Is There Something Wrong With a Man in His 40s Who Has Never Been Married Before?

smiling attractive man

I’m currently speaking with a guy from Yahoo personals, he’s 42 and still single, never been engaged… This is a big red flag right? We have been talking for the past month and a half via the phone, I’m in Minneapolis, and he’s in Chicago. We have great long conversations, many that last 5 hours long, he’s commented how great our conversations are. He’s attractive too. How do I know if he’s just another “nice-player”? They are slick today. It seems many are online with no intention of getting serious… I just told him that it’s wild we have great chemistry but we could meet in person and realize that we are not physically each other’s type. To me, as naive as I am, I’d like to think he is not a “player” trying to work me over because we have these long conversations with a lot of depth to them. Our emails were very long to begin with too. Please give me some perspective and advice on this situation.

Dear Kate,

You’ve got four different questions going on here.

There is “How do I know if it’s worth it to try a long distance relationship?”

There is “I don’t want to be the victim of a nice-player in a long distance relationship.”

There is “I’m falling for a guy that I’ve never met but have talked to on the phone for 6 weeks”.

Is there something wrong with a man in his 40’s that has never been married? My answer is predictable: Yes… and No.

If you read the above links, your dreams will be summarily dashed – not because he’s necessarily a player, but because the odds of ANY relationship working are slim, the odds of an ONLINE relationship working are slimmer, and the odds of a LONG-DISTANCE online relationship are the slimmest – especially when you haven’t even, um, y’know, MET yet.

That said, the part of your question which really intrigues me is the “red flag” question:

Is there something wrong with a man in his 40’s that has never been married?

My answer is predictable: Yes… and No.

This is where I would make an argument that stereotypes exist for a reason. The unhealthy part of stereotyping is not necessarily the stereotype itself, but the assumption that ALL people in the category fit the stereotype.

Thus, if you have preconceived notions about gorgeous people, rich people, short people, gay people, Irish people, etc – those notions probably came from SOMEWHERE. They’re not pure fabrications.

Jewish people like playing Twister on the lawn is a fabrication.

Jewish people are often highly educated and highly neurotic is not.

Are we together on this one? Good.

So there’s the stereotype of the forty-something bachelor – and it’s a valid one. He’s a player. He’s a Peter Pan. He’s a commitmentphobe. He’s too picky. He’s emotionally unavailable. He’s a heartbreaker. He’s unrealistic.

All of those things are likely contributing factors as to why a man might be 42 and never married.

So now you’re faced with this very real dilemma – is this man a victim of circumstance, or is he the common denominator in all of his relationship failures?

But what if he was living with a woman for seven years who didn’t believe in traditional marriage? What if he was in a three-year relationship with a woman who cheated on him? What if he was once ready to propose and she ended up breaking his heart? What if he spent five years in a dead-end relationship and has had difficulty getting back out there? What if – god forbid – he made a bunch of bad dating decisions and just hasn’t met “the one”? (Hey, all of us want to think that about ourselves – let’s just say for argument’s sake that it’s true!)

So now you’re faced with this very real dilemma – is this man a victim of circumstance, or is he the common denominator in all of his relationship failures?

And I think it would be very easy, and coldly logical, to say BOTH.

This doesn’t mean you should enter into a relationship with a forty-something bachelor with the expectation of failure.

It does, however, mean that he didn’t become a forty-something bachelor by making great decisions in love.

Click here to learn the 5 Massive Mistakes You’re Making In Your Love Life – And How to Turn Them Around Instantly!

Join our conversation (289 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 41

    Finally, she just gave it up and concluded that she just hadn’t met the right guy, and that was the only reason she was unattached. She did, after 8 years or so without a significant other, meet someone and embark on committed relationship.
    This could be a possibility.

    For example, I know of zero qualified, available women my age (31) who have never been married and never had kids. And I have absolutely no clue as to how to find them. The woman in the above example probably had a similar problem.

