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December 9, 2008 5:42 PM   Subscribe

"I didn't intend to go without sex for a decade and a half. But celibacy isn't something you necessarily plan."
posted by Brandon Blatcher (161 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tedious.
posted by boo_radley at 5:50 PM on December 9, 2008


Massive ad-attack warning?
posted by Dumsnill at 5:55 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


to; df
posted by dersins at 6:00 PM on December 9, 2008 [13 favorites]


You're telling me, boo_radley, I've been there.

Once you've passed a certain age -- older than it used to be, but still not old enough -- it doesn't matter how much you love yourself and rejoice in being a whole, warm, wonderful woman. You can't help but see that as a person, you're terrific, but as a girlfriend-unit with optional wife-upgrade port, you're unmarketable. The thing to do is to stop reading men-vs.-women lifestyle journalism, take charge of singleness (like one Miss Florence King) and stop expecting that life owes you a reward for being a pretty, pretty princess inside.

It says she's marketing a book about how to enjoy living alone, but I'm getting depressed just thinking about it.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:00 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sort of makes me think of a documentary I saw recently, A Complete History of my Sexual Failures. Hilarious but sad.
posted by Bageena at 6:03 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yikes. What a miserable angle to take in telling your life story.
posted by specialfriend at 6:10 PM on December 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sexless marriages make for even more depressing stories...it sounds as though she is reasonably resigned to life without sex. She'll be OK without it. Death, as Julian Barnes has recently written, is right around the corner.
posted by kozad at 6:15 PM on December 9, 2008


I've always thought of celibacy as something one persued deliberately. I don't think it counts as celibacy when it happens when you don't want it to. As in: I wanted to get laid but I didn't so that makes me celibate, not.
posted by Xurando at 6:17 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes these things happen. I myself had a fairly lengthy period of unintentional celibacy I called "most of my twenties."

Thank christ that's over and I don't keep thinking that everyone else has had more sex than me.
posted by mightygodking at 6:20 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. that was depressing - or at least, told depressingly, whether her situation really is or not. Altogether told in an odd way - I can't figure out what it is exactly that she does want. I can't completely agree with her take on online personals - from what I've seen from craigslist and okcupid, women are more likely to make demands about physical appearance than men are. Or maybe I just skim over the superficial male ones without them making an impression.
posted by frobozz at 6:24 PM on December 9, 2008


I would high five you, Countess Elena, but it doesn't seem quite right.

It just seems so... unfair. That the price of aging is something so fundamental and important. I can certainly attest to the ranks of men my age on dating sites as all demanding women younger than them (not to mention thinner). All I know is that I number amongst my friends interesting, solvent, compassionate, intelligent women in their forties who are pretty much coming to terms with being single for the rest of their lives. And I'm one of them.
posted by jokeefe at 6:30 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The page title -- "I was celibate for 15 years!" -- lies by omission. C'mon, editors, get it right; we notice this stuff.
posted by grobstein at 6:30 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't figure out what it is exactly that she does want.

Uh, it's pretty clear to me-- she wants a committed relationship with somebody she love and cares for, and she wants to have sex within that relationship. The rest of the article is about the making of compromises in the absence of that.
posted by jokeefe at 6:32 PM on December 9, 2008


I liked this article - I appreciate her slightly melancholic take on love, lust and sex. I wonder if maybe her sensible pragmatism is a contributing factor. As I was reading it, I had the fleeting temptation to poach it, re-work it from a male framework and then post it as a profile to some online dating site, just to see what kind of reaction it might get. But laziness gets in the way.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite MeFi comments from Alvy Ampersand.
posted by isopraxis at 6:36 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


After ten years of raucous bachelorhood I was celibate for two years in my late twenties - no sex, no nothing, nada. Wouldn't you know, I married the next girl I kissed.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:39 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's sad, it's unjust, but...women complaining that men prefer younger women is futility on a scale comparable to shaking one's fist at the sun coming up each morning. Biology's a bitch, that's just the way it is and always will be.
posted by you just lost the game at 6:41 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


For every forty-and-older woman who has resigned herself to lifelong celibacy, there is another one planning her wedding or happily boinking someone. I know older women who have gotten married; I know older women who have sex.

It reminds me of age discrimination in employment. You hear of older people who can't find jobs for love or money and resign themselves to retirement or working at Home Depot. And, on the other hand, you hear of older people starting new careers or reinventing their old ones.

What makes the difference? Luck? Location? Attitude? Appearance? A combination of several or all? Just in my experience, being older doesn't necessarily mean celibacy or underemployment, but it certainly can. And it's not just about luck, nor is it just about "having the right attitude" or "creating your own reality." The author of the linked post sounds resigned and defeated, and for all I know that contributes to her lack of horizontal bopping. Maybe her picker is broken. Or maybe she's attractive, intelligent, sociable, and a real sweetie pie to be with, but she's had incredibly bad luck.

I don't think all older women are necessarily "unmarketable" but it's not just a matter of creating your own reality and "attracting the partner you deserve" either. Just like having a college degree and living in an area with a decent economy helps in the job market, there are attributes (appearance, personality, earning power) that help with relationships too.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:41 PM on December 9, 2008 [12 favorites]


It's sad, it's unjust, but...women complaining that men prefer younger women is futility on a scale comparable to shaking one's fist at the sun coming up each morning.

The author of the Salon piece also seems to believe that the Danny DeVito-like men who demand slender twentysomethings in their internet dating profiles are actually getting slender twentysomethings.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:46 PM on December 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


I call utter and complete bull on you, "you just lost the game" (fitting that your handle matches the nasty and sad tone of your comment). There's more going on here than what you term "biology", with its dramatic and idiotic shades of evolutionary psychology scraped from controversial headlines and news snippets. Sure, biology is, as you say, "a bitch" -- another funny turn of phrase -- but the culturally-dictated whims of men and women are a far cry less predictable than the rotation of the earth.
posted by theefixedstars at 6:50 PM on December 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


Does anyone else think she's so uncomfortable with sex that she needs to visit Good Vibrations pronto?

I'd also suggest CA over MN, but I'm biased anyway.
posted by Pronoiac at 6:52 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


> And, hey, the toilet seat is always down, and I control the TV remote. The cats don't criticize; I haven't been subjected to Monday Night Football in years. Things could be a lot worse. And I hear a $15 pocket rocket can do wonders.

LOLMENARESUCHLOSERSAMIRITE?

"And, hey, my stuff is always where I left it, and I control the TV remote*. The dog doesn't nag; I haven't been subjected to a chick flick in years. Things could be a lot worse. And I hear a $__** Fleshlight can do wonders."

* this one works both ways
** I don't know how much a Fleshlight costs, and I'm not about to look it up
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:59 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


theefixedstars: Could you please enlighten us as to the 'more' you speak of? Older men desiring younger women has always seemed pretty pan-cultural to me. I'd be interested to hear of some counterexamples.
posted by pompomtom at 7:01 PM on December 9, 2008


So I moved back to Minnesota, where I'd gone to college, planning to surf the second wave of husbands.

Ew. No sex for you, creepy bitter lady.
posted by nicwolff at 7:02 PM on December 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


I know plenty of guys who are into potential flings with older ladies. Hell, there's even a pretty major porn niche for it these days, which has to be indicative of something.

So it sounds to me like this writer has yet to learn the most important life-lesson of all: lower your standards.
posted by bardic at 7:09 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm always skeptical about extrapolating a trend from stories like this. Especially when, buried deep down on p2 is this:

And I suppose it would help to leave the house. I am quite reclusive, as most writers are, and unless some drywall guy who reads Russian literature shows up on my doorstep, it is highly unlikely that I will meet an available straight single man any time soon.

And this:

''...unwilling to risk any further rejection...''

Not leaving the house = not meeting anyone at all = a more direct cause of her long dry spell than any dramatic shortage of blokes willing to get jiggy with a 40+ woman, I suspect.

If you want to see what fish there are in the sea - never mind hook one! - you have to go out on the water. Sure, the waterways in your part of the world might be overfished. Maybe fishing is tough, it rains, your line gets tangled. You have to throw a lot of what you catch back because it's undersized. Maybe you don't catch anything in the end, who knows. But you've still got more chance of finding a fish if you actually go fishing, than if you just gaze longingly at the ocean from shore. This essay makes me think of someone standing on the jetty wondering why a dolphin doesn't leap out of the sea and into her arms.
posted by t0astie at 7:11 PM on December 9, 2008 [17 favorites]


She should get her a nice dog (1:19 minutes in).
posted by ND¢ at 7:14 PM on December 9, 2008


If she wanted sex, she could have had it. She clearly states, however, that sex wasn't a priority for her. All of the risks she claimed to take to get things moving are a big yawn.

Next week she can write about how she hasn't eaten meat for a decade, but not because she's a vegetarian or anything -- it just never sounds good when she has a menu in her hand. But still, isn't that crazy??
posted by hermitosis at 7:15 PM on December 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Pompomtom: Unfortunately, and as you probably know, there isn't much evidence history has to offer in the way of "counterexamples". However, just because history has been unkind to women on many fronts, and often treated them as little more than property, I hope to think that humans are capable of more. The fact that history shows us only scant evidence that women can be scientists or leaders does not, I hope, mean that men will always dominate these fields so exclusively.

What do women's careers and achievements have to do with at what age men find them attractive mates? Older men seem to call the shots, so to speak, in choosing mates because a) they can provide for a family, and b) it is more culturally acceptable and attractive to have a young 'trophy' for the a good lot of the powerful to have a superficially attractive trophy on their arm than a partner who is an equal in maturity and wisdom (which is not to say that young beautiful wives are across the board vapid -- I don't think attractiveness or girliness is in any way linked to intelligence or curiosity). If women were able to be better providers, than they would have more power in choosing their mates. I hope that women with their own independent means become more of a norm and thus make successful women less like a boogie man, for lack of a better term, to men.

Has marriage not always been, more than anything, an economic arrangement? I am inclined to think that the values of men and women as mates has as much, if not more, to do with economic and cultural values than simply biology. It is true that some biological facts--men are generally stronger than women, men can father children later in life -- will not change, but that does not mean that men (and women) can be excused from talking about what's really going on, instead of saying, "it will never change, this is the way we're built, stop complaining!"
posted by theefixedstars at 7:21 PM on December 9, 2008


She should get her[self] a nice dog (1:19 minutes in).
posted by ND¢ at 7:14 PM on December 9 [+] [!]


now that's just not appropriate.
posted by Auden at 7:23 PM on December 9, 2008


Just another western woman fed lies about love and sex.
posted by sfts2 at 7:24 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's my own fault, I know. I'm picky. Casual sex doesn't do it for me. (I've always thought I had to be in love in order to make love.)

