The Case For An Older Woman
February 16, 2010 6:07 PM   Subscribe

"Older women are awesome."
posted by Groovytimes (465 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know if they're right or not. But at least they have a lot of graphs.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:12 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can confirm this.
posted by unSane at 6:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is a strange FPP.
posted by fixedgear at 6:20 PM on February 16, 2010


Open thread about the OK Cupid blog. [Not older-women-ist]
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:20 PM on February 16, 2010


This has been true for a very long time.
posted by meehawl at 6:20 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


The Case For An Older Woman

Got anything in mahogany?
posted by hal9k at 6:20 PM on February 16, 2010 [40 favorites]


Child, please.
posted by applemeat at 6:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ben Franklin agrees
posted by jewzilla at 6:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Another astoundingly awesome post from them. I know there's that dumb trend of older dudes in their early 40s trying to date women in their 20s, but I had no idea there was normalized data to back it all up. On that one graph of who men message most by age, it's not until you surpass age 40 that men stop sending messages to 18 year olds (on average) which is appalling.
posted by mathowie at 6:22 PM on February 16, 2010 [12 favorites]


Groovytimes must really, really like OK Cupid.
posted by fixedgear at 6:22 PM on February 16, 2010


This is a strange FPP.

It's really not -- we've looked at the OKC data on various related subjects before. I think this is interesting on a lot of levels, and I hope we keep it around, but I wouldn't be stunned to see it get axed on account of us having (kinda) been here already.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:23 PM on February 16, 2010


Another astoundingly awesome post from them.

Okay well now I'd be stunned.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:24 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, that post is really loaded with judgmental terms. Not that I necessarily disagree, but man.

Also, I'd love to see those sex graphs plotted against voting patterns.
posted by DU at 6:24 PM on February 16, 2010


it's not until you surpass age 40 that men stop sending messages to 18 year olds (on average) which is appalling.

I'm not suggesting 40-something men flirting with 18 years is anything less than creepy or just plain ridiculous, but it's kind of like the phenomenon of flirting with the (unobtainable) barista.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:27 PM on February 16, 2010


Do we really have to have a MeFi post every time somebody posts to the OK Cupid blog?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:30 PM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm going to have to take your word on this one.
posted by greekphilosophy at 6:31 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course, we all know that 45 year-olds do have a much harder time, because the male fixation on youth distorts the dating pool.

Your data set only includes people using your online dating site. Please shut the fuck up about male fixations in the population as a whole. Who do you think you are, Malcolm Gladwell?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:32 PM on February 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


Actually, after looking at the data-sets, it is quite gross that older guys focus on young women or even girls. Why??
posted by KokuRyu at 6:32 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not suggesting 40-something men flirting with 18 years is anything less than creepy or just plain ridiculous, but it's kind of like the phenomenon of flirting with the (unobtainable) barista.

Hey, man, SHE messaged ME!!

And that barista totally added me on Facebook
posted by LordSludge at 6:34 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite part is that one of the graphs is subtitled "a freehand oval and some rhetoric vs. stuff you've already seen."
posted by danb at 6:35 PM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do we really have to have a MeFi post every time somebody posts to the OK Cupid blog?
posted by Pope Guilty


I certainly hope so
posted by rebent at 6:39 PM on February 16, 2010 [25 favorites]


That said, this appears to confirm something I've heard several times, which is that people, regardless of age, tend to rate the age they are currently as a happier time than any previous age. As we get older, we tend to get happier, more secure, more capable. It shouldn't be any surprise, I suppose, that this holds true of sexuality as well.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:41 PM on February 16, 2010


I seem to recall a Benny Hill song praising older women...if only I could find the video. Seriously, a search returns every damn video with "Yakety Sax" dubbed over a chase scene or, I am not making this up, a shrimp on a treadmill.

On that one graph of who men message most by age, it's not until you surpass age 40 that men stop sending messages to 18 year olds (on average) which is appalling.

Actually, after looking at the data-sets, it is quite gross that older guys focus on young women or even girls. Why??



Why is it appalling and gross (of all things)? Futile perhaps but what makes one adult messaging another appalling and gross? You sound like parents telling a child to play with kids their own age. Most guys just don't realize that, for the most part, they become invisible to women that young once they turn 35.

I'm 41, happily married and not messaging anyone on any dating site (but I am romancing the small tag quite heavily).
posted by MikeMc at 6:43 PM on February 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


Actually, after looking at the data-sets, it is quite gross that older guys focus on young women or even girls. Why??

We live in a society that sexually values young women and sexually devalues older women. Women are encouraged to be sexually abashed, while men are encouraged to think of themselves as virile and strong and masculine and capable. It's gross and wrong that older men focus on young women and girls, but I think the phenomenon is quite predictable given the culture in question.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:43 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was expecting to be annoyed by this because of the cougar-stereotyping, but then it was actually fascinating and they even addressed the cougar stereotyping in a reasonable way. I'm glad I gave it a chance.
posted by Nattie at 6:46 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


If it was more socially encouraged, or at any rate, more commonplace, for really young guys to date women in their 40s and 50s, I think our society would be a happier place.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:50 PM on February 16, 2010


What I'm left wondering is where are the high-density pockets of those who enjoy oral sex in Alaska and Hawaii.

Not really but still.
posted by stinker at 6:51 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it was more socially encouraged, or at any rate, more commonplace, for really young guys to date women in their 40s and 50s, I think our society would be a happier place.

In fairness -- unless I'm very much mistaken -- it's really only commonplace for really young women to date men in their 40s and 50s on sitcoms and in movies.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:53 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why is it appalling and gross (of all things)? Futile perhaps but what makes one adult messaging another appalling and gross? You sound like parents telling a child to play with kids their own age. Most guys just don't realize that, for the most part, they become invisible to women that young once they turn 35.

That's the problem, when they don't realize it. Men sending innocuous and easily-ignored messages online is one thing, but extrapolate that to the every day experience of a young single girl and you get a lot of very visible and inappropriate leverage of power, come ons, and at the very least, leers. One man's "futile" attempts to validate his virility can really ruin one girl's day.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 7:00 PM on February 16, 2010 [27 favorites]


Interesting post. They really do need to highlight the caveat that it's all about OKCupid's data, and (to be fair, as they point out), there are a lot more 20 year olds using the site than 30 year olds, and thus the older the cohort, the greater the sampling error (compared to general population) becomes.

My first very serious girlfriend was 7 years? 8 years? (lord, how embarrassing, I can't even remember and we were together for ages) older than me. It wasn't a big deal; we were both in the right place/right time psychologically, and that was way more important.
posted by smoke at 7:04 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Groovytimes must really, really like OK Cupid.

I know right?
posted by Groovytimes at 7:05 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Women in their 30s are awesome. Especially when you're 50.

The "shape of the dating pool" figure was excellent.
posted by cogneuro at 7:06 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Older women have much more characteristic than young women. I am obsessed with older women and I'm not embarrassed to admit it. How old? Let's say age 40 is where my interest starts. The culture of old codgers with young trophy wives? What I wanna know is whom did he leave?
posted by telstar at 7:06 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


The "shape of the dating pool" figure was excellent.

except for the absence of a label on the Y axis.
posted by cogneuro at 7:08 PM on February 16, 2010


Am I the only person twitching those sliders to find somewhere that stays blue no matter what? I was all set to move to Boyne City, Michigan, until I realised it was just a complex coastline...
posted by cromagnon at 7:08 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


At last, a shitload of graphs proving that my recent failures with online dating have NOT been all in my head.

It just sounded, however, like are only encouraging guys in their 20's to date older women. But I do not WANT to date guys in their 20's myself. I already KNOW what it is like to date 20-year-old guys -- I did that when I WAS in my 20's. And that is precisely why I want to date guys in their 30's and 40's.

so NOW what?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


A single Man has not nearly the Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half of a Pair of Scissars.

What Ben Franklin is saying here that alone man (or woman, for that matter) can't cut worth shit, but together, together they can shred the world. At least, that's what I'm taking from this discussion.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:12 PM on February 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'd also like the "zone of greatness" to be included in all graphs on all subjects from now on.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:12 PM on February 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


My wife is an older women and I can verify how awesome... Okay she's gone now.. for godsakes run young men run for your young virile lives!!!!
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 7:14 PM on February 16, 2010 [16 favorites]


Men sending innocuous and easily-ignored messages online is one thing

That's all I was referring to. I understand what you're saying though, the time a, married, 47 year old consultant asked my 23 year old female cubemate if she had any friends that liked older guys comes to mind. He tried to play it off like he was joking but it was cringe worthy and dude had the creepy would be swinger vibe just oozing from his pores. He was on-site for a year (most of it sharing our four person cube) and it got awkward at times. Thankfully he's moved on to another assignment.
posted by MikeMc at 7:15 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


All I needed to know about older women, I learned from this. And a certain special someone, of course. And I'm in the older women fucking rock contingent.
posted by prufrock at 7:15 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


My father, in his old age, told me: "When I was was 20, 20 year old women just seemed like the right age. Same thing when I was 30, and 40, and even 50. I thought it would keep going on like that. But somewhere around 75, they just became old ladies." YMMV.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:15 PM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is sort of interesting, but I find the tone sort of disgusting, to be honest. Yes, I accept that lots of guys are fixated on perpetuating the illusion of their own youth, and seek to date women who are much younger than them. That is an interesting sidenote, but it's not really the focus of the article. The focus of the article is: "guys! You should date women who are older than you, because women who are older than you are better than women who are younger than you!"

Is that really healthier than the notion that women who are younger are better? I don't know. I get the point that the author's really just trying to skew statistics - probably in favor of a higher match rate, and therefore more real profit, for OkCupid - but that seems dishonest.
posted by koeselitz at 7:16 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


My wife is an older women and I can verify how awesome... Okay she's gone now.. for godsakes run young men run for your young virile lives!!!!
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 10:14 PM on February 16 [+] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:16 PM on February 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


Why is it appalling and gross (of all things)?

Because women that age generally are NOT interested. I remember how much it grossed me out to have men over forty hitting on me when I was in my twenties. If it had only happened occasionally it wouldn't have been a big deal, but it happened pretty regularly. One gets pretty damn sick of dealing with that kind of crap.

On that one graph of who men message most by age, it's not until you surpass age 40 that men stop sending messages to 18 year olds (on average) which is appalling.

Then by the time you're in your mid-thirties you get men in their fifties and sixties messaging you — with the occasional message from men in their early twenties. Meanwhile men your own age often only want women in their twenties, or at least no older than their early thirties.

I suppose I can't blame these guys for trying, and if you are using online dating sites you will get messages from people you'd never want to date — just as you'll message people who don't want to date you. But at the same time it's such a problem that I just wish the kind of men who do this would grow the hell up already.
posted by orange swan at 7:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Metafilter : Am I the only person twitching those sliders to find somewhere that stays blue no matter what?
posted by mannequito at 7:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


>> it's really only commonplace for really young women to date men in their 40s and 50s on sitcoms and in movies

That's almost certainly true.

But while I'm not sure if a custom of really young women dating old guys would necessarily do wonders for the former, I suspect that having young testosterone-maddened males dating often-forgotten older women would really help American society, uh, loosen up.
posted by darth_tedious at 7:17 PM on February 16, 2010


You'd better take an older lover...
Get ready for old stories
Of teenage sex
From the early sixties...
(She'll shag you out on the table.)
***

posted by koeselitz at 7:23 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


This post has depressed the shit out of me. The example "older women" are all 35. I'm turning 35 in two months. Fuck you, OKCUPID.
posted by Justinian at 7:23 PM on February 16, 2010 [16 favorites]


Also, OH FUCK IM TURNING 35.
posted by Justinian at 7:24 PM on February 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


The great thing is how this data actually means something, because it's from an random sample of the population.
posted by mullingitover at 7:24 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


This second chart also contains something very peculiar that we didn't see at all in men. Notice the vertical stripes at ages 20 and 29. These color discontinuities indicate dramatic changes in a woman's dating mentality: when a women turns 20 she decides it's okay to message significantly older men (i.e. the upper reaches of the chart suddenly become less red). At 29, a woman becomes even more open to older men and, in addition, stops writing the youngest ones.

Interesting. We all know that round numbers have an effect on people's behavior, despite being totally irrational. There's also a jump at 39, rather then 40.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 PM on February 16, 2010


The great thing is how this data actually means something, because it's from an random sample of the population.

Well, it's advice for people who use that particular site.
posted by delmoi at 7:26 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I started getting gray hairs at 19 and now @ 41 I have more gray hair than brown. One of my wife's co-workers once commented, after meeting me for the first time, "Your husband is so much older than you. Ha! I'm 13 months older than she is. It's cool though, the fact that I look older than I am and she looks younger than she is just makes me look that much more "virile".
posted by MikeMc at 7:27 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person twitching those sliders to find somewhere that stays blue no matter what?

You're not. Move to Austin, TX.

Seriously, it's kinda weird.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 7:28 PM on February 16, 2010


The focus of the article is: "guys! You should date women who are older than you, because women who are older than you are better than women who are younger than you!"

My takeaway was more like "hey 37 year old dudes! Stop being creepy and trying to pursue uninterested 18 year olds and go for women your own age who are happier, have their lives figured out, and yes, tend to have better attitudes about sex than their younger counterparts."
posted by mathowie at 7:28 PM on February 16, 2010 [23 favorites]


You become invisible to younger people after 35, regardless of looks and personality, etc. (you know all men go bald after 35 and no one goes half-bald in an old man-like way before that), and maybe gender. Kill yourself now!
posted by raysmj at 7:29 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


A woman's desirability peaks at 21, which, ironically enough is the age that men just begin their "prime," i.e. become more desirable than average. Following that dotted line out, you can see that a woman of 31 is already "past her prime," while a man doesn't become so until 36.

Watching friends of mine plunge into dating after divorces and breakups, I have been watching this. Guys who were hopeless at 20 have beau coups options in their mid-thirties. And then (cue irony music, please) they bollix it up by trying to chase after the same 20 year olds who ignored them back in the day. Go figure.
posted by Forktine at 7:29 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


No matter how old you are, as a man you always think you are five years younger than creepy.
posted by digsrus at 7:34 PM on February 16, 2010 [31 favorites]


This post has depressed the shit out of me. The example "older women" are all 35. I'm turning 35 in two months.

Honey, I'm turning 40 in NINE DAYS. Don't even start.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:34 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Only 55% of 22 year old women bathe every day? Woah. All my stereotypes of obsessive modern hygiene just flew out the window.
posted by Forktine at 7:35 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought it would keep going on like that. But somewhere around 75, they just became old ladies." YMMV.

My dad is 72 and wouldn't give a woman near his own age the time of day if he was selling watches. I'm thinking 45ish would be about as "old" as he would go, which is one of the reasons lives alone. He just can't handle being around "old" people, and thank's to the miracle of "Just For Men" he can continue to pretend he's 35 indefinitely.
posted by MikeMc at 7:37 PM on February 16, 2010


I recently discovered -- via facebook of all things -- that my dad is dating a woman seven years younger than me. I don't mind her, though I question her taste/self esteem. But now I've been seriously squicked out by my dad.
posted by jb at 7:37 PM on February 16, 2010


I think it would be interesting to see some data for gay males, as well.
posted by koeselitz at 7:37 PM on February 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


One group of women is better than another group of women ...

Didn't we do this yesterday?
posted by desjardins at 7:38 PM on February 16, 2010 [18 favorites]


The focus of the article is: "guys! You should date women who are older than you, because women who are older than you are better than women who are younger than you!"

Is that really healthier than the notion that women who are younger are better? I don't know.
-koeselitz
I don't see it as trying to replace the notion that younger women are better so much as it is trying to displace it. Equal the playing field, as it were.
posted by rebent at 7:38 PM on February 16, 2010


I can confirm this.

I can also confirm this. I can also confirm exceptions. Generally speaking, women are pretty awesome.
posted by davejay at 7:41 PM on February 16, 2010


mathowie: “My takeaway was more like ‘hey 37 year old dudes! Stop being creepy and trying to pursue uninterested 18 year olds and go for women your own age who are happier, have their lives figured out, and yes, tend to have better attitudes about sex than their younger counterparts.’”

Well, it is sort of called "The Case for an Older Woman." I think this is just generally arguing that 20-to-30-year-old guys ought to date in the 30-to-40-year-old bracket.

But I agree that the strong message to 37-year-old creeps is at least firmly implied.
posted by koeselitz at 7:42 PM on February 16, 2010


This is interesting, like most OKCupid blog posts, but we should be very skeptical of someone who's purporting to present objective data yet clearly has such a strong mission. Did he cherry-pick the findings that supported him and omit ones that didn't? The fact that he makes a big deal of one particular graph that cuts against his point (which he still cleverly rationalizes away) doesn't remove this question.

He equates answering "yes" to "Do you always keep your promises?" with being "trustworthy." That's a flawed interpretation. If everyone sometimes breaks promises (which is pretty plausible), then the most trustworthy people are the ones who answer "no."

He's giving advice to people (men) on how to live their lives. OK, fair enough, but we should scrutinize his assumptions and biases and omissions in doing so. Here's one: he describes all of life in a freeze frame. He ignores the element of time, which is inherently connected to the topic of age. A younger person has more time left before reaching any given age. That's really important, but he glosses over it by (somewhat crudely) focusing on "Hey, guys, a woman of X age will probably want to do all these sexy things with you!!
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:44 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


> It's gross and wrong that older men focus on young women and girls

Over the weekend, I had a conversation with someone I care for a great deal, but who happens to think that homosexuality is gross and wrong.

I'll be so much happier when people make clear distinctions between "that's really gross to me" and "that's wrong".

My Dad's older than my Mum, and they've been together about 35 years. They're a great couple--one of those old couples you see that still joke and tease one another all the time.

Also, calling other people's sexuality gross can be rather rude. Lots of people like different things.
posted by surenoproblem at 7:45 PM on February 16, 2010 [33 favorites]


rebent: “I don't see it as trying to replace the notion that younger women are better so much as it is trying to displace it. Equal the playing field, as it were.”

I'm no genius, but it seems to me that 'equaling the playing field' by successively making different groups 'more desirable' is not a great idea. Like I said just after the bit you quoted, I know s/he's just trying to skew the stats, but it's dishonest and moreover a little unjust. desjardins is correct - we went over this yesterday when we were talking about whether it's fair to say that "real women have curves!" And I think it's not fair to say that - I know the people that say it are just trying to skew the stats in favor of the marginalized group, but it's wrong to encourage that kind of preconception in general because it's just marginalizing another group in a vain effort to create some mystical balance. Better to stop trying to skew things and tell the truth: I know a lot of women younger than me who are awesome, smart, thoughtful, intelligent, and probably more mature than I am (though that last isn't saying much). But I'm supposed to ignore them and focus on the statistic that older women are superior?
posted by koeselitz at 7:48 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


one thing that never made sense to me about the cougar stereotype is that for me, i find younger men kinda gross in terms of considering dating them. Howev, take an amazing person like Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen, and I'd happily be after them in their sixties (or however old L. Cohen is right now).
Also, there's something so icky ick ick about the cougar stereotype. Maybe it's because my mom lives in an area where she has to be afraid of cougars 'cause they could eat her and her dogs.
posted by angrycat at 7:49 PM on February 16, 2010


Hmm. Interesting. My mom's been curious about online dating. I suggested OKCupid, but she said it sounded like a "young person's site." Good to see they have a statistically significant amount of people over the age of 45. I'll have to let her know.

Not quite sure if I'll link her to this blog post, though.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:54 PM on February 16, 2010


I want a woman that's willing to pretend we're both REALLY old.

I want to drive around the country in an RV, camp in beautiful spots, drink tea, and read.

I'm 37, but I want to roll like I'm 77. Straw hat with green plastic visor, Good Sam club, the whole nine yards.
posted by chronkite at 7:54 PM on February 16, 2010 [69 favorites]


The focus of the article is: "guys! You should date women who are older than you, because women who are older than you are better than women who are younger than you!"

These kind of articles have always struck me as telling young guys: "Dude, you can totally score with desperate older women!"
posted by MikeMc at 7:55 PM on February 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


This just confirms my suspicions that we are doomed as a species. For every Peter Pan, there is a Valley Girl waiting, regardless of age.
posted by Oyéah at 7:58 PM on February 16, 2010


I want a woman that's willing to pretend we're both REALLY old.
I want to drive around the country in an RV, camp in beautiful spots, drink tea, and read.


Great, now I have this song stuck in my head.
posted by MikeMc at 7:58 PM on February 16, 2010


As has been the case with every OKC blog post that's come up here, I really enjoyed reading this one (and yes, would be happy to see more posted here). Thought-provoking and entertaining.

But on reflection, this one is kind of saddening. There are all these guys out there who should grow up—they know they should grow up because they're writing to women even younger than their (pretty darn young) "youngest acceptable age." And here's OKC saying "dudes, get with the program." And maybe some will read this entry and say "yeah, I guess you've got a point." And I suspect they'll turn around and keep writing to women 15 years their junior.

And if I were one of those not-so-young women being ignored by those not-so-young guys, I'm not sure I'd want to start hearing from them.
posted by adamrice at 8:01 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


whether it's fair to say that "real women have curves!"

I don't think that's "marginalizing" a group of women. It sounds more like a biological statement of fact. Women's bodies are different from men's in various ways, and one way is having curves that men don't. I'm not sure what this has to do with the OKCupid blog post, but I've seen this kind of remark on AskMetafilter before, so it seems to be a recurring theme here. I think it's unfortunate if it's taboo for it to be pointed out that women -- not those with a certain body type, but women in general -- are curvy. I mean, people on this site often make generalizations about men's and women's behavior, and that's considered acceptable; it should certainly be acceptable to point out that men and women have different kinds of bodies.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:02 PM on February 16, 2010


It sounds more like a biological statement of fact. Women's bodies are different from men's in various ways, and one way is having curves that men don't.

The statement's not really "women have child-bearing hips and breasts which may or may not be noticeably curvy, but are definitely more curvy than men" - it's "women who have large breasts and hips and may weigh more are truer women than the skinny, non-busty ones."

If you understand the history of the phrase (one used to discret the idea that skinny women are more attractive than heavier ones) this is more obvious.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:08 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


aka it's not comparing women to men but comparing women to other women.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:08 PM on February 16, 2010


The real women have curves thing refers to a big flamefest and subsequent meta from yesterday's Christina Hendricks post. I'd advise reading them both before engaging that topic.
posted by Babblesort at 8:09 PM on February 16, 2010


I think it's unfortunate if it's taboo for it to be pointed out that women -- not those with a certain body type, but women in general -- are curvy.

Not just in the US, but in more and more countries all the time, "real men" -- meaning average, totally normal men that you meet every day -- are completely curvy. They have big curvy man-tits, curvy bellies, curvy thighs, curvy asses. Shit, they even have nice curvy cheeks that get curvier when they smile.

Real men don't look like Olympic gymnasts. They aren't angular, hard, or linear. They are curvy and increasingly rotund.

So why the fixation on women's bodies, and proscriptive statements like "real women have curves"? It isn't particularly descriptive -- not that it isn't true that most women have curves, but that curves aren't in the slightest limited to women.
posted by Forktine at 8:09 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


FFS, are we really having another "let's talk about wimmins bodies huh huh huh" thread? Really?
posted by clvrmnky at 8:11 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


So why the fixation on women's bodies, and proscriptive statements like "real women have curves"? It isn't particularly descriptive -- not that it isn't true that most women have curves, but that curves aren't in the slightest limited to women.

Not commenting on the validity of the "real women have curves" argument, but it seems like this is a pretty big logical fallacy to me. Whether or not curves are limited to women has nothing to do with the argument that "real women" have them.

Man, I'd be happy to never hear the phrase "real women have curves" at all after this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:18 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey everybody - I'm sort of sorry that I made explicit the "real women have curves!" debate. That's not really something we should be arguing here, I think, because it's a derail, and because there's a big, happy discussion about it still going on over here. If anybody wants to figure out what the deal is with it, or make a statement about it, or otherwise engage about it, they should probably do it over there - this thread's really more about the older women thing.
posted by koeselitz at 8:19 PM on February 16, 2010


Guys -- the body-image is here. This is the age thread.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


The main issue with this "study" is that it doesn't take into account what the immediate goals of a 20-something male are versus a 30-something female. Assuming older women are interested in dating younger men, the percentage of those 30-something women interested in settling down and/or having children before the 20-something men would be pretty high. For all the reasons it gives for men to date older women, it didn't touch on that little detail!
posted by jrking at 8:21 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Real men don't look like Olympic gymnasts. They aren't angular, hard, or linear. They are curvy and increasingly rotund.

That's why I wear khakis with the hidden elastic waistband that grows with me. Soon they'll be making stretch waist maternity type jeans for rotund, yet virile, guys who like to message women 20 years younger on dating sites (trying to stay somewhat on topic here).
posted by MikeMc at 8:22 PM on February 16, 2010


I just would like to say this: Barring the occasional prodigy I have met, most women a whole lot younger than me are not women I would want to date, because a woman a WHOLE lot younger than me is like twenty years old or something (by my way of reckoning it, anyhow), and the average twenty-year-old is probably lacking in the maturity that I, a 37-year-old creep, would want from a partner in a romantic relationship. It's not like I'm this super-mature guy or anything -- I own a LOT of comic books -- but I'm almost forty, for Christ's sake, and you kinda can't help but mature in that much time, even if you actively resist it. But this is not my online personal ad. I say all of this to say the following: I cannot imagine, other than the physical, why on earth a woman my age would want to date a guy significantly younger than herself. I think it would be maddening. I know that the me of fifteen years ago or so would have seemed totally insufferable to a woman even a few years older. I absolutely see why a guy significantly younger than myself would want to date a 37-year-old woman, however.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:27 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not even convinced I speak the same dialect as someone 20 years my junior.
posted by maxwelton at 8:30 PM on February 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


I cannot imagine, other than the physical, why on earth a woman my age would want to date a guy significantly younger than herself.

Yeah, no clue. One interesting thing I noticed about the graphs is that at about age 22 women stop wanting to date anyone younger (there's a little jump in the "youngest age" line.)