  2. 42

    Wow, this is interesting. Imagine flipping it round to ‘Is there something wrong with a woman in her 40s who has never been married before?’….
    Going back to Kate’s question – my gut reaction is, this guy lives in another town, he’s been calling you for six weeks and you still haven’t arranged to meet (but you’re spending money on ‘five-hour’ calls). Hmm, I don’t think he’s talking about the weather, do you? More to the point, he could already be married, for all you know. Don’t you feel like saying ‘either pee or get off the pot’ (in a polite way of course). It’s time you met up, or moved on…

  3. 43

    @Londongirl post #42

    I agree. Additionally, you don’t know a person from emails and telephone conversations. You only know them from spending time with them. I know that sounds judgmental, but I think anyone who has done it both ways will agree. The big danger with the former route is that people’s (I’ve done it ) imaginations unconsciously fill in the blanks with good things. You meet the person you’ve had a virtual relationship with only to discover that they are someone else and to be disappointed.

    I don’t like meeting someone after just 3 emails, but as soon as it feels like I will not be on a date with a total stranger I like to meet ASAP.

  4. 44


    You copied off of my paper! Its okay though, your research and statistics are better than mine 🙂

  5. 45

    @Michael #41- Well if you count a blog message board, now you know one. You honestly don’t know *any*? Are you in a very sparsely populated town?

  6. 46
    Curly Girl

    I’ve never been married but have been in a couple of long relationships–one three years, one six to seven. We discussed getting married in both of those relationships but we knew it wasn’t going to work, in both cases because of incompatible long-term goals.

    And I never want to go through a divorce, so in retrospect I am very, very happy with the decisions I have made.

    By contrast, my sister was married and divorced twice by the age of 40 with nary a break in between the two husbands. At the age of 42 she is now making plans to marry husband #3.

    Guess which one of us is considered “defective”?

    And I’ve heard other single women saying that they get this insinuated, too–a lot of people think you’re “weird” for never having married, but these same people will go on and on about how awful their ex is/was, how screwed they were in the divorce, etc. But somehow, if you take steps to avoid such horrors in your life, you aren’t fully human, and you are certainly not fully female, and always, your sexuality is suspect because, as we have read countless times on this board, female sexuality is all about getting to the LTR. 🙂

    It has been my experience that people who think non-marrieds are defective also feel special or superior because they are married. Anymore I just flat out refuse to listen to people who want to abuse my good will by complaining about their present or former marriages ad nauseum, as if marriage is the only legitimate form of relationship, and we should all be so concerned about what’s going on within it. If it were a two-way street about my intimate relationships, which are not “sanctioned,” I’d be OK with it. But is isn’t, so I’m not.

    Oh, and I don’t listen to women friends who are unattached but desperate to find a guy and being all depressed about it, either, which is a way of putting themselves down.

    I believe I am supporting these people by offering a different point of view.

  7. 47
    Curly Girl

    LondonGirl: I thought about this, too–what if the question were reversed. Though I don’t think EMK would dare on this board!!!:)

    I think the assumption in that case would be that the woman is unattractive or crazy. Though I think that assumption is just a stereotype and is wrong. In my case, so many people have said to me, truly puzzled, that they don’t see why I am not married (implying that a man didn’t “pick” me) when I am cute and successful and not crazy. It took me a long time to come up with the answer, which is, truthfully, that I chose not to be. (Not opposed–I might choose to marry in the future, if it seems like a good thing. I don’t have a problem attracting guys and I love my guy friends.)

    For many women like me marriage poses a lot of risks and not nec. a lot of reward. I have a thriving career and make a lot of money–now, but it wasn’t so when I was starting out. And had I married someone whose career was “more important” than mine (and for some reason, the guy’s career was always “more important” than mine), I would have given up my main years of professional development. Had I had children in a marriage it would have been a worse situation. Would I want to have children with a guy who is all full of bluster about his career, dismissive of mine, and who can’t even pick up his socks or wash a dish or cook a meal? Or know enough to hire someone to do it?