Well, shit. There's some story about how you're waiting around for God to save you from some terrible fate or another and God sends you a lifeboat and a submarine and Batman and a unicorn with a sign on its ass that reads I'M SENT FROM GOD, MOTHERFUCKER and...oh hell, you know how that story goes. I wonder if she's ever heard it?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:34 PM on December 9, 2008 [18 favorites]


People expect celibacy about as much as they expect the Spanish Inquisition.
posted by MikeMc at 7:48 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm always skeptical about extrapolating a trend from stories like this. Especially when, buried deep down on p2 is this:

You don't have to look that far, check out the 3rd paragraph in the article:
"It's my own fault, I know. I'm picky. Casual sex doesn't do it for me. (I've always thought I had to be in love in order to make love.) I regard men with ambivalence, with alternate longing and fear. I've grown accustomed to being alone."


Anyway, the article was an interesting look at how a person comes to terms with being in an unwanted position in their life. I suspect all the positives the author mentioned as a benefit of being alone would be out the window if she found someone to have sex with. However she hasn't, so she makes do and finds positive things to replace the lack of sex and life goes on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:49 PM on December 9, 2008


She was taught that she had the power to choose her mate; that she could control men by playing hard-to-get; that she had a duty to avoid thinking of sex as something casual and friendly. I blame society.
posted by tehloki at 7:49 PM on December 9, 2008 [8 favorites]


It says she's marketing a book about how to enjoy living alone, but I'm getting depressed just thinking about it.

The guy version is pretty depressing too.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:53 PM on December 9, 2008


two words : fuck buddy.
posted by liza at 7:55 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes when we're not getting what we'd prefer it's easier to just give up and say, "Well, I never really wanted it anyway." I never fully understood that viewpoint, although I think everyone here would be kidding themselves if they claimed they hadn't used that copout before.

What I find depressing is when people give into it fully, and it dictates large parts of life. What I find annoying is when they brag about it, in a weird mix of self pity and pride.
posted by piratebowling at 8:02 PM on December 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


What's really depressing about that, fleetmouse, is that neither the woman writing the original article, nor a real version of the character in that video, would deign to date one another.
posted by nat at 8:03 PM on December 9, 2008


She was taught that she had the power to choose her mate; that she could control men by playing hard-to-get; that she had a duty to avoid thinking of sex as something casual and friendly.

WTF? I didn't get *any* of this from the article. Quite the contrary, in fact. It seemed that she was more than happy to give it up when she met men that she liked, but casual sex didn't push her buttons.

Given her age, my guess is that chances are that growing up in the 60's, she'd had more than her fair share in her youth and decided that wasn't what worked for her as she got older. That describes pretty well every woman of my age (around the same as the writer) that I know.

And who doesn't have the power to choose their mate, other than people in arranged marriages and rape victims?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:04 PM on December 9, 2008


theefixedstars: judging from your certainty on the issue, I presume you have citations of peer-reviewed research to back up your assertion that male preference for younger females is cultural and not biological. Links please.
posted by greenie2600 at 8:10 PM on December 9, 2008


I adore men -- they are so different from women -- and I'm intrigued by the way they think.

But maybe they are not so intrigued at being studied like bugs?

I think her problem is pretty clear:

I know I could walk into any bar in town and leave with some guy willing to come home with me for a one-night stand -- but that feels so sordid and ugly to me. I have known what it is to enjoy sex with love, in the context of a committed relationship -- comfortable, familiar, married sex, if you will -- and anything less than that feels sad to me. I would rather sleep alone than give myself away.

How does she expect to have a relationship if she isn't willing to start one? I'm with her on casual sex (it's depressing and unsatisfying)... but unless you go to the bar (or the coffee shop, or the online dating, or wherever one finds real, live people), how can you possibly hope to even begin to sort the casual from the serious sex?

What a sad piece, but not for the reasons that she wants it to be. The purpose is to elicit sympathy, but my reaction is just to roll my eyes. If she wants a relationship, she has to start by being open to other people. If she doesn't want that, then don't complain about the results, you know?
posted by Forktine at 8:11 PM on December 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


This woman has my pity, but I refuse to acknowledge her as someone left on the side of the road while a beauty-obsessed and shallow material culture that doesn't regard her as valuable whizzes by, when she clearly isn't playing to her strengths or doing the right things to appeal to the kind of men she wants.

Guys who drive forklifts and drywall houses are rarely the same guys who read Russian literature. While I would love to spend all day talking about medieval/roman/greek military history and mythology to a Playboy bunny who tears my clothes off every night - part of maturity is compromise and we don't always get to live our fantasies, and I suppose related to that - the "having sex" versus "making love" thing is really a just a matter of the stamp one puts on the experience.
posted by Deep Dish at 8:12 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, and as you probably know, there isn't much evidence history has to offer in the way of "counterexamples".

So what you're saying is, he's right, but he shouldn't be?

Well, I agree. It shouldn't be. And yet it still is.
posted by ook at 8:15 PM on December 9, 2008


Wait a minute, someone says the fact that have men have dated and will always date younger women is as certain as the sun coming up and as unlikely to change, and I say there's more to it than biological factors, and you're asking *me* for "peer-reviewed articles"?
posted by theefixedstars at 8:20 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Could you please enlighten us as to the 'more' you speak of? Older men desiring younger women has always seemed pretty pan-cultural to me. I'd be interested to hear of some counterexamples.

and then

I presume you have citations of peer-reviewed research to back up your assertion that male preference for younger females is cultural and not biological. Links please.

sweet Inanna, what can i say? do we really need to proffer an annotated list of examples from history wherein an older woman digs a younger man &/or vice versa? or maybe an older dude & a young man? matron & maid? do y'all really think desire is always foiled or channelled by difference in age? cuz if so, yr living on a different planet then me

you want citations? how about this: um, where are yours, Mr. Certainty-Pants? i mean, i know that it's known as a fact that men prefer younger women - everyone but everyone knows that - still, i'll only show you mine if you show me yours - and no fucking Maxim surveys! something scientifical! and not just a damn "study" (i.e., we asked 30 people & this is what they said) but something confirmed over multiple investigations, in a variety of cultural contexts, from a wide sampling of subjects - oh, and "peer-reviewed" too, ok?

It's sad, it's unjust, but...women complaining that men prefer younger women is futility on a scale comparable to shaking one's fist at the sun coming up each morning. Biology's a bitch, that's just the way it is and always will be.

oh wait... are we just talking about patriarchy? because if so then i have to say that: a) yes, patriarchy is a bitch but b) no, there are definitely things to be done about it (& that get done about it all the time)
posted by jammy at 8:20 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, I've been there. I didn't have sex until I was way older than 15.
posted by klangklangston at 8:24 PM on December 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


ook, all I'm arguing for is the possibility for progress. I don't think that the fact that historically women gave been chattel valued for virginal beauty means that the fact that men always date younger woman is some pure universal truth.
posted by theefixedstars at 8:25 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The trouble is, there are so many reasons for it being hard to find relationships. In this case, I think the observation "why I kept choosing men who were smart and funny but critical, sarcastic and merciless like my father" would make for fruitful analysis.
posted by raygirvan at 8:29 PM on December 9, 2008


That essay is a whole lot more entertaining to read if you imagine that it was written by Jean Teasdale.
posted by hermitosis at 8:30 PM on December 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


crap...this is going to be me in 12 years...

How about starting up MeFiDate service?
posted by Jenny is Crafty at 8:33 PM on December 9, 2008


As the "men seeking younger women" issue, I don't know if it's cultural or biological, but I think it's definitely one of the syndromes of the singles-ads circuit. Years - blimey, decades - back, I used to subscribe to Singles mag, and the two chief moans on the letters page were a) women complaining that men advertised for younger women, and b) men complaining that women advertised for tall, "solvent" men.
posted by raygirvan at 8:36 PM on December 9, 2008


Across many cultures men and women prefer younger and older mates respectively, says Martin Fieder, an anthropologist at the University of Vienna in Austria. In theory these age preferences make evolutionary sense, he says.

Martin Fieder at the University of Vienna and Susanne Huber of the University of Veterinary Medicine, also in Vienna, Austria, studied the Swedish data and found that a simple equation related the age difference of the parents to the number of offspring. For people who had maintained monogamous relationships throughout adulthood, the most children were found in couples where the man was 4.0 to 5.9 years older than the woman.

The probable reasons behind this state of affairs are not controversial: "Men want women younger than themselves because they are physically attractive," says Fieder, while women tend to prioritise a partner who can provide security and stability, and so tend to opt for older men."


I apologize for my stupid and unnecessary use of the word "bitch" in my earlier post, but don't shoot the messenger.
posted by you just lost the game at 8:39 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Until you walk a mile, my friends, until you walk a fucking mile.

I could have written this article myself - and I'm not depressive or sad or pathetic or "creepy" or anything! - and some of the comments about this woman or women like her in this thread make me want to punch someone.

You have no clue, none whatsoever. Ug.
posted by tristeza at 8:43 PM on December 9, 2008 [9 favorites]


crap...this is going to be me in 12 years...

How about starting up MeFiDate service?


You had me at crap...
posted by Deep Dish at 8:55 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


YJLTG -- there's no reason for me to shoot the messenger! Not that I would anyway, but : Prof X and Y saying "this happens in a couple cultures we've studied (to, you may note, varying extents-- and the 4 or 5 year difference in Sweden is hardly what the people scrolling the dating ads are complaining about) -- oh, and in my opinion, this makes sense evolutionarily" is hardly the conclusive proof the world rotates on. Especially because the news article you quote clearly addresses the idea that this is far from an accepted truth, is culturally dependent, and the (scant) reasoning they do give for age differences are economic and not biological.
posted by theefixedstars at 8:58 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


sigh... what message exactly does the messenger bring?

from the first article (the only relevant bit):

Across many cultures men and women prefer younger and older mates respectively, says Martin Fieder, an anthropologist at the University of Vienna in Austria.

citations, please? unless of course it's just because ol' Martin Fieder said so

from the second article:

The probable reasons behind this state of affairs are not controversial: "Men want women younger than themselves because they are physically attractive," says Fieder, while women tend to prioritise a partner who can provide security and stability, and so tend to opt for older men.

these are not biological reasons, right?
posted by jammy at 9:00 PM on December 9, 2008


I apologize for my stupid and unnecessary use of the word "bitch" in my earlier post

btw, thanks for saying this - for all the snarkiness in my previous comment, i appreciate it
posted by jammy at 9:04 PM on December 9, 2008


theefixedstars (and others), I think you're confusing some closely related but distinct issues.

