This came up in conversation: How many men over 50 date younger women? I insisted that whatever the stats might show, it would be a large number, and if men had the option, their dating preferences for women 10 or 20 years younger would swell.
I attempted to find an answer via The Google, seeking the percentage of men in the US who date ten or more years younger; to my surprise, what popped up first were articles on cougar women dating younger men!
I had just read a comment by a 50-something-year-old woman who has not been successful at finding a relationship in the Atlanta area. She is considering relocation, and hoping for more options elsewhere.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
As my significant other was scoffing at my insistence that it’s tough for women to find good men once they’re over age 45 much less 50, I reminded him that I possess plenty of experience in matters of Second Life Socializing.
First, there is the fact that before meeting him, I spent nearly seven years on and off dating sites – and on two continents. I fared better in France, in general. In the US, I was likely to hear from men 10 to 20 years older. I wasn’t up for becoming Nurse Nancy, and that seemed in some instances the only option!
Beyond my own anecdotal assumptions, I also have many 50-year-old friends (and readers) across the country, who are well acquainted with the older man-younger woman phenomenon – even among aging boomers.
“Why would a man not want a woman he can talk with intelligently?”
That’s what my cohort in crime wanted to know. I looked at him and raised my eyebrows as he began to smirk.
“Besides that,” he said.
“Here’s why,” I responded. “Not just a younger body in bed, but a trophy on the arm, a woman who is less likely to contradict him, a woman less likely to compete with him even inadvertently, and less need to compromise. Most of these middle-aged men have been married before, and they view the younger woman as easier, lighter, and it feels good… however long it lasts.”
“Sounds like a car,” he said.
“Men love new cars,” I grumbled.
Wisely, he replied: “Yes, I love cars, too. But I love all models.”
As nice as that is to hear, in my experience, he is the exception.
The Appeal of the Older Man
I certainly remember my younger days when I went out with older men. In my early twenties, guys my age had little to offer me intellectually, and my dark, excessively curvy look was anything but the desired American norm.
As I grew older and matured, I dated men closer to my age. And after divorce, while I saw some friends date older (because the men had bank), I frequently dated younger; not by design, but because we had more in common – our children were the same age.
Thinking for a moment, my man friend added this: “I understand. I do. For one thing, women are attracted at a certain point to older men who are smart and established. But if there is a significant gap, when the aging process progresses, over time it becomes a non-relationship.”
I nodded, as he continued: “Generally speaking, if I’m going on a site to have sex with younger women, then it makes sense. But if I want a real relationship, one that will last, I want someone close to my own age.”
“You’re a rare bird,” I said. “Why do you think so many women lie about their age – especially online – regardless of how they look or feel?”
And he is indeed a rarity, which I would like to back up with numbers, though finding the appropriate statistics remains a challenge.
“How long would that last?” he asked. “Five years, maybe?”
“Even so,” I said.
Invisible Women? A Matter of the Eye of the Beholder
Unwilling to give up my search for data, I find more useful tidbits on the non-American press. For example, The Guardian UK addresses the challenges of midlife dating for single women in this article, which quotes a writer who describes the no man’s land where many middle-aged females find themselves.
The anonymous woman, whose blog is called The Plankton, is not alone in believing that there are problems specific to being a single woman in middle age. A survey this month found eight out of 10 women over 50 think they have become invisible to men.
I dare say, this is more than “thinking” we dwell in no man’s land, or as the author of The Plankton puts it quite colorfully, “a plankton on the food chain of sexuality and the prospect of a relationship.”
So just what are those numbers?
Again, I struggle to locate reliable statistics.
Sure, we have Huff Post on Dating Dealbreakers for the over 50 crowd – apparently hygiene is more of a concern than one might think – and Match.com may offer the recommendation not to “get hung up on chronological age,” but don’t we know better? Those of us who live it? Those of us who are honest? The men who are honest, and unlike my European gentleman friend, more likely to want what theoretically promises to be an easier pairing, at least temporarily?
This thought continues to tumble around in my mind: When older men trade in the original model for younger women, where does that leave the women they discard? Left to “care take” even older men?
Strategies for Finding a Good Man?
There are those who have always believed that nice guys finish last – and the same goes for nice women. To “get” and keep a guy, you need to be elusive, mysterious, a bit of a bitch. For some of us, this strategy simply won’t fly.
Others of course go the cosmetic surgery route. They chase a nip here, a tuck there – my place is not to judge (though I have my opinions); what saddens me is when nothing ever feels like it’s enough, and the surgeons get rich off our youth-obsessed culture.
Listen. I’m not saying we don’t all have non-negotiables. (We do.) Nor am I saying that practical matters like health and finance aren’t important. (They are.) I’m not saying it’s impossible to find someone to love who is your contemporary. But I firmly believe it is more likely to happen “in the real world” than when we’re meeting by checklist in the virtual universe of endless potential dates.
And that just may mean saying “yes” to every opportunity to meet new people – every way we can.
It is in that genuinely real world that our immediate impressions are a matter of mutual attraction and energy, a spark (or its absence), and then, chronological age really isn’t the issue at all. Instead, it’s the everything else – including practical considerations on both sides – in a more well-balanced formula and relationship that proceeds more naturally.
On a final note, I will reference the last posted musing by The Plankton, now nearly a year old. This funny (and raw) writer informs us of a woman she has heard of who is a “right bitch.” She has met a man who is:
… kind, sophisticated, clever, funny, generous, adores her and they are in the vortex of Happily Ever After.
Go figure. But I wonder if he’s 10 years older…
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