Aka as soon as they graduate from college, women want to stop dating college guys. So most women apparently buy into the whole "dating someone your age or older = avoiding people less mature" theory.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:38 PM on February 16, 2010


These kind of articles have always struck me as telling young guys: "Dude, you can totally score with desperate older women!"

wha? really? I'm 35, divorced, two kids, and desperate for NOTHING but a good time. younger men can occasionally score with me, but not because i'm desperate... because i don't really want anything to do with the thirty-something set who seem to be after the same traditional setup i just got out of. and most of them seem to have forgotten how to go on adventures, and learn new things, and they have that "oh my god i'm thirty something and i have to buckle down and prove something" look in their eyes. so yes, maybe the "older woman" set is desperate, but not for what you think... desperate? please.

but maybe you're just commenting on the tone inherent in the piece and not really claiming that YOU think 35+ women are desperate? i hope so.
posted by madred at 8:39 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not even convinced I speak the same dialect as someone 20 years my junior.

I'm thoroughly convinced that 40ish guys looking for women 20 years their junior don't want to speak the same dialect, they don't even want to speak, they just want to fuck. This is not to say that there aren't loving relationships that organically develop between older men and younger women but that's not what men who consistently seek out much younger women are looking for.

but maybe you're just commenting on the tone inherent in the piece and not really claiming that YOU think 35+ women are desperate? i hope so.

No, I don't think that but I think it's implied in these types of articles in a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge know what I mean?" kind of way.
posted by MikeMc at 8:44 PM on February 16, 2010


The blog glosses over the fact that while the men's 'available match' chart shows a preference for younger women, the women's chart shows an equally obvious preference for older men. (Granted, men's preferences cross a lot more years.)

There's a strong societal preference for having the man be older than the woman. I'm not saying it is right, but it works both ways. I once dated an older woman who was too uncomfortable dating someone younger and broke it off.

John Travolta dated a woman 16 years older than him and in interviews it is clear he really treasured the relationship (she died of breast cancer at age 41 while he was at her side).

I'm all for sites that shake up our preconceived notions in positive ways.
posted by eye of newt at 8:46 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


FWIW: I'm 46 (and look it) and my boyfriend is 28 (and looks it). We've been together for 2 1/2 years. We live two city blocks from each other. I'm not a "cougar" or a "MILF;" he isn't a sexual adventurer or age fetishist. If maturity means stability, self-knowledge, serenity, respect, and tolerance, he is the most mature person I've ever been with. I doubt we will marry and I have no idea if we will stay together for good. The age difference may become more problematic as I inch further into middle age and on into old age. He may yet decide he definitely wants children; I don't want to parent and anyway couldn't reproduce now without huge difficulty, risk & expense. None of that outweighs the love and trust we've found and are still finding in one another.
posted by FrauMaschine at 8:57 PM on February 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


MikeMc: “I'm thoroughly convinced that 40ish guys looking for women 20 years their junior don't want to speak the same dialect, they don't even want to speak, they just want to fuck. This is not to say that there aren't loving relationships that organically develop between older men and younger women but that's not what men who consistently seek out much younger women are looking for.”

Ah, but on the contrary, my friend! These men clearly do not want simply to fuck, for they could much more easily fuck women their age. They seek sex, yes, but the reason they seek sex is because they want to overstay the welcome of their youths. The fucking is secondary or even tertiary - the act isn't really very important to them. They want the sop of knowing that a 20-year-old woman would be willing to fuck them because they're so afraid of getting old. I even get the feeling that if it were possible for these men to be absolutely sure that a particular 20-year-old would be willing to fuck them, to be certain of this without any actual fucking taking place, they'd probably be fine with only that knowledge: the knowledge that some attractive 20-year-old finds them attractive enough to fuck.
posted by koeselitz at 8:58 PM on February 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


koeselitz, it would be nice if we could say "Group X is just as good as group Y which is just as good as group Z, Any Questions?" and have that be that. But we can't.

The sad truth on OKCupid is that a lot of men target young women, despite the wealth of potentially good older women. I don't believe this post was trying to say "Young Women Suck, Older Women Rock" so much as making, as it were, a case for older women.
posted by rebent at 8:58 PM on February 16, 2010


The most important data points for me were the slider maps of views on contraception and frequency of STD testing.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:02 PM on February 16, 2010


Nowadays women live 4-5 years longer than do men. By seeking younger rather than older men, women decrease their chances of being a widow for many years.
posted by parudox at 9:09 PM on February 16, 2010


I'm thoroughly convinced that 40ish guys looking for women 20 years their junior don't want to speak the same dialect, they don't even want to speak, they just want to fuck.

There are other reasons. For example, the social status thing - trophy wives. If it's hard to attract a woman so much younger than yourself, then it's an impressive feat that speaks highly of your qualities and social status to be seen with one.

Another example is men who aren't following the social formula for how one should mature, and still want to do the things they did in their twenties, but find that women their own age are sooo not into that. :)

I think you're onto the number #1 reason though :)
posted by -harlequin- at 9:16 PM on February 16, 2010


Ah, but on the contrary, my friend! These men clearly do not want simply to fuck, for they could much more easily fuck women their age. They seek sex, yes, but the reason they seek sex is because they want to overstay the welcome of their youths.

I agree completely and I don't think my opinion is incompatible. I could have been clearer but I thought that the phrase "pretty young f*cktoy" was a bit crude.

they'd probably be fine with only that knowledge: the knowledge that some attractive 20-year-old finds them attractive enough to fuck.

I'd say this was spot on. I'd go so far as to say more than a few would actually get stage fright and back out if things actually progressed beyond the realm of masturbatory fanatsy.
posted by MikeMc at 9:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this the thread in which I'll be reminded that women as old as me are sexually unwanted and thus a daring case need gallantly be made for not totally putting us out to pasture, and also, thank-you koeselitz, that my husband, 15 years my senior, is not actually attracted to me either? Peaches!
posted by applemeat at 9:26 PM on February 16, 2010


I don't like dating older women because they've already seen all of my bullshit. Younger women are so much easier.
posted by planet at 9:27 PM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Older women are awesome."

Oh god yes. (e-mail's in profile)
posted by Eideteker at 9:28 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK Trends research never fails to impress, depress, delight and frustrate me. For what it's worth, I'm supposedly at my peak (30) and am at the top of my game in a lot of ways, but I'm still working my butt off to score the occasional coffee date, which usually ends up not being all that chemistry sparking to begin with (and it's about a 50/50 toss up for who's not into who). Online dating just kind of sucks. Real day-to-day life is where it's at, but takes a lot more courage and comfort zone risking.

Playing with the sliders, though, what's the deal with Malhuer County, Oregon? Way blue on the sex frequency map (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malheur_County,_Oregon) and waaaaaay not into contraception. Oh, huh, 66% of the population is either Mormon or Catholic. Go fig. (http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Malheur-County-OR.html)
posted by Skwirl at 9:30 PM on February 16, 2010


Assuming older women are interested in dating younger men, the percentage of those 30-something women interested in settling down and/or having children before the 20-something men would be pretty high. For all the reasons it gives for men to date older women, it didn't touch on that little detail!

Whew! If that ain't the elephant in the middle of the room.

If you're a guy in his 30s and you plan on starting a family, there are really good reasons not to date a woman in her 30s. Many of the single women in their 30s either (A) have made up their minds not to have kids or (B) want to have kids yesterday and get kinda weird about the subject of children. I'm not saying that all or most single women in their 30s are like this, but as a guy, it's something that you really do have to watch out for.

But let's just say that you are this hypothetical 30-something guy who wants to have kids. And let's just say that you don't want to wind up somebody's bitter ex-husband with odd-weekend visitation rights and child support bills to pay. You want to put some thought into who you marry. You want to go out with her for a couple years before getting engaged. You want some time to fall in love with her and decide that you really do want to start a family with her. There's nothing wrong with any of that! But if the woman is already in her early 30s when you meet and start dating, how much time do you really have? The pressure is on...

But really, that's not even your biggest concern. Let's just say you buy into the rom-com notion of love at first sight. If she's already "past her prime" and is well aware of that fact (as those vertical bars in the heat map would attest), does she want to marry you because she really loves you? Or does she perhaps think that she waited too long, and is merely willing to settle for you? To me, that's a prospect far worse than divorce.

The post does address that a bit, with the question of, "Are you okay with being in a relationship that you know won't lead to marriage?" The result of this question would seem to support the author's thesis, however, it doesn't ask whether or not they'd be truly happy with that kind of relationship, or if it's something they've merely resigned themselves to.

Anyway, I wasn't suprised by anything in this post. Yes, men stay viable in the dating pool about 5 years longer than women. However, let's face it, most men don't have much to offer until they've been out of college for a couple years, whereas women become eligible about five years before that. The real unfairness is that young people have no idea what they're in for as they get older. Someone should tell all the young women, "You have all the power right now! Use it or lose it!" And someone should tell all the young men, "Yeah, life sucks right now, but trust me, it gets better."
posted by Sloop John B at 9:33 PM on February 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm supposedly at my peak (30)

Peak of what? You haven't even got to to the middle yet.

That was a very weird article. For me the positive message was ultimately obscured by the creepy vibe of "check it out, older ladies way into the blow jobs!" and "look at the pictures, they're cute, not all wrinkly and stuff!" Also not considered is whether it is doing the Older Woman any particular favors in advocating them to young males. Maybe I'm stumbling uncomprehendingly through a world I don't understand, though, as I pursued the more traditional method of courting the Woman in her mid-twenties, sealing the deal in the early thirties and am hopefully aspiring to the grail of being with the Older Woman by virtue of getting Older alongside her. I can't fault the fundamental premise though, as mine does seem to somehow get more awesome every day.
posted by nanojath at 9:53 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


This post has depressed the shit out of me. The example "older women" are all 35. I'm turning 35 in two months.

Honey, I'm turning 40 in NINE DAYS. Don't even start.


Pffft to both of you. I don't even register on the chart, so far off the graph am I, hanging by my fingertips as the declining line spelling my undesirability marches ruthlessly square by square down to zero.... 40 is grand, 40 is a great age. Past 50, you really have to do some coping with age. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and make my daily genuflection to that picture of Helen Mirren I keep on the wall for inspiration.
posted by jokeefe at 9:54 PM on February 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


It's striking, reading through these comments, that so many people find it "gross, wrong, dumb, creepy, appalling, ridiculous, etc." that there exists a trend of attraction between women and men who are older than them. My understanding is that this particular disparity is one of the most universal traits of attraction across cultures. Even if this wasn't something confirmed by extensive research, it seems pretty obvious why this might exist as a trend.

It's great, just great, if men read the article and they try dating older women more often. But what's so wrong, in general, about women dating older men? What makes one age disparity awesome and the other gross?
posted by millions at 9:56 PM on February 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


Why is it appalling and gross (of all things)? Futile perhaps but what makes one adult messaging another appalling and gross? You sound like parents telling a child to play with kids their own age.

I'm not sure if I can spell this out for you. Either you agree that 40-year-old guys trolling for 19 years olds online is gross, or you don't.

The dataset, however, seemed to indicate that they were hitting on "teenies" much more than other age cohorts, which is just plain strange.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:59 PM on February 16, 2010


I'm not going to defend 40 year-old dudes who message women barely out of their teens, but I gotta say that this maturity business is way overrated.

People who are great people are great when they're 22 and they're great when they're 50. Those boring, vapid twentysomethings will mostly grow up to be boring, vapid 50 year-olds, and those fascinating older people were probably pretty cool when they were kids too.
posted by chrchr at 10:04 PM on February 16, 2010 [18 favorites]


Damn those men and their desires!
posted by pracowity at 10:37 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


(Having watched all of my friends move through their 20s AND 30s - OHGODIMOLD!) Every last cute 21 year old has the potential to become a fat,bored,depressed 35 year old but a fit, good looking, adventurous intelligent 35 year will never be anything but just that. Have you met my wife?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:38 PM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


applemeat: “... and also, thank-you koeselitz, that my husband, 15 years my senior, is not actually attracted to me either? Peaches!”

Oh, good lord. Sorry. By 'these men,' I certainly didn't mean all men of that age who pursue any woman younger than themselves - I didn't mean it any more than anybody else in this thread did.

Maybe one could make a case that generalizing about the majority of men of a certain age who happen to frequent OkCupid is flatly wrong. Maybe one couldn't. It's possible that all this generalization isn't fair. But, applemeat: do you really think that no older men cruising for younger women are sleazy?
posted by koeselitz at 10:46 PM on February 16, 2010


Heck, applemeat, answer me this:

In what way is your husband a 40-something pursuing any and all 20-something women?
posted by koeselitz at 10:53 PM on February 16, 2010


I worked on a place called the "9th Floor". It was a collection of small government agencies on the 9th floor of a building in a medium-size city on the west coast. The 9th floor is really famous for being home to good-looking women, and the median age of these women is about 20, and they worked entry level jobs as receptionists or program coordinators.

The 9th floor is also famous for 40-something rakes. They chase after young women in the Ministries. It's kind of fun to imagine, until you think about the power dynamic. One of these rakes was pushed out the door because of sexual harassment.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:55 PM on February 16, 2010


Oh man, the finger wagging in here would make a dog tired.

It's great, just great, if men read the article and they try dating older women more often. But what's so wrong, in general, about women dating older men? What makes one age disparity awesome and the other gross?

Now THAT is the elephant in the room. Should men stop fixating on younger women? Yes, EVERYONE should stop fixating on youth. But why the f*ck does anyone give a good god damn who dates who? If they're happy, so be it.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:58 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ah, but on the contrary, my friend! These men clearly do not want simply to fuck, for they could much more easily fuck women their age. They seek sex, yes, but the reason they seek sex is because they want to overstay the welcome of their youths. The fucking is secondary or even tertiary - the act isn't really very important to them. They want the sop of knowing that a 20-year-old woman would be willing to fuck them because they're so afraid of getting old. I even get the feeling that if it were possible for these men to be absolutely sure that a particular 20-year-old would be willing to fuck them, to be certain of this without any actual fucking taking place, they'd probably be fine with only that knowledge: the knowledge that some attractive 20-year-old finds them attractive enough to fuck.

Uh, what? A more reasonable guess is that they think the younger ones are hotter. Youth and beauty are strongly associated. I don't think there's anything more to it than that. For most men, younger = hotter. They may very well be wasting their time hitting on younger women, but it's not like we have to go searching for reasons to figure out why. Single men in their 30s and 40s associate their female peers with Corporate Mom type haircuts and comparatively flabby bodies. The best part of this blog was where they make it clear that it is the single 35 year olds who are out looking for a companion, and "still optimizing their attractiveness" that should be compared to the available 25 year olds (assuming the 25 year old is even interested). And that's what most men overlook, they compare the average 35 year old (including all the marrieds) to the hot twenty somethings that they focus on. Let's be honest here and a little less condemning, it's an easy mistake to make.
posted by BigSky at 11:17 PM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


The instinct to procreate as advantageously as is possible doesn't respect societal norms though societal norms may define a range of acceptable mates. There are different ramifications depending on whether you do the bearing or not.
I know that procreation is an instinct because I saw The Blue Lagoon.
posted by vapidave at 11:22 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: "do you really think that no older men cruising for younger women are sleazy?"

Ok, that's a really, really odd argument. Let's try some variations: "Do you really think that no gay men are sexual predators?"

So, let's all talk a lot about how gay men are sexual predators!
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:40 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "Well, it's advice for people who use that particular site."

Yep, and that's it. All the other attempts at extrapolation to the general population that are being made here are fodder for mockery in an undergrad research methods class.
posted by mullingitover at 11:42 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The best part of this blog was where they make it clear that it is the single 35 year olds who are out looking for a companion, and "still optimizing their attractiveness" that should be compared to the available 25 year olds (assuming the 25 year old is even interested). And that's what most men overlook, they compare the average 35 year old (including all the marrieds) to the hot twenty somethings that they focus on. Let's be honest here and a little less condemning, it's an easy mistake to make.

Yes, that point was what resonated for me too.

As a direct result, I decided to raise the top end of my age preferences when I next log into Okcupid. Actually, my computer is, um, still logged in there from yesterday... so I should go do this now.

OkTrends wins this round. (But I'll be back!)


And there is a substantial bonus too, because I've also been noticing what Slarty Bartfast just mentioned:

Every last cute 21 year old has the potential to become a fat,bored,depressed 35 year old but a fit, good looking, adventurous intelligent 35 year will never be anything but just that.

Yes please! :)

posted by -harlequin- at 1:11 AM on February 17, 2010


So 35 is old? Is that what I'm understanding here?

Angelina Jolie is 35. Christina Hendricks is almost 35. God damn it, I'm almost 35! Grumble Grumble.

I am unmarried, I am female, I am fit. My current bf is 6 yrs younger than me. My 2nd-to-last bf was 19 when I was 30. I dated a number of older guys when I was really young, but somewhere in my mid 20s I started going the other way. I guess this makes me rather different than the stereotypical female. I am apparently supposed to be attracted to stable, sturdy, big, strong guys with impressive bank accounts. Fatherly types? However, I seem mainly attracted to small, dark, pretty, nerdish, boyish types who never have two cents to rub together.
posted by apis mellifera at 1:18 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is ageism so accepted? I've read the first few posts and 20% seem to be older men + younger women = eeeeww, gross.

Y'all are a bunch of hypocrites as far as I'm concerned.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:20 AM on February 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


One group of women is better than another group of women ...

Didn't we do this yesterday?


Yeah, but apparently we didn't have enough "men are disgusting pigs" that time, so here we are.

Yeah, no clue. One interesting thing I noticed about the graphs is that at about age 22 women stop wanting to date anyone younger (there's a little jump in the "youngest age" line.)

I'm sure the 38 year old I was seeing when I was 19 would be fascinated do know she didn't exist. Science!

I cannot imagine, other than the physical, why on earth a woman my age would want to date a guy significantly younger than herself.

In the case of the aforementioned woman I'm sure that was part of it, but talking to her about her relationship history, too many of the men her age were collosal, sexist arseholes by comparison. When you've stuggled through enough lights-off-missionary-position-women-who-want-that-are-sluts someone who feels like they're a kid in a candy store is no bad thing.
posted by rodgerd at 1:30 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember how much it grossed me out to have men over fortyfatties hitting on me when I was in my twenties. If it had only happened occasionally it wouldn't have been a big deal, but it happened pretty regularly. One gets pretty damn sick of dealing with that kind of crap.

People I find unattractive are creeps!
posted by rodgerd at 1:32 AM on February 17, 2010 [11 favorites]


So 35 is old? Is that what I'm understanding here?

At the national championships of most athletic sports, 35 year-olds have things stacked against them, by virtue of the age of their bodies, not the ageism of the umpires.

There are countless exceptions - sports as well as athletes - yes, but if you're talking about the performance of your body at the highest levels that you can attain, 35 is pushing it.
I'm a similar age to you. It might not be old, but it's probably post-peak.

The superstars you mention, they have access to surgeons and digital effects and specialists that I don't.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:33 AM on February 17, 2010


orange swan: "I suppose I can't blame these guys for trying,..."

If by "hitting on me" you mean making untoward sexual advances then oh yes you can, if you mean showing an interest (Lots of gray area between the two I know) then please don't blame us for trying even if we are easily identified as unsuitable, love is hard enough to find as it is.
posted by vapidave at 1:59 AM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


I remember how much it grossed me out to have men over fortyfatties hitting on me when I was in my twenties. If it had only happened occasionally it wouldn't have been a big deal, but it happened pretty regularly. One gets pretty damn sick of dealing with that kind of crap.

Exactly, rodgerd. Or how about:

I remember how much it grossed me out to have men over forty fatties some swarthy looking chap hitting on me when I was in my twenties. If it had only happened occasionally it wouldn't have been a big deal, but it happened pretty regularly. One gets pretty damn sick of dealing with that kind of crap.

On initial "hitting on you" the only way to identify that they're older is that they look different.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:19 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


At the national championships of most athletic sports, 35 year-olds have things stacked against them, by virtue of the age of their bodies, not the ageism of the umpires.

That's a bad analogy. It's not a performance issue, nor is it any type of hard and fast measure. Sure, there always is that beauty thing, but that's just as amorphous as most other things.
What we're talking about is a subjective notion that people filter their perceptions through. They often end up creating these oddball parameters that don't have any real basis except for what's in their head. If they want to play within those boundaries, that's totally up to them, but it really is a stupid way to limit your exposure to the world.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:24 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know anecdote does not equal data, but:

I'm going to turn 43 this year and am starting, just a little bit, to feel kind of tired and worn around the edges. Not a lot, but a little.

When I was 35 or so, I had a fling with a with a 23-year-old guy. That was fun.

My husband is about 8 years younger than me, and he managed to convince me to do something I said I'd never do again, and that's getting married. It took him 5 years of solid effort. Somehow, he manages to say and do all the right things when I'm feeling like I'm "getting old." I finally broke down and bought some reading glasses a few weeks ago, and he was actually kind of "oh, hot librarian look" about it, which was nice. I know, in reality, he's probably more happy about me not complaining about having to hold the book farther away or guess where the paintbrush is on the canvas, but really, I don't care. All I can think is "he thinks I'm cute/hot/pretty."

What I DO know is that he loves me and the children a LOT. We had long, difficult discussions before we married where I reminded him I wasn't going to be having more children. Too old, tubes tied, no more diapers. So, if he wanted to have any kids that were biologically his, he'd need to look elsewhere. It wasn't a threat, just a fact, and I wanted him to be sure for himself. I would have rather let him go and be happy with someone else than end up miserable with me.

I have never felt more content with another partner than I have with this man. I'm grateful I had my kids when I did, but next on my happiness scale was finding this man who I intend to challenge and joke and laugh and bitch and sleep with (actively and passively) for the rest of my life. He helps to keep me grounded and sane and healthier than I would be without him, I think. I hope I do the same for him.

He's a fierce Scrabble opponent, and recently found out I'm pretty darned good at Dynasty Warriors Gundam. We eat, drink, and are merry together.

So guys, if you're looking for a mate, but not to reproduce your genes, in my particular anecdote it's worked out great to find an "older" lady. And ladies, some of them are wiser than their years would suggest.
posted by lilywing13 at 2:41 AM on February 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


On the other hand: (separate comment on purpose)

There's this guy about my age (non-traditional student) in my computer lab frequently who has told me "You're lucky I'm married." with details about how he finds me attractive.

My response was "Well, I guess I'm lucky I'm married." or something similar. This same guy has also made wildly inappropriate comments to my younger female coworkers, so I'm counting my blessings and thinking "Creepy!" every time he walks through the door. We're keeping a close eye on his behavior.
posted by lilywing13 at 2:47 AM on February 17, 2010


Assuming older women are interested in dating younger men, the percentage of those 30-something women interested in settling down and/or having children before the 20-something men would be pretty high. For all the reasons it gives for men to date older women, it didn't touch on that little detail!

You're wrong on both counts: it did touch on that detail, and older women are less interested in settling down than younger women. The graph is one of the little sparklines ones, just above the heading "Exhibit C".

The question was "Are you ok with being in a relationship that you know won't lead to marriage?". The results showed 62% replying yes at age 18, and 96% replying yes at age 36.
posted by harriet vane at 3:04 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I spent a whole lot of time in my teens completely invisible, and shit loads more of my 20s than I'd care to admit being invisible. So, can we get some confirmation if 35 is the actual physical point where the inevitable becomes the present-tense?

Damn this thread just reminded me that it was just my birthday three days ago and no one even said Happy Birthday. THANKS, MetaFilter, you fuckers.

Actually, Jessamyn did say Happy Birthday. Yet another point goes to the cougars.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:15 AM on February 17, 2010


Last year when I was 36 I decided to try out OKCupid after seeing one of these OKTrends FPPs. I figured a six-year age difference was reasonable and put my preference down as 30-42. Now I find out that that was the Zone of Greatness!

No-one returned my messages, so I quit after a couple of months.

And I'm 37 now *shuffles off to Carousel*
posted by Ritchie at 3:32 AM on February 17, 2010


Now that OkTrends has pushed guys to think more about how older women are actually teh awesome and we should date them more, and have lots of great sex. In the interests of fairness, can the next instalment be all about pushing those hawt teenie girls to think more about how older men are actually teh awesome and you should date us uh... those people more, and have lots of great sex?

With graphs and stuff!

Pretty please?
posted by -harlequin- at 3:36 AM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's striking, reading through these comments, that so many people find it "gross, wrong, dumb, creepy, appalling, ridiculous, etc." that there exists a trend of attraction between women and men who are older than them. My understanding is that this particular disparity is one of the most universal traits of attraction across cultures. Even if this wasn't something confirmed by extensive research, it seems pretty obvious why this might exist as a trend.

It's great, just great, if men read the article and they try dating older women more often. But what's so wrong, in general, about women dating older men? What makes one age disparity awesome and the other gross?


You seem to be assuming there is a trend of mutual attraction, and of younger women dating significantly older men. That's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about men pursuing much younger women, unsuccessfully for the most part.
posted by orange swan at 3:54 AM on February 17, 2010


I may have told this anecdote before. When I was 30 I was standing in line at a Subway near the UW and there were two university students, women, in line in front of me. They were cute and while I wasn't going to hit on them you always kind of have it in the back of your mind that there might be a possibility of something happening...

Their conversation eventually turned to a friend of theirs, apparently.

"Did you hear about Becky?"

"Yeah, she's dating that guy who was at the party."

"He's like 30 or something."

"That's so gross."

"Yeah."

I look back at that day as the death of my youth, though of course it had died awhile before and I just hadn't buried the corpse yet.
posted by maxwelton at 4:25 AM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


At the national championships of most athletic sports, 35 year-olds have things stacked against them, by virtue of the age of their bodies, not the ageism of the umpires.

There are countless exceptions - sports as well as athletes - yes, but if you're talking about the performance of your body at the highest levels that you can attain, 35 is pushing it.
I'm a similar age to you. It might not be old, but it's probably post-peak.


I consistently find that young folk really suck at my favourite sport.

Sitting still.
posted by srboisvert at 4:51 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, Jessamyn did say Happy Birthday. Yet another point goes to the cougars.

I am RIGHT HERE.

I want a woman that's willing to pretend we're both REALLY old. I want to drive around the country in an RV, camp in beautiful spots, drink tea, and read.

