40-Year-Old Men Want to Get Married, Too! (On Not Being the Old Guy In the Club)

40 year old men want to get married

I couldn’t be more sympathetic to women  who are struggling in love. You’re burned out with online dating. You’ve wasted years on unavailable and abusive men. You’ve focused  all your attention on work and let years pass. You desire love, family and stability, but are too afraid to open your  heart once again. You believe that all the good ones are taken. You believe your time has passed. You believe it’s not in the cards.

I spend lots of time offering advice to women on how to reframe this negativity and date with confidence and optimism. But what about the men? That was the question asked in this viral New York Times piece about a demographic that no one talks about:

Remove the gender and their complaints sound virtually identical.

Men in their late thirties and early forties who want to settle down and can’t seem to find the right partner.

Remove the gender and their complaints sound virtually identical.

These men were waiting for the right partner and the right time and may have missed their ideal window of opportunity. Now, they’re forced to make compromises – same as the compromises I routinely ask women to make.

Spend less time working.  “But I have a demanding job that pays too well!”

Go out with someone older.  “But I can’t help what I’m attracted to! But I want time to have two kids!”

Make a greater effort to date. “But I’m tired! I have more  obligations on my time!”

For every realistic excuse out there, there is someone who is ignoring it. These are the people who make love a priority and make smart adjustments to their lives in order to achieve their goals.

The fact is that most of us don’t take actions that are aligned with our goals.

Predictably, there was backlash to these men who’d dare admit that they’re lonely and express regrets. Women, in particular, lashed out at them. “Women have it worse! Women have to compromise more! Now you know what it’s like! You deserve to be alone, you picky, patriarchal narcissists!”

The fact is that most of us don’t take actions that are  aligned with our goals. I lament that I’m 10lbs heavier than last year and I’m still sitting here typing instead of going to the gym. Why? Because it’s comfortable, familiar, and far easier  than doing something.

I hope that all the men and women who want to get married and have families find each other, but I know that’s just a pipe dream. Because the men will complain the women are too old and the women will complain that the men are emotional toddlers.

So who is invariably left standing alone? Those who assume that all members of the opposite gender is the  same and also primary cause of all dating problems.

Your thoughts, below, are always appreciated.

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  1. 21

    My theory on why women see men who never married and are over the age of 40 as questionable is women are judging men by what’s important to them. Most women I’ve know value romantic relationships more than guys. Remember I said most, so please don’t say you have a friend who was different. Men focus   more on career than relationships. Most guys, via sex, end up in a relationship that can lead to marriage. Guys put more thought into purchasing a car than how to select a good mate. Most women I’ve dated would love it if I had an ex-wife and a couple of kids so she could feel that I tried and failed. It seems that I’m   abnormal as many folks in their 40s are divorced with kids. I had a girlfriend for about 6 months and all of her friends said to dump me because I was over 40 and never married. Only one of her friends could see me for who I was and to her I was a keeper. I could see that my now ex-girlfriend could not evaluate me without this cloud of doubt about me having never been married. The truth was I was just a late bloomer, but she was determined to prove I was never married because I was a Peter Pan type or a player. She sabotaged the relationship with me. I am sure there are guys who didn’t marry before 40 who are Peter Pans or players. I think the toughest thing to do is look past our fears and see people as they are and let the relationship unfold without launching a preemptive nuclear attack on it because of past hurts or assumptions.

    1. 21.1

      It’s funny becuase the only women I know who are vocal about their distrust of men over 40 who’ve never been married are yep you guessed it women over 40 who’ve never been married😃. Of course THEY have never been married becuase they’ve been unlucky or they’re independent (which is apparently only a positive trait if you don’t posses a Y chromosome) or just cuz men suck.

      Projection seems to be a personality flaw that few people can see in themselves.

  2. 22

    I am a widow married for 25 years to the same man. I started dating two years after he passed. My opinions may be colored by my marriage which was a very good one. I lived a very good life. A housewife and rather pampered and spoiled. No slams from happy working women for that please. I loved it.

