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

Smiling mature couple standing together outdoors

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.

What 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. 961

    I’m 34, fit, highly educated, often complimented on my youthful appearance… But I still have trouble finding the right person. My life wasn’t easy during my 20s, so I didn’t “play” at all, quite the contrary actually, so the narrative I read from some persons on the comments feels very unfair and ignorant to me, we can all end up single in our 30’s, life i as it is. So today I’m looking for a man 5 to 15 years older than me, but I must confess I don’t know if I will find one who isn’t looking for a younger woman… I don’t want it to be THE condition of my happiness though, so I don’t actively “search” for my significant other, I believe that if my life is good in the first place, if I do things I like, if I have a lot to give, if I’m healthy, happy etc, then I will attract someone with whom it will click. Otherwise… Well, I’ll adopt children and cats! XD

  2. 962

    I am a man who is 49 and will turn 50 next year. I have been dating on and off and have a hard time meeting women who are genuinely interested in dating me. I do not plan on getting married at this time in my life and I have a daughter from a recent relationship that ended which caused me to be hurt emotionally and mentally that had taken me 14 years to recover from.

    I want to be in a relationship and comfortable with waiting to get married when I am older.

  3. 963

    The problem is nobody wants to get old. When you’re 20, 30 seems ancient, when you’re 30, 40 seems old, when you’re 40 you start to ease up but you still want to hold on to youth so you still want to date 20 year olds. Women used to date older men all the time but now they want younger because it makes them feel young and they don’t want to grow old, sadly most will end up alone.

  4. 964

    I find that women in their early 20’s are much more accepting of all ages and many will date any age, as they start to get older especially after 30 they start to want to hang on to youth so all of a sudden they find older not so attractive.

  5. 965

    Not serious until age 35??? Grow up

  6. 966

    I am a 20 year old female and I fell in love with a 36 year old man with 3 kids. 6, 9, and 2. At first I only knew about the 6 and 9 year old boys. Cant lie the two year old girl kinda scares me. However she has recently started being much sweeter and always gives me kisses, I think she has warmed up to me a lot. The boys love me too, they always love spending time with me. I never saw myself being in this situation in a million years, I too was dating men up to 5 years older and in the same general range, However I have dated a few older ones here and there. I want to marry this man, he was made for me. I can honestly say that no matter what happens I could never date a younger guy again!!! Me and him are opposites but we surprising have a lot in common. It just works perfectly, we always have a good time. Even when things are bad, we have the best worst time ever because we’re together. I consider myself an old soul, I do not like the trends of today, or the garbage people call music now. He is also in shape, he does far more than any younger guy I have dated that was usually a lazy ass. He usually takes around 25,000 steps a day. I take 10,000 if it’s a really good day (who’s the lazy ass now lol). This scenario is something I have never imagined for my life, it was just magic when I met him, we really hit it off and it just continued to get better and better. Sometimes I do get really down thinking how he can never have his first children again, how important is #4? He’s already been there and done that, and it does make me sad at times. I just try to remind myself it’s still #1 with me. Even with the age gap and children, the enjoyment that I get with spending time with him far outweighs the cons, if they didn’t outweigh them then I wouldn’t still be dating him or at all. In fact, I honestly tried to stop talking to him once he told me he had 3 kids, why wouldn’t I? The thing is, he never left my mind, he’s in my mind all day every day. It would only last for a couple days until he would message me, and I would immediately reply, I just couldn’t help myself, I couldn’t stop talking to him and I couldn’t stop seeing him. Even when I didn’t message him I was always checking my phone hoping to hear from him. I realized there was no running from it even with the circumstances, because I love him and I’d do anything to be with him.

  7. 967

    Jesus, this is all very depressing to read. I’m a 39 year old guy, been in a dead-end relationship for 14 years. Do you really want to know the secret to at least getting laid? cheat. plain and simple. take your opportunities when they present themselves. and get yourself a discreet mistress. Women will tease and use sex against you forever.

  8. 968

    A female comedian said “I’m in my 30s, and now men in bars in their 40’s don’t seem creepy. I don’t know why that is, it just is!” I’ve been trying to find out who she was.

  9. 969
    Sarah Hunt

    Well, I will tell you one thing, I wouldn’t date a man in his forties and fifties with young children. Yes – I am in the undesirable range of being in my mid-forties, but my children are grown and don’t want the hassle of dealing with his mid-life crisis children. These men think it’s exciting to “bang” a young woman and knock her up and when he gets too old to satisfy her as she evolves, a handsome, YOUNGER man takes his place. There are a lot of these abandoned older men looking for a baby sitter or flings on the net because they are in their golden years with children they sired during their middle-age foolishness.

    I didn’t have children with men old enough to be my father because of the risk of having children with older men concerned me greatly (men DO have a shelf-life, too). Men in their mid-thirties and up are not as young looking and as fresh they think of themselves. And no, you don’t look 28 when you are 37 – you are still 37 with saggy scrotum and delusions of grandeur.

    When I was in my twenties, I was not looking to mate with men my father’s age. Eww.

  10. 970

    You sound like a good person, Adam, but my first thought when I read your question was this: it took you 5 years of dating someone to find out she didn’t want to have kids? That’s something you find out about someone in the first year of a relationship. If you want kids and she doesn’t, you should’ve broken it off a long time ago. Short-term pain for long-term gain.

    1. 970.1

      You are correct. Too many people either ask the wrong questions, or no questions at all. Men often ask no questions. Women ask the wrong questions.

      Men seem to just be happy to have somebody.

      Women ask about the wrong things. She’s trying to find out if he is worthy of her…as if…insert eye roll. And women wonder why so many of them get a man with a large bank account, and a tiny heart.

      But you are right, men should start asking questions. I don’t think questions like that should have to take a year for you to get to them. While I would agree that they are certainly not a question you would ask in the first week, or month, they are questions that should be asked between 3 and 6 months of continuous dating.

      People avoid these questions because they are afraid of the answers. What if she wants kids, and he doesn’t, or even the reverse? Their needs are being met. They feel good. They have somebody to hold, and kiss, and call their own, and they are afraid to upset the tea cart. But that’s just it. That’s the problem with our society. We don’t see courtship in the proper sense anymore. Dating is now the end goal. Marriage is the icing on the cake, if it gets there. But dating is supposed to be all about getting to know each other with an eye towards marriage.

      When your dating pool seems large, people are loathe to actually look towards marriage. Young beautiful women often avoid any talk of marriage, but then, after they’ve had their fun, and they aren’t quite as beautiful as they once were, they suddenly want to settle down. I could go on for days why this is very undesirable for most men. I will leave it at…men want her when she’s young, full of energy, and at her peak attractiveness. It is very unappealing for men to in effect, get the table scraps of all the hot bad boys. They want her best years, not what’s left over when she finally gives up on the bad boys.

      All of this would be solved if our culture went back to a time where at a young age, we put an emphasis on finding our life partner, and stopped giving ourselves to people who aren’t.

  11. 971

    Ugh. I’m a 37 year woman that has simply had a hard time finding love. I didn’t screw around. I was just shy and kept having my heart broken. After reading through these comments and article, I’m pretty much convinced I’m doomed because I’m apparently expired goods.

  12. 972
    The Dude

    Always look at someones actions. Not their every word. Looking at what a person does tells more about them than what they say. People sometimes say things just to make things smooth, socially.

  13. 973

    I’m in my 40s, I don’t date women over 30.

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