’t look 10 years younger than your age to someone who actually IS 10 years younger than you are. Trust me.”

    Not true.  When I was 30, my college classmates assumed I was 18-20.  Just last year, most of the people I encountered at work thought I was in my early 20s.  I’ve consistently come across as 10 years younger. 

    I think the major difference now that kind of gives away my age is my attitude and how I carry myself.  Very few people assume I’m 35.

  27. 567
    Karl R

    Di said: (#593)
    “When I was 30, my college classmates assumed I was 18-20.”
    My oldest nephew graduated from high school last year and is a freshman in college now. How old is he?
    One of my nieces is in kindergarten. How old is she?
    Did you guess that they were 19 and 6?
    Okay. How old do they look?
    You correctly guessed the ages of two people without seeing them. You based your guess on other contextual information: what grade they were in.
    So when a bunch of 18-20 year old college students thought you (a fellow college student) were also 18-20, why do you assume that their guess was based on your looks, instead of other contextual information?

  28. 568

    Karl, most of the people I work with are in the 30-60 age range.  How do you explain them assuming I was in my early 20s?  When I was buying beer a few years back, the younger cashier asked for my ID.  When she saw my age, she exclaimed, “Wow!  You look good for your age!  How do you do it?!”  Yes, she was THAT surprised.

    Also, please read what Selena said.  I was refuting her absolute statement.  There is really nothing to argue about here.

  29. 569

    BTW, Karl, college is no longer reserved for recent high school grads.  I’ve always had older people in my classes, and by older, I mean 10 to 20 years older.

  30. 570

    I think the response to this gentlemen’s question on point. I am a 35 year old female, and I know I should be feeling the biological clock and considering a man in his 40s, however dates with men in this age range are nothing short of torture. It’s very evident, that they are stubborn and set in their ways, most are not athletic, they are over the typical fun date activities, and some make it very clear they want a younger women to have kids with. In this way I feel like they are just looking for a breeder, any vacant womb will do. It doesn’t make a women feel special at all.

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