On the one hand, there is the question of whether men's preference for younger women stems from biology or from acculturation. (I don't think anyone has claimed that this is a universal fact that applies to all men in all situations, but it is a pronounced tendency, and I agree with the poster who said the tendency is a universal fact that isn't going to change.)

Here's at least one study which suggests that older-male, younger-female pairings are, in fact, a significantly more effective reproductive strategy than the alternatives (and therefore a behavior that is strongly favored by natural selection).

Don't confuse an explanation for a behavior with an excuse for that behavior. Explaining why men prefer younger women is not that same as condoning it. (Personally, I believe that people should be free to screw whoever they want, provided the partner is a willing adult—and I see no need to make excuses for it—but that's a separate issue.)

After all, for some individuals, rape is an effective reproductive strategy. And this has zero relevance to the moral value of rape. I can believe evolutionary psychology's explanation for the behavior, while still counting rape among the most reprehensible of crimes. You don't have to like it, any more than you have to like the fact that evolution has programmed alligators to eat you. It just is.

On the other hand, there is the question of whether or not we, as a society, are willing to accept particular behaviors. I think anyone with two brain cells to rub together will agree that equal respect and opportunity should be extended to women in every aspect of life. Evolutionary science and gender equity are not incompatible belief systems.

Still—and this is what the original commenter was getting at, I think—genetically programmed urges aren't going to change—at least, not without (a) significant changes in our environment which cause different programming to be favored by natural selection, and (b) a few million years. Of course, certain genetically programmed urges should be resisted (by the individual) and actively discouraged (by the society)—murder is natural too, after all—but I don't agree with the feminists who label any male behavior they don't like as "patriarchy". It's possible for you to dislike a behavior that's entirely within someone's rights under any conception of a democratic society.

If a younger women and an older man decide that it's in their mutual interest to screw, and both of them are happy with the situation, where's the problem? What does it matter whether they behave this way due to biology or due to acculturation? I hate to put it this way, but you're the only one with a problem in this situation.

At this point, you're probably of the opinion that I just don't get it. I admit it: I don't. So please tell me: If I were a man who preferred significantly younger women (I'm not), how would you have me alter my behavior in a way that would (a) satisfy your complaint, and (b) not infringe upon my democratic right to do whatever I want, as long as I'm not hurting anyone?

If you don't have an answer to that question, then what you are getting mad at is biology. You're telling me I'm a contemptible bastard not because I'm hurting someone, but because my genes—over which I have no control—have predisposed me toward behaviors that you don't like. How would you react if a guy called you a bitch for ovulating?
posted by greenie2600 at 9:14 PM on December 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


Years - blimey, decades - back, I used to subscribe to Singles mag, and the two chief moans on the letters page were a) women complaining that men advertised for younger women, and b) men complaining that women advertised for tall, "solvent" men.

I'm not sure what shift has occurred, but since I was a teen through my mid-twenties, at least, I was surrounded by women who were only interested in guys older than them. This idea that men date younger women -- like it's something that's done to them is a tad offensive on its own.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:14 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Men choosing younger (i.e. more fertile) women so they can have more children isn't a biological thing?

Whatever. I'm not a scientist. In my original post I said it was sad and unjust, but that doesn't change the reality of the situation, which is that generally speaking (and, yes, there will always be exceptions), men prefer to mate with younger women. We can argue over the reasons for this, but it's a fact borne out by every nightclub, online dating service and porn site in the world, not to mention the life experiences of the author of the article we're discussing: "I hoped to encounter a former college flame or two, maybe one who was older and wiser and interested in some substance. I found instead that my male peers were pursuing 25-year-olds."

Now, I grant you, the chances of a worldwide societal shift away from the older men/younger women dynamic occurring are better than that of the sun not coming up tomorrow...but not by much.
posted by you just lost the game at 9:18 PM on December 9, 2008


Or, what greenie2600 much more eloquently said.
posted by you just lost the game at 9:20 PM on December 9, 2008


If a younger women and an older man decide that it's in their mutual interest to screw, and both of them are happy with the situation, where's the problem?

The answer to this, unsurprisingly, is that to some younger men and some older women it is an outrage.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:37 PM on December 9, 2008


Greenie, I never said that men dating younger women was morally wrong -- nor did I intend to bring morality into this discussion, but perhaps I did so. The idea that men who date younger women is somehow morally reprehensible was not my point. My point is, I don't think you can take research showing that men mate with younger woman (at least the research that we've seen -- a total of 3 articles pointed to 2 studies, by the way, if I counted right) and get anything like a solid, conclusive explanation for the behavior. Sure, you can come up with some pretty good theories, but there doesn't seem to be a way to say, "Eureka! I have found a reproductive strategy!" This is guesswork at best. Sure, educated, peer-reviewed, expert guesswork (not the articles we've discussed in this conversation, but the papers they quote)...but still. It's theory.

Do the biological theories make sense? Yes. But saying that it makes sense is a lot different than saying it's an irrefutable truth based on our biological makeup alone. There is a lot more going on

You seem to think I am angry at biology -- I'm not. If I'm angry at anything, it's this idea that because "reproductive strategies" have seemingly been relied on, that to discuss any different behaviors is basically futile. I will refrain from thinking that you envision me as some hysteric. :-)

Oh -- and Durn Bronzefist, I kind of agree with you. I think that women make these kinds of decisions also.
posted by theefixedstars at 9:46 PM on December 9, 2008


Hey all, this whole argument about whether or not men are "pre-programmed" to like younger women is boring and tedious and I wish you would stop. Although I suppose this sort of thing was inevitable given the subject matter.

God, sometimes I really wish this site supported threaded discussions.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:55 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Older men and younger women pair up because "older" and "younger" are on some level social constructs. A more appropriate phrase to consider is "sexual viability," and the undisputed biological fact is that men maintain a longer period of sexual viability than women.

Now, whether or not it is fair to base all potential relationships on sexual viability is an interesting and not easily answered question. My intuition leads me to believe that long term relationships rely only in part on sexuality, and that people who don't initially relate to one another sexually can still engage in and maintain meaningful human relationships (sex included!). So there seems to be some merit in questioning the status quo, however biologically based it may be, because you may not need a sexual introduction to lead to romantic relationship.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 10:08 PM on December 9, 2008


Older men and younger women pair up because "older" and "younger" are on some level social constructs. A more appropriate phrase to consider is "sexual viability," and the undisputed biological fact is that men maintain a longer period of sexual viability than women.

A "longer period" wouldn't explain at all why young women would preferentially seek out men older than their peers. Unless you want to suggest that the "sexual viability" of the older male is greater, which I suppose is arguable.

Also, Mrs. Robinson was not a nice woman. Not exactly "creepy", but not some kind of positive role model for December-May interaction, either.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:25 PM on December 9, 2008


Also: you ever realize that you're *smack* dab in the middle of a conversation you don't want to be having?

How does one refresh one's drink on Metafilter?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:32 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I note that her article jumps into "my therapist says" territory pretty fast, and I therefore regarded it as therapeutic; catharsis motivated by her therapist.

Observations:
* She "makes plans" to have a long-distance casual partner start getting a degree. This is far beyond casual-sex levels of planning.

*A comprehensive list of alternatives follow; a man who apparently wanted more commitment than she wanted; a rejection of online dating that lies somewhere between Jerry Seinfeld and Dorothy Parker; and ultimately a rejection of lesbian parterns (a seemingly exasperated way to imply "you see? I've tried everything")

*She's too spiritually weary to enjoy masturbation.

*Finally, a weighted analysis of her fear of rejection. She doesn't have sex, she's not married; but at least she isn't in a loveless marriage or divorced. This last point reinforced by her update on a former lover -- "Hey, at least it didn't happen to me!".

Perhaps this would make more sense to me if I were living in New York. Subsequent readings have just reinforced my initial opinion: this is a tedious piece of writing to have endured.
posted by boo_radley at 10:34 PM on December 9, 2008


(Statistically speaking, as a trend, disclaimers etc etc) women aren't interested in older men; they're interested in richer men. Men who are rich tend to be older. Interest in Russian literature is not a pastime of the working class.

And the only reason I am reading this thread at all is I just listened to two hours of Gossip Girl in the other room. Get a hernia, Blair!
posted by breath at 10:44 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of one of my favorite jokes:

There once was a woman who was very good. She was completely selfless. She volunteered. She went to church every day. She was a fine upstanding member of the community.

Even though she was so good, she was very poor. She always thought that if she had more money she could do more good. So each night she prayed to God and asked that He let her win the lottery so she wouldn’t have to worry about money and could concentrate on doing more good.

She spent her entire life living a saintly existence and continued to pray to God to win the lottery.

She lived well into her nineties and finally died never having won the lottery.

Naturally, she was ushered right into heaven and found herself face to face with God.

“Welcome to Heaven!” His great voice boomed, “You were so good on earth, you really deserve to be here. Make yourself at home.”

“I am very happy to be here!” she replied and then meekly added, “But I have one question. When I was alive on earth, I did everything I could to be good and I only asked for one thing in return. After all those years, why did you not allow me to win the lottery? I could have done so much more good with all the money.”

“Well,” God said, “I actually would have loved to have let you win the lottery, but don’t you think you could have met me half way and bought a lottery ticket.


You gotta be in it to win it.
posted by funkiwan at 10:44 PM on December 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


Eleanor Rigby'd, kinda?
posted by aliceinreality at 10:54 PM on December 9, 2008


I would propose that very few people go after someone who is explicitly older or younger. Rather people go after those they find attractive. In general this tends towards younger for men and older for women, most likely for several reasons, including biological, psychological, and sociological factors. But to complain that guys (or girls) are going after members of the opposite sex that are +/- 10 years older than them as if it is an insult to the author or a de facto bad thing is unproductive.
posted by moonbiter at 11:15 PM on December 9, 2008


I don't know if I'm young for metafilter or not but I think older women are hot. Its an extremely common fantasy for dudes and it would make the life of a young dude for an older woman to spend some time with him and make him feel comfortable with the emotional, sexual and communicative sides of relationships.

If there are any sugar mamas looking for love in the Bay Area, holler at a scholar! I'm young, dumb and emotionally available!
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 11:51 PM on December 9, 2008


Hey, I didn't have sex for two decades. And then I lost my virginity. Does this mean I get a Salon article? <>
posted by Xere at 11:57 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sex sexy sex sex! Let's talk about our sexy sex positive sex, or talk about not sexing our sexer sexing. Sex! Because sex is sexy sexy sexier sex, and no sexual sex is notsex.

Man it was already tiresome even when I was young. Male or female, old or young, the problem is not what how occupied your genitals are, it's how occupied your heart and mind are. The two may be interrelated, but only somewhat.