    Unfortunately, those were my options in my 20s, the prime years for getting married. I’m in an unusual career and I was very insecure starting out; had I been different I’m sure I would have attracted a different sort of guy, and if guys my age were raised with different expectations of women it would have been easier, too. But it was the way it was, and I have no regrets except that I didn’t figure all of this out sooner and come up with better responses to the rude assumptions about me.

    I am just hitting my stride professionally, and it is so gratifying that it all paid off, that I made the right choices for me and didn’t succumb to the pressure. I would have been so miserable, and so would have those unfortunate enough to have been in my sphere of influence.

    Which is why I push back against the marriage-mania mentality. Marriage isn’t the best decision for everyone, and women who love their careers and don’t want to give them up or have their work come second have a lot to consider in choosing a mate. It isn’t just the guys “rejecting” successful women; it’s successful women “rejecting” them–better to be alone than cut out a part of yourself to please someone. (And thank heavens there are guys who like us for us!! :))

    Given the financial nightmare that ensues when a traditional marriage ends, “traditional” being where the wife doesn’t work outside the home and raises the kids (in my state and the ones around me a guy might be called upon to pay alimony to his ex for life), I can also appreciate that guys would be very hesitant to marry, too.

    We all need to listen to our guts and choose wisely.

  8. 48

    In my observation, guys, more so than women, get used to routines. They become set in their ways, and don’t seem to work on themselves in such a way that would enable them to become suitable marriage partners.

    Evan, I applaud you for your advice/reasons why a guy may be single passed 40. I keep an open mind when dating, but more often than not, unfortunately, every time I’ve dated a guy over 40 who’s never been married it hasn’t been a good experience. Just a few examples, (1) rude on the phone/on the date (2) has had numerous LTR’s but never ended up married because he told me the women all “ended up going psycho” (3) are either too afraid to make the effort of don’t know what they want (i.e. after a great date where we disussed going out again, I receive a txt message 10 days later saying, ‘let me know if you want to get together soon’). (4) Has a history of dating women who are emotionally unavailable and complains, WHILE ON THE DATE W ME, that he can’t find a nice, decent, intelligent woman who’s ready (5) met at a party, spoke on the phone a couple of times soon afterwards, made plans and then he goes AWOL – and I found out he’d done this w other women. And he’s still single. (6) Rejected me because of my age – 36 instead of 34 – and he’s 39 and never had a gf.

    Contrast this to guys at that age who’ve already been married, they know how to date and have realistic expectations of what makes a good marriage/ltr partner. And my guy friend who are married are the first ones to advise me never to put up with the examples I noted above.

    I’m sure there are reasons why some 40+ women remain single, I think it’s different. If you survey never-married women 40+, I’ll bet most will say they’ve been in love with at least one guy in a LTR who couldn’t commit or did something really bad. I’m not as sure you’d hear that from the guys. A friend of mine wh’s a social worker counseling people w relationship issues confirms my theory.

    Again, Evan, thx for sheading some light. I’ll continue to keep an open mind and screen out the rif-raf.

    1. 48.1

      It’s interesting how you label men as the flawed component for both stereotypes:

      “If you survey never-married women 40+, I’ll bet most will say they’ve been in love with at least one guy in a LTR who couldn’t commit or did something really bad.”

      So men over 40 who haven’t married are usually full of bad habits/behaviors personalities, while women over 40 who haven’t married are because “man can’t commit” or who are “bad”.

      How convenient.

      As Evan repeatedly states – If a man isn’t asking a woman to marry him, then she isn’t “the one” for him in his mind. To him she isn’t marriage material – that’s where the idea that there’s something “wrong” with her originates. “Couldn’t commit” is just wording used to mask this.