This is also my current fantasy. Alas chronkite, I am spoken for, but it's good to know that unlike other fantasies that may diverge more and more from reality as me and peer group and my body age, this one should be good for the rest of my entire life.
posted by jessamyn at 5:21 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


You seem to be assuming there is a trend of mutual attraction, and of younger women dating significantly older men. That's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about men pursuing much younger women, unsuccessfully for the most part.
Many, many men are unsuccessful for the most part regardless of who they pursue. It's just part and parcel of being the initiating party. If 1 in 4 attempts goes anywhere, that's not unusual.

Is that also creepy? Should men who aren't desirable enough to get every woman they try for just give up altogether to spare your sensibilities?
posted by planet at 5:34 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


As we get older, we tend to get happier, more secure, more capable.

Would that it were, my friend. Would that it were.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:57 AM on February 17, 2010


Its nice seeing studies like this, where I have confirmation that I am indeed right in not bothering to pursue a romantic relationship with anyone.
posted by sandraregina at 6:35 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Should men who aren't desirable enough to get every woman they try for just give up altogether to spare your sensibilities?

No one is that desirable.

I just ask that anyone who is actively trying to find someone to date/hook up with needs to be realistic and sensitive to the fact that certain demographics aren't likely to be interested, and that they are modest and respectful and honest in their manner of approach of anyone.

I'm not really the best person to hold forth on this topic because I am so, so sick of dating-related crap that it's hard for me to keep my cool.

I state very clearly in my ad that I am looking for someone around my own age (meaning, say, three or four years added or subtracted), yet I get messaged by men significantly older than me. I'm sure a lot of men respect that and don't message me, but others choose to completely ignore my wishes. I've also come across many men who lied about their age on dating systems so they could fit into a lower bracket. Then, when by such subterfuges, they get me on the phone for a preliminary phone call and I find out how old they really are, they presume to lecture me about how "age is just a number" and how I "should be more open-minded". Oh, I ask, do they date women that are 10 or 20 years older than them? No? Oh, how interesting.

So, when I've had to deal with way too much of these self-serving, hypocritical asshole Peter Pan, and I get yet another message from a guy who is probably a pretty decent person who thought he'd just try his luck, I get pretty damn irritated. Enough, enough, enough.
posted by orange swan at 6:45 AM on February 17, 2010 [13 favorites]


It's gross and wrong that older men focus on young women and girls

Unless the man in question is handsome and well dressed, presumably.
posted by Scoo at 6:55 AM on February 17, 2010


What makes a woman 'desperate' when she's looking for some romance/love in her life? The mere fact that she's over a certain age? The fact that she's not attractive? The fact that she's actively looking and not jsut sitting back waiting to be pursued?

Sorry, I've just been mulling that over in my head all morning since reading some of the comments here. And I've realized I'm quite annoyed, and bitter, and yeah. I'm old, I'm definately not attractive, and I'm overweight, so even if I thought I'd have a chance and tried the dating scene, I'd be seen as desperate and therefore someone to be mocked even more so than normal.

Kudos to the beautiful people. I will go crawl under my rock now so you don't have to acknolwedge I exist.
posted by sandraregina at 6:59 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


We're talking about men pursuing much younger women, unsuccessfully for the most part.

Which is a pretty natural part of men pursuing women, unsuccessfully for the most part.

The “I don’t want you so if you hit on me you’re a creep and/or disgusting” is pretty hilarious when you’re in the so-called “cougar” camp (women pursuing much younger men, unsuccessfully for the most part).

Bare hypocrisy, as stated above.

I just ask that anyone who is actively trying to find someone to date/hook up with needs to be realistic

I regularly get attention from women of an age that would be likely to find me unacceptable on paper because of a number (but I’ve always looked much younger than I am). I’ve been hitched for a long time now, so it’s of no consequence, but again, take on the role of the pursuer and tell yourself to be “realistic”. You’re going to want to follow your heart/mind/hormones, too, wherever they lead. And hey, maybe you’ll be in my “ewww” camp. Do have those graphs handy.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:00 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


That was not directed at you, sandraregina, nor would it be.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:00 AM on February 17, 2010


Happy to see so many lovely metafilter ladies are on board with the RV plan..

You just say the word and I'll break out the Postum reserves and Paul Harvey cassettes, and we'll be on our way.!
posted by chronkite at 7:02 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm a 35 year old knitting designer. Dude. If I wasn't already taken, I would be persona non grata, onlinedatingwise. In fact, been there, done that when I was in my late 20s and online dating, because baby got back.

Or, as we put it the other day to each other:

"I'm glad I'm dating you. I'm too old to go through training another one."
"Ditto."

....aaaaaaand scene!

Or, as planet put it:

I don't like dating older women because they've already seen all of my bullshit. Younger women are so much easier.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:04 AM on February 17, 2010


I spent half my childhood in an RV and would be happy to spend a good period of my later adulthood, but good god, the gas that thing must have eaten...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:05 AM on February 17, 2010


It's gross to be gross. It's attractive to be attractive.

Online dating sites ought to have offline contacts that will verify people who want to join. Go and have an interview, show your ID, and have the interviewer look you up and down, take a few snapshots, maybe weigh and measure you if you're willing (and note it in your profile if you were unwilling), maybe even make a short video (touch your toes, do a couple of jumping jacks, show us your favorite dance move, etc.) and then the interviewer posts everything online independently of the subscriber -- you can choose not to display interview material, but you can't change it without going in for another interview.

Then the online filters for appearance, age, weight, etc., would work. Just getting actual full-length pictures that haven't been Photoshopped would probably remove most of the subterfuge from online dating games.
posted by pracowity at 7:13 AM on February 17, 2010


Why is it appalling and gross (of all things)? Futile perhaps but what makes one adult messaging another appalling and gross? You sound like parents telling a child to play with kids their own age.

One reason it's appalling and gross for 40-something or older men to be hitting on 18/19/20 year old women is that by the time you're 40-something, if your neurological development is remotely normal you should realize that even though the law treats them as adults, 18/19/20 year old people are children.

Another reason it's appalling and gross is that it's part and parcel of a larger complex of men who relentlessly pursue women who have given no indication whatsoever that they want their attentions. This is obviously not true if a woman or girl has created a profile on a dating site and you're in the age range she states she finds acceptable, more true if an 18 year old girl creates a profile looking for 17-20 year old men and you, who are 45, decide to message her with a sexual advance.

Should men who aren't desirable enough to get every woman they try for just give up altogether to spare your sensibilities?

No. At minimum, actual adults, no matter how desirable they are, shouldn't hit on children. In order to spare the children from being hit on by grownups.

45-year-old women making sexual advances to random 18/19/20 year old boys is also creepy. It's arguably less creepy because it's not contaminated with a zillion years of treating men like property, and arguably less creepy because it's not associated with other social problems (the number of 45 year old women who stalk and rape 19 year old boys is very small; the number of 45 year old women who regularly sexually harass 18/19/20 year old boys is likewise very small). But it's still, in the abstract, taking advantage of people whose cognitive functions still aren't fully booted up yet.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:16 AM on February 17, 2010 [14 favorites]


I want a woman that's willing to pretend we're both REALLY old. I want to drive around the country in an RV, camp in beautiful spots, drink tea, and read.

When that yurt-dwelling couple in Alaska came up on MeFi yesterday, I seriously thought to myself, "y'know, I could sell my apartment on the French Riviera for a tidy profit, and use the money to buy some land in Oregon or Washington, one of those yurts, and I'd still have money left over... I could freelance for a living with wireless internet, drink tea, read, go camping and cycling whenever I felt like it, raise chickens, my kitties would love exploring (though I'd have to protect them from predators), I could have a vegetable garden..."

Nearly 34 and still single (self-sufficient, French-speaking, mountain-biking women who want to put up a yurt and raise chickens in the back country aren't a hot commodity?!?!); like EmpressCallipygos I too am feeling very, "uh, so now what?" The same five guys keep showing up in my area of the world on OKCupid. It's not well-known in Europe, to say the least. As for the big online dating name here (meetic), it seems skewed towards immaturity. Practically all of the men in my age range (I put up 28-45) are looking for 18- to 25- year-olds; the very few with wider age criteria haven't fit, for various different reasons. I did find a more mature-seeming site just a few days ago, however; a bit like a grown-up OKCupid. We'll see; I'm already heartened by the fact that most of the profiles I've visited have been well-written and had age ranges that included their own age.

But who knows, eventually I may still be up for the yurt and chicken coop in the PacNW. "GET OFF MY LAWN! THOSE ARE MY HENS! Ahlàlà, les enfants d'aujourd'hui..."
posted by fraula at 7:27 AM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was on the train yesterday, and an young man, maybe 18 or so, was desperately hitting on (bothering) a very turned off older woman, who may have been 15-20 years his senior. Good on him! Hey, a creepster is a creepster regardless of the age ratio. I don't think the issue is older or younger men being interested in older or younger women, it's an inability for many people to respect other peoples preferences and wishes.

Any 19-45 year olds want to go on a date with me to IHOP for free pancakes today?
posted by fuq at 7:31 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


45-year-old women making sexual advances to random 18/19/20 year old boys is also creepy. It's arguably less creepy because it's not contaminated with a zillion years of treating men like property

You could also argue the opposite: 45-year-old women making advances to random 20-year-old guys is worse, because the people involved have less to gain from this nontraditional arrangement than a 45-year-old man and 20-year-old woman would stand to gain from that traditional/stereotypical arrangement. I'm not saying I like either arrangement -- I don't -- but we shouldn't assume that the less traditional thing is better just by virtue of being nontraditional.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:35 AM on February 17, 2010


None of this is shocking to me, because I have the power of anecdata: I'm 46 and I've been on OK Cupid for about six or seven months now. You want to know the youngest guy - of the three - who has messaged me? Why, he would be 58 years old! The other two were well into their sixties. So whoever that was upthread who was going to recommend it to his mother might want to think again. Men my own age, or at least the subset on that site, particularly in my area, want younger women with, as far as I can tell, no exceptions. When I first went on OK Cupid, feeling hopeful and not yet having read the writing on the wall, I messaged a few guys within five years of my own age. None of them ever replied, although one did change his profile to say he was only interested in women in their 20s and 30s. Am I uggo and desperate and do I deserve this treatment? I guess so - I think I look okay for 46 but I'm not Angelina fucking Jolie, sorry. I would think reasonably smart and sane and somewhat solvent would be okay, these days - it's all I'm looking for - but I am apparently wrong. Do you think I am bitter about it? Goddamn right I am bitter about it. Oh well. I've given up - I guess you can forget dating when you get to my age unless you get really, really lucky. It's embedded in the culture and I suppose that's that.

I dated older men on and off when I was in my teens and twenties - when you are young and shallow, there's a lot to be said for a man who knows how to open a bottle of wine and isn't afraid of restaurants. Most women I know did it now and then and grew out of it by their late twenties (with one notable exception; she's older than me, still likes them much older and now we tease her about her fuckfogey.) For myself, I've spent too much time with much older people and seen too many widows and younger wives spending their sixties and seventies caring for chronically ill older husbands to be interested in guys that much older than me. Sure, twelve years now doesn't seem like much but there's a big, big difference between 60 and 72.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:36 AM on February 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


Sadly, I'm at the age where the "older" women they're talking about are "younger" women to me.
posted by tommasz at 7:40 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


45-year-old women making advances to random 20-year-old guys is worse, because the people involved have less to gain from this nontraditional arrangement than a 45-year-old man and 20-year-old woman would stand to gain from that traditional/stereotypical arrangement.

Oh come on. I've been on both sides of this equation - a couple years ago I did in fact have a wonderful fling with somebody in his early twenties and I think we both gained a lot from it. No regrets and, likewise, no regrets about the guy in his fifties who I was seeing when I was eighteen. I don't really like the implication that I had something to gain, or, at least something more or less to gain than my young friend twenty years later. Seems to me we all gained the same thing in both of those relationships: fun, companionship, great sex and a chance to understand a different perspective. What, do you think all relationships with an age gap are financial in nature? They're not.

The problem here isn't that occasionally there's a relationship that breaks the age barrier - a tiny, tiny minority when it comes to younger men/older women, by the way. The problem is that an entire subset of humans seem to have decided that they only are interested in dating considerably younger humans. That's unfortunate, because it leaves a whole lot of people out in the cold.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:48 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like lazaruslong and Skwirl I was fascinated by the "Is Contraception Morally Wrong?" map and especially the pattern that shows that young women in East Texas think it is problematic. I am not sure why and so I posted a question on AskMeFi.
posted by Tallguy at 7:48 AM on February 17, 2010


mygothlaundry: You went on OKCupid, sent "a few" messages, and no one replied, and you got a couple messages, but those users didn't fit your criteria ... so you gave up? You didn't give it much of a chance.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:49 AM on February 17, 2010


Well, I sent five and I got three, so, yeah, I guess I didn't give it a chance. I'm still on there, though, and my profile is up, and I haven't gotten another message in six months.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:52 AM on February 17, 2010


"45-year-old women making advances to random 20-year-old guys is worse, because the people involved have less to gain from this nontraditional arrangement than a 45-year-old man and 20-year-old woman would stand to gain from that traditional/stereotypical arrangement."

Oh come on. I've been on both sides of this equation - a couple years ago I did in fact have a wonderful fling with somebody in his early twenties and I think we both gained a lot from it. No regrets and, likewise, no regrets about the guy in his fifties who I was seeing when I was eighteen. I don't really like the implication that I had something to gain, or, at least something more or less to gain than my young friend twenty years later. Seems to me we all gained the same thing in both of those relationships: fun, companionship, great sex and a chance to understand a different perspective. What, do you think all relationships with an age gap are financial in nature? They're not.


In the older man - younger woman relationship the gain is not so much financial as the man having the possibility of siring children, and to a lesser degree the woman gains from being with a man of likely higher status (greater career achievement and more money). This doesn't carry over to older woman - younger man relationships as most men are indifferent to the career achievements of their partners.
posted by BigSky at 7:59 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I sent five and I got three, so, yeah, I guess I didn't give it a chance. I'm still on there, though, and my profile is up, and I haven't gotten another message in six months.

Fair enough. I don't think guys should just focus on younger women. That's a stereotype. But then, I don't think women should expect to sit back and be messaged rather than sending messages themselves. That's also a stereotype.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:01 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, but Jalcoth - then you're desperate. Because if you were attractive and desireable, they'd message you. You messaging them means you're undesireable, and therefore desperate.

Mygothlaundry - I know where you're coming from, only I signed up about five years ago when I was almost-not-quite still 'young' enough to date, and got nothing. Not one response, not once unsolicited message. So you're doing better than me.
posted by sandraregina at 8:07 AM on February 17, 2010


MGL, the yurt/RV plan is sounding good to me, too. Porches and rocking chairs for those who prefer, too.

My romantic history is a bit over the map as well, from around seven years younger to fifteen years older (the father of my son, but we were pretty much around the same age when it came to our respective psychologies don'tgetmestarted); I've browsed dating sites, but I'm the kind of person who is dismayed by a single misplaced comma, let alone spelling and grammar mistakes, so there's that. I kind of gave up on the whole idea a number of years ago, to be honest, though of course one always holds out some hope, dwindling and lame as it may be. And the constant drumbeat of revulsion directed at older women tends to be corrosive, too. I see Madonna (Madonna!) being pretty regularly mocked, for example, let alone the whole "cougar" thing (oh please) is worse.

When I was young and purty, I didn't like older men hitting on me (when I was 18 I went out briefly with a 30 year old man, so older in this case meant my friend's fathers) because it was so utterly transparent that all they were interested in was my shiny new flesh. Which I found both laughable and grotesque.
posted by jokeefe at 8:11 AM on February 17, 2010


Also (brief vent) it's just fucking unfair that a woman over forty is done and finished (I'm channelling standard stereotypes here, obviously) or if not then it's an issue, a matter of comment: nobody expects men to abandon sex at forty or fifty. But I read a medical advice column in the Globe and Mail (sort of Canada's NYT) a few years back that seriously posited that "sex for women over forty is so rare" and I've never forgotten it.
posted by jokeefe at 8:17 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can be not-conventionally attractive and grab attention with a compelling profile. I am overweight and bald and make basically minimum wage but went with this on the contact section:

You should message me if

Go ahead and be an assertive 21st century brainy feminist type chick and just drop a dude a line if that's what you feel like doing.

That resulted in contact from 15 women in the first week I was on the site, 13 marginally younger, 2 significantly older. Most of them were responding specifically to that line, like, "Hey, I'm that chick, what's up?" Then I was able to pick and choose from those who I wanted to talk to and set up dates with.

You guys can go ahead and cop that line if you want.
posted by The Straightener at 8:18 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


(And true to form the fact that I left out a "which" in the last sentence of my first post above bugs the hell out of me. Grar.)
posted by jokeefe at 8:20 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


But then, I don't think women should expect to sit back and be messaged rather than sending messages themselves. That's also a stereotype.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:01 AM on February 17

Ah, but Jalcoth - then you're desperate. Because if you were attractive and desireable, they'd message you. You messaging them means you're undesireable, and therefore desperate.
posted by sandraregina at 8:07 AM on February 17


Over the past three years, I've easily sent out 100 messages.

I've gotten 20 responses.

Now what?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 AM on February 17, 2010


Straightener, if I used the word "feminist" in a dating profile directed at men I might as well also declare my recent exposure to Ebola. At least the dating sites I've looked at, which aren't many.
posted by jokeefe at 8:21 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that's part of the reason why a lot of women are so eager to respond, one of them actually mentioned that it was the first time she ever saw the word feminism used on another profile other than hers.

Breaking out the f-word might take your numbers down in terms of total contact but would likely improve the quality of the contact you did get.
posted by The Straightener at 8:28 AM on February 17, 2010


Ah, but Jalcoth - then you're desperate. Because if you were attractive and desireable, they'd message you. You messaging them means you're undesireable, and therefore desperate.

(Assuming this was not meant to be ironic, though I find it somewhat hard to tell...) I've messaged women on dating sites, and I don't think I'm "desperate." If the answer is going to be, "But you're a man so it doesn't matter," well, again, that's just more stereotyping.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:30 AM on February 17, 2010


Over the past three years, I've easily sent out 100 messages.

I've gotten 20 responses.

Now what?


As a guy, if I had a 1/5 response rate (in person or online), I'd feel like I was doing pretty good. So my answer to the "now what?" question would be so suggest sending more messages.

My perspective on all this is somewhat skewed in that there are two women in my family dating much younger men, and no men dating younger than a year or two from their age. One anecdote doesn't mean shit, but I'm not quite ready to consign all women over 35 to the soylent green tanks, either.
posted by Forktine at 8:32 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


What makes a woman 'desperate' when she's looking for some romance/love in her life? The mere fact that she's over a certain age? The fact that she's not attractive? The fact that she's actively looking and not jsut sitting back waiting to be pursued?

Sorry, I've just been mulling that over in my head all morning since reading some of the comments here. And I've realized I'm quite annoyed, and bitter, and yeah. I'm old, I'm definately not attractive, and I'm overweight, so even if I thought I'd have a chance and tried the dating scene, I'd be seen as desperate and therefore someone to be mocked even more so than normal.

Kudos to the beautiful people. I will go crawl under my rock now so you don't have to acknolwedge I exist.


Ah, but Jalcoth - then you're desperate. Because if you were attractive and desireable, they'd message you. You messaging them means you're undesireable, and therefore desperate.

sandraregina, I'm getting a whole "I've internalized the bad treatment and disappointments I've endured and am beating myself up over it" vibe from you. Please don't do that.
posted by orange swan at 8:36 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jalcoth - like I said earlier, I'm feeling very bitter today. I just meant that's an attitude that keeps coming across: if you're young & pretty, message away, its cute and assertive, but if you're old or ugly (or both), you're desperate.

Go ahead and message who you want, if it works for you.
posted by sandraregina at 8:36 AM on February 17, 2010


None of this is shocking to me, because I have the power of anecdata: I'm 46 and I've been on OK Cupid for about six or seven months now. You want to know the youngest guy - of the three - who has messaged me? Why, he would be 58 years old! The other two were well into their sixties.

My mom's 62, and I can't even tell you about how much trouble she's had finding someone decent to even go for a few dates with online. All the even vaguely attractive guys in her age range state they want women 10-20 years younger than them in their profiles. Which is a shame, because my mother is adorable and awesome and really just wants someone to talk about books and go to flea markets with.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:36 AM on February 17, 2010


what if there was a MetaFilter dating site
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:41 AM on February 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


I want to drive around the country in an RV, camp in beautiful spots, drink tea, and read.

I'm 37, but I want to roll like I'm 77


Fuck. I'm 38 and this is how we have been rolling for 3 years.

Please kill me now.
posted by stormpooper at 8:43 AM on February 17, 2010


actually nobody would date anyone on that we'd just message people about how offended we are by their profiles and/or squee about their pet photos
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:44 AM on February 17, 2010


what if there was a MetaFilter dating site

Now that would be awesome. (little late for me, but still awesome).

I think it's funny that 18 year olds use these dating sites. What? Bars/college too good for them?
posted by stormpooper at 8:44 AM on February 17, 2010


Older people need to pay for dating sites. Match.com/eharmony are much better for older folks because it's like 'OK Im through fucking around I'm going to pay for a computer to set me up cuz fuck it." I'm not older (barely) but I found match very tolerable.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:48 AM on February 17, 2010


Over the past three years, I've easily sent out 100 messages.

I've gotten 20 responses.

Now what?


I don't know. A lot could happen with 20 responses.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:48 AM on February 17, 2010


Every time I hear about the dance that straight people have to do on dating sites in order to avoid some of the ridiculous unwritten rules that plague your relationships... I say a little prayed of thanks to Lady Gaga that she made me gay.

There was a recent Valentine's Day article about how nasty people can be in online dating (especially on OkCupid). It's largely anonymous and pretty detached. And while I have always been polite to people, I've never spent my time worrying if they aren't polite to me. (I just consider it a very telling fact about them and I move on.)

While I have no doubt that there are a ton of asshats out there... that's true of online dating as well as offline dating. If you aren't getting a lot of "hits" when you're dating online - you probably aren't doing anything wrong, and the system is probably working just as intended. And you're not an ugly unlovable troll. We're complex creatures, and our current cultural ideas of compatibility are pretty weird. That's okay. That just means we're getting better at differentiating between what we want and what we need. Peter Backus' calculations for himself showed that he had about a 0.00034 percent chance of finding love in London. Apply those odds to online dating and all of a sudden striking out repeatedly doesn't seem quite so bad - actually, it seems more like dodged bullets.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:52 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I want a woman that's willing to pretend we're both REALLY old.
I want to drive around the country in an RV, camp in beautiful spots, drink tea, and read.
I'm 37, but I want to roll like I'm 77. Straw hat with green plastic visor, Good Sam club, the whole nine yards.

Sounds good, let's do it! Oh, wait, I'm older than you . . . *sigh*
posted by JanetLand at 8:52 AM on February 17, 2010


Older men who consistently seek out much younger women are skeezy, just as older men who consistently seek out much younger men are skeezy, or older women etc, etc.

That's not to say that you might not meet your soul-mate who just happens to be much younger. And while many 18-year-olds can be very immature, there are some who (due to circumstances or innate personality) who are not.

But people who consistently seek out people so much younger are skeezy (IMO) because they are not seeking out balanced relationships. Perhaps they are simply shallow, and looking for young body; this is skeezy. Perhaps they are looking to be a parental figure, someone to take care of; this is unhealthy in a relationship. Perhaps they are themselves so immature that no person their age would be interested -- okay, nothing to do there. But I feel sorry for the person they get involved with when that person matures and they don't.

To finish with a bit of anecdata -- my parents are only five years apart in age, but considering that they were 21 and 16 when they got married, my dad was already a bit of a cradle robber. In explaining their divorce five years later, my mom has said simply that "I grew up, and he didn't". My dad then spent the next 20 years dating women who weren't that much younger, but who looked up to him or needed him more than he needed them. I had hopes for him a few years ago when he married a really cool, put together woman who loved him and wanted to be his partner, but didn't NEED him in the same way. She was actually nine years older than him, but that's not such a big deal when you are 48 and 57. Sadly, their marriage broke up a few years later (not for age reasons).

But now my 57-year old dad is dating a 24-year old woman -- someone who is 9 years younger than his youngest child (me). I haven't met her, and I'm sure she's really nice -- though I do have to wonder what she is looking for in a relationship with someone who is literally old enough to be her father (and then some). But as for him -- yeah, I'm totally skeezed out. I know he's been through some tough times lately (mental issues, the break-up of his second marriage), but what attracts him to someone his daughters age? Maybe they do have a miraculous age-less meeting of minds -- or maybe he is looking for someone with whom he can always be more knowledgable and dominant. Given his parenting style, I suspect the latter. And that is NOT healthy in a relationship.

Of course, maybe I should warn this woman never to have kids with my dad, considering that his child support contributions over 15 years added up to nada.
posted by jb at 9:00 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


it wasn't until I reached 32 that I began to understand why women lie about their age. I'm 33, but look a few years younger and once I hit that birthday my dating pool evaporated so quickly down to leechy older men who still live at home with their moms.
posted by Unred at 9:01 AM on February 17, 2010


This conversation goes back and forth in terms of applicability to "dating" generally. I mean, when I was single, I guarantee that my female friends would have showered me with approval if I'd gone after the "nice" girl who maybe wasn't too pretty, because what a great person she is. Yet those girls won't go out with my (genuinely) "nice" guy friend, because he's shorter than 6' and similarly isn't magazine material (yes, input rant about "nice" guys here -- there's still the potential for a true double standard). Substitute looks with age, money, status, etc, etc.. People want the "fair" thing for other people, and they want what they want for themselves. Sorry to say, that goes for your mom, aunt, uncle, "nice guy/girl" friend, brother or sister.

The issue of someone hitting on you being "creepy" is akin to disgust -- and has always had a lot to do with ideas about what kind of person should be showing interest. As in: Are you kidding? I can't believe you think I would be interested -- and that has always been more generally applicable than anything age-specific (someone as old as you? someone as ugly as you? someone as poorly dressed as you? someone as tongue-tied as you?) The point at which disgust (rather than just non-interest) enters the picture is the point at which you should start canvassing your own biases. "creepy" is frankly getting a free ride on the possibility (but not probability) that every out-of-touch skeezoid is actually dangerous. Be honest. Disgust is what you're talking about.