Note: I have not read the article, because any URL with 'salon' in it is blocked at my work, because in Korea, 'room salons' are places men go to get poured drinks and jerked off by young female sex workers. Ironic, that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:04 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would propose that very few people go after someone who is explicitly older or younger. Rather people go after those they find attractive.

In a person's teens/twenties? Extremely common. At least, these were stated intentions/preferences. ("Oh, I'm not interested in guys my age -- they're ____ while older guys are ____")
I don't put much stock in mind-reading methods, especially as they pertain to the opposite sex.

G'night, MeFi.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:11 AM on December 10, 2008


The dating market it turns out -- tragically, yes, tragically -- is quite literally a market.

As a rule of thumb, when lonely men complain about how they don't have a partner because superficial women are only interested in money and status, etc, what they are really saying is that the women they think they deserve are only interested in money and status, etc. And what are the qualities of these women they think they deserve? Youth and beauty you can bet.

And when lonely women complain about how they don't have a partner because superficial men are only interested in youth and beauty, etc, what they are really saying is that the men they think they deserve are only interested in youth and beauty, etc. And what are the qualities of these men they think they deserve? Money and status you can bet.

Don't get me wrong, the bitter lonely lament deserves sympathy; I think most dating market value is the sum of lucky opportunities (of both the genetic and experiential sort). But the BLL is also solipsistic narcissism. There are countless men that would be more than happy to have this women. She just doesn't want them. And when you dissect the reasons for this, they are just as cold and primal as the reasons the kinds of men she won't compromise for less, don't want her.
posted by dgaicun at 12:20 AM on December 10, 2008 [24 favorites]


If someone thinks they're "unmarketable" in any situation, that thought's probably gone a long way toward making it so... .

More specifically, as a mid-40s guy (who is not hideous; obese; unusually short; a sociopath; a sex pig or a moron; is making a decent, professionally employed living; has diverse interests; actually has manners) who wants to meet women my age, I've encountered no shortage of women and lose count of the times it became clear their approach was, "Oh, did I mention that my requirements include tall, dark and handsome; owning a nice house; driving a pricey car; etc.?"

(Understood that there are no shortage of men who seek women in their age range or otherwise and have similar requirements.)

Too, being damaged by past experiences to a point that it takes a serious toll on the present is most certainly not confined to one gender (or orientation), but encountering that has been far from rare.
posted by ambient2 at 12:30 AM on December 10, 2008


I too don't really see "haven't been able to get laid" as being the same as celibacy.
I'm a guy in my 30s, the optimal time to grab those sweet-young-things apparently, but I've been celibate for nearly 5 years now. On purpose. Different priorities in life, etc etc.
If you don't put yourself in situations where you could meet someone, you won't. It's pretty easy.
Sadly, lots of people seem to get into that state unintentionally and don't realize it. Then they spend their days whining about how terrible it is, instead of fixing the problem.
posted by nightchrome at 1:12 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If my favourites weren't buggy, I'd favourite dgaicun.

I could have written this article myself - and I'm not depressive or sad or pathetic or "creepy" or anything! - and some of the comments about this woman or women like her in this thread make me want to punch someone.

Look pretty standard for this type of article being discussed on MeFi. Of course, it's usually mocking some guy complaining about his inability to get what he wants, but whatever.
posted by rodgerd at 1:29 AM on December 10, 2008


She sounds clinically depressed.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:12 AM on December 10, 2008


Oh BOO HOO. Cry me a fucking river, build me a bridge, and get the fuck over it.

When I return to the dating pool in 5 years or so - assuming I live that long - and the only thing I'm interested is girls a decade younger than me, the reason won't be because they are hot, young, without that added bodyweight and wrinkles and sags that my peers will then have (that's just an added bonus). The reason will be that THEY AREN'T MY PEERS. You know what's wrong with the women who went through their twenties when I was going through mine? They wouldn't have me when they could have. They were too busy being interested in older guys with more money, more experience, more maturity, more what the fuck ever.

This is a cycle you brought on yourselves, and now you're getting old enough to see the results of it. Don't blame me for something that's your fault. I spent my decade of lonely singleness in my twenties because of it, now you get to spend yours a little later. HAVE FUN.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:19 AM on December 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


The dating market it turns out -- tragically, yes, tragically -- is quite literally a market.

Tragically? Can you think of an alternative that wouldn't be horrifying?

Seriously, I know the free market is slightly less popular than toe fungus right now, but if the liberals ever decide to redistribute love and sex from each according to ability, to each according to need, there's going to be riots.
posted by roystgnr at 6:30 AM on December 10, 2008


You know what's wrong with the women who went through their twenties when I was going through mine? They wouldn't have me when they could have. They were too busy being interested in older guys with more money, more experience, more maturity, more what the fuck ever.

I've read versions of this a thousand times, so I'm not dismissing it as totally made up and off the wall. But my own twenties weren't like this at all. I knew a few women who were dating much older men (like, twenty or thirty years older), one guy who was really into the Mrs Robinson experience, and everyone else I knew was dating (if they were dating at all) within a few years of their age.

Again, my life is probably unrepresentative in all kinds of ways. But I have just never, in my entire life, faced the situation where every woman I asked out would say "no, I prefer older men, thanks anyway." (The problem of them all just saying "no," however, has happened.) So I have to wonder, where were you finding these women, and why were you not searching out the thousands of women that age who are happy to date same-aged men?

Just like with this article, my bet is not on a social phenomenon, but on user error instead.
posted by Forktine at 6:37 AM on December 10, 2008


From seeing the fine cast on YouPorn, trust me, there is someone for everyone. This girl is just lazy.
posted by dasheekeejones at 6:38 AM on December 10, 2008


Could we just say that the whole modern dance is tragically flawed in many respects (I take this article, divorce statistics, and the miscommunication that is an undercurrent in many sexual assaults as the flip-side to urban domesticality), and as our mating rituals grow so increasingly complex and neurotic; it becomes increasing difficult to say "wanna hang out" without a huge amount of expectations hanging over the proceedings (god damn if I want to be anyone's soulmate. That's quite a role to fill, and today I'll be lucky if I can manage to remember where I left my keys)?

Most courtship rituals fulfill a need, and it is increasingly apparent that the rituals no longer serve us; we serve them. Might as well just start from scratch.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 6:45 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is a cycle you brought on yourselves, and now you're getting old enough to see the results of it. Don't blame me for something that's your fault. I spent my decade of lonely singleness in my twenties because of it, now you get to spend yours a little later. HAVE FUN.

Well, at least you aren't bitter about it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:13 AM on December 10, 2008 [11 favorites]


Wow. Like jokeefe and tristeza, I could almost have written this article and I'm really delighted to discover via this thread that I'm tedious, unattractive, have unrealistic expectations and, best of all, it's all my own fault. You know what? It's never easy to date and it's never easy to find or be in relationships and as you get older, it gets exponentially more difficult. For those of us who don't seem to do well with computer dating, it gets damn near impossible even when you do go out to bars and theatres and restaurants and gallery openings and have a whole crowd of fun and wonderful friends of all ages and sexes. Almost everyone I know is married; that's great for them and I'm happy for them but somehow, some way, dating and relationships - and sex - seem to be something that's done and over and finished for me and for a lot of women my age and, no, it isn't something we planned or thought would happen and yes, it does occasionally tend to make us a bit melancholy.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:17 AM on December 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Don't blame me for something that's your fault.

It goes done easier if you don't it personally.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 AM on December 10, 2008


It goes down easier if you don't take it personally
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 AM on December 10, 2008


Wow. Like jokeefe and tristeza, I could almost have written this article and I'm really delighted to discover via this thread that I'm tedious, unattractive, have unrealistic expectations and, best of all, it's all my own fault.

As so often, though, people who can be induced to write about their intimate life on Salon or elsewhere are likely to be particularly poor exemplars of any general phenomenon. For example, the article's author appears to believe that there are only two kinds of sex - long-term married sex and cold unfeeling sex in the toilet of a dive bar (neither of which apply to any sex I've ever had, FWIW...) She wants to go from being single to already being in a deep, loving, long-term relationship, which is just conceptually impossible. And she seems to have confused not liking casual sex with avoiding the potential for casual sex at all costs, when I can't help feeling she'd be happier embarking on a whole varied bunch of social experiences on the understanding that probably it'll end up involving one or two nights she doesn't look back on with glowing pride.

Whether that makes it her own fault is a tricky question since we don't choose our beliefs in the simple way many self-help books would have us think. But they are our beliefs, and we can change them.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:34 AM on December 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm really delighted to discover via this thread that I'm tedious, unattractive, have unrealistic expectations and, best of all, it's all my own fault.

Weird, the article was about one particular woman, so it's interesting that so many see this article as a trend or something universal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 AM on December 10, 2008


The article resonated with me, remarks about dildos aside.

'Sometimes when we're not getting what we'd prefer it's easier to just give up and say, "Well, I never really wanted it anyway."

It seems to me she's not doing that. Like the author, I admit that living on my own was not by choice, though it is mostly own doing. There comes a point that admitting a condition exists makes more sense than pursuing something for many years with no results.

being older doesn't necessarily mean celibacy
I understand the definition of celibacy as a commitment to channel the libido to a higher purpose, and includes avoiding masturbation. This should cut down on the number of claims (by men at any rate), to approximately: 0. Nightchrome, if your commitment extends this far, I congratulate you on a worthy and difficult undertaking.

'unless you go to the bar (or the coffee shop, or the online dating, or wherever one finds real, live people)...'

Bars: really not such a good idea - getting intoxicated and shouting at people over loud music is not, in my experience, conducive to starting a romance.

Coffee shop: - sorry, the odds are terrible of finding a single, attractive person who is not being paid to be there are very low.

Online dating - haven't tried this yet - HEY! GOTTA RUN!
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:39 AM on December 10, 2008


Obviously the answer is to get to work on DateMe.
posted by waraw at 7:42 AM on December 10, 2008


But if we're going to view this as a trend, it would interesting to see male vs female trends and how that might vary from country to country, while tossing in marriage vs single.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 AM on December 10, 2008


I don't understand what the big deal about this is.


posted by plep at 8:13 AM on December 10, 2008


I'm another person who is always surprised when men say they had a hard time dating women their own age when they were in their twenties. Just anecdotally, my group of friends never showed that behavior at all. Only one of my female friends married a guy more than 3 years older than her (and they met when grad students so he wasn't professionally more advanced or richer). Now that we are in our 30s, I only have one male friend who is dating a woman who is significantly younger (about 10 years) and that's certainly not because he's more accomplished or rich or anything...I think his girlfriend just likes him for who he is and the age wasn't a huge factor.