  9. 49

    Curly Girl,

    I find that I often agree with your posts as I am single woman in her 40’s who has never married or lived with anyone because I never wanted children and I just didn’t see any point in getting married since I don’t want children.

    Perhaps the people around me — family, friends, co-workers — have been unusual, but none of them have ever gaven me a hard time for not wanting to get married or to have children — and to your point, I’m not ugly, mean or crazy. I just never acted ashamed or sorry or apologetic for not wanting those things. When people ask me why I didn’t want to get married or have children I just say I’m not selfless enough to be a great wife and mother and that I don’t think enough people regard marriage or parenthood with the respect and reverence they should while I do.

    While I don’t want those things, however, what I don’t do is point out why other people shouldn’t get married and have children. I don’t point out all the horrible divorces and bad kids etc. Because for every messy divorce, there are women (and maybe one or two guys) who are absolutely miserable because they aren’t married with kids. So, to me the answer is to live and let live. Everyone should do what they feel is right for them and their decisions should be respected and supported.

    You did mention how you are glad that you chose your career over marriage and kids. From my perspective, career and money are not the end all and be all either. I know many people who gave their lives to their professions — neglecting friends, family, and all else — for the company and to make money. Only success mattered. This economy has forced some people to rethink their values. As these people have lost their jobs and their money and for some their self esteem and purpose, they have come to realize organizations will use you and toss you aside without hesitation….kind of the way a husband or wife might in a marriage.

  10. 50

    Well if you count a blog message board, now you know one. You honestly don’t know *any*? Are you in a very sparsely populated town?
    I honestly do not know any women my age who have never been married and never had kids who are qualified and available.

    So many women I know from college, who used to be in that category, are married now. The others have boyfriends. I want to get married so I could prove to them that I am just as good as they are.

  11. 51

    @ Curly Girl, I’m right there with ya, although I would like to be in an LTR…my self-esteem and relationship choices are much better now than in my 20’s and 30’s.

    @ VR: “Personally I would not date a guy over 40 who hasn’t been married, that is a long time not to legally commit not even a youthful, silly marriage? Major Red Flags, imho”.

    I fail to see the importance of someone having had “a youthful, silly marriage”. What is so great about someone having met Ms. Wrong, and going ahead and marrying her anyway? Perhaps a person shows better judgment by NOT marrying the wrong person?

  12. 52

    Michael, you should want to get married because it’s the right thing for YOU, not to prove something to others. I think one of the reasons there are so many divorces/unhappy marriages is because people marry for the wrong reasons.

    And do you live near a large city? You may have better luck finding someone than if you live in the burbs, maybe get involved w activities you enjoy i.e. cycling club, skiing, acting.

    Which brings the question, how would you define “qualified” as a partner?

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but from reading your posts you sound a little down on yourself. I know plenty of women over 40 in your position who would love to meet a good guy. Keep your spirits up, I’m sure that if you make the effort you’ll find the right gal and defy the ‘over 40-never-married’ stereotype. good luck!

  13. 53

    40 or 50 and never married, divorced, etc., what amazes me, is how we all meet at the same internet site, singles activities, etc.

  14. 54

    …pointing fingers, whining, complaining..

  15. 55

    Great points, downtowngal. As for me (female, 33), the greatest fear is a “stringer” who toys with a woman for 3, 5, 7, 10 years to never commit, but honestly, it does not matter how old they (“stringers”) are. But it is easy to suspect a 40 year old never married man to be one, had he been in more than one dead-end long term relationship.

  16. 56

    Oh, and I don’t listen to women friends who are unattached but desperate to find a guy and being all depressed about it, either, which is a way of putting themselves down.
    I do not know of any women who was desperate to find a guy.

    Where can I find such women?
    Don’t take this the wrong way, but from reading your posts you sound a little down on yourself.
    So many women that I know from college, who are the same age or younger, are married.