Yeah, the 20/100 thing is yet another signal that we not only live in different worlds, but you have no idea how different. Imagine thinking 20/100 is good response rate for your shows of interest. Then we can talk about "fair". I'm not complaining (again -- hitched). I just find it amusing that when the shoe is on the other foot, people act like they're the only ones who have ever had feet.

Frankly, I'm grateful for any demographic that shares the trials and tribulations of being the pursuer, because if MeFi is any indication, no one understands or has sympathy for a single thing they themselves don't experience.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:06 AM on February 17, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm 37, but I want to roll like I'm 77.

This is pretty much me, except that I'm 27 and I roll like I'm 87. I just started dating a guy, and I knew it was meant to be when I saw his Su-M-T-W-Th-F-S pill box.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:06 AM on February 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seems to me that biologically, of course older men are going to be looking to younger women for sex. And, too, that after about age 40 that drive goes into decline.

Young women are less likely to have genetically-damaged children. They're more likely to survive childbirth. More likely to be able to raise the children, longer. Etcetera. And after age 40, men's genes tend toward genetic problems (a good biological reason for young women to run away from them.)

We're still just well-dressed cave(wo)men. It's kind of silly to expect the statistics to show anything other than what they've shown.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sounds good, let's do it! Oh, wait, I'm older than you . . . *sigh*

What in the wide wide world of sports does THAT have to do with anything?
posted by chronkite at 9:15 AM on February 17, 2010


I'm not really the best person to hold forth on this topic because I am so, so sick of dating-related crap that it's hard for me to keep my cool.

I understand that it can be hard to keep your cool, but I wholeheartedly urge you to try just a little bit harder.

Look, last time I put my profile on OkCupid, I was overwhelmed by interested responses from women that I had absolutely NO intention of ever contacting back. Older than me and fat. Some of them were VERY older than me and VERY fat. And of course, all of them had checked the "wants children" box. Lots of the messages suggested a meet up in the first message. And did I think to get on some message board and get all bitter and whiny about how I'm just soooo beleaguered? About how it's soooo awful that all these people were interested in me? Hell no! Because that would a real asshole thing to do. I just took it as a compliment that people interested in me at all, and just kindly ignored all the "Hiya dollface" emails. You would be well-advised to do the same.

I mean yes, I definitely sympathize with women when guys shout at them on the street. That's just fucked up, menacing, and stupid. Likewise, if a guy is writing genuinely creepy things in his email, I sincerely hope that you're pressing the "report this user" button. But some poor old lumpy dude who just doesn't catch you eye? Just ignore the poor bastard. How is it hurting you?

(and here's a hint -- the more responses on OKC that you ignore, that green "always writes back" dot turns into a red "is VERY selective" dot, which is probably what you want anyway)
posted by Sloop John B at 9:20 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Yeah, life sucks right now, but trust me, it gets better."

This was EXACTLY what my dad told me when I was a teenager..and along with "shit comin' out of the oven is HOT" and "You can make it real", it's some of the best advice I've ever gotten.
posted by chronkite at 9:27 AM on February 17, 2010


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and make my daily genuflection to that picture of Helen Mirren I keep on the wall for inspiration.
posted by jokeefe at 11:54 PM on February 16


Funny, I do that every day with my Helen Mirren poster too!

(Looks up "genuflection").

Sorry, never mind.
posted by nanojath at 9:30 AM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can't believe nobody's asked what the hell is going on along the Idaho-Oregon border there. It's one of the few areas where sex skews to the "once daily" side of things from age 18 and stays pegged across age ranges. Central-West Wyoming's close behind.
posted by namespan at 9:39 AM on February 17, 2010


Sounds good, let's do it! Oh, wait, I'm older than you . . . *sigh*

What in the wide wide world of sports does THAT have to do with anything?


Excellent! I'll meet you at the RV sales lot.
posted by JanetLand at 9:43 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I first went on OK Cupid, feeling hopeful and not yet having read the writing on the wall, I messaged a few guys within five years of my own age. None of them ever replied, although one did change his profile to say he was only interested in women in their 20s and 30s. Am I uggo and desperate and do I deserve this treatment? I guess so

This was pretty much my experience on OK Cupid as a not very attractive younger guy. There were a lot of non-replies to my messages, and almost no one messaged me. You basically just have to cast a large net and use the site more as a way to meet random people than as a way to find your perfect match.

I'm still on there, though, and my profile is up, and I haven't gotten another message in six months.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you haven't logged in recently, you'll tend to not get any messages no matter who you are. I think the default search heavily favors people who have been online in the past few weeks, and I personally don't message people that haven't been on in over a month because I don't want to waste my time trying to contact people who seem to have stopped using the site.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:07 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe this is the first time I've seen people my age described as "older." Awesome.
posted by rusty at 10:09 AM on February 17, 2010


but it's kind of like the phenomenon of flirting with the (unobtainable) barista.

Speaking as that barista, that doesn't make it less creepy. It makes it more creepy. I was there to do my job, not be a captive participant in older men's flirting games. And of course, even if I politely said that their attempts at flirting with me made me uncomfortable, they would get defensive and pretend not to understand why it would possibly bother me. "But you should be flattered!"

Bad comparison, basically. At least if you're not on the job you have more leeway to ignore or shut people down.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:11 AM on February 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


What's funny is that I think mygothlaundry is really super hot, and seems, for all intents and purposes, to be really interesting and cool. They don't know what they're missing, do they? Dang.

Too bad a certain MeFite lives 7 hrs away from you, I think you'd get along smashingly.

(Also, too bad Valentine's Day is over, I think there could be a lot of matchmaking on MeFi -- we all know each other better than those stupid dating site profiles, no?) :)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:16 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


oh look! another great big old plate of beans on MeFi!

Mr. lfr (11 years my junior, for what that's worth) just sent me the link to this thread. Heh.

my takeaway from all of this is that I've successfully corrupted the lad. Oh, no, not by the living-in-sin bits, but by addicting him to Metafilter. Before we met, he'd no idea this site existed; now he's on it daily. 'Tis but a matter of time before he finds something he just can't step away from and contributes his Jackson to the masses... ;)
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:22 AM on February 17, 2010


> if MeFi is any indication, no one understands or has sympathy for a single thing they themselves don't experience.

Realms in which I operate from advantage and choice:
Exceptionality and nontraditionality are good! Custom and the average are boring and limiting!

Realms in which I do not operate from advantage and am at the mercy of those with more choice:
Custom, tradition, and the average are good! Exceptionality is immoral and skeevy!

Cf. Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, et al.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:28 AM on February 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Tis but a matter of time before he finds something he just can't step away from and contributes his Jackson to the masses

Unless his contribution is a quickie ($20SAIT), I think you meant a Lincoln.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:35 AM on February 17, 2010


Seconding the "please, for the love of god, don't flirt with the barista" -- which can be extended to include anyone serving in a coffee shop, or a restaurant, or a grocery store...

but for some reason, the coffee shop seems to bring it out pretty bad. I don't know what it is about an ill-fitting apron and the smell of caffinated beverages that turns men on. I have never been flirted with as much before or after the few months I worked in a coffee shop.

All I know is that it is annoying, even threatening (because you can't get away).
posted by jb at 10:46 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


A QUICKIE OR THREE SOCKPUPPETS AMIRITE??!!!!

gods damned lack of freaking fracking edit windowgrumble grumble grar....
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:52 AM on February 17, 2010


When I was 18, I dated a man who was 37 for a while. The sex was good and he could take me fun places because he had money. I thought we had a relationship of equals -- not a serious one by any stretch of the imagination, but I was under the impression that we were both on equal footing. I found out about two months in that he did NOT think that at all, that he absolutely thought of me as a PYFT whom he kept around for his pleasure. That was really disenheartening and gross.

When I was 20, I met a man who was 26. I'm 34 now, we've been married for nearly six years, and our relationship is nothing short of awesome -- AND much, much better than it was 14 years ago, for all kinds of reasons.

In summary: older men dating younger women because they like the particular lady, or because they want to settle down with someone who has a childbearing future, or because they think younger gals are hot? Fine, whatever. Older men dating younger women because they like the power differential involved in having a partner who's significantly less wise and experienced than they are? Gross, and I'm not afraid to say it.
posted by KathrynT at 11:01 AM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I'm thirty-seven, I'm not old!"
posted by weston at 11:07 AM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Unless his contribution is a quickie ($20SAIT), I think you meant a Lincoln.

Imagine my relief. I was afraid Jackson was some regional variation of Johnson.
posted by Zed at 11:13 AM on February 17, 2010


SOOPER SEKRIT "COUGAR" "STRATEGY": I answered my now-boyfriend's (brief, polite, photo-free, nonspecific as to age of respondents) Craigslist ad thus: "Hi, I'm probably too old for you to 'date,' but you sound pretty smart and funny; maybe we could have coffee."
posted by FrauMaschine at 11:16 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nearly 34 and still single (self-sufficient, French-speaking, mountain-biking women who want to put up a yurt and raise chickens in the back country aren't a hot commodity
This is because the dating world is a sad and wrong place.
posted by scrump at 11:28 AM on February 17, 2010


> I have never been flirted with as much before or after the few months I worked in a coffee shop.

It's been more than ten years and my wife still has PTSD from working in a coffee shop for three months. If it wasn't creepy (young and old) dudes hitting on her it was jerks (of both genders) who thought spending a couple of bucks made them King/Queen Of The Coffee Shop.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:31 AM on February 17, 2010


I knew it was meant to be when I saw his Su-M-T-W-Th-F-S pill box.

Dude, I got my man one of those pill boxes for holidaytime. It's almost hip!
posted by jessamyn at 11:43 AM on February 17, 2010


There may be some basis for this in rates of emotional maturation. It seems to me that once a girl isn't childishly immature, she sort of becomes who she will be. I, a guy, was a total loss in my 20s and have improved only incrementally over the decades.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:45 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


So when does date.metafilter.com (date.me for short) go live? Mathowie? pb? someone around here knows.

See y'all on "the pink"...
posted by fuq at 11:46 AM on February 17, 2010


As long as this kind of pink isn't involved, fuq. Because ick... (semi-NSFW link that has appeared on MetaFilter before).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:51 AM on February 17, 2010


"I'm thirty-seven, I'm not old!"

You're hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society!
posted by jokeefe at 12:04 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's funny is that I think mygothlaundry is really super hot, and seems, for all intents and purposes, to be really interesting and cool. They don't know what they're missing, do they? Dang.

I have never met MGL in person but I wholeheartedly endorse this comment.
posted by jokeefe at 12:05 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was this comment on her blog that did it for me, jokeefe:

"until finally nobody wants to meet me except a polygamous bisexual transvestite truck driver from Atlanta, who, to be fair, was thoroughly charming and it's probably too bad that I am so narrow minded and square."

Reminds me of the time the puppet people hit on me when I was online dating. And by "puppet people," I mean a straight male/bi female couple looking for a third. Which, in itself, wasn't the problem -- the problem was that he made marionettes. Creeeeepy marionettes. It was all too Being John Malkovich for me, thanks.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:11 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty vanilla, but I have to say the idea of a creepy marionette couple is doing it for me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:21 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding the "please, for the love of god, don't flirt with the barista" -- which can be extended to include anyone serving in a coffee shop, or a restaurant, or a grocery store...

but for some reason, the coffee shop seems to bring it out pretty bad.


Well, baristas generally work (in part) for tips. As with most tip-supported jobs, the more you flirt with the customer, the better tips you get. Maybe I'm just a super attractive exception to the rule, but it's been my experience that baristas are a flirty, flirty lot -- even the guys go out of their ways to act like they're my bestest friend evar. You might not even realize you're doing it anymore; excessive friendliness and flirting is pretty ingrained in the barista culture.** (Sometimes you get the polar-opposite stone-faced baristas, which are clearly a reaction to unwanted reciprocal flirting.)

Not surprisingly, sometimes the customer flirts back -- more commonly so if they're unattractive (old, ugly, poor, whatever) and/or lonely, because positive attention from an attractive potential mate means so much more for them. The net result is you get lots of unattractive, lonely creepy guys flirting with you.

I guess if you work service industry, somewhere you have to set your slider on the tip-earning vs. creepy-person-aversion scale.

FWIW, if you hate creepy guys flirting with you, DO NOT go into bartending -- it's practically a job requirement. (On the plus side, you'll get really good at gracefully declining unwanted advances...)

** Similarly, it should be common knowledge to customers that baristas, servers, & bartenders flirt for tips. Duh. I personally find this to be transparently manipulative, disingenuous, often predatory behavior -- "I'll pretend to like you so you'll give me money". But obviously it works on the whole, or they wouldn't do it.
posted by LordSludge at 12:28 PM on February 17, 2010


I believe this is the first time I've seen people my age described as "older."

At Starbucks the other day, the cashier called the guy ahead of me "sir." He got all upset, "I'm too young to be called sir." He turned around to me and said, "Am I right, Pops?"
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about some more anectdata?

When I was in high school, I dated lots of "older women" (i.e. college girls). In my twenties I had several fun--but certainly not "serious"--relationships with older women. Online I found that women who are older than me generally did not respond favorably to my advances. I think this must be because I look much younger than I am. The general response is that they prefer men their age because they have more in common. I was out of the dating scene for five years while I was married, pretty unhappily (to a woman my age).
Having recently begun dating again I have found that the women that I tend to attract attention from are (sometimes much) younger than me. I can NOT explain this. I'm talking like freshmen in college.
My current significant other is, at 22, younger than me and I have honestly never been happier in a relationship.

I suspect my dating history reflects the fact that I've never really been one for what you would term "traditional" heterosexual relationships. I mean, I'm sexually attracted to all kinds of women, but the ones that I end up spending large chunks of my life with tend to be not in my age group, probably largely due to the fact that when I was younger older women didn't want to settle down and when I got older, younger women don't want to settle down.

Now that I'm involved in what I consider to be the healthiest, happiest relationship I've ever had, I honestly NEVER think about my significant other's age (and neither does she). It seems to come up fairly frequently in conversation with our respective peer groups, however, which I guess is understandable, given the things I've learned from this post and it's comments, however.

My point:
I don't think it's inherently "creepy" for someone of a certain age to pursue someone else of another. I think "creepy" has more to do with your behavior when you do decide to pursue someone (anyone). Online dating is necessarily going to have a higher proportion of creeps of the male order because men who wouldn't normally have the courage to approach a certain kind of woman in public will find it easier to message her on a dating site. It's pretty much always been this way with the internet and always will be, in my opinion.
I think the golden rule should be that if you wouldn't have the courage or think you would be successful approaching that particular person in public, then you shouldn't try it online either.
posted by kaiseki at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2010


Aw, thanks y'all, I blush.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:47 PM on February 17, 2010


fff: Young women are less likely to have genetically-damaged children. They're more likely to survive childbirth. More likely to be able to raise the children, longer.

No, no, no... Metafilter has emphatically rejected evolutionary psychology. Therefore, it follows that older men are creepy jerks. who enjoy hamburger
posted by LordSludge at 1:09 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


jessamyn -- I have the same container in blue. The septagon shape is pretty cool.
posted by jb at 1:09 PM on February 17, 2010


mygothlaundry: I guess you can forget dating when you get to my age unless you get really, really lucky. It's embedded in the culture and I suppose that's that.

I feel your pain. I'm 42, and despite ongoing efforts to remain optimistic in the face of various depressing realities in the dating world, I'm finding it increasingly hard to avoid drawing the same sad conclusion. And as jokeefe mentioned, throw the word "feminist" into the mix and you can pretty much kiss even the most modest of your dating hopes goodbye.

we tease her about her fuckfogey.

Heh heh. "Fuckfogey." First time I've heard that one! There's something endearing about the wink-wink, nudge-nudge, gently-poke-fun-at-ourselves feel of it. I think I'll adopt it for my own online ad:

"Bookish, nerdy, black-clad fortysomething SWF, still wild at heart, seeks fabulous, feisty feminist fuckfogey."

Unlikely to garner much interest, perhaps, but it has a nice ring to it.
posted by velvet winter at 1:21 PM on February 17, 2010


Look, last time I put my profile on OkCupid, I was overwhelmed by interested responses from women that I had absolutely NO intention of ever contacting back.... And did I think to get on some message board and get all bitter and whiny about how I'm just soooo beleaguered? About how it's soooo awful that all these people were interested in me? Hell no! Because that would a real asshole thing to do.

If I read your comment right, you're talking about one stretch of time being on OK Cupid, during which you only experienced messages from people you weren't interested. I'm talking about two decades of putting up with not only messages from people I wasn't interested in but some really inappropriate crap from people not only on dating systems but in real life. Did an older woman ever paw you while you were out dancing in a club or while you were just walking by her in a subway station? Did an older woman ever lecture you about being narrow-minded for not wanting to date her personally? Did an older woman ever lie to you about her age?

If you complained about being contacted by people you weren't interested in over the course of a few months on a dating site, yeah, you would be a whiny asshole. I'm talking about a much larger and more negative experience.
posted by orange swan at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2010


Did an older woman ever lie to you about her age?

That's not an altogether implausible scenario.

Did an older woman ever lecture you about being narrow-minded for not wanting to date her personally?

Based on this very thread, among other things, that's not altogether implausible either.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:32 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Women 18-25 are in prime child-bearing age. Naturally they would be more attractive to men.

And it's only when men are old enough to have daughters that age that they stop hitting on them. What's wrong with that?

It's only appalling if you see sex between (some) consenting adults as creepy. Which it, of course, doesn't have to be.

Actually, after looking at the data-sets, it is quite gross that older guys focus on young women or even girls. Why??

Duh. Because they are more attractive? How old are the women in the SI Swimsuit Edition? Let's not be stupid here. Younger men and women are (in general) more attractive than older men and women. I mean, c'mon, you guys.

One man's "futile" attempts to validate his virility can really ruin one girl's day.

Don't these sorts of sites let you "block" users you don't like? I don't understand how being contacted on a dating site that you joined willingly is ruining someone's day.

As others have said, it's the respect offered by the courter toward the courtee. Regardless of either's age, a lack of respect can be very offensive.

I guess it sounds like I protest too much here. I am (profile-wise) very conventional/traditional. I am in a 10+ years married relationship with a woman my own age whom I met in my 20s, and I have no desire to go outside that relationship. I just think people should be free to court whomever they like, provided they do it respectfully.

I even get the feeling that if it were possible for these men to be absolutely sure that a particular 20-year-old would be willing to fuck them, to be certain of this without any actual fucking taking place, they'd probably be fine with only that knowledge: the knowledge that some attractive 20-year-old finds them attractive enough to fuck.

While I will admit I would enjoy that knowledge, I would not enjoy it as much as fucking a hot 20-year-old (if I were single and old). The men might cum after 30 seconds, but they're gonna cum if they can cum.

A more reasonable guess is that they think the younger ones are hotter.

Yes, can we please at least admit that?

So 35 is old? Is that what I'm understanding here?

After 35, there are a barrage of extra steps you'll probably have to take to get pregnant and have a baby. It's not fair, but there it is.

You just say the word and I'll break out the Postum reserves and Paul Harvey cassettes, and we'll be on our way.

Jennifer Stone is a wonderful liberal foil for Paul Harvey, and is on a bunch of public radio stations. Check her out.

even though the law treats them as adults, 18/19/20 year old people are children

Bollocks. I was mature as I've ever been at the age of 13. The age of consent should probably be around 15-16. Give young people more credit.

polygamous bisexual transvestite truck driver

Maybe give the PBTTD a shot? Sometimes it's good to get it twisted....
posted by mrgrimm at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I have never met MGL in person but I wholeheartedly endorse this comment."

I have never met MGL in person, but I wholeheartedly endorse ♥her♥. And I'm a younger man.

These threads tempt me to reopen my old OKC account (if it's still there; weren't they once SparkMatch?), but that would only lead to trouble.
posted by Eideteker at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2010


My experience as an early/mid 20s guy on okcupid has been that women who are older than me are - as a generalized category - actively and aggressively uninterested in me. On any given day of checking profiles, anywhere between a large minority and a sizable majority of women, particularly those in their mid-late 20s, explicitly place age floors on who they want to hear from; in most cases they expressed disinterest in communication from anyone younger than them, and I'd stop reading right there. Maybe that changes as women hit their 30s, but so far, it's sent a very clear message that I really ought not to bother looking at women who're older than me; by sticking to younger ones, I can minimize the chances that I'm going to get to the bottom of the profile and read "Not interested in anyone younger than 26."
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:58 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Did an older woman ever lecture you about being narrow-minded for not wanting to date her personally?

I did encounter this once in online dating, from a 37-year-old when I'd posted an age range of "about 26-36".

(It's not my intent to challenge your point that women encounter a whole lot of BS and worse, or to suggest that men's experience is equivalent, just to note that this one isn't implausible.)
posted by Zed at 2:04 PM on February 17, 2010


Oh, oh! Can I play??

Did an older woman ever paw you while you were out dancing in a club or while you were just walking by her in a subway station?

Oh god yes. All. The. Time. Okay, I lie a little -- no subways around here, but yes, yes, yes for dance clubs, bars, concerts, etc. Obviously there's a difference in power dynamic, as I'm nearly always physically bigger than them, but please don't think women hold exclusivity on getting groped in public. (I usually ignore it. Meh, some weird lady got her jollies. Once in a while I'll get irritated and let her know that it's NOT OKAY to grab somebody's ass/crotch without consent.)

Did an older woman ever lecture you about being narrow-minded for not wanting to date her personally?

Yes, of course... Again, this is common. It's simply somebody protecting their own ego by making you the unreasonable asshole rather than admitting they might not be as attractive as they thought.

Did an older woman ever lie to you about her age?

Women lying about their age is practically a cliche! (Can't say I blame 'em, but can't say I blame the men either -- it shouldn't matter, and yet it so completely does.)

If you complained about being contacted by people you weren't interested in over the course of a few months on a dating site, yeah, you would be a whiny asshole. I'm talking about a much larger and more negative experience.

You are not unique in your plight. Men get hit on by unattractive or "inappropriate" women all the time. It sucks to be hot, huh?

You want stories? Oh jesus I got stories...
posted by LordSludge at 2:13 PM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Did an older woman ever paw you while you were out dancing in a club or while you were just walking by her in a subway station? Did an older woman ever lecture you about being narrow-minded for not wanting to date her personally? Did an older woman ever lie to you about her age?

I'm not sure why you'd offer those up as examples. Subway? No. Club, yes. Anywhere with alcohol, yes. Art gallery opening, yes.
The lecture? Oh hell yes.
Lie about age? Yes.

I'm sure the frequency with which you experience these things (especially the first) dwarfs mine, but I don't know what to make of the fact that you think these things don't happen.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:17 PM on February 17, 2010


Gah! I have been following this thread with dread as a middle aged woman that has been thinking of venturing into online dating again, something I dread.

It sucks so bad, and for me has never had any kind of good outcome, but I feel I should try to meet someone. I have never been happier, I am financially and emotionally secure, but I have time on my hands and like sex. A general partner in crime would be awfully nice, too. Should be simple, right?

Last time I tried OKCupid I had two unsolicited men contact me just to tell me they would not date me and why. Well, one thought he wanted to get to know me at first but I think he might have been drunk or something and missed that age thing at first glance (he was 10 or so years younger).

I have had guys in their twenties IM me on OKC just soliciting sex. That is very weird. I can't imagine finding someone my daughter's age attractive.

Two of my siblings with the best marriages have a reverse age thing going, my brother's wife is seven years older and my sister's husband is three years younger although I don't think anyone has ever given it that much thought to consider it out of the norm.

I'm almost determined to meet someone because one of my oldest and dearest friends, a gay man, informed me that he had already made plans for us for our retirement years and I should quit kidding myself that there was a chance in hell I would ever remarry. I took it as a challenge. And he is way too much of a crabby old man for me to spend the rest of my life with. I'd rather spend my time with a crabby old man that might be interested in occasional sex, at least.
posted by readery at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


My takeaway from these OKTrends pieces (the race one in particular soured my mood for about a week): dating is just so damn difficult for so many people. It's a wonder anyone makes it out alive. In aggregate we're all just way too judgmental and narrow-minded, and online dating only seems to amplify and encourage these bad instincts.
posted by naju at 2:36 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Women 18-25 are in prime child-bearing age. Naturally they would be more attractive to men.

If the type of older men who are actively courting this particular kind of May/December relationship are doing so because they're looking for a woman to bear them children, I'll blow a herd of caribou in Times Square.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:59 PM on February 17, 2010 [12 favorites]


Good news for all the women of over 40: It can happen. It happened for me and I am not especially pretty or charming or witty. I was 41 when I met my husband on line. He was 30. Fortunately it wasn't a dating site because his age would have scared me off, rather we met in a book chat room and talked off and on for a couple of months before even exchanging ages. I was the most surprised because I had him pegged as a 50 something guy. He claims he had figured out my age pretty well by then.

We've been together for over 10 years and our relationship is too big to be written about convincingly. However there is a bittersweet sting-- he can never have children now and that makes me incredibly sad because he is funny and creative and thoughtful and patient and therefor perfect daddy material. He says it doesn't matter, but it does matter to me.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: I was mature as I've ever been at the age of 13.

That should not be a point of pride.
posted by adamrice at 3:55 PM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


For my part, I just wish that people would stop judging or having strong opinions about what other folks do with their own sexual desires.

Jeez, its tiresome. 30 year old guy wants to date a 40 year old woman and she wants to date him back? Whats the problem? 40 year old guy wants to date a 20 year old WOMAN, and she wants to date him back, whats the problem?

Sex is fun. I like it. With all kinds of women.

\rant
posted by sfts2 at 4:11 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm talking about two decades of putting up with not only messages from people I wasn't interested in but some really inappropriate crap from people not only on dating systems but in real life.

