I do my best to be fair to everyone, to give everyone a chance. In this context, I am referring to those that want to speak about dating. A few weeks ago, I published a letter from a woman who had made the conscious decision not to date at this point in her life. She was tired of people not respecting her wishes, trying to wonder why she made such a choice, what they had the nerve to say to her face, etc. This week, I publish a letter from a gentleman who feels that he is being treated and thought of unfairly, as are other men in his situation. His letter is longer than the woman’s, so I will publish my response next week. Feel free to send me your thoughts on either or both letters.
I’m here to write my side of the story, not to defend myself or other men like me. The word “defend” intimates that we did something wrong that requires defending and we have not. How can we defend being a single unmarried “older man”?
I’m 51 and never married. I’ve “been in the parshah,” a phrase that I hate, for decades. I have been dating since I was 20. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I didn’t mind dating a woman who was older than I was, as well as divorced women. Not until my mid-30s did I begin dating divorced women with children. I’ve dated women from 20 states and more than a few countries. I had dates lined up when I would visit Israel or Paris by shadchanim I had been referred to. I’m not going through my dating history, but from what you just read, you can see I have done my hishtadlus. I’m not like the younger guys who “hit the market” and have their own requirements of girls, one of which is the girl being “geographically desirable” – since these guys aren’t willing to travel far for a date. Sometimes they even make the girl come to their city for a date. I don’t do any of that. I’m a straight shooter. But I’m also 51. I’m not the one who has an issue with my age, but the women that I am redt to and date have the issue.
I will not date a woman who is younger than 35, but I also don’t want to date anyone older than 45. My age doesn’t define me or anyone else and it shouldn’t dictate who I can date. I have a very prestigious position in the company I work for, have a great family, run marathons, and camp out when weather and time allow me. I still have a head full of hair, although it’s taking on a silver shade these days. I think I’m in good shape, look good, and am a good catch – and that’s not my mother talking. All that being said, why am I reading so many articles or questions in the papers I read on Shabbos from girls or their mothers about how unfair it is that a man in his 50s or “older” wants to date a younger girl. Do they mean a 25- or 30-year-old? Sometimes yes, but many times “younger” is open-ended. The way the questions or arguments read makes me feel as if people think of me and my single friends as pedophiles.
I can only speak for myself and two other men I know in their early 50s (my friends). Why does a man in his 50s have to date a woman who is not younger than 45? Yes, those women need husbands just like we need wives, but to make me and others sound and feel like a predator or worse when we say we date a 35- or 40-year-old is wrong! Just by looking at people you can’t tell what age they are. Shadchanim and friends say that I can pass for a 40-year-old. One shadchan stupidly told me that I was “checked out” at a wedding, and when this shadchan (who was at the wedding) told the woman my age, the woman basically said, “No way.” And she was no spring flower. She was 41. What is wrong with a 50-year-old going out with someone who’s 35? I know there are men who are in their upper 50s, and even older, insisting that they will only date women in their 30s and not 40s. They are sitting at home, except for those rare times that the shadchan or a “friend” sets them up with a much younger girl and then the reason is obvious why she was willing to go out with an older man. I won’t write anything else about that, because I do not want to offend anyone, but what about those who openly offend me with their letters, articles, and words?
I have heard with my own ears – and see the moment of a blank stare – when a woman learns my age, if we have just met and begin talking. And, by the way, it’s rude to ask people you just met how old they are or try to work it into the first conversation you have with them. I know what goes on in people’s minds today: no time to waste or spare. They get down to business right away, and if the person doesn’t fit the age bracket you want, “Next!” But what about the last ten minutes when you seemed to be enjoying yourself and having a good time? How come within minutes of learning my age you soon end the conversation and move on? Wow! Can you be any more subtle? Be prepared with the next line I write: Men want to be physically attracted to a woman they date and even more so to the woman they marry. I feel like I’m shopping in the store but keep getting directed to the sale bin. I’m not saying older women aren’t attractive. Some are beautiful; but then I hear that they are looking for a younger man because they can get one because they are the “full package,” they have the job, looks, personality…but they won’t consider dating someone like me, someone close in age to them. It’s almost as if it would be unheard of or beneath them. I am being very honest. Recently, a shadchan and friend tried to redt a shidduch for me with a 47-year-old divorced woman with children and “the whole package.” But I was told she would not date me because she wants someone “younger.” Younger? I’m four years older than she is. If she was 24 and I was 29 or 30, I bet she wouldn’t have an issue with my age. And this has happened more than a few times to me and my friends.
I take umbrage to reading about older men who only want younger girls. I also think it’s not right for a 50-year-old man to insist on dating someone in her 30s and not older. I see it like Anna Nicole Smith, who was 30 and married a millionaire in his 80s, bedbound. Yes, I get it, the men want children of their own and the older the woman, the harder it may be for that to happen. But who’s to say that a 25-30-year-old won’t have fertility issues? Those men want a trophy wife on their arm, but they are far from trophy husbands that the wives would want to show off. I’m being honest here. At singles events I see men in their 60s going to the crowd of much younger women. All I am asking for is a chance with someone 38 or 41 – I don’t think anything is wrong with that. Unfortunately, a few women agree to go out with me after they hear about my job and where I live. They see dollar signs in their eyes, so they agree to go out with the old guy because “He may die soon and then I’ll get his money” or “He’ll spoil me rotten because he’s so desperate for a wife.” I have a sugar daddy radar; it usually goes off when a woman steers the conversations to exotic vacation locales, high-end designer brands. I’m not lying. This is all true. My reaction to that is almost shutting down. Now I know why she agreed to date me. Lately I have been telling women looking for a Sugar Daddy that I’m diabetic and sweets can kill me. It’s a joke; I’m not diabetic. But a few women thought I really was.
Men, more specifically, I deserve better, and not to be directed to the “45-and-older club” or called predatory-like names if we want a younger wife. Fifteen years is very acceptable, and let’s face it, I haven’t dated a 35-year-old woman in a while. I usually go out with women in their late 30s. I know plenty of couples that have an age gap of more than five or six years, and it could be either the husband or the wife who is the older of the two. Society is telling me that because those couples married ages ago, it was okay, but now it’s not? C’mon, stop spewing this garbage.
I need people to know that not all of us “older men” want the 30-year-old wife. Yes, I want children of my own, but that would be a bonus. I’d love to be a stepfather or step-zeidy. Do not lump older men together, just like women don’t want to be in the same category as others whom they feel are not at all like them or what they are looking for.
Thank you for your letter, Just Venting (JV). Im yirtzeh Hashem, I will respond next week.
Hatzlachah to you all.