    In My Opinion most of the men that are available and eligible are seriously flawed. If divorced they tend to be bitter. Many are alcoholics and from 2 years experiencing online dating many are looking for fast easy sex. I stand by that opinion.   It’s mine and I am allowed it. Thank you

  3. 23

    I am a 53 year old widow, happily married to the same man for 25 years. I admit my opinion might be colored by my happy loving life.   I was a housewife and pampered and spoiled. Please no slams from all the   happy working women. I was deliriously happy with my life

    I’ve been widowed for six years. After two years I decided to give dating a try as apparently men noticed and found me attractive. Online dating is about the only option for a woman in my position. So I have gave it a try for 4 years. I stand by MY OPINION that most of the men are looking for fast and easy sex. Many do not stay in shape or care about their appearance after 50. Divorced men I’ve spoken to have tons of baggage and many are bitter and hateful. Many are alcoholics or on prescribed drugs. I work out stay fit and spend a good deal of time and money on maintenance

    i know it’s been suggested for women to lower expectations. But I for one refuse to go so low.

    Again this is just my opinion. I own it


    1. 23.1

      Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out.


      You’re perfect, all the men on the market suck.


      So, why are you here?

  4. 24

    I don’t see where I stated in my response that I’m perfect. Far from it. But I allow myself respect from being able to survive the loss of a near perfect marriage get my new life   in order alone. No mean feat for someone who had a husband and an easy life. Who on earth would want someone who didn’t value themself at least some what anyway? Why the put down?   Bitterness?  The online dating world and the world in general is not a kind place for widowed women. Again and again I encountered the type of men I describe above. I accepted few very dates because of it.   Also just my opinion. I held my head up and did what I had to do to survive. I was seeking companionship or friendship leading to more hopefully  My greatest imperfection comes from needing or wanting a good decent man in my life.    I know there are a few out there. Somewhere. But time isn’t standing still for me so I move away from the frustrations of trying to date to just surviving in the world the best way I know how. Surviving not thriving.   I had really believed I could enhance someone’s life and mine be   enhanced by being able to care and live someone again. Why I am here is to use my voice in a free world to state my feelings on my experience.   Nothing more, nothing less. You don’t have to be so mean. But that’s typical  

  5. 25

    To be fair I will admit my selectiveness. (Not good for online dating). I’m 5’10” so I prefer a man at least as tall).   I have other standards as well that won’t change and I won’t mention for not following today’s protocol will get my head handed to me haha.    To those of you who not so subtly suggested I wasn’t attractive or personable enough let me say this. I started my me account on a popular site in early December. When I deleted it a few days ago I had over 1500 likes, in my opinion, a marketing ploy. And I received enough mail to empty my mailbox 4 times. I have never made the first move. Never will. And I would never ever pay for dating sites. To be fair I live in a bad Southern USA location for dating. A backwater compared to New York and Chicago. Maybe I’d have had better luck there. I believe much of my response was made up by the site as I said before to keep me clicking. Cha Ching!

    I make no judgments on others I’m simply stating my opinion. No need to attack. But if it makes you feel better, have at it!

    1. 25.1

      Beebe, I think you should pay Evan whatever he charges. He’s the best in the world at what he does and he would change your life around. Evan can help you find happiness again if you let him.

    2. 25.2

      Hi Beebe,

      I’m sorry you’re struggling so.   I’m not trying to be insensitive; but do you think maybe you were not through your grieving when you started online dating?   I was married 23 years and while I didn’t have to go through the loss of my husband I did have to go through a grieving process of losing my marriage. It really takes a long time to heal (while I’m sure you never really get over such a loss as yours). I’m 7 years out now and finally feel positive. It helps that my ex and I are in good terms to co parent.


      1. 25.2.1

        Oh and Beebe- I live in the deep south. I don’t live in a large city (under 200,000) and I just turned 55. One of my best friends visits me from a rather small town twice a month (she’s in her 60s). She’s an incorrigible flirt. Last time she visited; she exchanged numbers with a gentleman we met at the salad bar in Whole Foods. If you live in a “backwater” ( your description not mine) you might find expanding your search beneficial.

