This isn’t a letter asking a question, but someone telling us what he really feels and wanting others to know it as well.
I’ve wanted to write you for a long time but haven’t because I’m afraid I will rant. But who cares. You said readers can vent and you’ll listen. I just have to get this out. Years ago, you wrote about an “older man” whom you knew (in his upper 50s) who would only date women under the age 35, because he still wanted to have children. Age doesn’t guarantee anything, least of all children. You’ve also published letters and answered women who tell you their ages – 35, 40 – and complaining that men their age aren’t interested in them and only want younger women. These women write how turned off they are when they attend a singles event and men are there in their 50s and 60s when they were told the age for attendance would not exceed 50 or something like that.
I can only speak for myself. I’m a man in my mid-50s who has been dating since I was 21. I stopped when I was burned out or feeling at my lowest, but I’ve basically been on the market for more or less 25 years. I want to get married and have a family. Just because I’m a man doesn’t mean I don’t hear my biological clock ticking. The older I get, I find that I’m set up with women who either have grown children (and grandchildren), and are past that stage in life, or women who don’t do it for me, who I’m not attracted to, but was set up with because our ages were bashert, but nothing else.
I don’t want to be seen as the creepy guy at events or someone set up with a younger woman just because they think I’m past an “age limit” they set for themselves! I don’t date anyone younger than 32. It wouldn’t be appropriate. But I only want to date women in their 30s or very low 40s, because they have a better chance of conceiving a child than a woman older than that. Medical science is wonderful. I’ve heard of all the “miracle babies” being born to older parents. But they call them miracle babies for a reason.
I read your words, saying that infertility is just as much a man’s issue as it is a woman’s issue. And many times, the infertility of a couple is due to the male. But I am trying to increase my chance of having a biological child. I just don’t want to further stock the odds against me by marrying an older woman. It sounds cruel, but it’s the truth.
Is it so wrong to say I have a yearning to be a father? My best years are behind me, and I don’t want to be a father too old and arthritic to play with his child. I want to love and be loved by my child. But like I said, men my age are looked at in disgust, even pity when we show up at events or tell a shadchan that we’re looking for a younger woman. And I shouldn’t have to explain to them why. It’s as if I’m explaining something about me that’s wrong. And this isn’t wrong.
Women in their 30s marrying men more than ten years older than they are is more common today than it was years ago. It’s a double standard. Is it accepted because they are both looking for someone that age? One wants older, one wants younger and bam! They were matched. The woman is looking for older is more acceptable than a man wanting a younger woman??
I want all the single women in their 30s and older to know that we aren’t creepy or weird, and the “reason” we show up to events where younger women are isn’t because we want a trophy wife, but because we’d like to increase chances of being able to have children. No plan is foolproof, but I have to do my hishtadlus and that’s why I want to date younger.
Women can choose invitro procedures to have children if they desperately want to have children and remain single. Childless couples can hire surrogates to carry a child for them, but can you imagine if a single frum man hired a surrogate to have his child! The gossip! The horror! And for reasons that I don’t have to explain, I do not want to adopt.
My clock is chiming loud and clear as each month goes by. People have to understand that men feel the same as women do about getting older and being able to have a child. And yes, I can understand why women in their 30s and 40s don’t want to date us old men. But then we are cut off from ever having our dream come true.
Anonymous, your email blew me away.
To tell you the truth, I never thought about the male fertility clock until I watched an episode of Law & Order SVU and the topic was discussed. I know and can understand the urge of wanting to get married and starting a family before getting too old. I also knew that men wanted to have children as well because men I’ve dated have spoken about it. Until I read your words, I didn’t fully grasp that the need and want for children is the same for (some) men as it is for women.
It must be awful to think that some women may think of you and other older men as “creepy,” weird, or even desperate for showing up at singles events geared towards those under your age bracket. No one deserves to be thought of that way when their intent is just the opposite. I remember all too well when I saw “older” men at events I attended. But looking back and reflecting on your words, I see how wrong I was. I can speak for my close friends, as well, because we attended the events together, yes, we thought men your age were looking for trophy wives and felt bad for the older ladies, whether never married, divorced, or almanos whom these men didn’t want to date.
I remember writing about the man you referred to in your email; he only wanted to marry a young woman, no older than 35. His reasoning was that his rav told him he shouldn’t date older women because they won’t be able to conceive a child as easily as a more mature woman. He wanted a biological child, not stepchildren or adopted children. His rav stressed the importance of fulfilling the mitzvah of “P’ru u’R’vu.” I thought his rav was doing this man a great disservice. To eliminate women over 35 was limiting his chances considerably. I tried to redt a shidduch to him with a woman who was 40. I didn’t finish telling him about her before he said no. Unfortunately, this man passed away. I’m told that while cleaning out his apartment, a wedding gown was found for his future kallah. He had bought it years earlier. It was truly heartbreaking. Heartbreaking not just for the obvious reasons but because he limited himself with dating. He could have married someone and have been happy, even have had children, except for the limits he and his rav put on him.
You aren’t the fellow above. You feel it inappropriate to date a woman younger than 32. Your age bracket is wider. But can you still understand how a woman of 35 may not want to date a man in his mid-50s? She, too, doesn’t want a parent to her child to be too old and arthritic to play with him/her. It feels like a personal affront, but it isn’t. You can’t blame or fault peoploe for their opinions. Is it ageism? I don’t know. As you wrote, there is no age limit set in stone. Everyone sets it with what is comfortable for themselves.
My heart aches because you want something that you can’t buy or attain on your own. What you want depends on someone else. And it does seem unfair. I’ll admit to not being a forward modern thinker of Judaism, but I agree with you, it will be the talk of the town for a single man to have a biological child through surrogate. People will talk. It’s just how people are. I know someone who adopted a child from another country almost 20 years ago. She was single and desperately wanted to have a child, but she hadn’t found the right man. People did talk after the adoption. But she did what she wanted to and has lived happily since. And it’s not shocking to see her child anymore. But at the time, people had what to say.
Anonymous, I hope your words have an impact on my readers. Maybe you helped some understand why some older men act and do what they do. Yes, there are some “creepy” older men out there, but it’s unfair to group them all together. Your intentions seem pure and for a reason we can all relate to.
Hatzlachah to you all.