A friend talked about this with me, saying how so many single women friends of hers are on dating sites but how the parameters seem ‘skewed’ (at least, that was my understanding of our conversation).
Although in a happy partnership herself, she said that there seem to be a lot of single women on their own; actually, there are a lot of single men on their own too and maybe you are one of them, reading this blog and hoping for something fresh on the subject!
What my friend was asking was, why do women settle for something less than they really want? Well, I think that’s easy to fathom – loneliness, fed-up with not having a ‘plus one’, having to sort out everything in the home themselves, no-one to share life’s pleasures with…..the list is endless and it’s the same list that applies to men.
But her point was that on dating sites, the women she knows put into the criteria that they want someone of their own age or older. However, men of the same age apparently put that they want a female partner who’s a lot younger than them. Why is that? I guess it’s a sort of societal pressure – somehow, we’re not really comfortable with what we now know are called ‘cougar’ relationships, where an older woman dates a much younger man. Goodness knows why we have to label people in this way – does it matter?
I hope that some of the men who read my blogs might respond to this, saying what they think about it and if it’s true of them – if they use online dating sites, do they prefer younger women and, if so, why? (No judgments here – just interest).
This pattern is something that we see in the celebrity world and maybe copy to some extent – a lot of older rock stars, celebrities and male actors are seen with much younger women. That’s why so many people laughed, and still do, about Mrs Merton’s (Caroline Ahern) 1995 interview with Debbie McGee, wife of magician Paul Daniels, when she asked Debbie “So what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”.
But it’s more than just wealth – older men often seem wiser and more experienced in many areas of life so women of all ages are attracted to them, even if they’re not extremely wealthy. Older men can have more choice, it seems, than older women. No, it’s not fair but I think that a younger woman is a chance for a man to re-live his youth, and maybe do it better the second time around.
But what about the older women, I hear you say! Hmmm – well, it’s difficult and I’ve heard many negative experiences of dating sites, a lot of which lead women to question their own body image and communication skills. It’s very stressful and causes a lot of anxiety but I’m not suggesting that anyone gives up on the idea of finding a partner. There’s also something about the fact that, as women, we are often socialised to look after people, whether that’s children, elderly parents or indeed an older partner, so maybe there’s a bit of that in there too.
Also, there are people out there who prioritise having views and interests in common with their partners over them having young, taut bodies. Okay, they’re harder to find on dating sites but that’s possibly because their relationships tend to last longer, but they definitely exist.
As you can tell, I don’t have an answer because we can’t change the mind of a society that mostly agrees that women appeal less as they grow older whereas men have the opportunity to become what is now called ‘a silver fox’. Things will change, but probably not in our lifetime.
So, are men in your age group overlooking a great opportunity? Almost certainly, yes. Are you missing out on a great opportunity because of this? Not so much – if men of your age aren’t interested in you, it’s very unlikely that they have hidden depths!
It may sound as if I’m critical of older men, but to some extent I think that they’re products of a society and environment that encourages this sort of thinking. It takes some imagination and character to break away from it.
If you’re a woman over 55 years old who’s reading this and is tired of this experience, I hope that you can still think of yourself as an interesting, attractive person who has a lot to offer. Whether you settle for less than you really want, is up to you
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