I do wonder whether men so say they've experienced that are just making assumptions about the women who wouldn't date them.
posted by miss tea at 8:16 AM on December 10, 2008


The odds of meeting an interesting single person in a coffee shop may be low, but if you're a recluse who never leaves your house the odds of meeting someone anywhere are exactly goose egg. This is a huge issue with the author of the original link, I believe.

As I see it, there's a tendency to fall into two extremes: if you're not getting any, it's because you're flawed somehow and it's all your fault and if you just get out there and don't be too picky you'll be married in no time! OR men just don't like older women and it's hopeless and might as well give up and blah blah resignationcakes.

Neither extreme is true, JME. Sure, it's tougher for an older woman. It's a LOT tougher if you live in an area where there are not a lot of available men to meet, and it's also tougher if you don't like computer dating. It's tougher if you have strict parameters (older! college degree! same race! no children!) for any future partners. But it's do-able. In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, "improbable doesn't mean impossible!"

Again JME, what happens a lot is a particular woman is poorly placed to compete in the "market" for whatever reason (appearance issues, a passle of kids, poor social skills, etc.) and it's compounded by verrrry selective standards about who she will date. Then she runs into a string of bad dates/relationships which leaves her wounded and afraid to put herself out there again. And so the downward spiral goes into The Land of No Sex. It's a confluence of personal factors, personality traits, poor location and bad luck.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:17 AM on December 10, 2008


Eleanor Rigby'd, kinda?

Nobody came?
posted by owtytrof at 8:38 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tragically? Can you think of an alternative that wouldn't be horrifying?

Nope, and that's the tragedy. I wish we could have the alpha females (males) of our dreams, by being the alpha males (females) we all could have been given the right random luck. But we can't.
posted by dgaicun at 8:49 AM on December 10, 2008


I was celibate for fifteen years, and I vowed to NEVER GO BACK!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:09 AM on December 10, 2008


"Just anecdotally, my group of friends never showed that behavior at all."

The only people in my social group that dated significantly outside of their age range were losers. This includes my best friend's sister, who married at 20 a guy in his mid-30s because he had a "nice truck" and a house in the exurbs, the passel of guys I knew who dated high school seniors and college freshmen when they were on the ass end of abandoning their dissertations and hanging out at Denny's all night, and my best friend who, for a year and a half, seriously planned to marry a 19-year-old until she dumped him to "find herself." Fortunately, loserdom is transitory, at least in his case (he's a great guy, he just tends toward relationships with the type of passion, drama and stupidity that only a young girl can give him).

But hey, my first great relationship was with a woman who was six years older than I was.

And while my experience is obviously colored by being in a college town, all the single older women I know who have picked up partners in the last year or so have done so by going after younger men, usually grad students or junior faculty (but occasionally carpenters and tree surgeons).

Frankly, from reading the article it sounded like the author was too bound up in traditional gender roles and was resorting to lame stereotypes without realizing that it was those stereotypes that had her stuck. She was the engine of her own unhappiness.

Also, and again, colored by growing up in a college town, while I don't know any drywall hangers who have an interest in Russian literature, I know a former (now unemployed) substance abuse counseling administrator who can read Aramaic and Ancient Greek, a line cook who translates Chinese poetry for fun, a line worker in a bindery who is an authority on Viking ships and Muslim trade routes, and a line worker in a violin factory who can talk easily about DJ Spooky's detournment. The idea that you can't be working class and well-educated and even intelligent is one that I find risible and obnoxious.

Finally, for her, obviously, the lack of sex or mutually fulfilling relationship is worth not compromising on what she finds important. For other women? I rather doubt it. And I also rather doubt that anyone who is in a mutually fulfilling relationship hasn't made some compromises along the way. There is no perfect woman; there is no perfect man.
posted by klangklangston at 9:28 AM on December 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


I wish we could have the alpha females ... of our dreams, by being the alpha males...

As a man, at least, you can.

Or, rather, "Whether you think you can or can't, you're right."
posted by LordSludge at 9:28 AM on December 10, 2008


Oh noes a big ugly dildo! In the hand... in the BED! While you sleep! WOE AND GROSSNESS! She lost me there.

Protip to the frigid old biddy: GETTING OFF IS GOOD FOR YOU.

Get yourself off, regularly.

You'll be happier, like those inexplicably, annoyingly happy, go-gettin' men you're so jealous of.

Or at least it'll keep you off the computer a little more. Jeez, what a carpy downer.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:36 AM on December 10, 2008


The idea that you can't be working class and well-educated and even intelligent is one that I find risible and obnoxious.

I hope you didn't get that from my post. For a period of time, I was a cashier with several academic credentials.. but let's be realistic. Walk on to a construction site and ask the following questions:

1) Hey guys, do you want to explore the themes of Lolita?
2) Hey guys, do you think Brock Lesnar will win his next fight?

Tell me where you get more results. It's called playing the percentages, its what smart managers do to win ballgames.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:39 AM on December 10, 2008


Seconding Deep Dish re Occam's razor. Yes, of course there are Jiffy-Lube attendants who enjoy Proust and janitors who play the viola (and we have all probably known a few people like this) but it is foolish to be offended by the assumption that most don't.
posted by applemeat at 9:51 AM on December 10, 2008


Oh noes a big ugly dildo!

It was orange.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:52 AM on December 10, 2008


The hardest part of the human interactions involving dating are getting the point where you'd possibly meet someone you'd want to date, and I really don't think the writer wants to go to bars, coffee shops, parties, or random neighborhood social events just to be social.

You don't have to find a date, or even a close friend at any of these things. You just have to meet people, develop socially, and branch out. Amazingly, the people you will meet also may run in different social circles, not all of which go to bars, coffee shops, and whatever else you aren't that interested in. After a number of outings to these places, you might find someone and never have to go back to them at all! But for some, the route less traveled is the choice because it's not worth the distasteful bits between.
posted by mikeh at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


The idea that you can't be working class and well-educated and even intelligent is one that I find risible and obnoxious.

I get the impression the author of the article would still end up rejecting them because they would need a trophy degree to reassure her they were really educated.
posted by rodgerd at 10:41 AM on December 10, 2008


mgl and tristeza, thank you. I was avoiding this thread because I had a pretty good idea of how it would go, and I didn't want to have to engage in the mockery and finger pointing and "biology's a bitch" and so on and so forth; but I'm glad I did, because I got to read your comments and I'm grateful.
posted by jokeefe at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2008


And she seems to have confused not liking casual sex with avoiding the potential for casual sex at all costs, when I can't help feeling she'd be happier embarking on a whole varied bunch of social experiences

Well, you know, maybe. But I don't get anything out of casual sex, either, and by that I mean that it's not necessarily that I find it sordid or anything like that; I have no moral qualms about anybody else doing it. I mean that I get no pleasure from it. Literally. I can't come with a stranger. Capiche? So why would I bother? And as far as friends with benefits: if I like somebody enough to sleep with them, why wouldn't I want to have a relationship with them?

There's something else that happens as you get older, too: I realize that I value friendship very, very highly. So highly that I might, for example, stay "mere" friends with the (unhappily) married man I know, because that's better for both of us: we get to hang out, there's no drama.

Anyway, that's probably enough to say about this. I just really wanted to link arms with mgl and tristeza, and acknowledge how complicated this whole thing is, and the pull between independence (which is pretty heady if you've been a single mother, like me, for the last 15 years and are now living alone for the first time in your entire life) and intimacy, which we all need as human beings.
posted by jokeefe at 10:52 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yikes. I'm not sure which makes me feel worse... an article which buys the notion hook line and sinker that any woman over 40 has to accept her fate of fate being totally undesirable 'til death... or some of the comments I'm reading in here.

I went through a chunk of my 20s, when I was my very most physically attractive, trying my best to avoid sex despite being a totally romantic person who was approached by interested men constantly (I had a very public job). I wished I could've relaxed and accepted their advances gracefully like a "normal" woman... but having been attacked it took me a long while to relearn how. I felt socially retarded and I couldn't get over the inner feeling that sex wasn't about pleasure anymore for me... rather, when I could tell someone was attracted to me I panicked that I might be in danger... there was some core part of me that felt he didn't want to get to know me, that his instints were to corner me and take something away from me. I couldn't tell the difference between bad men and good men anymore and I knew that wasn't fair but I felt like I couldn't take a chance and be wrong. I was scared of dealing with it... so I just kind of backed away entirely. Took decades for my guard to finally get back down and for me to fully let go and be totally vulnerable with a man in bed again... and by then although I was a LOT better at sex, I wasn't the hot thing I used to be. Didn't help that I was working at home, either. I was a bit of a hermit.

I relate to what the article said about treasuring your independence so much that you shut down though... because that's kind of what it became for me. I was used to taking care of myself, and to be in relationships you have to be willing to *partner* with someone and put the relationship first at times. I think that's the issue more than anything for women over 40. Or perpetual bachelors for that matter. If you aren't willing to let someone else feel they are as important as you are or to stop judging them on a higher standard than you want yourself judged, it's easier to stay alone and bemoan that nobody wants you.

So here's the thing... rather than resign myself to being a sexless spinster? I read books and took classes on how to have better, healthier relationships with people. I started getting regular makeovers, did my hair, slapped on some makeup and bought more feminine, form-fitting clothes. I decided to make an effort to look a bit more presentable and attractive when leaving the house instead of wearing sweatpants and putting my hair in a ratty ponytail. And then? I LEFT THE HOUSE. Yep, I went outside and tried to interact with the people in my path on a social level. During my time outdoors I talked to men and women both, I smiled at them, we chatted about things big and small and I behaved like a member of a community that was bigger than my apartment. If men flirted with me I didn't pay attention to whether or not they were young enough to be my sons, I just enjoyed myself. I just tried connecting with people. Funny thing? Quite often when I left the house I met people who actually wanted to date me. Which never happened when I sat on my couch.

That said, I don't do internet dating anymore because on match.com I find people to be much more focused on what year I was born than they are when they're looking into my eyes. I look and act like I'm in my mid-30s, yet most men who write me on match are over 55, often somewhat fat, and *really* not my type. It's become a bit of a joke really. Honestly, at this point in my life I'd like to spend way more years having sex with a guy (now that I'm able to enjoy it) before I have to change his diapers.

Biology isn't always fair, but like everything it's all about attitude and what you make of it. We all make our own choices in life. When things don't turn out the way we dreamed of for ourselves it's easy blame them on age, genes, society or whatever but we can't always do that. If you accept it, you're just acting like a victim... which is totally unattractive to begin with. I've had my share of regrets but if I ever listened to what most people told me I should or shouldn't have expected for myself in life, I would've led a definite life of quiet desperation instead of the interesting one I ended up with. I would've married my first boyfriend (even though I didn't want to), popped out a few kids before I was 24, never traveled outside of the country (why leave San Diego?) and I'd probably have developed a healthy alcohol addiction too, since that's in my genes as well. I was actually disowned for deciding to go to art school and become a designer because my mom felt everyone knew artists were bums and I'd have no future. Instead, I was supposed to be a newspaper journalist... because journalism was a solid career and newspapers were never going to go out of business.