Yeah, but that's a whole different ball of wax. I'm not gonna deny that some men just don't know how to act. But your original comment was about online dating, and that's what I was responding to.
posted by Sloop John B at 4:21 PM on February 17, 2010


Man, old guys weren't my problem when I was on OkCupid. I mean, I'd get a ton of 40+ year old men showing up repeatedly on my stalker list, which was creepy, especially because it's called a stalker list, but they wouldn't message me, so whatevs.

I'm really not a very indulgent person and don't suffer fools kindly, so I figured I'd try to nip the "u r hot im single call me" messages in the bud by setting my status as "looking for new friends" and with a simple, clear couple of sentences in the Message Me If... section: "Don't message me if you don't know what 2666 is. I'm serious, I won't even respond."

Maybe 10% of my messages were from guys who'd heard of Bolaño, whether or not they'd read 2666 (most hadn't. Whatever. I'd send them a nice "not really looking to date, but all the best" message). 60% were from guys who started off their messages with "IDK what 2666 is, but..." And my favorite, the last 30%, were from guys harassing me for being too picky. Like I'd hunted them down and spat in their face. I deleted my account and I couldn't be happier about it.

In conclusion: OkCupid? Kill it with fire. The people who have success with it must be blessed by Jesus or something, because oh my god.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:49 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I figured I'd try to nip the "u r hot im single call me" messages in the bud by setting my status as "looking for new friends"

Well there's your problem right there. You were only getting guys who were also "looking for friends" (yeah, right) or else didn't bother to read your profile. Not exactly the cream of the crop.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


You mean no one's actually looking for friends? That explains a lot
posted by oinopaponton at 5:09 PM on February 17, 2010


It's called OkCupid for a reason.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:15 PM on February 17, 2010


I've been dating a gal 10 yrs my senior for near on 3 years, and she is awesome.

/realizes that the plural of anecdote isn't data
posted by brundlefly at 5:18 PM on February 17, 2010


Women 18-25 are in prime child-bearing age. Naturally they would be more attractive to men.

If the type of older men who are actively courting this particular kind of May/December relationship are doing so because they're looking for a woman to bear them children, I'll blow a herd of caribou in Times Square.


That's not how evolutionary psychology works. The evolutionary advantage of a behavior can perpetuate that behavior even in the absence of any conscious motive. (For most of the time humans have been evolving they didn't even realize that having sex led to giving birth!)
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:19 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


If the type of older men who are actively courting this particular kind of May/December relationship are doing so because they're looking for a woman to bear them children, I'll blow a herd of caribou in Times Square.

It wouldn't be a conscious drive.

Or, what Jaltcoh sez.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:32 PM on February 17, 2010


I'm sure the frequency with which you experience these things (especially the first) dwarfs mine, but I don't know what to make of the fact that you think these things don't happen.

I never said - or thought - that these things don't happen to men. I was replying to the person who criticized me for "whining" about getting approached on dating sites by people I don't find attractive, and my point was that there's a larger problem at issue here.
posted by orange swan at 5:35 PM on February 17, 2010


Most depressing thread in the history of Metafilter. At least this week! (Maybe.)

It seems like this has been winding itself down, but I find it a little annoying that all of the people being "how dare you judge!" about the older man/younger women thing are completely ignoring the historical differences between that and older women/younger men. The scales *still* aren't balanced in terms of who holds power in this society, and it's naive to pretend that both types of age disparities are equal and equally neutral.

I was overwhelmed by interested responses from women that I had absolutely NO intention of ever contacting back. Older than me and fat. Some of them were VERY older than me and VERY fat. And of course, all of them had checked the "wants children" box.

Oh, GOD no. Fat women? VERY fat women?! How did you ever survive the shame of being pursued by them? And they wanted *children* too? HAHAHAHAHA. God, it's like the fatties think they're people and everything.

Holy shit hamburger helper.
posted by Salieri at 5:44 PM on February 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


Oh, GOD no. Old men? VERY old men?! How did you ever survive the shame of being pursued by them? And they wanted *sex* too? Like LOVE and a relationship??? HAHAHAHAHA. God, it's like the creepers think they're people and everything.

Something tells me you're missing his point.

(And I actually just made a batch of Double-Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper, hehe!)
posted by LordSludge at 5:55 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe 10% of my messages were from guys who'd heard of Bolaño, whether or not they'd read 2666 (most hadn't. Whatever. I'd send them a nice "not really looking to date, but all the best" message). 60% were from guys who started off their messages with "IDK what 2666 is, but..." And my favorite, the last 30%, were from guys harassing me for being too picky. Like I'd hunted them down and spat in their face. I deleted my account and I couldn't be happier about it.

So, um, honest question here, what were you looking for? You seem to have rejected everyone, whether they fitted your criteria or not.
posted by unSane at 5:57 PM on February 17, 2010


Something tells me you're missing his point.

And I'm maintaining my position that there still exists a power differential in the younger woman/older man scenario that does not exist in the younger man/older (or fatter) women scenario, so that you can't exchange one for the other to make a point.

Eats your Hamburger Helper. Man, I need some dinner.
posted by Salieri at 6:02 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems like this has been winding itself down, but I find it a little annoying that all of the people being "how dare you judge!" about the older man/younger women thing are completely ignoring the historical differences between that and older women/younger men. The scales *still* aren't balanced in terms of who holds power in this society, and it's naive to pretend that both types of age disparities are equal and equally neutral.

OK, but what makes you think the traditional age disparity is worse than the nontraditional one? Why isn't the traditional disparity better, considering that we're talking about people voluntarily entering these relationships? If people want to have an arrangement based on very traditional gender roles, that might not be the kind of relationship you would personally find congenial for your life, but why begrudge other people who want to do it?

I mean, I understand and agree with the standard critique of patriarchy. You may think there are many commenters here who don't understand those basic points, but I understand them, and I'll bet everyone who's commented here understands them. But my understanding is that the problem with patriarchy is that it rigidly predetermines how people are supposed to live their lives and holds people back from achieving their potential. Doesn't that leave the door wide open for women to decide they'll look for an older man to support them, or for men to decide they want to earn lots of money to attract younger women, stereotypical though such aspirations might be? Now, maybe my understanding is wrong and it's actually un-feminist for people to feel free to make those choices, but that sounds pretty grimly oppressive to me.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:02 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Salieri--I think you're right on with the calling out of the false equivalence, but I wouldn't bother arguing with the ev psych bunch, the whole point of that field of study is to rationalize creepy old dudes.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:15 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now, maybe my understanding is wrong and it's actually un-feminist for people to feel free to make those choices, but that sounds pretty grimly oppressive to me

For a slightly less-loaded approach to a similar topic, my friends and I used to call this the "self-reflective housewife" phenomenon. Like if you really truly wanted to stay home and keep house while your husband worked and you get the whole critique of the thing but it's what makes you happy, where's the harm... is I think the question.

Really, there are other problems with the patriarchy, but yeah it is a real conundrum and you have to look at the history of power inequality and think about what the nature of free will is in late-stage capitalism and all the rest. I don't have much of a dog in this fight [my second to last boyfriend was a lot younger than me but now he's married to someone his own age and I draw no useful conclusions] but it may be easier to talk about one person's stereotypical-seeming choice within a patriarchical system instead of getting into a boy/girl thing about it.
posted by jessamyn at 6:24 PM on February 17, 2010


We live in a society that sexually values young women and sexually devalues older women. Women are encouraged to be sexually abashed, while men are encouraged to think of themselves as virile and strong and masculine and capable. It's gross and wrong that older men focus on young women and girls, but I think the phenomenon is quite predictable given the culture in question.

Hold on. We know that sexual attraction is an evolved mechanism to facilitate reproduction, right? That's something we can still admit, even though we're liberal and open-minded? I mean, no value judgment, that's just what our best model of biological evolution says. Right?

So when a group--older women--that has orders of magnitude less reproductive capacity is coincidentally also judged less sexually desirable on average . . . you blame "our society"? Really? Is there no other possible explanation for this strange coincidence? Similarly, when the most reproductively viable group also tends to be the most sexually attractive--society?

Growing old--and seeing respect for and interest in you erode--sucks. But you can't blame structural sexism for everything.
posted by grobstein at 6:26 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't bother arguing with the ev psych bunch, the whole point of that field of study is to rationalize creepy old dudes.

FFS.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:48 PM on February 17, 2010


So, um, honest question here, what were you looking for?

Apparently misguidedly, cool local people who weren't just looking for sex.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:01 PM on February 17, 2010


If you are on a dating site and you are only looking for friends, then yes, you are misguided.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:44 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


While I've never online dated, I did once give something similar a shot when it was still done by two line ads in the back of the Village Voice. It was too much work composing a response to whatever cues the clever ones had left, and then they hardly ever answered anyway. I knew a lot of the ads were fake come-ons to 900 numbers. Not completely fake, just that they would rerun ads that had got a lot of responses, without the poster's knowledge or permission.

I wrote a paragraph describing myself, and read it onto the mailbox of every single ad in the women seeking men section. I found I could do that pretty fast without racking up all the time that the 900 number would waste at the intro. I ended up meeting a really nice girl whose ad had been titled "Pit Bull Babe." Turned out she happened to own a fun little pit bull and the ad had been placed as a joke by a friend of hers. She was a very sweet girl and we had a lot of fun together.

Point is, there is something to be said for the shotgun approach.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:52 PM on February 17, 2010


And I'm maintaining my position that there still exists a power differential in the younger woman/older man scenario that does not exist in the younger man/older (or fatter) women scenario, so that you can't exchange one for the other to make a point.

The power differential is not as simple as you seem to think. A hot, young woman can absolutely push an older, wealthier man around with her sexuality -- often without even trying. I've known plenty of men to spend huge quantities of cash on women (in one case to the point of bankruptcy!) just because they're pretty. I know of very few women to do the same for men.

If you're a hot girl, you have a LOT of social power -- *especially* in the dating game. Whether or not you realize it, want it, or know what to do with it is another matter.

When it comes down to it, nobody, man or women, wants sexual interest from somebody they're not attracted to. It's patently ridiculous to claim that it's completely fine for unattractive women to hit on attractive men, but it's WRONGWRONGWRONG for unattractive men to hit on attractive women -- especially in an online, anonymous, access-controlled dating environment. You can't yell OMG YOUR OLD AND CREEPY DON"T TALK TO ME YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER and OMG WHY DEOS IT MATTER IF I"M OLD AND FAT STOP JUDGING ME simultaneously with any semblance of intellectual honesty.
posted by LordSludge at 8:20 PM on February 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


I only use evoo psych to cook my arguments.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:43 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Growing old--and seeing respect for and interest in you erode--sucks. But you can't blame structural sexism for everything.

for the record, I'm not as such laying blame for the state of things. I'm definitely stating that it does indeed suck sometimes, however.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 PM on February 17, 2010


Um, in a discussion of dating older women, just about the only thing this fag can offer is a bit of musical theater featuring Hugh Jackman (as Peter Allen) and Isabel Keating (as Judy Garland) in "Only an Older Woman" from The Boy From Oz.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:07 PM on February 17, 2010


If you're a hot girl, you have a LOT of social power -- *especially* in the dating game. Whether or not you realize it, want it, or know what to do with it is another matter.

I was wondering if someone would bring this up - it's kissing cousins to the whole "women actually have all the power because they control access to the vaginas" thing.

I guess my whole point is that I don't see this as a good system for either men or women. I don't want to live in a world where women are still the vast minority in the seats of power in government and industry and academia - but oh, if they're young and conventionally attractive they have the ability to manipulate men out of their hard-earned cash. And you notice that you specifically mention "hot" girls - if you're not one of the hot, you don't have even this small, insignificant level of "power". Talking this way - as if women actually rule the world because they're purty and men will do anything to bone them - does a huge disservice to both genders. We're all better than that.

You can't yell OMG YOUR OLD AND CREEPY DON"T TALK TO ME YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER and OMG WHY DEOS IT MATTER IF I"M OLD AND FAT STOP JUDGING ME simultaneously with any semblance of intellectual honesty.

I've seen almost no one in this thread do that - and I certainly never have. But once more (with feeling!), I ask you to consider the power that older men tend to have in our society compared to older women, and the way in which our society is set up to teach young women that their true power is in their physical attractiveness to men. I mean, you're even the one who brought that up!

I don't want to get all "guys can't get this!" because they totally can, but sometimes I wonder if it takes growing up as a woman to really see how this kind of shit is hammered into you. And then one day you open your eyes and notice that the status quo is really, really fucked up.

I promise there's more to me than my feminism! It seems I've been doing more than my fair share of commenting in these kinds of threads.
posted by Salieri at 10:04 PM on February 17, 2010 [15 favorites]


Apparently misguidedly, cool local people who weren't just looking for sex.

The people who are just looking for sex are pretty clueless and are going to send embarrassingly bad messages to any women that they think are attractive. You can avoid a decent amount of them by setting your preferences to ignore messages from people who have Casual Sex listed as what they are looking for. If you set what you are looking for to new friends without any of the dating options, most of the people who are serious about using the site to pursue a relationship with someone will ignore your profile.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:05 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The scales *still* aren't balanced in terms of who holds power in this society, and it's naive to pretend that both types of age disparities are equal and equally neutral...

I don't want to get all "guys can't get this!" because they totally can...


I'm not sure I get it, but I'm making the effort. Let's say one agrees with you that the scales aren't balanced in terms of who holds power in this society (and I do agree, and not just for the sake of argument). Are you saying that older men pursuing younger women is an uglier sort of thing than younger men pursuing older women because older men benefit from an established unfair social dynamic? Not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to figure out if I'm on the right track.
posted by millions at 1:47 AM on February 18, 2010


I wish someone had told me that male libido isn't reliable after 36 and that testosterone levels start dropping. I would have married someone younger. Or at least not married.
posted by anniecat at 2:57 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So maybe instead of sending our teenage daughters to college we should send them to SEX KITTEN school and advise them "Look, you are now at your most powerful. You've got til age 25 to land yourself a man, a mansion, and a pension fund. Work it! Work it good!" I mean, why fight evolution?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:16 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I used to call this the "self-reflective housewife" phenomenon. Like if you really truly wanted to stay home and keep house while your husband worked and you get the whole critique of the thing but it's what makes you happy, where's the harm... is I think the question.

Really, there are other problems with the patriarchy, but yeah it is a real conundrum and you have to look at the history of power inequality and think about what the nature of free will is in late-stage capitalism and all the rest.


Thank you, Jessamyn, this is exactly what I was trying to get at, but yeah, you put it better than I did. It's interesting to suggest that feminism is often in tension with the idea of "free will," but that's so contentious on so many levels that it deserves a whole thread unto itself; we're not going to adequately address it on day 3 of a 270-comment thread. (Of course, many people find the very notion of free will to be spurious and irrelevant. I don't.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:17 AM on February 18, 2010


The scales *still* aren't balanced in terms of who holds power in this society, and it's naive to pretend that both types of age disparities are equal and equally neutral.

Wow. I hope that if you’ve been the source of any of the obnoxious and irrelevant “bingo card” snark on MeFi that you are keenly aware of that now. Except of course this card has only one square, because this is the answer to Everything. An advantage anywhere is an advantage everywhere (except, I guess, when it comes to sex – lord knows that influences next to no human behaviour). Did I miss where you established a rational connection there to the topic at hand, or was it simply intended as a feel-good refutation of advantage in any conceivable area?

The "patriarchy" argument tramples over the fact that the women making choices can factor in money/power/status by choice, and what's more they actually have the particular person in question in front of them and can take these factors into account as they choose. Is the guy a doctor? A factory line worker? Unemployed? How much power/money/status does this particular guy actually have? Of course, even unemployed, he still has the Irrevocable Power of Testacles, true (and his lack of a job is countered by a stranger somewhere, also with testacles, being a CEO).

How about we try another re-framing and see if it has just a touch more air of reality to it? I’m glad someone had the nerve to quantify their disgruntlement (despite subsequent pulling apart of the “20/100” situation) because what this actually begins to look like is a levelling of the playing field. And, I think most of you will agree (at least in areas where you don’t possess the advantage), decrying the levelling of a playing field makes a person a bit of an asshole, or at least means they're acting like one. You’re not “invisible”. You’re as visible as any other person who isn’t a hot commodity/beautiful young thing. And if you formerly were, then sure, that bites, but welcome to how things are for the rest of us. It’s not so bad if you can get over yourself.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:45 AM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Come see The Irrevocable Power of Testacles, incidentally. We're playing this Friday night at the Rainbow. It's going to be a killer jam.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:04 AM on February 18, 2010


Irrevocable? Hrmm... Not quite?
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:18 AM on February 18, 2010


Oh, women are powerful because they can trade their bodies for money?

Funny, where I come from that's called prostitution and it has a hell of a lot more to do with desparation than power.

As for bringing out the pop evolutionary psychology -- evolutionary psychology is just one branch of psychology and one that is very poorly supported by evidence, particularly the kind of cross-cultural evidence that is essential to supporting their theories. Indeed, recent research has found significant cross-cultural differences in such things as what hip-waist ratio straight men find most attractive. If it's just all evolutionary, then these differences shouldn't be there.

Anyone with an iota of historical or cross-cultural knowledge is aware of how ideas about what is desirable in a partner differ just as societies/cultures differ. No one in this thread would advocate dating a 9-year old just to be sure she's a virgin; this kind of thinking is a part of our human experience, even though it is incrediably stupid from an evolutionary perspective (child brides are so much more likely to die in child birth or to be permanently disabled).

Our biology sets up simple criteria -- what sex are we attracted to? how much sex drive do we have? But how we then look for partners within those very wide guidelines is heavily influenced by our individual -- not evolutionary -- psychologies, personal experiences and yes, our society/culture.

And within this thread it is clear that we are having a cultural argument about what makes for the best relationships. I belong to a sub-culture that believes strongly that the best relationships have a certain equality and parity to them that is extremely difficult -- not impossible, just difficult -- to find with a partner who is not of a similar age and/or in a similar phase of life to yourself. And I find it extremely hard to believe that those older men who message younger women are looking for that kind of parity in a relationship. And this I why I call them skeezy -- they are looking for a kind of relationship that I think is both retrograde in terms of gender relations and unhealthy for our society.
posted by jb at 8:37 AM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


As for the 'but women look for rich men!' argument -- I find women who date for money equally skeezy for the exact same reasons.
posted by jb at 8:40 AM on February 18, 2010


You've got til age 25 to land yourself a man, a mansion, and a pension fund.

There's always having a job...working...having a job and working...and being the minority of female workers who actually make it into high paying positions, what with the world being so meritocratic and rewarding hardworking women with all kinds of promotions and rewards.

I would like the mansion and millionaire please. And the pension fund. And a few other little things.
posted by anniecat at 9:07 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


As for bringing out the pop evolutionary psychology -- evolutionary psychology is just one branch of psychology and one that is very poorly supported by evidence, particularly the kind of cross-cultural evidence that is essential to supporting their theories. Indeed, recent research has found significant cross-cultural differences in such things as what hip-waist ratio straight men find most attractive. If it's just all evolutionary, then these differences shouldn't be there.

I agree that evolutionary psychology is open to question, and it's not identical with psychology (I don't know if anyone was claiming otherwise). It's a very young field. However, just because there's some evidence that might seem to cut against a scientific theory, that doesn't mean you just drop the theory (sorry, Karl Popper). Sure, there's evidence that undermines ev psych. For instance, the existence of gay people seems to undermine ev psych, and evolutionary psychologists generally concede that they don't have an explanation for this, but we should be open-minded about the possibility that there actually is an explanation and we just haven't discovered it yet.

I've seen a lot of cross-cultural evidence to support ev psych. I'm not sure what your basis is for saying there isn't.

Anyway, the question of how much evidence is required before we're convinced of ev psych is complex. An evolutionary psychologist like Robert Wright has seen enough evidence that he's definitively convinced; maybe you'll never be convinced; and I'm more in the middle. I don't think people should just go along with Robert Wright just because he holds himself out as an authority, nor do I think people should just go along with you because you're willing to say on the internet that ev psych is "very poorly supported." There is ideology mixed in with empiricism here.

Anyway, to be clear, when I said that ev psych says [this] but doesn't say [that], I didn't mean to imply that we should all take ev psych as gospel. The point of my comment was that when one person gives an ev psych explanation of a phenomenon involving certain kinds of men's attraction to certain kinds of women, it isn't a good response to say, "But I don't think those guys actually want to procreate at all!" That's tantamount to saying, "I have no idea what ev psych is about." Again, that doesn't mean ev psych is necessarily true, but those who want to criticize it should understand what it says.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:14 AM on February 18, 2010


Our biology sets up simple criteria -- what sex are we attracted to? how much sex drive do we have? But how we then look for partners within those very wide guidelines is heavily influenced by our individual -- not evolutionary -- psychologies, personal experiences and yes, our society/culture.

On an individual level, yes.

On the massive scale of OKCupid and the like, one can expect to see other drivers of human behaviour at play. And especially so when it comes to sex: the population sample is skewed really heavily toward sex-hungry people who have been unable to find a partner through conventional face-to-face means.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 AM on February 18, 2010


the existence of gay people seems to undermine ev psych

Recent studies show that the "gay uncle" social role leads to far greater success for the nieces and nephews. While the gay guy might not procreate successfully, his sister's kids do fantastically — a net win for the family genes.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:20 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, to be clear, this point:

Our biology sets up simple criteria -- what sex are we attracted to? how much sex drive do we have? But how we then look for partners within those very wide guidelines is heavily influenced by our individual ... psychologies, personal experiences and yes, our society/culture.

... is perfectly compatible with evolutionary psychology. There can be correct psychological and sociological and personal explanations for a certain behavior, and these explanations are not mutually exclusive with ev psych explanations for the very same behavior. This blog post is illuminating on this point.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:20 AM on February 18, 2010


the existence of gay people seems to undermine ev psych

Recent studies show that the "gay uncle" social role leads to far greater success for the nieces and nephews. While the gay guy might not procreate successfully, his sister's kids do fantastically — a net win for the family genes.


This is an interesting theory, but it has not been generally accepted. As Robert Wright pointed out back in 1994 in The Moral Animal when he raised this issue, the "gay uncle" (or aunt) theory oddly assumes that gay men and women are unusually devoted to their nieces and nephews.

Again, it's not just that I personally feel that homosexuality undercuts ev psych; professional evolutionary psychologists have specifically conceded that their own theory has so far failed to account for homosexuality. There might be a good explanation, but there isn't a widely accepted one.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:25 AM on February 18, 2010


Oh, women are powerful because they can trade their bodies for money?

Are you responding to me, and if so, did you actually read what I wrote? I was not setting up advantage in one area as negating/refuting/making up for advantage in an unrelated area. In fact, that is what I was explicitly refuting, in this case the apparently irresistable urge to root out any context in which women have an edge, more choice, a desirable position, and bash it with the We Have It Bad hammer of patriarchy. You, on the other hand, seem sympathetic to the idea that the imbalance of power in other situations somehow changes the reality of the imbalance of power/choice in the "dating" world, and moreover how the particulars of two individuals are overcome by the relative positions of their genders on some kind of global/societal balance sheet. So go ahead and explain how that works. Simply claiming it does not make it so.

a certain equality and parity to them that is extremely difficult -- not impossible, just difficult -- to find with a partner who is not of a similar age and/or in a similar phase of life to yourself.

Yep, I agree. But let's work through the standards we're really working toward here:

i) You're old! You have no fetish of the young, but there's a certain younger person who makes you go all weak in the stomach.
a) you are a dude: be realistic! She's probably had enough of your shit, or at least, if not from you, people like you! Also: ewww, gross, grandpa!
b) you are a lady: you go, sister! If he can't see past your age, he just doesn't know what he's missing!

ii) You're ugly! But there's a certain striking someone in your life, and to not even try to put the message across, well, you just couldn't live with yourself.
a) you are a dude: be realistic! She's probably had enough of your shit, or at least, if not from you, people like you! Also: ewww, gross, ugly ugg uggerson!
b) you are a lady: you go, sister! If he's so shallow he can't see what else is great about you, he just doesn't know what he's missing!

iii, iv, v, etc.) rinse and repeat for any trait.

Does that about cover it? Oh, but I forgot, THE PATRIARCHY!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:27 AM on February 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Jaltcoh, there is some evidence for it. In this study, where feminine men are an accepted, valued part of the community, they clearly do spend much more time with their related children, and far less time with non-familial children.

Evolutionary "habits" are buried miles deep under the layers of higher-level social training, life experience, and self-awareness. They don't excuse people's behaviour, but they may provide some amount of insight as to what drives people who don't exert control over their base instincts.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:37 AM on February 18, 2010


Admittedly, I had not followed this issue right up to the current month. Your link is from February 4, 2010. It's interesting, but it seems very equivocal, and it suggests that my comment has only recently gone out of date:
Canadian researchers say they have found the first evidence to back up the theory that gay men have the evolutionary advantage of being "super uncles", a way of enhancing the survival prospects of close relatives and — indirectly, at least — making it more likely their genes are passed on.

Paul Vasey, associate professor in the University of Lethbridge's department of psychology, said his research found evidence that gay men may be more willing to support their nieces and nephews financially and emotionally. ...

Researchers conducting similar studies in the U.S. and England did not find any supporting evidence for the theory, said Vasey.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:45 AM on February 18, 2010


It sucks so bad, and for me has never had any kind of good outcome, but I feel I should try to meet someone.

I haven't been "out there" for over 10 years myself, so I must ask: how bad is the real world?

Volunteering, book clubs, table tennis? (Dare I say churches?) There are countless organizations where you can meet attractive single people, no? Or does that just become impossible once you get over the dreaded age of 35? (disclaimer: i am 37).

If the type of older men who are actively courting this particular kind of May/December relationship are doing so because they're looking for a woman to bear them children, I'll blow a herd of caribou in Times Square.

What Jaltcoh said (NOT EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGIST-IST).

For instance, the existence of gay people seems to undermine ev psych

What five fresh fish said. Wasn't there a study that demonstrated that the presence of a gay men in a room will cause heterosexual men's sperm levels to rise? (regardless of family genes)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:29 AM on February 18, 2010


Wasn't there a study that demonstrated that the presence of a gay men in a room will cause heterosexual men's sperm levels to rise?

