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

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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. 981


    “My 35 year old partner also once told me she found many 35-50 yo men to be co-dependent and clingy, or the opposite entitled narcissistic pricks.”

    I wonder what her Primary and Secondary Love Languages are. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are:

    * Physical Touch
    * Words of Affirmation
    * Quality Time
    * Gifts
    * Acts of Service

    Everyone has one that is their primary, and one or two that are secondary…and of course, one or two that aren’t very important to them. What she may see as clingy, may be men who have physical touch as their primary. It’s not being clingy, it’s simply physical touch that makes a relationship feel warm and loving, to them. There are women who are the same. And people of both genders who are not this way.

    I knew a guy who was dating the most amazing woman, in my opinion, and then he wasn’t. I asked him why. He said she was too clingy…always hanging on him like a wet noodle. Certainly, somebody who would call her clingy, is not the right person for her. She needed to find a guy who was similar in his need for physical affection.

    Now, your ex, and this guy, certainly think there was something wrong with these people who are clingy, but there are 5 love languages. Maybe somebody who has touch as their primary love language, would date her, and think there is something wrong with her, because she’s not affectionate, and prefers gifts to caresses.

    Or, maybe a woman has quality time as her primary, which basically means undivided attention. But she’s with a guy who thinks it’s OK to carry on a conversation while he watches the game. She thinks that’s cold. He thinks it’s normal. She wants the TV off…he thinks that’s ridiculous.

    This is just one reason why it’s so hard to find the right person. Often, otherwise perfect people come into our lives, but they aren’t right for us, and often we don’t want to let go right away, because we’re not sure there’s somebody better around the corner. Maybe the sex is good, and you just aren’t irritated enough to walk away. Maybe it’s been a while since you had somebody good in your life, so you hang onto somebody who isn’t right…their just right for now.

    This, I suppose, is why so many men are checking out of the dating game. Seems like an awful lot of pain in the hopes of finding somebody, and yet knowing that even after marriage, it may not work out, but if kids come before the break up, you’re screwed. It all just seems like a lot of effort over a bad risk.

  2. 982

    I think it’s crazy how having babies trumps romance for so many people!

    My fiancé and I are in our forties and neither of us wants kids. Our life is exactly how we both want it. We have more money, free time, get enough sleep, and have sex whenever we want!

    Meanwhile, everyone we know with kids is chronically stressed, tired, and financially burdened and also hates their spouses. Especially now with covid people are so miserable always being at home.

    What happened to connecting with someone and LOVE??

  3. 983

    Men need to stop treating women as cows. We are not your breeding machines. If you marry simply to have biological children, you are narcissistic and will end up divorced. The women often have to care for the children more than the men even though we also have full time jobs. I think putting that you want children in inappropriate in your dating profile. You should date to find a companion to live and share your life with whether they want children or not. It is so cold hearted to used women as breeding cows and date to impregnate people. I find it pretty gross. Also, there are so many kids without parents. You can adopt at 50 and be more financially stable.

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