  17. 57
    Curly Girl

    Downtown: I’ve had female friends make this observation, too, that of the single people they know in their 40s the women are all amazing and it isn’t clear why they’re single but the single guys are a little weird and you can tell why they’re single. I think that’s a little harsh, but I’ve met a lot of weird guys on dates, too, like you have, and there does seem to be a particular breed of icky-never married-over 40 guy.

    Kenley: The reason I bring up the negative statistics about marriage is to counteract the overwhelmingly ubiquitous message in our culture that you have to be married to fit in, be normal, etc. And that message is directed especially at females, and from a very young age. If you did not absorb that message or knew early on in your life to ignore it, I applaud you, and you are lucky and you are rare. If more people understood just how serious marriage is from an emotional, financial, and legal point of view–and how devestating a bad one is–perhaps there would be fewer bad marriages and fewer miserable people.

    Again, my pet peeve: People dumping their marriage woes (or “lack of marriage” woes) on me while discounting my close relationships. I am getting better at setting boundaries around this issue, though, so more and more I am not caring as much.

  18. 58
    Curly Girl

    Downtown: There is also another category of the over-40 guy who is dating: enraged-at-ex guy, where you can see exactly why he is divorced. This kind of guy can be very judgmental about women who have never been married. It’s very amusing!

    The guy I’m seeing now is in his 40s, never married. And not weird or creepy or angry, and very cute and stable. When I asked him if he had ever been engaged or married, he said no, that it hadn’t happened, that as soon as he’d fallen in love they always started to break up. And that he didn’t see many happy marriages anyway, so no incentive.

    See? As the saying goes, every old sock finds an old shoe. He does speak somewhat kindly of being married some day. And we are in the same profession (different kind of jobs), so I don’t have to explain anything about my passion there, and that’s one of things we find in each other–a rare understanding.

  19. 59

    Curlygirl, icky-never married over 40 guys?…hhmmh, how funny…I would rephrase that to, “clueless” on account of his not being informed/trained by other women or, he was just dealt the wrong deck of cards from the beginning. Usually, these men are plain average looks(very intelligent, bright, in other areas), but men that women overlook at a young age.

    1. 59.1

      I have been rejected by every single woman i’ve ever met from Jr. High School onwards.

      Over the years ‘ve tried dating coach, fashion consultants, personal trainers. went to the length of e-mailing 5 women a day on two dating sites each day for a entire calendar year with zero return responses, been to double digit speed dating events with 0 women picking me as a match. Had professional match making service try and, been on a local reality show.

      Dating, or even having a girl friend let alone a relationship feels impossible. Can’t even imagine asking someone to marry me.

      I have no clue how it happens, what unites people, no one has ever flirted with me without trying to sell me something.

      I own a 4 bedroom house I was hoping to fill with a wife and children some day, but i’m approaching 40 and convinced it won’t happen and evidently, no one wants me.


      1. 59.1.1

        Zero matches at speed dating events? Ouch. That’s one of the reasons I’d be a little nervous about speed dating. What if I ended up being the guy that no one wanted to match with? However, it’s possible several girls chose you and you just didn’t choose them in return. You probably wouldn’t know unless you both matched.


        But you just gotta keep asking out the women you are attracted to. It sounds like you’ve done a lot of self-improvement, so someone is bound to like you.

        1. Paul

          I selected an average of 70 to 90% of the women at every event disregarding matches that were so far out of my age ranges or obviously not interested and the odd woman that I ran into more than once.

  20. 60

    CG, thx for the post, glad to hear you found a great guy! Honesltly it doesn’t sound as if he’s wanted to get married, guess he’s been burned, but either way i wish you all be best!!

    And Hunter, I’ve seen less-than-average looking-former-nerdy guys get married and settle down. but what I’ve found is that many of these same types of guys who remain single don’t open themselves up – now that they’re successful and their skin has cleared up they still carry the same insecurities – they overlook women who are smart, fun and ‘merely’ attractive and instead try to go after supermodels. I see it a lot in NY, it’s really sad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *