Why Do Men in Their 40s Think I'm Old?

Need relationship help? Rachel Greewald's here to advise

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Rachel Greenwald, Dating Coach and NY Times bestselling author
Photograph: Helen H. Richardson

Rachel Greenwald, dating coach and author of Why He Didn’t Call You Back: 1,000 Guys Reveal What They Really Thought About You After Your Date,  has helped 712 couples find love. Now, she’s ready to take on the MORE community.  Have a dating question for Rachel? Submit it here.

Dear Rachel,

I’m single at 44 years old, and men who are near my age seem only to be interested in younger women. I’m active and feel very young, and everyone says I look much younger than my age, but when men in their forties can (and do) date women in their thirties, and when they don’t even respond to my emails through online dating, it makes me feel ancient! How can I overcome this problem?

Ancient in Atlanta

Dear Ancient,

This is a real issue, and I see it everywhere. Men in their 40’s often date women in their 30’s (even 20’s!); men in their 50’s often date women in their 40’s (even 30’s!). This leaves a gaping hole in the singles arena of fabulous women looking for men near their age. The U.S. Census (2008) echoes this problem: there are 30 million single women and only 20 million single men over 40. Yikes! It reminds me of the lost-sock-in-the-dryer phenomenon: you put two socks in the clothes dryer, but only one sock comes out. Where did the other sock go? And where did all the single men your age go? The answer is that men date younger, and men die younger too.

Okay, so we know the reality and it’s unfair, but it’s not hopeless. It requires a shift in your thinking to view this problem differently. Instead of asking yourself, “Why do men in their 40’s think I’m too old?”, you should be asking, “Who thinks I’m young? And who thinks I’m hot?” Now, with these questions, there seem to be two answers: much older men and much younger men. Fifty to 60-year old men think a 44-year old is young, and some men in their late 20’s and 30’s think a 44-year old is hot.

Now, before you start screaming that you don’t want to marry an old man or a baby, consider this core principle from the business world: “You have to sell what people want to buy.” If you’re trying to sell the most delicious candy bar in the world, but all your customers want to buy ice cream, you should sell ice cream. Sure, there are not many women whose first choice is to marry someone 10+ years older or younger, but if that’s the reality of whom you attract, and you really want to find a loving partner, it’s better to face it now rather than spend years alone trying to “sell” something few people want to “buy.”

This doesn’t mean you are going to “settle”: of course not! I want you to find someone wonderful, but “wonderful” isn’t defined by a number. And it doesn’t mean you have to give up on the men closer to your age, but it DOES mean that you need to cast a wider net. Change your online profile to search for men ages 29 to 59, and tell your friends you’re open to fix-ups in this wider age range. Be open to the possibility that Mr. Right may come wrapped in a totally different package (much older or much younger) than you’ve always envisioned. Remember that your real goal is to find happiness, which is age-less.

Looking to meet someone special? Check out MORE Dating here.

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First Published Mon, 2009-07-20 08:59

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