Funny how conventional wisdom can be off sometimes...
posted by miss lynnster at 10:53 AM on December 10, 2008 [13 favorites]


frigid old biddy

Nice.
posted by jokeefe at 11:00 AM on December 10, 2008


If dating and sex and finding partners and lovers were so hard, you would think no one would be able to do it. Yet lots of, I would even say most, people do. Funny, that.

Certainly, very few people find the perfect relationship. But that's just life.
posted by moonbiter at 11:05 AM on December 10, 2008


Aw, Allkindsoftime, I'd offer you a hug if I weren't afraid you'd try to grab my ass.
posted by neblina_matinal at 11:12 AM on December 10, 2008


I tried internet dating when I was in my mid/late twenties and while I was open to dating men who were older, I had one simple rule that I would only respond to those whose age range included their own (ie they weren't just looking for younger women). That pretty much ruled out anyone more than 5 years older than I was.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:22 AM on December 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Bars: really not such a good idea - getting intoxicated and shouting at people over loud music is not, in my experience, conducive to starting a romance.

Coffee shop: - sorry, the odds are terrible of finding a single, attractive person who is not being paid to be there are very low.


Comments like this really make me scratch my head and wonder if we are just living in different worlds or something. I don't spend a lot of time in bars, but there are two local bars/pubs that I have a beer and a burger at every week or two. They are both about the same. There's a jukebox in the corner, but unless you are there after ten pm the music isn't loud at all; you can easily have a conversation without raising your voice. The customers are a real mix of academics from the university, students with decent fake IDs or who are actually 21, construction workers from nearby job sites, groups of office workers, and couples of all ages out on a cheap date night, plus the usual all-day drinkers bellied up at the bar. There are a couple of TVs showing random sporting events with the sound turned down, so you have something to look at if you don't want to talk to anyone. And the bathrooms are even clean. The people I meet there are exactly the same people I meet at the local grocery store.

Almost everywhere I've traveled, I've been able to find bars like these. Even the chain ones aren't that bad, if that's all you have near you. Just regular, local places with ok food and decent beer selections, not gritty biker bars, or hoity toity upscale places where you get laughed at for not being able to pronounce the drink name in the right accent. And the people in these places are simply the same people who live in the social worlds we inhabit -- the people who post on MeFi, eat at restaurants, work at the DMV, or whatever. Regular people, just like you and me, all of us unique snowflakes.

And my local cafes have a great mix of people, some of whom want to do their own thing and some of whom are there to flirt and chat. It's a pretty direct cross-section of my community, minus those who are poorer and who work longer hours. So if no one in a cafe meets your standards, I think the problem is your standards, not the people drinking coffee.

(Obviously the deeper issue here is whether cafes and bars are actually good places to pick someone up -- there are probably better options, like online dating or a church singles group, where everyone is upfront about looking. But my point is that this sort of preemptive ruling out of, well, basically the entire population of the world, as not meeting one's standards is going to result in exactly one outcome. If you don't actually want to be single, you are going to have to relax your standards just enough that an actual real, live, and flawed person could meet them.)
posted by Forktine at 11:29 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Certainly, very few people find the perfect relationship. But that's just life.

Yes, but that's one of the problems... when women are conditioned from childhood to believe that one day they will find *the one* and then *everything will be perfect* and *their true love can fix anything*... and real, lasting relationships aren't perfect. They're messy and a lot of work and nothing about them is instant. So if *the one* doesn't show up on cue, or if things aren't as smooth as *true love* is supposed to be, it's easier on the ego to claim victimhood, give up and bemoan society than question whether or not your attitude and expectations are/were an issue and maybe you need a more open perspective.

Also doesn't help when people who *aren't* women buy into the negative cliches and name calling instead of making an ounce of effort to view experienced women with the same respect as they allow experienced men. Because frankly... we're not all disgusting old wrinkled biddies after 35, and now that we're old enough to not be buying into the fairy tales, many of us are waaaaayyyyyyyyy better in the sack than our twenty-something selves were. Seriously. We know what we're doing now, and what we like. And not only that, we're not having nervous breakdowns and insecurely overthinking every little thing every five minutes like we did in our first relationships.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:36 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sorry, jokeefe, but her self-pitying, resigned tone is a real fucking whinge, and she does not display what I would consider a warm attitude toward the role of sexuality in life. She made that bed to lie in, with her horrific orange dildo. That she bought. And is now, disingenuously perhaps, ashamed about. As if modeling that attitude isn't bad for her readers who might want to have something like that as a personal comfort. That's a bitchy thing to do, and it makes my sympathy for her plummet. It's a reinforcement of prim, impossible, inadvisable ideals. Expressed timidity to get your rocks off because it's a mess or whatever is an repressive contagion I thought we'd just about eradicated.

Part of me thinks a lot of this is caused by the "get your career established first, make your name" mindset a lot of post women's lib women were influenced by. As if the threat of succumbing to domesticity were real. Putting off pleasure is, well, unpleasurable. Figuring out how to inhabit your sexual self as early as possible pays dividends your whole life long. I can understand the regret if she feels like she missed the boat there because she was too fucked up for some valid youthful reason to get into the swim with her peers, and of course it mirrors the same regret people who just fall in love, marry young and live for a long time in simple domestic bliss experience, if they begin to pine for more of a career. But they have their comforts. I say get those comforts lined up as a priority. We're powerful women, we're only human.

On preview, miss lynnter has yet ANOTHER aspect of women's acculturation that stands between us and realistic happiness. Man, this needs fixing. Too bad this article is nothing like helpful on the topic.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:43 AM on December 10, 2008


but let's be realistic. Walk on to a construction site and ask the following questions:

1) Hey guys, do you want to explore the themes of Lolita?


You might get a few that have read Nabakov and snigger at you for mistaking the job site as an appropriate context for a literary discussion. Then they might explain what you meant to a few other guys who, depending on how much tolerance they have for nuance that day, could kick your face in for asking if they read a book where a man rapes an adolescent girl eventually leading to her death, you know, not realizing it's canonized literature and all.
posted by mrmojoflying at 11:49 AM on December 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


"I tried internet dating when I was in my mid/late twenties and while I was open to dating men who were older, I had one simple rule that I would only respond to those whose age range included their own (ie they weren't just looking for younger women). That pretty much ruled out anyone more than 5 years older than I was."

And now you're the chickenhawk!

"The people I meet there are exactly the same people I meet at the local grocery store."

Except buzzed!

Yeah, I have similar experiences to Forktine—if you don't like the bar, usually it's because it's the wrong bar for you. Luckily, I've found that there are a huge variety of bars here in this United States, and you can usually find one you like.

The appeal does diminish if you don't like drinking, I can understand that. And I have little desire to hang out at cafes, because too much coffee means that I can't sleep. But still, it feels like she's forgotten that social skills are skills, and skills have to be practiced or they'll atrophy.
posted by klangklangston at 11:49 AM on December 10, 2008


I call utter and complete bull on you, "you just lost the game" (fitting that your handle matches the nasty and sad tone of your comment).

I think he means The Game, not The Game.

polysemysterical
posted by formless at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2008


horrific orange dildo
She's laughing at the dildo and towards the end of the article, she mentions another kind of vibrator without scorn or laughter. Is it not okay to mock sex toys? In my experience, dildos are many things but comforts, they are not and I'm with her on giving them up. Snark at her writing all you want, disagree with her parameters - although I don't think she set out to write the article as a chipper Here's How to Beat Them Sex Free Blues piece but as a sort of personal musing on her own situation - but resorting to fairly sexist, fairly loaded names like biddy and calling her frigid, another loaded term, is a little much.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:00 PM on December 10, 2008


jokeefe: I don't get anything out of casual sex, either, and by that I mean that it's not necessarily that I find it sordid or anything like that; I have no moral qualms about anybody else doing it. I mean that I get no pleasure from it. Literally. I can't come with a stranger. Capiche? So why would I bother?

My point wasn't that you should pursue activities that you don't find enjoyable. It's that life generally goes better when you let it lead you where it will (within certain obvious boundaries of safety and health, of course). And that the author of this original piece seems to exert much energy to avoid putting herself in situations where casual sex might be one of the results. Based on what she writes, I just think she'd be better off putting herself in all sorts of situations, maximizing the number of interactions with people, accepting that some of them aren't going to be glorious successes. We all do plenty of stuff in life that gives us no particular pleasure, but we do it because we figure that in aggregate it's the route to stuff that does.

(As an aside, the assumption that casual sex never leads to a deeper relationship seems flawed and not matched by my experience. A one-night stand is only defined as such by the failure of anything else to happen subsequent to it.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:05 PM on December 10, 2008


Then they might explain what you meant to a few other guys who, depending on how much tolerance they have for nuance that day, could kick your face in for asking if they read a book where a man rapes an adolescent girl eventually leading to her death, you know, not realizing it's canonized literature and all.

I would calm them down by saying that what their colleague described was plot, not theme and I know someone who he should meet.

Plus I swore off Russian literature after I attempted to read Crime and Punishment, I have never read Lolita (I've seen the movie). I am a little curious about the Brock Lesnar question though...
posted by Deep Dish at 12:28 PM on December 10, 2008


mygothlaundry, I loaded those terms myself. I'm not snarking at her writing, I'm downright offended by it, by its resignation to no new growth, and its effect on other women who might read it. I find it upsetting. Maybe I'm just too happy and horny and young and naive to understand, or many too into this notion of wielding sexual power as a crucial tool of feminism, or maybe I'm spoiled by knowing so many talented, positive, passionate, older single women, but I don't see the point of just griping about sex when you're semi-accidentally eschewing its procurement. Either own your asexuality as is or work on fixing it if it's a problem. I don't like complainers. That's a personality trait of mine, and a strident one.

So, if she set out to write about how it was, culturally, hard for her to let go of the partnered ideal, or accept her waning sexual appetites, I wouldn't mind that a bit, but she's whining that she never got hers and yet continuing to model the, to use the non-loaded terms, hung-up, prim, reserved, self-pitying, self-absorbed, complaining attitudes that got her there, for us all to see. So I call her dumb, and accuse her of giving up and falling, nay throwing, herself into a stereotype by her own uncreative approach to her problems. And, in a way, promoting that surrender to her readers. BOO. No surrender, say I! (see aforementioned young rabid sex feminist acknowledgment).