        I personally found   the “free” dating sites to be filled with men who were basically searching for sex also. Free things in general are not valued oftentimes by the recipient. If something is “easy” ; people tend not to put much effort into it. I’m not sure why you would not see the benefit of a mainstream dating site. Imo, for the price of one nice meal out a month you have quite a bit more well intentioned dates and numerous features. Besides, I’d never fault a business for providing a much sought after service which they’ve put enormous effort, skills, technology and rresources into.

        Good luck


  6. 26

    I think most men want love, companionship and healthy relationships. I just don’t think most men are willing to put the work into discovering how to develop and cultivate those qualities and who are willing to be vulnerable with themselves to see the kind of ingrained attitudes they may need to change to actually have a fulfilling relationship with a woman. But I don’t believe it’s ever too late for anyone. And I don’t believe men over 40, who are single, aren’t worth potential mates. I’m a much better partner in my 30s then I ever was in my 20s. I am kinder, more thoughtful, more giving and take pleasure in finding out more about what I’m able to give within a relationship to another human being vs just thinking about what I get from that other person. A man, no matter his age or previous relationship history can have this if he really wants it and wants to do the good work it takes to build it. But when I did online dating, even with the big age range I entered, I still had men outside that age range, emailing me. I stayed away from these men. Not because they were ‘bad’ guys. But they were clearly showing me that they did not care about what I said I wanted in my profile and because I simply don’t want to be with a guy who feels entitled to someone younger then himself.

  7. 27


  8. 28

    whatabiloty do happily married women apply that the unmarried ones don’t. They take responsibility for what they think and do.  

    Its not about education. Education is when folks copy the thoughts of accomplished people, but when you ask an educated wan to think for herself, she will quote or site another accomplished man’s thoughts and call you stupid. Single women over 35 spend time in hotel rooms with married men, trying to get a short cut or a cop out, not wanting to be responsible for themselves.

  9. 29


    I hereby love & endorse CPV! Well done, you 🙂

    Not to further add to the complexity of this topic, but your analysis doesn’t ring completely true (for me). I relate to falling for (and marrying) the bad boy. I do think it was partly the dopamine hit and partly in spite of his at times nasty/obnoxious/withdrawing behaviour – if he was consistently nasty/obnoxious/withdrawn I wouldn’t have fallen for him.

    But the bit about seeing him as higher CPV..that may be true in some cases, but in my case, as horrible as it is to admit (and this wasn’t on a conscious level), I think it was the opposite. I think his ridiculous behaviour made me feel morally superior. He even actually said “I think you’re a better person than me”, and while I didn’t really think about it at the time, I think on some level it was true. So I knew I could do better than him (I was a lot younger, had a better body, didn’t have the baggage he did etc., although he was far more charming than me), I was getting a secondary gain from dealing with his antics, dispersed with a dopamine hit of his intermittent adoring affection.

    Sad, I know..

    1. 29.1

      @ Marika #29
      “I hereby love & endorse CPV!”
      Aw thanks Marika; I can add that to my catalog of newly coined terms so. 😉
      But in all seriousness I think there’s a valuable lesson behind its concept. So many people suffer a few/many rejections and give up all hope of ever succeeding in dating as they feel they just aren’t pretty enough or tall enough etc.  Then, fueled by constant rejection not only are they not pretty enough, their attitude and demeanor becomes increasingly negative and bitter thus further lowering their CPV: it’s a nasty spiral which becomes exceedingly difficult to break out of. I think we both agreed previously that a negative attitude is the single most unattractive quality there is.
      However, if one takes a step back and realizes that it’s the summation of qualities that *actually* counts, rather than a singular uncontrollable variable (such as their height for e.g.) they might be able to compensate elsewhere (e.g. their smarts or fashion sense maybe) to raise their overall CPV. The obvious upside of a higher CPV are the increased odds of success and lowered odds of failures.

      And success begets success, which then further generates a positive spiral thus continuously increasing one’s CPV. And with enough success one becomes a winner. 🙂

  10. 30


    Tom10 & Emily, just when I’m fearful reading the comments is doing more harm than good, I see a man who’s becoming less superficial and a woman who’s becoming more mindful of men’s financial challenges. Yay!! Thank you for helping me keep the faith 🙂

  11. 31

    Gala, Amir and Heller describe attachment style as plastic, but relatively stable.   In other words, it can be changed effortfully, but most of us will fall back on a certain pattern.   So while I agree with you that being with a new person whose SMV is higher than our own can cause an otherwise secure person to behave anxiously (or being with a lower SMV individual can cause one to act avoidantly), that tends not to remain the behavior over time.


