In last week’s column, I published a letter written by a 51-year-old gentleman who didn’t appreciate being lumped into the category of “older single men looking for a young wife.” He provided a brief dating history, saying he has gone out with all types of women for decades. Now that he is in his 50s, he would date a woman in her mid-30s, but not younger. He feels that a 10-15-year age difference isn’t that bad between spouses. But the feeling he is getting from reading articles and hearing people talk is that he is part of “the creepy old men who insist on dating younger women.”
Now I will publish my response to “Just Venting,” JV – how the writer signed his letter – except I have given him the new initials of OG. Those initials usually stand for Original Gangster, but here I prefer “Original Gentleman.”
OG, I hear what you are saying, loud and clear. Everyone in the dating parshah has a list of “requirements,” what he or she is looking for in a spouse, and age is included in that list. Personally, I do not think that a 51-year-old man dating a 36- or 37-year-old woman is robbing the cradle. I know of couples with a ten-year age difference and others where the wife is more than one or two years older than the husband or taller than the husband. I included those examples because couples as mentioned are sometimes met with raised eyebrows from those who meet them or may not know them or understand their relationship. Just as you said, your age does not define you; looks and age do not define anyone.
Unfortunately, there are those among us who are very judgmental. They are entitled to feel any way they choose, but to say that you feel like the creepy old man preying on younger women from what you have read and heard is wrong. No one can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. Yes, I know sticks and stones and all that, but a person really must have tough skin not to be affected by what so many others say. If you don’t feel like one of “those” men, the older men who will only date a significantly younger woman, then don’t lump yourself into that pile. Get the thought out of your head that you feel you keep getting directed to the “SALE” bin, as well, when people only try redting women to you within a few years of your age. Some women in their upper 40s and 50s are still the “whole package,” with their appearance and personality, and they may come along with children who will love you for making their mother happy and, as you said, being a stepfather would be a bonus.
Since you don’t want a number to define you, don’t let it define who you will date either. Forget the number; what qualities does this woman have that you like? You mentioned that you can pass for 40, you enjoy staying active by running marathons and camping out. That’s wonderful. It’s amazing what makeup, hair dye, and a little nip/tuck can do today, without making a mature woman look like her face has been pulled back to give her a catlike appearance (c’mon, we all know what I’m referring to). Unfortunately, some only hear the age and think “NEXT,” as you wrote, without giving the person a fair shot. While I agree with most of your letter, I didn’t agree when you wrote that only a certain type of woman in her 30s would date an older man. I took that to mean that there may be a disability involved here, but that isn’t always the truth. Yes, it may happen, but I know of women who like mature men and prefer to date someone ten years or older than they are. And no, they don’t have “daddy” issues. They feel they can only connect with someone older. I know couples like that.
Getting back to the issue of you being a stepfather or step-zeidy. I love that you wrote that having children of your own would be a bonus, not a requirement. By that I can tell that your feet are firmly planted on the ground. There are some men out there in their 50s and 60s who still want to fulfill the mitzvah of having their own children and won’t consider dating a woman over 40. I’m sure they have thought about this decision long and hard; at least I hope so. But I feel as if they are further limiting the pool of women that they allow themselves to date who want to date them. They are missing out on the “full package” I spoke of earlier. There are wonderful, interesting women they have totally eliminated. Who are these women supposed to date and marry? I don’t know of many cougar-chasers in the frum circles (a cougar refers to an older woman who seeks a relationship with significantly younger men). I’m not saying I don’t know of couples where the wife is a few years older than the husband, but older by ten or 15 years? I haven’t seen that in the frum circles, but maybe it does exist. Women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s also want and deserve to be married. You were correct when you wrote that the fertility issue can happen with a younger woman just as it can with older women, and it can also be because of the male, not only the female. If these older men are banking on finding a younger woman in order to fulfill the mitzvah, they may not understand that younger women may have the issue, and as I wrote a few months ago, sometimes the male is the cause of the fertility issue.
Your Anna Nicole Smith analogy was right on the mark. For those who don’t know, Smith was a “model/actress” who was in her 20s when she married wheelchair-bound oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, 89. We all know why she married him. Truthfully, I felt bad for the man. All he wanted was someone to love him. The marriage lasted 14 months; that’s when Mr. Marshall passed away. A bitter court battle ensued between Mr. Marshall’s son and his stepmother over the fortune left over. The fact that you said that you know when a younger woman dates you because she wants a sugar daddy must be a terrible feeling. But I do remember meeting women at singles events who were only interested in marrying a doctor or hedge fund manager. They made no secret about it. I found it to be disgusting. To me, the bonus would be finding someone you are attracted to, that you connect with, and he happens to have a well-paying job. Look at what’s happening today: Nothing is guaranteed, not even your six-figure salary – anyone remember Lehman Brothers?
Getting back to your original statement, I don’t think you should be grouped in the same category of the “creepy men” who only want to date younger girls. (That is how OG referred to them, I don’t think they are “creepy.” I think something else.) You yourself have your list of dating requirements and one of them is age. You will not date anyone younger than 35 for whatever the reason you decided on. You have a healthy outlook (and lifestyle). If you ask me, you are the total package (bonus points because you said you have a full head of hair). There will always be those girls, yes girls, who complain when someone ten years older than they are is redt to them or asked them outright for a date (gasp the horror!). Maybe I could see how they would decry the fact that that someone 15 years their senior wanted to date them – but I would take it as a compliment.
Truthfully, I have a friend (who may or may not be reading this column). We met on a singles Shabbaton, and he is more than ten years older than me. When we met, it never even occurred to us that we could or should date. We kept saying, “If you were 12 years older/younger” to each other. Why didn’t he ask me out? Maybe he didn’t want to look as the men you described, although he doesn’t look his age either. But nothing would have been wrong if he had asked me out.
In a nutshell, yentas and people without seichel will not change. They will speak loud and proud, no matter the location, or write their opinion. They should watch what they say or write because they may end up inadvertently hurting people like you. That is something they probably don’t think of or don’t care about, even if they do think about it. But you can rise above it. If you need to, wear a sign, “I am not a creepy older single.” But that may garner the type of attention you don’t want and can indeed make others think of you as that “creepy guy.”
Hatzlachah to you all!