So, sorry for going there with the terms, but yeah, I'm slurring her. AS a her. And that's not very nice of me, and I'm usually nicer, but I'm not in a very nice mood and this attitude outright chafes me. In my nicer mood, I would say to her "Girl! Don't talk like that, you're reinforcing your problems, you self-sabotager. Stop self-sabotaging! Own it! Your journey to this point is a fascinating story worth sharing with people, who will love you and want to know you!" But negativity kind of tends to compomise reactions to it. I hope you understand what I mean.

My oversight, though: she says the dildo was a gift, she would probably never buy such a thing, but she does say she doesn't use it because she hid it away in embarrassment.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:34 PM on December 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


When I return to the dating pool in 5 years or so - assuming I live that long - and the only thing I'm interested is girls a decade younger than me, the reason won't be because they are hot, young, without that added body weight and wrinkles and sags that my peers will then have (that's just an added bonus). The reason will be that THEY AREN'T MY PEERS.

Hi! Are you in prison?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:51 PM on December 10, 2008 [7 favorites]


this is pathetic and i feel sorry for her. but then i feel bad for pitying her because that's exactly what she wants so i feel like an enabler.
posted by shmegegge at 12:51 PM on December 10, 2008


for christ's sake.

And I suppose it would help to leave the house. I am quite reclusive, as most writers are,

as most WHO are? most writers I know go out often, drink like a fish and get laid like a brick. that's both sexes.

also, is she a writer? i looked her up at amazon, nada. wikipedia, nothing. google tells me that, if it's the same kit naylor from minneapolis, she works for a Business writing and consulting firm, and that she wrote "Get Results with Practical PR" (which, again, comes up with zero on Amazon). but hey, she's got facebook, linkedIn, twitter and now this salon article.

God, the whole thing is so sad and pathetic. It's the story of a sorry woman all alone telling herself she's a writer and writing sad articles about how lonely she is as a lonely writer. shit, you just want to grab her and be like "you're doing it wrong! you're doing life wrong! what could you possibly have to write about EXCEPT being lonely and sad?! go do something! please!"
posted by shmegegge at 1:06 PM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Jesus, there's a lot of inexplicable hostility in this thread. Contempt, disgust, revulsion. I'm not sure why some of you are responding so strongly to the article and/or the woman who wrote it. allkindsoftime, you come across as a cretinous asshole. Some of the rest of you aren't doing much better.

Anyway, I wandered away from here, because this whole discussion is kind of upsetting-- I can live without the young folks lecturing the older about how they should approach their lives when those young people don't have a clue-- and only popped back in to share a random thing. I was going to write about how it gets difficult, as a woman getting older, because there's a lot of prejudice about the importance of looking young, and, you know, being over the hill and old and ugly and so on. But I didn't want to get into that, really, because it's tiring and I have better things to do. So I'm reading Gawker-- hardly the stuff of deep thinking, I know-- and come across this little item, blasting Carrie Fisher for daring to grow older and become stout. One of the comments? "Some people should just disappear while they still look hot." So, you know, that's just a random example. This sort of thing happens a lot, and it's not all that good for morale, even if you know that it's idiotic. It's the culture that we live in. Lots of men get publically celebrated for being sexually active when they are older (Nicholson, Hefner) but a sexually active older woman is only visible, in the culture, if she manages to somehow disguise her aging and look younger than she is.

Anyway, as I was saying, there's an odd emotionalism in the comments here that seems out of proportion to the essay itself.
posted by jokeefe at 1:18 PM on December 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Ambrosia Voyeur, according to your profile, you're 27. Get back to me in 20 years and we'll see how you feel about your blithe prescriptions for her sense of "resignation". I see a bit more nuance there than simple defeat.
posted by jokeefe at 1:21 PM on December 10, 2008


And here I thought gracefully acknowledging my youth and naivete as qualifications to my deception of this essay might have been sufficient protection from facile ageist invalidation of my opinions. I guess I do have a lot of learning left to do.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:33 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lots of men get publically celebrated for being sexually active when they are older (Nicholson, Hefner) but a sexually active older woman is only visible, in the culture, if she manages to somehow disguise her aging and look younger than she is.

Do you mean when my peers (late 20s) refer to Hugh Hefner and talk about how he's old enough to be the grandfather (or even great grandfather) of some of the women he's around and shudder a little, or is it when we admit that his sex life probably doesn't involve that much sex? Maybe it's the creepiness factor that's played up in the tabloids you're on about, because I know that there's just as much "eww, gross" going on in commenting about that sort of thing as their is bro-style, high-fiving praise.

Kit Naylor's (eponysterical?) article isn't a criticism of dating society, or the difficulty in attempting to date. It seems more like an introspective piece to me, explaining why she's chosen a route that might be melancholy in some ways, but it's her choice. While this thread might tread the path of criticizing some of her statements, I would like to think it's because chosen melancholy isn't seen as a good choice by a fair portion of the MeFi population and seems like whining to those people.
posted by mikeh at 1:46 PM on December 10, 2008


sorry, deception should have been "reception."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:52 PM on December 10, 2008


and I meant "as there is," the typos are fast and furious from my keyboard today
posted by mikeh at 2:08 PM on December 10, 2008


I can live without the young folks lecturing the older about how they should approach their lives when those young people don't have a clue

Ambrosia Voyeur, according to your profile, you're 27. Get back to me in 20 years and we'll see how you feel


OK, fine, so you're not interested in listening to the thoughts or opinions of anybody younger than yourself. This seems a little unfortunate, especially in the context of a thread where the very subject-matter is the irrational dismissal of people purely on the basis of their age.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2008


And here I thought gracefully acknowledging my youth and naivete as qualifications to my [r]eception of this essay might have been sufficient protection from facile ageist invalidation of my opinions

Given that the essay in question was written by a 55 year old woman, about her experience of being a 55 year old woman, no, actually. I don't lecture my seventy-five year old mother on how she should accept being old and should conquer all with a postive attitude, nor do I make insulting assumptions about her self-image or how she regards her place in the world.
posted by jokeefe at 2:14 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can live without the young folks lecturing the older about how they should approach their lives when those young people don't have a clue

then by all means enlighten us. honestly, i'm so young and clueless that i honestly can't see the nobility or accomplishment in spending 15 years wanting sex and love, as she repeatedlly admits, but refusing to do anything to get them. maybe it's because i'm so young and clueless, but i know people her age who have sex, and love, and have acquired them late in life. sometimes it follows a divorce, sometimes just a lifetime of unsuccessful dating, and sometimes it's about rediscovering the fire in a failing marriage. My best friend has a coworker he's become very close to who told him "you don't understand. sex is so much better with 40 and 50 year old women" after he experienced a divorce and had to thrust himself back into the dating pool.

so please, clue me in about how it's not possible to find love and lust when you hit middle age, and how this woman had no choice but to become a tired old shut in complaining about her shitty sex life she does nothing to fix.
posted by shmegegge at 2:16 PM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, after reading this article and thread, I'm really only left with one question - why in the world would somebody write an article like this?

I mean, did her editor ask her to do it? "We want a piece about depressing people who can't get laid. Hey Kit, you haven't had sex in a while, why don't YOU write this article?"

Or was it the sort of thing where she was like, "I'm going write this article about my just-kinda-meh life." Who the hell does that? And why? If she doesn't want people to feel sorry for her.... what exactly is she trying to accomplish here? Try to get us down? Is she trying to make some political statement? Make us glad that we aren't her?

What exactly is going on here?
posted by Afroblanco at 2:26 PM on December 10, 2008


There's also no reason to assume any of "us young people" are clueless. I have people in my life, my favorite aunt, for example, who are around 50 and single, and I get why that's so hard for her, and why she finally caved 12 years ago and had her daughter on her own, too. First, there's the problem of access, just not enough singles around, and then there's the problem of pressure, of feelings of not enough time left, and the problem of figuring out how to date at an age when there's just not a lot of social structure to guide the way.

But also, there's the inherent problem of age, of being more and more and more settled in your lifestyle, being more your own person, getting what you want for yourself, spending your time on pursuits it's taken you till the prime of your life to perfect, being uninterested in bullshit wastes of time, and sometimes therefore not flexing your boundaries or compromising or taking huge risks.

She seems to be carping about this latter phenomenon in herself, but it's completely something she can change. I don't accept that old dogs don't learn new tricks.

But I'm with Afroblanco, too. Why write this... and why FPP it?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:39 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm 40-mumble, so I feel I have the right to comment and speak from experience. I call BS on the "all older women are undesirable, unwanted and should just give up" idea...and I also call BS on the idea that if an older woman can't get a date, it's all her own fault for being a reclusive whiner, too picky, et cetera. It's just not as simple as either extreme.

I can get dates and I'm in my 40's...but I'm also lucky enough to be weight-proportionate and, while not drop-dead gorgeous, easy on the eyes. I have no kids. I have good social skills, and a cheerful disposition. I'm willing to try new things, and I'm not easily discouraged. AND I live in an area where, despite an alleged "shortage of straight men," there are plenty of unattached men and it's not looked on as weird or abnormal to be single in one's 40's. I'm willing to date online and I don't have a foot-long laundry list of demands and preconditions for a man or relationship.

The point of all this TMI is to say that "older women can't get any" is right up there with "A degree in English is useless" as "it ain't necessarily so." But it has been known to tip the balance. I was told by one of my girlfriends that dating was easier for me because I am of average weight, and if you're overweight it's tougher. Older women don't have to be rich or beautiful - I'm not! - but there are circumstances that can make it difficult. So I'm not calling BS on Jokeefe or Mygothlaundry or anyone else who agrees with the linked author. YMMV, always.

I do, however, call BS on the "women in their 20's want older men!" idea. That wasn't true for me and my friends, or for anyone else I knew. Most relationships take place between people who are within 5 or so years of one another. I suspect that if a man in his 20's is going without sex, there could be all kinds of reason but women dating older men en masse is not one of them.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:52 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


My boss, when he turned 50, made an off-hand comment about how much more tired he was than when he was 40. I told him that 50 was the new 30. He shot me a rueful look saying, "Anyone who says that has never been 50."
posted by mrmojoflying at 2:53 PM on December 10, 2008


Why write this... and why FPP it?

As to why FPP, see here.

Why write it? I respectfully submit that even asking that question is sign of the different outlooks of age. Again, I don't mean that in mean way, but if I were 55 and hadn't done the deed in 15 years, I'd probably be examining and writing it also.

It's easy to look at the author and spot all the "bad choices" or "wrong decisions" she made and mock or hate her for it. It's easy to spot where she could have done things differently and smugly think "Hell, that ain't gonna be ME," but I have to wonder who among us won't reach 55 and look back and at certain choices we made and think "well, I could have done this different, but that was long ago, so I'll have deal with those consequences."

On a personal note, I also posted it as a guy approaching 40 who's felt diabetes kill off some (but not all baby!) of his sex drive, it is comforting to know if it did die off, it would not be the end of the world. We all grow old and our lives may not turn out exactly as we want, but we can adapt, if we choose, and find pockets of contentment and happiness.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:08 PM on December 10, 2008


There's also no reason to assume any of "us young people" are clueless. I have people in my life, my favorite aunt, for example, who are around 50 and single, and I get why that's so hard for her, and why she finally caved 12 years ago and had her daughter on her own, too. First, there's the problem of access, just not enough singles around, and then there's the problem of pressure, of feelings of not enough time left, and the problem of figuring out how to date at an age when there's just not a lot of social structure to guide the way.

But also, there's the inherent problem of age, of being more and more and more settled in your lifestyle, being more your own person, getting what you want for yourself, spending your time on pursuits it's taken you till the prime of your life to perfect, being uninterested in bullshit wastes of time, and sometimes therefore not flexing your boundaries or compromising or taking huge risks.


I take it back. This is a thoughtful and perceptive comment.
posted by jokeefe at 3:35 PM on December 10, 2008


not_that_epiphanius: I said I was celibate, not a masochist.
posted by nightchrome at 4:27 PM on December 10, 2008


Hi! Are you in prison?

No.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:28 PM on December 10, 2008


I'm another person who is always surprised when men say they had a hard time dating women their own age when they were in their twenties. Just anecdotally, my group of friends never showed that behavior at all.

Gotta say I agree. I never had a dry spell of more than a few months in my 20s, generally in medium to long term relationships with women my own age or up to around three or four years younger. And the same would be true of just about any male peer I can bring to mind.

Conversely, in my 30s now & inevitably with more of that alpha kinda stuff going on, it's hard for me to see where these hordes of young women seeking older men might be hiding. Not that I'm exactly seeking them out; it's just not a behaviour that I've noticed much, and it's not as if I've morphed into some kind of George Costanza lookalike.

(must admit, though, that this rings a bit of a bell: "You so value your independence that in order to ensure it you fall in love with [wo]men who are not available" - heh heh, what an awesome strategy!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:34 PM on December 10, 2008


Conversely, in my 30s now & inevitably with more of that alpha kinda stuff going on, it's hard for me to see where these hordes of young women seeking older men might be hiding.

Oh, man, I've got these topless girls in schoolgirl skirts parachuting into my yard all the time, UbuRovias. It's amazing! The minute I hit thirty, it was suddenly coed central around here. Seriously.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:28 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Plus I swore off Russian literature after I attempted to read Crime and Punishment,

I never tried. I loves me some Bulgarkov, though.

...you come across as a cretinous asshole[...]there's an odd emotionalism in the comments here that seems out of proportion...

Pot, kettle.
posted by rodgerd at 6:35 PM on December 10, 2008


Oh, man, I've got these topless girls in schoolgirl skirts parachuting into my yard all the time

damn, they must have been blown off course by all the climate change.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:44 PM on December 10, 2008


google tells me that, if it's the same kit naylor from minneapolis, she works for a Business writing and consulting firm, and that she wrote "Get Results with Practical PR" (which, again, comes up with zero on Amazon). but hey, she's got facebook, linkedIn, twitter and now this salon article.

And now this MetaFilter thread, which will end up the top - or very close to top - google result on her name.

Also, "Get Results with Practical PR" - well, I'm sure as hell not buying that book!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:08 PM on December 10, 2008


As she is a "writer," I would have expected her to have read some Edith Wharton by now - her works and biographical speculation. That's all I'm saying.

Also, for Christ sakes. Can I write an article for Salon about how I've always wanted to speak another language but it doesn't come easily to me and I don't want to take classes or buy CDs or go to immersion camp?

(During my 20s, the oldest man I dated was at least in his 70s, which didn't stop me from frolics in my age group. Just a data point on that issue... doesn't mean the world owes me a 20-year old when I hit that age.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:27 PM on December 10, 2008


As I read that artice I could not help hearing in my head the voice of Andy Rooney.
posted by contraption at 9:32 PM on December 10, 2008


Wow, checking back in much later and... the assumptions. I never said women dating older guys happened "en masse" or was the cause of anyone's "dry spell". It wasn't for me. I was talking about girls I knew -- as friends -- and their reported tastes. No one in that conversation was failing to "get some" if that's the suggestion. I've dated my own age down to a difference of about 6 years younger. Many of my guy friends about the same. With women I know, it's the reverse, though the max difference is greater. That's not anybody's dry spell. It's just a trend. Explain it culturally, biologically, whatever, but it's there. Like women dating taller guys. You might be open to a shorter guy, but think through the heights of all the men you've been with and work out the proportion.

The only people who see it as a problem or barrier -- as I stated way upthread -- are younger guys and older women looking for something to blame. Honestly, the ability of MeFi to attack any trend as an absolute continues to amaze.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:52 AM on December 11, 2008


Hmm, ok, I see allkindsoftime did in fact suggest a causal explanation there. I was simply pointing out that the "men dating younger women" is a two-way street (in that there is mutual interest there).

But dgaicun captures the fpp pretty much exactly here.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:59 AM on December 11, 2008


I'm not sure why some of you are responding so strongly to the article and/or the woman who wrote it.

I confess I didn't come away from the article liking the author much, either, But the vehement reaction reminds me of that horror-movie cliche. This could never happen to me, because I'd never be stupid enough to run in heels/stand there and scream I'm sociable and outgoing!/I do online dating!/I'm confident in my sexuality!

I'm also kind of amused that this DTMFA, don't-"settle"-happy crowd is castigating the author for being so picky, for being unwilling to date people she doesn't really feel it for. At what point, chronologically, are you supposed to pull into any port available? I can't agree that it's outrageous to prefer solitude to partnering up arbitrarily with someone who isn't fun to talk to and to whom you aren't particularly attracted.

But hey, I myself once went through a seven-year "dry spell". I know plenty of other people who've had worse. It can happen. And when it does, you ask yourself what's going on; and either you conclude that you should do something differently (like miss lynnster, who decided to get the hell out of the house), or you decide, like the author here, that it isn't worth it. Either way, fair enough; fair too, as mikeh points out, to be a little wistful about your choices and their outcomes.

Also, shmegegge? Plenty of writers -- most of the solvent ones, I 'd guess -- do work that isn't bylined.

I am now going to attempt to lighten the mood with an only tangentially related, black-humorous anecdote involving a sort of aunt-by-marriage of mine, sadly no longer with us. Barbara was widowed in her forties and after years of hit-and-miss dating decided to engage some exorbitantly expensive high-end agency to find her a guy. Whereupon -- zing! she was told that they don't represent women over 55.

Was Barbara horrified to encounter the appalling bias inherent in the differential cutoff? I sure hope so. But that's not what she said to the smarmy agent. What came out of her mouth was: "But...but...I'm VERY IMMATURE!"

I miss you, Barbara.
posted by tangerine at 11:55 AM on December 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is the most depressive piece of writing I've read in a long time. I understand how it must feel for her to be trapped between unrealistic perfectionistic expectations and deep insecurity. But without the will to break out of the trap nothing will ever change. I've known women sounding like the author in their 30ties and in their 40ties, so I think this has much more to do with personality than with age. After all, fifteen years ago it was just as hard for her. Also, sex is probably not the main barrier to her having fulfilling relationships. It sounds again as more of a personality thing. I wouldn't be surprised if she found it hard to have intimate friendships overall. It's sad when we stand in our own way to getting somewhere, and it can be mind-warping to be exposed to this behavior from the outside - she laments her life and describes how she made it exactly the way it is in the same breath. I hope the author gets a better therapist, who'll at least push her out of her house.
posted by Shusha at 12:56 PM on December 11, 2008


I'm also kind of amused that this DTMFA, don't-"settle"-happy crowd is castigating the author for being so picky, for being unwilling to date people she doesn't really feel it for. At what point, chronologically, are you supposed to pull into any port available? I can't agree that it's outrageous to prefer solitude to partnering up arbitrarily with someone who isn't fun to talk to and to whom you aren't particularly attracted.

You know, I'm inclined to agree with that. There's an old Ray Bradbury story I've thought of more than once as I get increasingly aged without ever having been married: A man realizes he's the only person alive on Earth, and then...surprise! He's not. There's a woman, too! But he starts talking to her, and slowly it dawns that he can't stand her at all...whereas she's just overjoyed because, well, he's alive. But it occurs to him that there's a whole world out there he's never seen, and that he can go absolutely anywhere in it without anyone to tell him different...and, in the dead of night, he splits for parts unknown. And life is awesome! But every now and then -- no matter where in the world he is -- the phone rings, and he knows it's time to move on...

The moral being -- I think -- that settling is worse than being alone; and the secondary moral being that being alone isn't necessarily so bad. It can be great! These are good lessons. But I think the second one is more a consolation prize than anything else. I mean, I would so much rather be that guy PLUS a really awesome woman. But that guy plus a really awful woman is one miserable goddamned sonofabitch. It's nice to know that, if need be, you can just be that guy (or that girl) -- period -- and be pretty happy.

But that's not something to aspire to; it's something you're stuck with. And That Guy did at least talk to the woman before he realized she was unbearable. The writer of this article seems to just be looking for True Love, which...okay, look: True Love was easier to come by when you were a teenager because when you're a teenager True Love is just omigod-i-wanna-fuck-him/her with sugar on top. True Love for adults is a little more nuanced. You're not gonna get it in five minutes, or from across a crowded room, or whatever. It has to develop. So if you cut off anything that isn't instant True Love, then yeah, you're gonna be celibate. Forever. (Or you're going to become very adept at convincing yourself you've found True Love with people who just smell nice.) You have to give people a chance. Yeah, there needs to be an initial wanna-fuck spark, but getting that spark doesn't seem to be her problem -- her problem seems to be that she dismisses it because it's not something more meaningful. And it can't be anything more meaningful without time.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:46 PM on December 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Plus I swore off Russian literature after I attempted to read Crime and Punishment, I have never read Lolita (I've seen the movie).

Lolita was written in English, in Paris, when Nabokov hadn't lived in Russia for 36 years. He was Russian, and a great critic of Russian literature, but Lolita isn't Russian literature.

posted by nicwolff at 4:01 PM on December 11, 2008


I have never read Lolita (I've seen the movie).


WHICH version? Kubrick's was more faithful to the tone of the book; the remake more faithful to the plot.
posted by brujita at 8:39 AM on December 12, 2008


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