    As a personal example, I know that my attachment style is somewhat anxious, stemming from a childhood feeling unworthy.   I remember quite clearly when I was around 10 years old and had few friends at school, when one boy began to act friendly toward me.   I remember wondering why he was acting that way, and (I’m ashamed to admit) thinking that it must be because my parents paid him to do so.   Must be logical, right?   Because otherwise what could he possibly find worthy in me to befriend?   And if there’s something worthy, why doesn’t anyone else see it?   This toxic world-view led me to overcompensate, over the years, both in my friendships and romantic relationships – to always go overboard with what I do for others in order to feel worthy of their affections.   And although, through years of reflection and maturity, I have largely overcome this mind-set, it still affects how I deal with relationships.   I still accept things that perhaps I should not, and still go overboard trying to win affection/approval when perhaps I should not.   Because for all the plasticity in the attachment system, it is still relatively stable as an average over time.


    This is the same mindset as the woman who says that she loses interest in nice guys because deep down, if a man treats her well all the time, she feels he must be low-value.   After all, if she is low-value, how could a high-value man possibly treat her that way?   She doesn’t deserve it!   So she seeks out men who make her feel she must jump through hoops to be worthy because without that reassurance from a high-value man, she can’t feel anything at all.


    That’s why I don’t give advice to anxious people to try not to be anxious, nor do I advise avoidant people not to be so avoidant.   Of course, trying to be more secure is good advice, but not always realistic.   Better for an anxious person to find someone who can give him the reassurance he needs without feeling put-upon.   And for the avoidant person to find someone who doesn’t need quite so much intimacy.   And for such people NOT to marry the ones who affirm their toxic world-views – who treat them poorly or reward them inconsistently, even though that’s what they might crave.

  12. 32

    I stumbled across this forum a couple of months ago, mostly reading, daily, oftentimes as the first thing in the morning with my morning coffee, I can only say thanks to everyone for providing me with answers and clarifications for many questions I encountered since started online dating more than a year ago; now it is time for my first post.
    To avoid any stigma associated with the general opinion that men are usually the ones who pay more after a divorce, while the woman is the one who keeps the house, children and most of the assets, just to note that I left my marriage without anything, no children, house, and staying alone in a foreign country; I did cancelling- still go- tried to comprehend and reflect on my own part of the failure and to redefine my aims now; that said, I accepted that my new relationship maybe will not go towards a live in/marriage, exactly knowing that many divorced men already have tangible baggage. But was willing to think that any relationship with certain level of respect and companionship would make me happy.
    I have also started with the stigmatised opinion that a ‘divorced man’ maybe be better than ‘single’, as they were able to make the commitment once…
    Boy, I was wrong! What I have met for a bit over a year of online dating could be described as bitter and delusional divorced men who just want a free escort. Casual, fun, not looking for anything serious, “lots of sex” are words that I met most, and it was visible that they were not looking for any relationship, just sexual pleasure. To clarify, I know that every possible relationship- connection should start slowly, with mostly fun and enjoyable moments and see where it develops. But what I am talking about is a total absence of any interest of forming any bond and treating a woman like a prey, the reasons that brought me here to this blog. And like a woman already wrote, maybe I will tend to turn more to ‘single status’, even if it is a player, but I don’t want to fall victim to another person’s resentment, anger and disrespect. Although a status itself does not mean much, but in my experience so far ‘a divorced man’ is a synonym for bitterness, emotional unavailability and hot-cold behaviours. Sorry for being honest, I don’t want to generalise and say everyone is like that, but online dating pool is filled with poor quality relationship candidates.
    Although I will not give up and I am continuing looking for my ‘needle in a haystack’. Sorry for my English, but I hope I made my points, and please take them as conclusions not out of disappointment in online dating but a current summary.

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