Good for those straight men, but how does that help the gay men transmit their genes to the next generation? Also, gay men are only half of gay people.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:33 AM on February 18, 2010


So maybe instead of sending our teenage daughters to college we should send them to SEX KITTEN school and advise them "Look, you are now at your most powerful. You've got til age 25 to land yourself a man, a mansion, and a pension fund. Work it! Work it good!" I mean, why fight evolution?

Ridicule it all you like, but there is a lot of merit to a more moderately phrased version of this. And it isn't "most powerful" it's "most desirable".

Any woman who knows by her early twenties that her foremost goal is motherhood, is well served by making her search for a husband her foremost priority once she becomes an adult. The choice of one's partner has a huge effect on our future happiness. If a woman knows that she wants marriage and understands that her desirability peaks by her mid-twenties, then it's just common sense to pick her husband early on, when the pool of prospects is at its largest. That this is a target for mockery is only evidence of how far political correctness pushes us away from reality.
posted by BigSky at 10:38 AM on February 18, 2010


Any woman who knows by her early twenties that her foremost goal is motherhood

I would argue that "any woman at all who can get into the mansion/millionaire arrangement" (not just for those who want to be moms) shouldn't forgo it out of misguided notions that all that having a career stuff is going to lead to any kind of happiness. Seriously, I'm living proof. I will send you a picture of me at 24 getting aboard the whole "I went to these awesome schools and I'm going to be amazing and rise right up to the top of this ladder" and then you can see a recent picture of me struggling with jawline acne and eating stale donuts out of the kitchenette in my office because I have to work through lunch.

So anyone who can get the whole thing -- living in a mansion and having a swimming pool and tennis courts, and getting to take art classes for fun and keep your body in shape instead of spending all that time sitting at a desk under florescent lights in a job that keeps you sedentary for eight plus hours a day, all while promising you that someday the whole smelly thing will lead to greater fortune-- should go for it. Sounds really nice.
posted by anniecat at 11:02 AM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was wondering if someone would bring this up - it's kissing cousins to the whole "women actually have all the power because they control access to the vaginas" thing.

Dunno how this hyperbole adds anything but confusion to the discussion. I say attractive women have a lot of social power -- most definitely NOT "women actually have all the power because they control access to the vaginas". If it were only about teh vaggie then ugly women would be on an even social keel with attractive women. And I'm not saying we live in an equitable society. I think it's pretty clear that we don't, and I think it's useful to explore some of the reasons why we don't.

I guess my whole point is that I don't see this as a good system for either men or women. I don't want to live in a world where women are still the vast minority in the seats of power in government and industry and academia - but oh, if they're young and conventionally attractive they have the ability to manipulate men out of their hard-earned cash.

Yeah, I hate it too. Doesn't mean it's not real. Plugging my ears won't make it go away.

And you notice that you specifically mention "hot" girls - if you're not one of the hot, you don't have even this small, insignificant level of "power".

Again, the all-or-nothing thing does nothing but cloud the issue and put incorrect words into my mouth.

A less attractive woman has less social power, yes, but it's a continuum. A very attractive woman has a lot of social power. A somewhat attractive woman has some social power. A very unattractive woman has very little social power. (The same social power continuum exists for men, but it revolves more about behavior than appearance -- dunno if you want to open that can o' worms, but there it is.)

Talking this way - as if women actually rule the world because they're purty and men will do anything to bone them - does a huge disservice to both genders. We're all better than that.

As a liberal guy, I think there's a huge gulf between "how it is" and "how it should be". It's fine to talk about how it should be, but we're doing ourselves a disservice by refusing to explore how it is. There's a reason many women wear makeup -- and it's not just cultural. There's a reason successful guys tend to date attractive women and vice versa -- and it's not just cultural.

Calling men jerks or creepy or sketchy for their tendency to be attracted to younger women is not only insulting -- it's not instructive. It doesn't help our understanding of, well, anything. The only thing it does is help the older women feel better about themselves. Yay, ego stroke. I want to know WHY are men generally attracted to younger women? What the hell is so special about these 18-24yos?

Someday, maybe we'll be "better than that". We're not there. We're animals, still dealing with vestiges of a more primitive time. Please understand: As a man, I can't choose who I'm attracted to. Of course I can choose whether or not to act on this attraction, but whether or not my fancy is tickled is out of my control; I put that on the primitive, lizard brain level. Good lord, I *wish* I could be attracted to any woman, independent of her appearance. And I really HATE that, with rare exception, I'm not attracted to women my own age. I don't want this, I didn't choose this, but that's how it is. I'd be a fool to pretend it weren't so.

I've actually tried: As an open-minded kinda guy. I've tried dating women to which I'm only moderately attracted. (In each case, she aggressively approached me, and hey she seems pretty cool, I'm single, what the hell!) And I've learned that it's a bad, bad idea which only leads to tears. On matters of love, I have to respect my lizard brain, even if seems arbitrary.

But again, please accept this truth: You cannot dictate who I am attracted to. Hell, I can't even dictate who I am attracted to. Given this, should I:
a. Date who I'm attracted to, even if it offends some people's sensibilities?
b. Date people I'm not particularly attracted to, have a one-sided relationships, and ultimately break their hearts? or
c. Be alone for the rest of my life?

I've seen almost no one in this thread do that - and I certainly never have.

Just to be clear, I was reacting to a very strong vibe in this thread of:
1. Older men are universally creepy and should not flirt with younger women.
2. Older/fat/unattractive women should feel free to flirt with any men. If the man is skeeved out by this, it's him that's being a jerk.

That's just a nasty, ageist, sexist double-standard, and no talk of patriarchal societal norms will make it not.

In fairness, people are often nasty, ageist, and sexist. I've had more than one woman give me a really hard time about my age (as if that's something I can control..?) and then proceed to pounce me. Girls are weird.

But once more (with feeling!), I ask you to consider the power that older men tend to have in our society compared to older women, and the way in which our society is set up to teach young women that their true power is in their physical attractiveness to men. I mean, you're even the one who brought that up!

Eh, "true power" is hyperbolic, but yes A LOT of a woman's social power is derived from her attractiveness. There's a reason why Jessica Simpson is a pop ("pop" as in "popular") icon, and it's not because of her amazing acting ability.

I don't want to get all "guys can't get this!" because they totally can, but sometimes I wonder if it takes growing up as a woman to really see how this kind of shit is hammered into you. And then one day you open your eyes and notice that the status quo is really, really fucked up.

I agree it's fucked up. But refusing to examine it won't make it go away.

I promise there's more to me than my feminism! It seems I've been doing more than my fair share of commenting in these kinds of threads.

And I promise I'm pretty feminist in my views as well, even if we're butting heads on this. I, personally, won't settle for less than a well-balanced relationship, but part of that balance is: we must be attracted to each other. If that means she's younger than me, and it usually does, then so be it.
posted by LordSludge at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Our biology sets up simple criteria -- what sex are we attracted to? how much sex drive do we have? But how we then look for partners within those very wide guidelines is heavily influenced by our individual -- not evolutionary -- psychologies, personal experiences and yes, our society/culture.

Sorry, one more point about this: I would be interested to know why you put "what sex we're attracted to" in a different category from what age (or height or body shape or voice or a million other things) we're attracted to. How do you know that my attraction to women rather than men is biologically determined but my attraction to any particular traits of women is culturally determined? It would be nice if nature accommodated us by neatly conforming to the political/social views of left-leaning internet commenters in the 21st century, but I see no reason to assume this is the case. (See: moralistic fallacy.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love the honesty, anniecat. I always dreamed of becoming a trophy husband myself, but I'm not sure I ever had the total package to land an heiress, movie star, or CEO. (I was close, mind you!)

I'd love to give up my job, raise my daughter (with an excellent babysitter on call), and write and exercise in my spare time. My wife just got a raise, but she has all this stuff she wants to do, like buy a house, save for retirement, and all that other bs.

Careers and work are totally overrated, even the good ones. There's nothing wrong with a life of leisure.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:40 AM on February 18, 2010


So maybe instead of sending our teenage daughters to college we should send them to SEX KITTEN school and advise them "Look, you are now at your most powerful. You've got til age 25 to land yourself a man, a mansion, and a pension fund. Work it! Work it good!" I mean, why fight evolution?

That's one way to play, and it works for some women. It's no secret that some girls in college are more interested in husband-hunting than acquiring career skills. Maybe this shouldn't be so, but there it is.

There is of course the downside: If the girl loses her attractiveness for whatever reason (age, if nothing else, is inevitable) and the guy leaves her, she's in a very bad spot. So it's a risky game, and not one which many women are equipped to play anyhow.

And it's pretty caustic on a societal level.

And it pisses off the not-so-attractive women who have to, you know, work for a living.

But, yeah, it's an option.

A *better* way, IMO, would be to educate your daughters both academically AND socially. Balance is good. That goes for your sons, too.

But that would fail to make your hyperbolic point, so I guess that's out.
posted by LordSludge at 11:42 AM on February 18, 2010


Any woman who knows by her early twenties that her foremost goal is motherhood, is well served by making her search for a husband her foremost priority once she becomes an adult. The choice of one's partner has a huge effect on our future happiness. If a woman knows that she wants marriage and understands that her desirability peaks by her mid-twenties, then it's just common sense to pick her husband early on, when the pool of prospects is at its largest. That this is a target for mockery is only evidence of how far political correctness pushes us away from reality.

Huh. Wow. Gee. Well.

Yes, it's certainly a good idea to spend your early twenties looking for a husband and not fucking around with all that stupid career training crap, because husbands are forever. They never, ever go away. Why, it's completely unheard of that a woman would get married young, have children and then find herself needing to make a living and support those children! That's just crazy talk. Anyway, nowadays it's certainly not difficult to support a family on one income, so there would never be a need for any female to bother with college or graduate school. She shouldn't bother her pretty little head with stuff that's really meant to help men learn to support their wives and children. Which, as noted above, they will always do, without fail, never, god forbid, dying and never, of course, considering a divorce for any reason or trading her in for a younger model in fifteen years, because that never happens in reality. No, in reality all marriages are forever and the man can and does always support his wife and children, without fail, world without end.

Hamburger, hamburger, oh cheeseburger, double bacon cheeseburger with a side of fucking fries. Jesus wept.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:52 AM on February 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


That's one way to play, and it works for some women. It's no secret that some girls in college are more interested in husband-hunting than acquiring career skills. Maybe this shouldn't be so, but there it is.

There is of course the downside: If the girl loses her attractiveness for whatever reason (age, if nothing else, is inevitable) and the guy leaves her, she's in a very bad spot. So it's a risky game, and not one which many women are equipped to play anyhow.

And it's pretty caustic on a societal level.

And it pisses off the not-so-attractive women who have to, you know, work for a living.


Her level of attractiveness is not the predominant factor in whether or not a woman should pursue such a strategy, it's her goals. Unless she's such an extreme outlier that she would never be found attractive by an acceptable suitor, she will more easily draw sexual interest as a young adult and have increasing difficulty as she ages. It's only when motherhood, or perhaps even a happy childless marriage, clearly outrank her other goals that peak desirability is a major consideration. I suppose that women who wish to attain a high level of material comfort and security need to take it into account as well, but I wrote the earlier post to state that this is an intelligent strategy for women with less mercenary aims.

My pointing out that the search for a husband should be a major priority for any young woman who knows she wants children doesn't mean she shouldn't hedge her bets or be single mindedly looking for a husband - those are distortions. It's just another way of saying strike when the iron is hot.

What would be caustic about it on a societal level?
posted by BigSky at 12:39 PM on February 18, 2010


And you notice that you specifically mention "hot" girls - if you're not one of the hot, you don't have even this small, insignificant level of "power".

Again, the all-or-nothing thing does nothing but cloud the issue and put incorrect words into my mouth.

A less attractive woman has less social power, yes, but it's a continuum.


Think of this, how shall I say? Like an invisible backpack. You yourself might be unaware that you have an advantage or privilege, but that doesn't mean you don't. In fact, you might not be even placed to make that determination. But not to worry. You didn't ask for it, and there is no blame attached.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


For EXACTLY the reasons that mygothlaundry pointed out.

All over the world, women are forced by their culture to prioritize marriage and having children over being able to support themselves without a husband. And in every one of the societies where this is true, women have it super sucky. They are forced to stay with abusive husbands, because they cannot support themselves. If their husband abandons them -- and this happens in every society -- they are the ones in a terrible economic position, because they do not have the training to be able to support themselves, let alone their children.

I'm not saying that women shouldn't be housewives -- My ideal society would have every family have a stay-at-home-parent and/or two part-time working parents who can split child-care between them and still have a decent lifestyle. (Note, I did not specify gender; my husband would be such a better stay-at-home than I would be). But women who aren't trained to support themselves are left in a very vulnerable position. My mother knew that what she wanted from life was to get married and have kids, and that is what she did -- albeit a bit early, at age 16, but that was the peak of her attractiveness. And after 5 years later she was standing on the street with two kids, with no high school diploma, few jobs skills and no where to live. For their own sakes, all women should be prepared for the worst -- for divorce, for widowhood.

But that is not really what this thread is about -- this thread is about older men who consistently seek out younger women. In the OKCupid data, we do NOT see younger women seeking out older men -- while guys in their 30s are messaging women in their low 20s, those women are themselves messaging men in their 20s, and mostly in their low 20s at that. The younger women are not interested in the older men to the extent that the older men are interested in the younger women, so there is no point in arguing about why they might be interested, because that's not even a factor. Women of all ages in the data primarily wish to date men close to their own age.

The issue really is: Why do the older men want younger women? And I say it is because they are not interested in a mature, equal partnership with a woman. This is obviously not true of all men -- most men I know personally do want that. Which is why they date women their own age. My husband is 30, and he teaches 18-22 year olds. He feels like most of them are kids - because they are, compared to him. He thinks women in their late 20s and early 30s are attractive and interesting. (Too bad I'm 88).
posted by jb at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


What would be caustic about it on a societal level?

If a lot of women did this, it would lead to a society that was professionally dominated by men, where men dominate politics and social policies, etc. -- because a disproportionate number of women are more interested in staying pretty and living off their considerable social power than getting involved in professions, politics, etc.

So while this may be an attractive option for individual women ("You mean I don't have to learn all this school stuff? I just have to look hot, be worshiped by men, have as much sex as I want, and pick the best one? SWEET!"), at least short-term, it's not a good system for gender equality in the aggregate and indeed makes things more difficult for the women who have chosen the career path.
posted by LordSludge at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I wish someone had told me that male libido isn't reliable after 36 and that testosterone levels start dropping. I would have married someone younger. Or at least not married."

This 45 year old married man hasn't found it necessary yet but is happy, should the need arise (or fail to rather), to be able to avail himself of SCIENCE!
posted by vapidave at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2010


The issue really is: Why do the older men want younger women? And I say it is because they are not interested in a mature, equal partnership with a woman.

I would be interested if this varies by whether or not the men in question are seeking long-term mates or more "casual" interactions (and not discounting the chance that the latter might be disguised as the former). If it's long-term, then I would support your proposition. If it's short-term, then it's likely an inferior explanation to the simple and obvious youth and beauty correlation.

I've heard similar things about "Why Guy X wants to date a (sub-Asian ethnicity/nationality) chick" that may have to do with culturally different gender roles, yet that argument breaks down when the object of hotness/desire is a westernized (person of sub-Asian ethnicity) ancestry and expectations, or equally so.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:24 PM on February 18, 2010


The issue really is: Why do the older men want younger women? And I say it is because they are not interested in a mature, equal partnership with a woman.

Keep beating this men-are-creeps drum if it makes you feel better about yourself, but you're just wrong about this. As a man, I tend to date younger women because I want to be a relationship with somebody I'm attracted to. Age isn't the driving factor -- it's attraction. Age is correlated, but not causal. Don't get it twisted. It just so happens that most women my age (39) aren't very attractive to me because my lizard brain is apparently a selective, shallow asshole, and without attraction the chances of me developing those deep, romantic, loving feelings for my partner are exactly zero.

Is it okay with you if I want to fall in love?
posted by LordSludge at 1:28 PM on February 18, 2010


Yeah, on second thought, even the long-term aspiration + younger women wouldn't amount to much in terms of evidence for your theory. Attraction is too big a mediating factor. The "Asian" thing would be interesting, though (but only if westernized vs. not-westernized, and even then only if culture not of particular interest).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:30 PM on February 18, 2010


I find it amusing how many people get very upset at the idea that there might be something driving them other than their own conscious, incredible self-control. There's just no way they're ever going to admit that tens of thousands of years of successful evolution could possibly leave remnants of instinctual, built-in, pre-programmed preferences, drives, and goals.

Human beings are DNA's handy method of propagating itself. Don't take on airs by thinking you're in absolute control.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:31 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


And the guy leaves her, she's in a very bad spot.

Well, she/he (if a fellow wants to marry an heiress and live the life of leisure) should really get some kind of clause in a prenup that entitles her/him to a payout once they tire of each other. Naturally I was assuming the whole thing was about lifelong security. A nice tidy annuity-like sum (or a lump sum), and the booted wife/husband can go back to school or open an art gallery or whatever. Hopefully by then they have a bunch of wealthy friends who are helping them get paid.
posted by anniecat at 1:40 PM on February 18, 2010


Hey, MeFi is improving in this area, fff. I think the Susan Boyle thread was the first one I'd ever seen where someone could seriously be referred to as "dowdy" and not have a bunch of people jump in with EYEOFTHEBEHOLDERANDPEOPLEAREDIFFERENTANDHOWDAREYOU...

Yeah, there are patterns to attraction. And I can't quite wrap my head around people who want to go the evo psych = bullshit route and simultaneously claim that women want guys with "stuff", but in a completely non-creepy, understandable way because they are programmed to want to provide for children they may or may not actually ever want to have...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:40 PM on February 18, 2010


it would lead to a society that was professionally dominated by men, where men dominate politics and social policies, etc.

I don't know how to tell you this...
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:48 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lord Sludge, you can date whoever you feel like, but just don't be surprised if people think that you are a)brainwashed by the media to only find younger women attractive and/or b) a skeezy old man who can't recognise that he also has wrinkles and love-handles and won't look past them in others. Of course, physical attraction is an important part of a romantic relationship; a relationship without physical attraction is called a friendship. But that you fail to find women your own age attractive does not say much good about you -- or are you saying that you would be fine with no one ever finding you attractive because of your age? After all, you are 39 -- I'm sure you are not as perfect as a 23 year old man. A woman could find many flaws in you. But most people -- men and women -- are more mature than that, and look past the love-handles/balding/wrinkles to see the person, and find that given a basic sexual capatibility, love makes your love look stunning. (Trust me -- my husband may no longer have the 6-pack he did at 19, but he's more beautiful to me now than he was then).

As for the "men are creeps" thing -- I know tons of men who are perfectly happy dating women their own age, and the few who have dated younger didn't seek to do so but just happened to meet someone they connected with mentally who happened to be younger. Dating someone much younger or older is not skeezy -- you never know what will happen or who you will connect with. Consistently seeking out someone much younger and excluding those your age is skeezy. Men in general are not creepy; many men over 30 on OKCupid are skeezy/shallow, and really not date-worthy.
posted by jb at 1:49 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


All over the world, women are forced by their culture to prioritize marriage and having children over being able to support themselves without a husband. And in every one of the societies where this is true, women have it super sucky. They are forced to stay with abusive husbands, because they cannot support themselves. If their husband abandons them -- and this happens in every society -- they are the ones in a terrible economic position, because they do not have the training to be able to support themselves, let alone their children.

This is a worst case scenerio. Men all over the world are not universally abusive to their wives. I come from a culture of arranged marriage, but my impression is that while there are some dysfunctional relationships, I wouldn't say the majority of all of them are because I don't have any evidence for that. There are lots of juicy "her husband burned her alive because she was pregnant with a girl" stories that get picked up by Western media, but that's not solely because the woman is a mother and doesn't need to work. In fact, where that stuff happens, the woman usually does work. But I've seen some very nice arranged marriages work out, even where the woman feels overwhelmed by working and stays home. So it's not an ALL WOMEN have it SO BAD when they prioritize marriage and having children. I mean, it pretty much happens in the US even though there are lots of Americans who say marriage isn't necessary in the US. I mean the wedding and marriage industry is huge. I think most women and men don't want to be bachelors and bachelorettes their whole life because whatever societal forces that mould our perception are here, forcing us to prioritize marriage and having children. There's a lot of pressure here, and not all men are abusive.
posted by anniecat at 1:50 PM on February 18, 2010


What bugs me is that ev.psych in this thread isn't even being promoted as The Answer, just as a potential/plausible facet of human behaviours. It's not nearly so much as what the nay-sayers want it to be.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2010


All I want to see is one thing:

Why is it okay to shame men who try to date women more than a few years younger than his age, but it's perfectly acceptable and even lauded for women to do the same thing?

Nobody here has a made a coherent connection on why that double standard is alright, or even why it is wrong for men in the first place.
The whole "power differential in patriarchal society" is obvious to anyone who is even minimally aware of feminist ideas but if you're going to use that as a soapbox then I would like to know how that specifically supports the above idea. How do you hopscotch over the immorality of the idea and come to the conclusion it is an acceptable way to react?

we do NOT see younger women seeking out older men

Yeah, that's not true. Or else older men would never date younger women, when in fact it happens all the time. It's like how every single women want men to be over six feet tall, and guess what? A lot of the time they don't end up dating someone that tall.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


many men over 30 on OKCupid are skeezy/shallow, and really not date-worthy.

Wow, can you imagine the response if someone made this comment on Metafilter with "women" instead of "men?
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:53 PM on February 18, 2010


But that you fail to find women your own age attractive does not say much good about you … many men over 30 on OKCupid are skeezy/shallow, and really not date-worthy.

Whu?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:54 PM on February 18, 2010


I'm not going to defend 40 year-old dudes who message women barely out of their teens, but I gotta say that this maturity business is way overrated.

People who are great people are great when they're 22 and they're great when they're 50. Those boring, vapid twentysomethings will mostly grow up to be boring, vapid 50 year-olds, and those fascinating older people were probably pretty cool when they were kids too.
posted by chrchr


I wish I could favorite this more than once. I've met very together people in their 20s, and complete messes in their 50s. Many people never change. I mean, people generally marry someone close to their age, and looking at the divorce rate, that hasn't proven to be a successful formula. I guess that's okay though, since at least it isn't 'creepy'.

This whole thread really is the worst of metafilter. I mean, sure, if a 40 year old is simply aiming to have sex with girls barely out of high school might be sad and close-minded. But no sadder or close-minded than mathowie sticking up his nose at anyone dating not born in the same decade.

It's always amusing to find certain hot-button topics that turn a normally liberal, openminded, non-judgemental user base into a bunch of 60 year old, republican church ladies casting judgment on something simply because they feel differently or don't understand the appeal.

If you can find love and make it work and it just happens that there's a generation gap I'd say you're far ahead of most couples I've met. Fuck the haters.
posted by justgary at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2010


Durn Bronzefist -- your straw man is blowing away in the wind.

No one in this thread who dislike men dating primarily for youth have advocated women dating primarily for economic security.

That there is still a social trend this way -- women dating for economic security -- is itself a flaw in our society, and reflects the fact that for too long women relied on men for their economic security. When my dad didn't work, my mom was forced to go out to work for less pay than a man would have gotten in her job, and still was expected to do all of the housework and most of the childcare. Okay, my dad was a neanderthal compared to some other men (this was the late 70s, at which point my father-in-law was himself doing most of the childcare and cooking for his family), but sadly many men still think like this.

I find that women who are raised in a progressive atmosphere do not seek out economic security in partners, but partnership, and that men raised in a progressive atmosphere find women their own age atrractive because maturity and independence is itself attractive to them.
posted by jb at 1:57 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, can you imagine the response if someone made this comment on Metafilter with "women" instead of "men?

Exactly.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:58 PM on February 18, 2010


Think of this, how shall I say? Like an invisible backpack. You yourself might be unaware that you have an advantage or privilege, but that doesn't mean you don't. In fact, you might not be even placed to make that determination. But not to worry. You didn't ask for it, and there is no blame attached.

Sort of.... Most women very deliberately make themselves more attractive with makeup, fashion, exercise, etc. A lot of women work really hard on this, because they realize how important it is to their own social power. (I'm not accusing and not complaining. On the contrary, I love them for taking the time and effort. I do spend some time on my looks, but it's generally an order of magnitude difference. )

Fun anecdote: I have a friend who is naturally, well, not very attractive. Not ugly, quite, but very plain and scrawny. Let's say a "5" or maybe a "6" on a scale of 1 to 10. But she has a knack with fashion and makeup. When she in full "going out" mode, dressed well and made up the way she knows how, well she's very, very attractive... like, a "9". It's amazing and hilarious to see how men's behavior towards her (and simply in her vicinity!) changes between her plain self and her hot self. I start acting weird myself, and I know what's going on! Even her own behavior changes. Suddenly, she is a goddess and men will worship her. It's the exact same person. What the fuck!! Silly, silly lizard brains...
posted by LordSludge at 2:05 PM on February 18, 2010


Did I say advocate, jb? I don't believe I did. Tend to thine own straw, if you please. And for that matter, I said "can't wrap my head around people who say" -- which wasn't a response to anyone in-thread.

People certainly reach for the economic security angle as a reason, and I'm saying it's inconsistent with "yeah right childbearing age bullshit evopsych" kneejerk.

Of course, you don't have to bring childbearing into the economic security angle, but then it looks a lot creepier, at least in a modern context. And this thread seems to be all about finding excuses for women's preferences and damning men for theirs. There's plenty of shallowness to go around.

Disclaimer: I have not resorted to online dating, but aren't there many alternatives? Why is OKCupid being flogged as "the" option, or is that just because of the fpp focus?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:05 PM on February 18, 2010


Why do the older men want younger women? And I say it is because they are not interested in a mature, equal partnership with a woman.

I'm not defending the fellows, jb, but as someone who consciously has decided that trying to make sense of a confusing world with a vague idea of promoting justice and fairness in all matters to be a waste of time, I would ask you if you saw New Moon, because I thought Taylor Lautner was hot and I think he only recently turned 18, which made me feel guilty since I could almost be his mom if I'd gotten pregnant as a teenager (but I'm just admiring him, obviously I'd never pursue a teenager because I'd end up being his mom which is tiring). But I caste no bar on age (Special Request: Hugh Jackman, please write and tell me that the Mefites are lying and there wasn't a body double for you in Wolverine). Though faithful to my fella, I love handsome, distinguished silver foxes (I can't think of any at the moment but I see them all over the city), brawny Australians in their 40s, and even the dad of all the vampires (but not Robert Pattinson, he looks like an anemic bug). I'm even starting to like guys with mustaches. And Seal. I love Seal. I don't even care all that much about his music but he's got to be every woman's (eventual) dream guy.
posted by anniecat at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2010


Well, one of several in a woman's bouquet of dreamguys.
posted by anniecat at 2:08 PM on February 18, 2010


I don't know how to tell you this...

See what I did there?
posted by LordSludge at 2:09 PM on February 18, 2010


Disclaimer: I have not resorted to online dating, but aren't there many alternatives? Why is OKCupid being flogged as "the" option, or is that just because of the fpp focus?

It's not just because of the FPP. OKCupid is consistently recommend on AskMe too. It's flogged as "the" option because it's the best dating site. I've tried many of the other standard sites, and none of them come closes to OKCupid.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:11 PM on February 18, 2010


P.o.B. -- did you even look at the link?

The majority of messages sent by women on OKCupid are sent to men within a few years of their own age. A very few women message much older men, about as many as message much younger men. The majority of ALL ages of women are messaging men within 5 years of their own age, though the 18 year olds do seem to prefer 20-year olds to 18 year-olds. (Hey, who knew? 18 year olds are immature and shallow).

The majority of messages by young men on OKCupid are to women their own age. But that is NOT true of the older men. 35-year-old men are spending more time messaging 25-year-old women than 35-year-old women.

Women on OKCupid are NOT significantly interested in older men; many -- not all, but many - men on OKCupid are trying to date much younger women. That's not to say that they succeed -- I'm sure there is the odd couple to supply your anecdata. After all, I mentioned up thread that my 57-year-old dad is dating a 24-year-old woman. But the plural of anecdote is not data.

As for bringing up the height thing -- that's a transparent attempt to change the topic. Post a thread on height prejudice -- which is a very real and serious thing, especially for men (Taller men make more money than shorter men). And I'm happy to denounce height prejudice. Again, I don't care if the person you fall in love with happens to be much taller than you, or much shorter; and there is a certain amount of compatibility issues. I'm like dating men of about my own height, because I like gazing in eyes -- so that would be men about 5'4"-5'7". This is because I look for height as a parity thing, not a status thing. But that hasn't stopped me considering dating some men of 5' (or finding a certain 4' actor very attractive) or 6'. And it's not like I find them less attractive for their height. Women who do judge men on their height are just as skeezy/shallow as men who judge women on their age.

on preview: anniecat -- it is perfectly natural to find a good looking young man attractive. I do all the time, with both young men and women (I'm bi). But the fact is that when you thought about the reality of dating someone that age, you were squicked out. Because their mind isn't in the same place as yours -- you realised it would be like dating a kid. And you are perfectly willing to see the beauty in other men, including those of your own age and older. That just shows that you are open-minded, and have an appreciation for human beauty. (I find so many people beautiful, and not just in a sexual way).

But what are you looking for in an actual relationship (ie not a fantasy)? Do you want a relationship with someone who has fewer wrinkles, but also less maturity and self-security than you do? And what does that say about someone who does?

In other words, Sean Bean is hot. But he's still too old for me.
posted by jb at 2:20 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


jb- Yep, and yet younger women still date older men. Please don't tell me you're using OKCupid as a basis for reality. The height thing wasn't to change anything. I only have one question and you haven't answered it.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2010


What are you using as a basis for reality? Porn sites?
posted by jb at 2:26 PM on February 18, 2010


I know were all in crazy land were nobody dates outside the year they were born.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:29 PM on February 18, 2010


I'll ask again since, as I recall, you were "squicked" out by your dad dating someone much younger:

Why is it okay to shame men who try to date women more than a few years younger than his age, but it's perfectly acceptable and even lauded for women to do the same thing?

Or for you, why react like that? What's the harm?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:36 PM on February 18, 2010


To be less snarky -- the OKCupid data is a not a scientific sample of the whole population, but by virtue of the sample size it is still a better sample than "people I happen to know". And it is a perfect sample of the statistical universe in question: OKCupid members. (In fact, I believe that it is not a sample at all, but the entirety of the statistical universe).

What it shows is that within that universe, very few younger women are interested in older men. That you know of a few examples is no more meaningful than me claiming that queens are common heads of state because my country has a queen for a head of state. Why do those few younger women date older men? I don't know, and I don't care. What I care about is a larger trend which I believe shows that gender relations within our society -- or, at least, within the OKCupid part of it -- are in a not very good place. And it's not the women who are the problem.

On a completely different topic -- it's funny how some people in this thread have assumed that women wear make-up to impress men. I never wear makeup for that reason -- in fact, several men have told me that they dislike the taste of lipstick and wish women wouldn't wear it. My husband also prefers soft hairy legs to scratchy stubble, because he's more interested in feeling them than in looking at them. I shave and wear make-up to impress other women, which is also the only reason I ever worry about being fashionable. Straight men I know are attracted to women, with or without make-up -- and tend to like them looking more like themselves than like some strange Lady Gaga creation. It's all part of being straight and attracted to people with two X chromozones. (Lady Gaga is cool and stunning -- but in costume she isn't pretty).
posted by jb at 2:37 PM on February 18, 2010


Well, we had the rare admission upthread that the commenter dated older guys when she was young, as did several of her friends.

Rare, because on the blue the first rule seems to be Winning the War, or whatever pitched battle is part of it, and admissions that make any point for the opposition are to be quietly ushered to a corner. Younger girls/women dating older guys was certainly, while not the norm, quite normal when I was going to school, by which I mean both high school and undergrad. The not-too-unbelievable explanation being proferred that guys their age weren't mature enough.

What I care about is a larger trend which I believe shows that gender relations within our society

Would you generalize from barroom behaviour to "larger society", considering the vast proportion of people who would never turn to the bar scene in search of a mate? Why would you think a dating site is any different? Consider the difference in personal investment between showing interest, in person, in someone, and, effectively, "spamming" potential dates with a message. It's a pretty different world, I think.

You seem like you're trying just a touch too hard to fit evidence to axe-grindy theory.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:44 PM on February 18, 2010


And yet a simple question is dodged once again. I don't even care who answers it. I don't think anybody has an answer other than it's reaction dictated by unexamined thoughts. When the light is shone upon it, people want to scatter rather than answer.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:54 PM on February 18, 2010


I've read most of the thread here...have seen many numerous comments questioning why an older man would want a younger woman, but none of the reverse (as if these younger women lacked any volition or opinions of their own.)

I have known MANY, MANY younger women (early 20's) who are attracted to men in their 40's. In fact, I know a few who will ONLY date men who are at least 10 or 15 years older than they are. (As an aside, all of these "older men only" women I've known are also model-pretty women who attract flocks of men on a day-to-day basis. Not sure how this is related, but thought it was an interesting fact: they could seriously have their pick of dozens of men, but voluntarily choose the older ones.)

Why aren't the tastes of these younger women being discussed?

Now, personally, I think it's fine either. I just think it's odd that so much of the focus is on "what older men like", and accusing them of being creepy. Nobody's forcing these young women to date older guys, and in fact, quite a few of them prefer it. But it's as if people are acting as if young women have no say in the matter...
posted by thisperon at 2:55 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, now I see it IS discussed further down the thread.


we do NOT see younger women seeking out older men


In my experience, this is inherently untrue.
posted by thisperon at 2:57 PM on February 18, 2010


P.o.B -- I didn't say that I thought it "was perfectly acceptable" for women to date much younger men, nor do I think it. I think it has all the pitfalls of very uneven ages the other way around. It does not have the historic abuses of the older-male/younger-female relationship -- we joke about trophy husbands because, like males prostituting for women, they are rare. Whereas trophy wives is a minority but not rare occurence in our society, particularly among certain well-to-do subcultures. But I would think just as poorly of any woman who left a husband who had helped her develop her career just so that she could be involved with a good-looking young man, as I do of a man who would do similar.

So I don't know the answer to your question as to why people think differently of older-female/younger-male relationships, because I don't think differently.

As for why I think age-disparate relationships are not a good idea, I have stated why repeatedly in this thread, in several different comments.

on preview: Durn Bronzefist -- I, too, dated older guys when I was younger. Not that I sought them out. When I was 13, my brother's 18 year old friend sought me out. When I was 16, a 32-year-old man sought me out, and when I was 17, a 21-year-old sought me out. Of these, I was only actually physically attracted to the last, but I went with them because I felt pressured by them and because I was pressured by society to value male attention as an indication of my own attractiveness and worthiness. I know other girls like me -- shy, plain or middling girls -- who ended up getting involved with older men because they felt ignored by boys their own age, and here were these sophisticated guys interested in us. Any attention was better than none, right? And yet in every case, my relationships with them (though brief) were unequal, unhealthy and damaging to me. I would rather have been single the whole time.

Now, I don't think things are that serious when you are talking about a 24-year old and a 57-year old. And I think that is perfectly possible that the odd thing can happen and you really do have two people who are just as mutually attracted and who have an equal partnership regardless of the disparity in age and experience. But I do have to wonder at the younger person's self-esteem and the older person's motives, because in most cases with such disparities of experience and maturity it is easy for the older person to dominate the younger. I'm not saying that this always happens -- but it can very easily.

And I particularly question the motives of older people who consistently seek out younger people.

thisperon -- read the link, please. We're talking about a large sample of people, and the women are not showing that trend. Yes, you know some of the outliers, how special for you. And half my friends are gay, but I don't claim that 50% of the population is gay. I'm just luckier than most to be surrounded by such fabulous people.
posted by jb at 3:01 PM on February 18, 2010


What bugs me is that ev.psych in this thread isn't even being promoted as The Answer, just as a potential/plausible facet of human behaviours. It's not nearly so much as what the nay-sayers want it to be.

The point, being glossed over as ever, is that evolutionary psychology is an (attempted) explanation, but it can have nothing to say about morality. If the question is a moral one — whether or not it's skeezy for older men to pursue younger women, or whether we should be fighting for a society with much less institutionalized gender bias — evolutionary psychology can have nothing to say. Which is why people should think more carefully before the break out the evolutionary psychology.

Of course, you personally may hold the view that "what has historically proven adaptive" = "what's good", but by definition, this is a subjective commitment with no connection to science; evolutionary psychology can offer you no support for this view.

If you want to argue against someone who thinks the older men/younger women thing is skeezier than vice versa, and that this has something to do with entrenched structural power differences, you're going to need to reach for something other than EP.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:04 PM on February 18, 2010


before they break out
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:04 PM on February 18, 2010



thisperon -- read the link, please. We're talking about a large sample of people, and the women are not showing that trend. Yes, you know some of the outliers, how special for you. And half my friends are gay, but I don't claim that 50% of the population is gay. I'm just luckier than most to be surrounded by such fabulous people.


I don't also claim the OKcupid population is representative of the rest of the population. Just trying to bring some of my personal experience into what seems like skewed data.

I mean really? Nobody knows any young women who are attracted primarily to older men? They must all live in my town or something.
posted by thisperon at 3:08 PM on February 18, 2010


If the question is a moral one — whether or not it's skeezy for older men to pursue younger women, or whether we should be fighting for a society with much less institutionalized gender bias — evolutionary psychology can have nothing to say.

Wait a minute. Skeezy = immoral? I didn't not think that was the connotation. I thought it meant perverted/sleazy/deviant (in a bad way)? Where does morality come into this?

Aside from those (rare, I think) individuals who think that 20-year-olds aren't mature enough to give full consent, who here thinks that dating younger women (or men) is immoral?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:13 PM on February 18, 2010


Nobody knows any young women who are attracted primarily to older men? They must all live in my town or something.

I've met several young women who claim to be interested in salt-and-pepper older types. For reals (i.e. sexual attraction), not just for sugar daddies.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:17 PM on February 18, 2010


When someone says skeevy, sleazy, pervy, creepy, etc.; they are essentially saying it is akin to immoral which is = not moral; inconsistent with rectitude, purity, or good morals; contrary to conscience or the divine law; wicked; unjust; dishonest; vicious; licentious.
There is also the whole idea of disgust wrapped up in it that Durn mentioned earlier, and I mentioned there is the obvious aspect of trying to shame the person that label is placed upon.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:24 PM on February 18, 2010


skeezy (as I use it) is less than immoral. More like unwise, a bad idea, questionable -- but not fully immoral. Sex without consent is immoral; purposely dating people who may be dominated by you is skeezy. It has a sense of wariness about it -- I'm not sure it's a good idea, and it makes me uncomfortable but I'm not willing to come all the way out and condemn it -- probably because of those rare healthy age-unequal relationships.
posted by jb at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2010


More like unwise, a bad idea, questionable

I don't know anybody who would define it that way. I would lay down dollars to dimes that if we polled a thousand people, none of them would come with those definitions. I mean we could play word games all day. "Hey everybody, when I say 'fuck off!' I actually mean 'have a nice day!'"
posted by P.o.B. at 3:42 PM on February 18, 2010


I don't know anybody who would define it that way.

Now you do.
posted by jb at 3:46 PM on February 18, 2010


As a matter of fact
posted by P.o.B. at 3:47 PM on February 18, 2010


Now you do.

Yeah, well have a nice day!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:49 PM on February 18, 2010


jb -- you've obviously decided to call upon anecdotes which raise the issue of consent, so I'm going to politely ignore those rather than think you're attempting a not-too-subtle issue shift.

And I particularly question the motives of older people who consistently seek out younger people.

See, now I feel dumb, because looking back at the last part of the thread, it's clear that others picked up on an aspect of your argument that I had not. You are far more divorced from reality than I was giving you credit for.

Here's a couple of suppositions, and feel free to tell me at which point I'm full of shit and why:

i) take a "random" sampling of guys and have them look at a random sampling of dating site pics -- but separate the pics by age group -- let's say 20-30, 30-40, 40-50. Then have them rank or rate them *strictly* in terms of physical attractiveness. I surmise that the results will consistently show 20-30 year olds being rated as more physically attractive than 30-40 year olds, and 30-40 year olds consistently rated as being more physically attractive than 40-50 year olds. In every case? Of course not. But a definite skew. I can't believe I'm spending time on this. Is this far-flung theory, do you think? Yes, there will be outliers.

ii) when it comes to "dating", physical attractiveness rules the roost (see any number of studies on the subject).

Now, you would like to suggest that the "real" reason these guys would select younger women to message/email/whatever is because there is some kind of ulterior motive of control? I mean, you're talking about women when they are, according to everything we've heard, most able to pick and choose among prospects. You could just as easily theorize that a woman of advanced years, even if she knows bullshit when she sees it, is in a far inferior position to "take it or leave it". But no. You have your theory. It's also about on par with any other speculative answer as to why men might message in this way (women my age, whatever they say, actually are looking for a baby daddy and I don't want kids (look for this sentiment amongst, oh, 30-34 year olds); older women are jaded (common); I 'get on better' with younger women (possibly maturity level); the evo-psych answer, etc, etc.)

The chief draw of your theory is apparently that it permits you to draw up lazy, broad-brush slander against men. I shouldn't have to point out that had you constructed such a theory about women on so flimsy a basis, and ignoring such obvious counterarguments, you'd have received your Misogynist Member's ID card in the mail ages ago. You would do yourself a service to append "disregarding physical attraction" to your arguments, as it would serve both to boost the credibility of them greatly, while simultaneously removing all relevance to the topic at hand.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:51 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, that's how I'd define it too, jb. I don't think it's a moral issue, but one of social/cultural standards (is that the same thing?) of behavior.

I.e. it's not immoral or illegal to openly ogle a 15-year-old waitress, but it is skeezy.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:51 PM on February 18, 2010


If you want to argue against someone who thinks the older men/younger women thing is skeezier than vice versa, and that this has something to do with entrenched structural power differences, you're going to need to reach for something other than EP.

Actually, I think you're making a logic error here. "Entrenched structural power differences" are ostensibly an empirical phenomenon, and so arguments about how things are (including evolutionary psych) are relevant to determinations of whether and to what extent they are in play.

In particular, if something is explained partly by nature, "entrenched structural power differences" play a correspondingly smaller explanatory role. See my comment above.

I also think that, practically speaking, you are overstating the distinctness of the empirical and normative questions at issue here. Suppose that the normative argument against dating younger women depended in part on the notion that it is a manifestation of entrenched power differences (I think you can find signs of this position upthread). In that case, the normative position could be weakened by introducing empirical arguments that suggest that it is explained by something other than entrenched power differences.

Let me know if you disagree.
posted by grobstein at 3:55 PM on February 18, 2010


As for bringing up the height thing -- that's a transparent attempt to change the topic. Post a thread on height prejudice...

Ah, I've seen that tactic before: all the predictably feminist points are totally fine no matter how far they stray from the FPP link, but when someone makes a point that seems to go against the Metafilter PC conventional wisdom, it's a derail, which is not allowed.

But I agree that someone should post a thread on height prejudice. Here's a link to get started: "If You Are Short, Fat, Older or An Asian Man, You Must Read This. But Especially If You’re Short." Anyone who's interested, please feel free to use that for an FPP. It's a blog post (a very well-supported one) from 2007, so it wouldn't be strong enough to be the sole link, but it could be a supporting link for something more current.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2010


Height at least factors directly into (many people's) ideas of physical attractiveness.

The reason I mentioned evo-psych earlier in connection with the "material support" thing is that there's pretty much no other non-"skeevy" explanation for factoring in money. As shallow as you want to be, at least skin-deep traits are about the person, not what they can give you.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:08 PM on February 18, 2010


Oh, but I see I've now stepped into a definition quagmire. Clearly, I need an internet connection on the bus.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:09 PM on February 18, 2010


Let's say a "5" or maybe a "6" on a scale of 1 to 10. But she has a knack with fashion and makeup. When she in full "going out" mode, dressed well and made up the way she knows how, well she's very, very attractive... like, a "9".

Jesus. Don't do this. I'm not going to engage with the rest of the recent stuff on here because it's too personally depressing, but I am going to ask you to not do this one particular thing on Metafilter, anywhere. Don't rate women by number. Just don't fucking do it. Capiche?
posted by jokeefe at 4:17 PM on February 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


What I care about is a larger trend which I believe shows that gender relations within our society -- or, at least, within the OKCupid part of it -- are in a not very good place. And it's not the women who are the problem.

Whu?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:20 PM on February 18, 2010


Any attention was better than none, right? And yet in every case, my relationships with them (though brief) were unequal, unhealthy and damaging to me. I would rather have been single the whole time.

Aha. Now it all makes sense.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:22 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The point, being glossed over as ever, is that evolutionary psychology is an (attempted) explanation, but it can have nothing to say about morality.

Please point out where anyone offered ev.psych as saying the least little thing about morality. Where did the idea of morality even begin to come into play? I am pretty certain that it's all you reading much, much more into it than was ever o
posted by five fresh fish at 4:28 PM on February 18, 2010


The point, being glossed over as ever, is that evolutionary psychology is an (attempted) explanation, but it can have nothing to say about morality. If the question is a moral one — whether or not it's skeezy for older men to pursue younger women, or whether we should be fighting for a society with much less institutionalized gender bias — evolutionary psychology can have nothing to say. Which is why people should think more carefully before the break out the evolutionary psychology.

Oh, I was talking about ev psych, but I was careful not to make the naturalistic fallacy (the fallacy that what's natural is what's right/good/moral). Five fresh fish wasn't making the naturalistic fallacy. Was anyone in this thread making the naturalistic fallacy? I didn't notice it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:40 PM on February 18, 2010


The height issue further illustrates that people are attracted to one another for reasons that are irrespective of any notion of what makes a fair society. It is not a derail. It is an illustration that demonstrates that women have lizard brains too.

Re: "gay uncle" theory
"This is an interesting theory, but it has not been generally accepted. As Robert Wright pointed out back in 1994 in The Moral Animal when he raised this issue, the "gay uncle" (or aunt) theory oddly assumes that gay men and women are unusually devoted to their nieces and nephews."
I've not read this but on first look it is odd to assume that gay men and women are unusually devoted to nieces and nephews but that doesn't necessarily refute the theory. Gay men and women have less children and would therefore have more time available to devote to their nieces and nephews. I don't happen to think the "gay uncle" theory holds up but the observation that they would have to be unusually devoted does not seem to be a good argument against it.

One thing I've read in the last year seems a very interesting theory as to how homosexuality continues in men despite having a negative impact on reproduction. I have no idea how this theory is currently held and it is based on a very small set of data.

Psychology Today
Finding the Switch
Homosexuality may persist because the associated genes convey surprising advantages on homosexuals' family members.
By Robert Kunzig, published on May 01, 2008 - last reviewed on February 03, 2010
...One difference, though, was not slight at all: The homosexuals' mothers and aunts had had between three and four times as many sexual partners. They seemed to really like having sex with men.

Camperio's explanation for all this relies, like Rahman and Wilson's hypothesis, on sexually antagonistic selection. Perhaps, he suggests, the mothers of some homosexuals have a "man-loving" gene. In women, it would be adaptive, causing them to have more sex and more children. But in men, the "man-loving" gene would be expressed differently, causing homosexuality. To the gay sons, that would be an evolutionary disadvantage—but one outweighed by the advantage to the mothers, who would have more than enough other children to compensate. And so gayness in men would persist in these families—as a side effect of a trait that is beneficial to the women.
posted by vapidave at 5:08 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The height thing isn't a lizard brain thing unless it's demonstrated to be completely cross-cultural. What I do know is true is that height is given a certain status in our society, and that there are cultural pressures on women to date taller. I read romance literature for fun, and I inwardly groan every time some author decides that only men of 6'6" are attractive. (Mary Balough finally wrote about a 5'10" guy, and I was like yeah! How about 5'7"? that would be just right.). But maybe less happily married women are more strongly influenced by these sorts of things than I am. Gender role pressure is felt by all people, male and female.

And, of course, there is the fact that we aren't controlled by our lizard brains. My lizard brain may tell me that really what I want to do is eat as much as I can and then sit in the sun to absorb its warmth. But I have to shower and go to work.
posted by jb at 5:30 PM on February 18, 2010


Gay men and women have less children and would therefore have more time available to devote to their nieces and nephews.

People who don't have children have more time available to do anything. That doesn't mean they'll actually spend more time with their nieces and nephews.

I don't happen to think the "gay uncle" theory holds up but the observation that they would have to be unusually devoted does not seem to be a good argument against it.

It's not a conclusive argument against it. But it's a reason to be skeptical: the theory asks us to believe that gays have an unusual behavioral pattern. That's not something we should believe without evidence just because it would provide an ev psych account of homosexuality if it were true.

If you look at page 180 in the book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters (which you can access by going to that link and searching for "homosexuality" within the book), you'll see that the co-authors (who are evolutionary psychologists) admit there's no ev psych explanation of homosexuality as of 2007.

BTW, to be clear, the reason homosexuality and ev psych came up is that I was just using it as one example among many where ev psych has not, as of today, definitively explained all of human behavior. I don't think anyone here was claiming that ev psych is necessarily incompatible with homosexuality.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:36 PM on February 18, 2010


Don't rate women by number.

Well at the very least don't pretend it's some kind of objective standard that's been thought through or act like you're some great decider of what hotness is. I think that's the main thing that's upsetting a lot of folks because you're speaking as though you're some authority on all men and you're the final conclusive authority on what men think of women and what women are, instead of saying, "I think." I can't believe the number of people being hurt by someone saying someone's hot and the number of people who think it's an objective standard and just say, "Hot women/guys do this/have this/get this blah blah blah" like there's some definitive resource to what that even means or like they have an H tattooed to them to indicate who is what. Everybody get a grip already. Whenever some men talk about thinking that some girl is hot, they don't say, I think she's hot. They try to make it seem like a fact that is indisputable. A lot of my female friends and I say, "I think he's hot" or "he's so handsome" because hotness is...well, a personal measure of what you find attractive which others may or may not find really odd based on what moves us aesthetically.

Good grief.
posted by anniecat at 6:57 PM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have known MANY, MANY younger women (early 20's) who are attracted to men in their 40's.

Maybe they do it because the guys are established by then with financial resources and they like the guy. I wonder if the women end up all that faithful though. The guy who is older has more responsibility at work and lets the younger woman be free to play with the strapping college hunk mowing the lawn or the cable guy and still benefit from husband's resources. When the cat's away, maybe the mice get to play=)
posted by anniecat at 7:05 PM on February 18, 2010


I didn't mean it to be any kind of big derail, but seeing as how there are so many, I (may have) been the one to initially bring up the reference of sleazy to immorality. I'll stand by that connotation until someone can obviously prove me wrong. It takes all of two seconds to look it up and if you don't know the definition then you are both oblivious to the larger cultural use of the term and to the use of a dictionary.
You seriously gotta be bullshitting people if you're going to pass off the idea that 'sleazy' somehow means that someone makes 'unwise' decisions. A person who sticks their hand in a plugged-in toaster is NOT sleazy. Someone who high-dives off a cliff without knowing the depth of water is NOT sleazy. A pedophile is sleazy. A person who mugs people is sleazy. The only thing I want to know is where people made this jump of reasoning to if man who dates woman younger than him is sleazy; and I can't get a solid answer other than "entrenched power differential in a patriarchal society".
Seriously, somebody PLEASE link to something that I can read up on some insight into why it is okay to call men sleazy. And please note there is a difference between calling someone sleazy and saying it is wrong.

Maybe they do it because the guys are established by then with financial resources and they like the guy.

Well whatever the reason, some people want to act like it is a thing of such rarity that some random data does not even back up its existence. In real life, different people of different ages date all the time and never have a problem with it.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:25 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hang on a second.

Many of those here are arguing about this from a perspective of "well, you can't help who you're attracted to, and if the person you're attracted to happens to be 10 years younger, well, whatcha gonna do?"

But, actually, I'm not sure that that's what we're talking about. Because, in order to BE attracted to that person, you have to SEE that person FIRST.

However -- WE aren't talking about the men who happen upon a younger woman and are struck with Cupid's Evolutionary Arrow or whatever. (At least I'm not.) WE are talking about the men who ACTIVELY AVOID talking to anyone above a certain age right from the get-go. The men who have filters on their profiles so as to BLOCK any emails from anyone above a certain age. I've run into at least three guys on OkCupid who I was all set to contact -- until I saw that little notice that said that they had a filter ruling out anyone over the age of 30, and so the fact that I was 39 meant that my email would get filtered straight to their trash. THOSE guys.

Random chance and "the eyes know what they dig" is one thing, but covering one's eyes towards an entire class of people simply because of their age and going "I don't want to seeeeee yoooouuuuuuu" is something else entirely, I'd say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 PM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


The men who have filters on their profiles so as to BLOCK any emails from anyone above a certain age. I've run into at least three guys on OkCupid who I was all set to contact -- until I saw that little notice that said that they had a filter ruling out anyone over the age of 30, and so the fact that I was 39 meant that my email would get filtered straight to their trash.

I think you're overstating what happens with OKCupid's filter system. I wouldn't know from firsthand experience, since I don't filter my messages (and I agree it's a silly practice). But that message at the bottom of the profile says:

"You don’t meet _____’s message requirements
If you send her [him] a message, it will appear with a filter warning"

So, the message "will appear" -- it'll have a lesser status, but it will still show up. Sending it could still be worth a shot.

Dating sites are full of people who've set forth unreasonably rigid criteria. I'm sure you're right that many men do this, and I can assure you that many women do it (including based on age). You can handle this in one of two ways: (1) ignore the criteria (pursue those people anyway if you're interested), or (2) ignore the users (move on to another profile -- if they're that superficial, who needs 'em?). It's irritating, but it doesn't need to be debilitating.

Also, yours is another comment that describes other people in this thread as saying that whatever drives are evolutionary are beyond criticism. Maybe some people are saying that. I'm not saying it. Actions that have evolutionary explanations are wide open to criticism. For instance, I think that rape and murder have evolutionary explanations; I would hardly hold back from criticizing them. (And the reverse is true: I've seen no convincing ev psych explanation for homosexuality, but I don't think there's anything wrong with homosexuality.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:33 PM on February 18, 2010


Thought I'd pop back in quickly to see how this thread was moving along . . . wow. I'm not sure what to say, so I thought maybe I could at least answer a question to the best of my ability.

Someone upthread (I think thisperson) asked if there were no younger women who could offer insight into their reasons for dating older men, so as to include them in the somewhat one sided discussion.

So I turned to my significant other and asked her why she tended to date older men (for the record all of her serious adult relationships have been with men at least 8 years older than her). And the reasons were as follows (drum roll?):

She claims the majority of men in her age group are immature, shallow and uninteresting. When pressed on the "uninteresting" comment, she elaborated with the fact that men who are older have more opinions, are better conversationalists and are more confident. She also pointed out that--in her opinion--most men in their early twenties were trying to hard to "be cool" (this of course prompted a joking question from me "So, you love me because I'm not cool?"). Money was not a deciding factor. I can back that up with my current bank statement if necessary.
posted by kaiseki at 1:09 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]



And the reasons were as follows (drum roll?):


Thanks for your data point.

Those sound like "more serious" relationship answers than the ones I've heard, for sure. (They range from "older men are hot" to, well, "older men are soooo hot.")

On an otherwise terrible radio show I listened to once, I think I heard someone say that age differences make a relationship hotter. (Doesn't matter who is older, man or woman.)

It was the one thing out of that hour long drivel that I thought was worth quoting.
posted by thisperon at 3:40 AM on February 19, 2010


Also, yours is another comment that describes other people in this thread as saying that whatever drives are evolutionary are beyond criticism.

That was five fresh fish's comment, not mine. While I generally take a dim view of evolutionary psychology as a rule (many of its other claims have been disproven, last I heard), I don't have a dog in that particular fight -- my opinions on this matter have mostly been "who cares WHY they do it, it still sucks for me, so poopy on it".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 AM on February 19, 2010


That was five fresh fish's comment, not mine.

No, I was responding to your comment:

Many of those here are arguing about this from a perspective of "well, you can't help who you're attracted to, and if the person you're attracted to happens to be 10 years younger, well, whatcha gonna do?"


While that was put in nonscientific terms, the gist was that we're making the naturalistic fallacy as to evolutionary psychology. And I'm just saying we're not, or at least some of us aren't.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:50 AM on February 19, 2010


PoB --you are arguing about the word "sleazy".

The word I used was "skeezy". Related, but not the same. And yes, it does have a sense of distaste. One can find a behaviour distateful without thinking it immoral. Spitting on the street or excessive swearing are both distateful, to me, while not being immoral.
posted by jb at 5:00 AM on February 19, 2010


And for that matter, pedophile are not sleazy. They are sick, and in the case of those with no remorse, evil.

As for older people who target younger, I said nothing about patriarchy. I have explained why I think it is unwise and distateful, but that would require you to actually read my comments.
posted by jb at 5:04 AM on February 19, 2010


As for older people who target younger, I said nothing about patriarchy. I have explained why I think it is unwise and distateful, but that would require you to actually read my comments.

For the record, though, several people did connect it to patriarchy as if this were a trump card that showed men are bad for seeking out younger women.

The past 100 or so comments out of almost 400 (!) have read like a vigorous back-and-forth between diametrically opposed sides, but I wonder if there'd actually be a surprising amount of agreement if we were all just sitting in a room together and could establish some basic points.

For instance, of course I think it's unwise for 40-year-old men on the dating scene to ignore any women who are 30+. It's better to focus on people within your age range. I agree with you that a relationship where people are closer in age is more likely to be balanced and equal in important ways.

But I also think it's disturbing how readily this website slides into collectively condemning men, or even large groups of men, using a tone that would be considered unacceptable if applied to women.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:37 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


jb: I have explained why I think it is unwise and distateful, but that would require you to actually read my comments.

This is staggering coming from you. Did you read mine?

Did you miss the bit where I pointed out that your baseless speculation, tailored to denigrate and in fact reinforce a negative stereotype about men, with plenty of more likely counterarguments ignored, would be called out in a second as misogynist (rightfully so) if you’d applied such cherry-picking logic on women?

But that’s like water off a duck’s back to you, isn’t it?

So I’m going to say it again, having read all of your comments and responded to probably half of them.
Save that hateful bullshit for your therapist. It does not belong here.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:48 AM on February 19, 2010


Yes, exactly -- thank you, Jaltcoh.

Shameless hypocrites, some of you.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:49 AM on February 19, 2010


Oh, I was talking about ev psych, but I was careful not to make the naturalistic fallacy (the fallacy that what's natural is what's right/good/moral). Five fresh fish wasn't making the naturalistic fallacy. Was anyone in this thread making the naturalistic fallacy? I didn't notice it.

Well, I think the naturalistic fallacy is implied if a bunch of people say "it's a pity that older men seem to focus on much younger women, and that older women find dating harder" and then a bunch of other people respond: "ah, but evolutionary psychology shows why this is the case."

That's all I meant.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:42 AM on February 19, 2010


No, I was responding to your comment: "Many of those here are arguing about this from a perspective of 'well, you can't help who you're attracted to, and if the person you're attracted to happens to be 10 years younger, well, whatcha gonna do?'"

While that was put in nonscientific terms, the gist was that we're making the naturalistic fallacy as to evolutionary psychology.


Ah, there's the disconnect -- that actually was not my "gist" at all.

I was responding more to the people who were reporting, on an individual basis, that "well, my Uncle Sid just took a shine to my Aunt Lucy after his first wife died, even though he was 15 years older than her, and she felt the same way so there you go." That's not an evolutionary-psychology argument, that is an anecdotal argument on the theme of "sometimes the heart just wants what it wants". And I have no quarrel about the heart just wanting what it wants, is what I meant. Because all kinds of funny things happen -- we can't predict who we're going to fall in love with among the people we see every day.

But that's the thing of it -- the people we SEE every day. I have no quarrel with an honest "we just got to know each other and there was a spark." What I DO have a quarrel with is "I'm not even going to TAKE A CHANCE at letting my heart possibly take a shine to you, because you are older than X years." That's not "evolutionary psychology," or "something just struck me and there you go," that's pre-judgement (and outright dickishness).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:06 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am still not seeing where you get the idea that the ev.psych ideas are moralizing about the right/good/moral aspect of the behaviour. It doesn't make any moral judgements at all.

People want to maintain their Righteous Anger at Legitimate Assholes. Ev.psych kinda steals that thunder in a way, I suppose. Tough to be Righteously Angry at someone who's behaviours are being driven by a lack of conscious thinking.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:11 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I DO have a quarrel with is "I'm not even going to TAKE A CHANCE at letting my heart possibly take a shine to you, because you are older than X years."

I fail to understand why you're upset that you can't have a relationship with those dickheads. In fact, shouldn't you be thankful that they're filtering, so that you don't have to waste your time with them?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:13 AM on February 19, 2010


But that's the thing of it -- the people we SEE every day. I have no quarrel with an honest "we just got to know each other and there was a spark." What I DO have a quarrel with is "I'm not even going to TAKE A CHANCE at letting my heart possibly take a shine to you, because you are older than X years." That's not "evolutionary psychology," or "something just struck me and there you go," that's pre-judgement ...

Well, you yourself said you would rule out people who are too young for you. You said you are specifically looking for people age 30 and older, not people 29 and under. So presumably you're not against any rigid criteria someone sets up. I'm going to turn 29 in March; if I messaged you on OKCupid, I assume you'd ignore my message. And that's fine, but let's admit it: you do prejudge people. You just think your criteria are good and certain other people's criteria are bad. I agree that your stated criteria are more sensible than someone who only wants to date someone at least 10 years younger than himself. But if you and I are going to make those kinds of judgments, let's not pretend that we're against rigidity in the asbtract: we like the rigidity that we like, and we don't like the rigidity that we don't like.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:22 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever some men talk about thinking that some girl is hot, they don't say, I think she's hot. They try to make it seem like a fact that is indisputable. A lot of my female friends and I say, "I think he's hot" or "he's so handsome" because hotness is...well, a personal measure of what you find attractive which others may or may not find really odd based on what moves us aesthetically.

Very interesting insight. Young women will also argue over whether a guy is hot or not, but without the same desperate urge for peer verification, imo. I think the tendency for men to do that fades as they age, however.

A 20-year-old male and his friends will argue with tedious supporting details about whether or not a specific female is "hot" (which I assume means "fuckable").

Some 40-year-old males may still argue with their friends about "whether that chick is hot" or not, but I think they are also much more likely to say "this is why i think she's hot" and let it go, rather than arguing over inane abstractions.

For young men and women, I think you're spot on. If true, I wonder why young men are less confident in their sexual attractions than young women?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:23 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ev.psych kinda steals that thunder in a way, I suppose. Tough to be Righteously Angry at someone who's behaviours are being driven by a lack of conscious thinking.

Not so tough, really, if you're evolutionarily programmed to be righteously angry.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:27 AM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


A lot of my female friends and I say, "I think he's hot" or "he's so handsome" because hotness is...well, a personal measure of what you find attractive ...

A 20-year-old male and his friends will argue with tedious supporting details about whether or not a specific female is "hot" (which I assume means "fuckable"). ...


This makes it sound like men and women can say the same things ("I think he/she is hot"), but the comments by women will be interpreted in a positive light (they're open-minded, they're just expressing their personal views, etc.), and the comments by men will be interpreted in a negative light (they're tedious and petty, they must only care about sex, etc.).
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:29 AM on February 19, 2010


Well, you yourself said you would rule out people who are too young for you. You said you are specifically looking for people age 30 and older, not people 29 and under. So presumably you're not against any rigid criteria someone sets up.

A fair point. However, I'm not quite as rigid about that, to be perfectly honest.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:30 AM on February 19, 2010


Well, I was going based on what you said. And it turns out you're actually less rigid than you made it sound -- and that's no big deal at all. But ... you seem to think it is a big deal if men state their criteria in a way that sounds rigid. Maybe they're also less rigid in actuality than they sound on the internet.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:34 AM on February 19, 2010


But ... you seem to think it is a big deal if men state their criteria in a way that sounds rigid. Maybe they're also less rigid in actuality than they sound on the internet.

Not "men". Just the ones who blatantly filter out emails from women above a certain age.

And I'd say that filtering out emails from women above a certain age does indicate a certain degree of rigidity, yes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2010


Durn Bronzefist, if you want to get personal, I could point out that I am happily married to a person with a Y chromozone (you can't assume in Canada, isn't that nice?), and know many men whom I respect and admire as people and friends -- not least the said owner of a Y chromozone. Your own comments seem to show that you have a great deal of trouble relating to women; I'm sorry for that.

As for "hateful" comments, I have long stood up for men's rights and I believe strongly that gender equality is not just about women breaking free of limitations placed on them by their gender role, but also for men. But I still have the right to comment on the behaviour of a specific group of men as being behaviour of which I do not approve. I also do not approve of the many, many Torontonians who litter, and I think that Torontonians who litter are worse than skeezy -- they are EVIL, like blood-sucking, demons-from-hell evil. That comment does not make me Torontonianist.
posted by jb at 10:44 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It just makes me litterist. And I am happy to be known as someone who is prejudiced against men who would only consider dating someone 10+ years younger than them, because I think that kind of attitude is skeezy. It's like being prejudiced against racists -- prejudice based on someone's behaviour isn't pre-judging, it's just judging.
posted by jb at 10:48 AM on February 19, 2010


And I'd say that filtering out emails from women above a certain age does indicate a certain degree of rigidity, yes.

Well, as I said, I believe the messages will still get sent to those people on OKCupid. They'll just show up differently. They don't "get filtered straight to their trash."

But look, I'm not denying that a lot of people using dating sites (or dating through other means) have overly rigid criteria. I don't think we really disagree on this. Men often do it with age, and women often do it with age and height and lots of other things. If you're specifically looking at men's profiles, you're probably more acutely aware of the ways many men are rigid. Since I specifically look at women's profiles, I'm more acutely aware of the ways many women are rigid.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:51 AM on February 19, 2010


This makes it sound like men and women can say the same things ("I think he/she is hot"), but the comments by women will be interpreted in a positive light (they're open-minded, they're just expressing their personal views, etc.), and the comments by men will be interpreted in a negative light

You're missing the point and sorta pushing your own agenda of a double-standard here. I'm not saying either behavior is better or worse: young men argue for hours about whether actress X or celeb Y or freshman Z is hot or not. Young women do not. Why is that?

I think both sexes are affected by mimetic desire, but why do young men require so much more confirmation and consensus from their peers when discussing physical attractiveness?

My wild-assed guess is that male sexuality tends to deviate more than female sexuality and men are embarassed that someone is going to learn their kinky turn-ons. So they continually search for peer consensus on their attractions until their able to accept their own freaky preferences.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:21 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Your own comments seem to show...

It's not personal. Men who make constructive arguments designed entirely to denigrate women do not get a free pass by being married to someone of the opposite sex. "I have black friends" isn't a pass for racism. Not that it's any of your business, but I too (as I've stated) am hitched (happily, and with someone close to my age, as far as that goes), so there's my paragraph on the "personal" stuff.

The fact remains that you are going out of your way to ignore the most compelling "non-skeezy" arguments in favour of one that denigrates men. Maybe that's not "hate" to you, but I guess you can just throw this on the enormous pile of double standards, then, because this sort of selective reasoning and aim would get you labelled a misogynist in a split second -- which no one has come out to deny.

Just the ones who blatantly filter out emails from women above a certain age.

But filters are blatant. They're black and white. They say "I'm not going to afford you the opportunity to prove I'm wrong", and they work that way for height (my god, those numbers in the earlier link, holy cow), age, weight, etc... And the system seems designed to make you make use of them (or be flooded with every request, most of which you have zero interest). I wasn't aware of the option to still send the message, despite the filter, though. That's interesting. Though the fairly clear message in this thread is still: women -- the filters indicate small-mindedness and/or skeevy bias -- follow your hearts; men -- don't bother these women! They don't want to hear from you!

But the double standards are so pervasive in this place they're near invisible. We're swimming in them.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:22 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


why do young men require so much more confirmation and consensus from their peers when discussing physical attractiveness?

I've not seen this. Is it a regional thing? If it's a youth thing, is it new? I've never felt compelled to "convince" anyone of someone's attractiveness, though it is interesting to compare notes.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:24 AM on February 19, 2010


You're missing the point and sorta pushing your own agenda of a double-standard here.

You're right that I have that agenda.

I'm not saying either behavior is better or worse: young men argue for hours about whether actress X or celeb Y or freshman Z is hot or not. Young women do not.

That hasn't been my experience. Anyway, that's not what the comments I was responding to said.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:28 AM on February 19, 2010


I think the root problem is that people on OKCupid are people who are (a) not interested in long-term relationships or (b) have so far been unable to have a long-term relationship; and the people here are (c) applying standards that aren't appropriate for neither group (a) nor (b).
posted by five fresh fish at 11:40 AM on February 19, 2010


Interesting, though, that whenever a man is accused of being a misogynist, he can just point to his wedding ring and say: What me, hate women? I'm married! Oh you silly! Or shall we throw that, too, on the double standard pile?

Even your attempted ad hom was lazy, jeez. I've had mostly positive relationships from the word go, and those that weren't didn't tempt me to concoct a theory about those creepy, creepy women, oooh.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:46 AM on February 19, 2010


I think the root problem is that people on OKCupid are people who are (a) not interested in long-term relationships or (b) have so far been unable to have a long-term relationship

I hope you don't mean to suggest that everyone on OKCupid is either (a) or (b), because that's not the case.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2010


Those sound like "more serious" relationship answers than the ones I've heard, for sure. (They range from "older men are hot" to, well, "older men are soooo hot.")
posted by thisperon


Seems like they would be if it were someone looking for more maturity in the men they date, no? I don't want to make it sound like there's not what seems to be getting referred to here as a "shallow-lizard-brain-animal-attraction". I just thought that part would be too obvious to include in her answer, since it really should go without saying that two people need to be physically attracted to one another to begin any kind of romantic relationship.

Also:

On an otherwise terrible radio show I listened to once, I think I heard someone say that age differences make a relationship hotter. (Doesn't matter who is older, man or woman.)

It was the one thing out of that hour long drivel that I thought was worth quoting.


That sounds excruciating.
posted by kaiseki at 11:55 AM on February 19, 2010


Let's cut to the chase, shall we? What the culmination of several threads generally related to this topic seem to suggest is:

Men should be thankful for any attention they receive from women. If a (single, hetero) man isn't receptive to that attention, it probably says something negative about him, if not men in general.

Male attention is mostly a curse. If a man shows interest and is rejected, he probably, though not always, should have known better and should have left the poor woman alone. For godsakes they shouldn't show interest in women who are unlikely to want them (Know your station! Be realistic!). Though we all know that attraction is completely different for everyone, some women for no reason that reflects well on men get far more attention than others, so you should probably just go away. Unless they want you. In which case you should figure that out.

Does that cover it?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:55 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


But that's the thing of it -- the people we SEE every day. I have no quarrel with an honest "we just got to know each other and there was a spark." What I DO have a quarrel with is "I'm not even going to TAKE A CHANCE at letting my heart possibly take a shine to you, because you are older than X years." That's not "evolutionary psychology," or "something just struck me and there you go," that's pre-judgement (and outright dickishness).
posted by EmpressCallipygos


I don't really want to get involved in the thick of this argument too much, but . . .

It seems to me that dating websites are (based on the ads that I see) more geared toward people who are having trouble finding someone that they want to date out in the real flesh and blood world, and not just for people who are having trouble finding a date period. Hence the built in preference filters.

For the record, I completely agree with you that it is "pre-judgement" and "dickishness" to not even give someone a chance based on your preferences, but that's life man. Those are your preferences and you're entitled to them. I (as a 5'6" man) found the link someone posted above about short men having trouble on dating sites very validating, but no particularly big shock. I've experienced the same thing quite frequently in my life. There are women who seem perfectly nice, intelligent, open minded and delightful to be around who, when it comes to dating would not piss on me if I were on fire because I'm shorter than 5'10". There are strong indicators on that same link that white women almost never date outside their race, people (including women) tend to date the same level of physical fitness, etc..

I don't think these women are bitches, mean, bad people or morally wrong. That's their preference. They have to be attracted to who they want to date. Much like men who only want to date younger women and only find those ladies attractive, it rules out an enormous and potentially very wonderful percentage of the population. And again, I do think that that's really narrow minded, kind of bigoted and really hard to swallow, but that's how things are. As a member of the group that is date-site-bigoted-against it can be really enraging for you and I feel you on that, but I don't think passing moral judgment on someone's preferences is the way to go about getting different results.
posted by kaiseki at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I totally did not mean that last part to be completely in bold and read like I was yelling. Really bad at using those little buttons on the bottom right.
posted by kaiseki at 12:29 PM on February 19, 2010


Actually, Durn, I think the message is that women better not look for dates unless they're young, hot, and 'take care of themselves' (ie aren't fat), but in any case they're only looking to to snare older men, who are only good for the size of their wallets.

Both men and women are fucked in the dating game.

We should all stay single and then die.
posted by sandraregina at 1:05 PM on February 19, 2010


Internet matching seems completely sensible as a concept, but it does certainly make explicit what sorts of choices/boundaries/prejudices people carry, and nobody comes out looking particularly good.

I had always assumed that, were I ever single again, I would give one of these websites a go, but reports have not been encouraging...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:34 PM on February 19, 2010


What other categories do you see, Jaltcoh?
posted by five fresh fish at 2:01 PM on February 19, 2010


Jesus. Don't do this. I'm not going to engage with the rest of the recent stuff on here because it's too personally depressing, but I am going to ask you to not do this one particular thing on Metafilter, anywhere. Don't rate women by number. Just don't fucking do it. Capiche?

I was making a specific point about the relative attractiveness of a friend of mine and how it affects the behavior of those around her as well as her own. Her attractiveness is central to the topic. It was an anecdote intended to expose a truth about human nature. I understand, as well you should, that what's appropriate -- indeed, critical -- to this conversation about attraction and social psychology is not appropriate in a more general context. I'm not eyeing up the grocery clerk and chuckling with my friends.

The numbers are shorthand, and most people understand what they mean. For those that don't understand, or for those that are being deliberately obtuse, here's a handy reference chart for you (interpolate for all points in between):

1 = Deemed attractive by 10% of the population
5 = Deemed attractive by 50% of the population
10 = Deemed attractive by 100% of the population

For reference, or if you're still confused, check the original article for examples of women that are in the 70th percentile of attractiveness.

Well at the very least don't pretend it's some kind of objective standard...

Yes, there's variation in what individuals find attractive. I'm not really into Asian women; some guys think they're preferable. Some guys are all about obese women with horrible skin conditions and no symmetry whatsoever. Some women prefer guys who droll, pick their friends' noses, and kick puppies. But, ya know, you put it up to a poll of the general population, and 90+ times out of 100 Jessica Simpson is more attractive than Marget Thatcher. This is not "objective", per se, but it is repeatable subjective consensus.

There are traits that men tend to find attractive. Likewise for women. I'm sure you know this. It's foolish and nonconstructive to pretend otherwise.

I think that's the main thing that's upsetting a lot of folks because you're speaking as though you're some authority on all men and you're the final conclusive authority on what men think of women and what women are, instead of saying, "I think."

I used to add "I think" in front of every opinion sentence, but it got really clunky really fast. I figured the MeFi audience was smart enough to make the distinction by the context of the conversation without me explicitly tagging it.
posted by LordSludge at 2:08 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Both men and women are fucked in the dating game.

We should all stay single and then die.
posted by sandraregina An hour ago [+]


Or both genders could get off their high horses, and men could be happy to date old women and women to date short, fat men. I volunteer -- I married a short man. And now I'm working on making him fat by baking lots of brownies.
posted by jb at 2:21 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're faced with a thousand possible hits, I see nothing wrong with weeding out prospects by parameters which may be arbitrary or overbroad but tend in some general way to conform to what you find attractive. I mean, you don't "owe" anyone a date for goodness sake. If you're missing out as a result, it's you who is being punished for your narrow-mindedness.

What *is* offensive is the blatant attempt to paint this filtering by women as completely reasonable and by men as creepy, skeezy, or unfair or arbitrary/close-minded in a way that is somehow categorically different from what women are doing. And it doesn't reflect well on the MeFites attempting to do it. At all. Have a look at the height data in that link upthread -- incredibly, just jaw-droppingly lopsided -- and tell me that "fair" has anything to do with it. Yet there's this impulse to say "that's different" (with nothing backing up the distinction) along -- surprise, surprise -- gender lines as to what is being filtered by whom. This place certainly gets ugly sometimes.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:36 PM on February 19, 2010


The word I used was "skeezy".

That's a toMAYto/toMAHto thing and yes I've read your comments and the only thing you've consistently done is waffle around to better suit your argument.
I'm really at the point of whevs on this.
I understand there is a tendency for personal feelings to back these things up but it shouldn't be such a momentous task to get an answer from someone on why they say or think something. Nor should it be to much to ask for reasonable examples and possibly some literature to gain insight on it. Saying that it's just the way I feel isn't acceptable in light of an obvious double standard, and that should be obvious to everyone.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2010


Actually, Durn, I think the message is that women better not look for dates unless they're young, hot, and 'take care of themselves' (ie aren't fat), but in any case they're only looking to to snare older men, who are only good for the size of their wallets.

I know you're upset, but I urge you to stop being so black and white about this. A person isn't simply gorgeous or utterly repulsive -- there are many shades of grey. Yes, men tend to be attracted more to young and thin. Hell, I freely accept that Jessica Simpson, Megan Fox, etc. wouldn't give me the time of day. Doesn't mean I should hang it up entirely!
posted by LordSludge at 3:06 PM on February 19, 2010


Or both genders could get off their high horses, and men could be happy to date old women and women to date short, fat men.

You're still acting as if this is a choice, and men are just being stubborn jerks by gravitating towards more attractive women. (And if you've found what trips your trigger, then I offer my sincerest congratulations. Really, nothing warms my heart more than seeing two people completely in love with each other!) I'll grant that your idea that people should date people they're not very attracted to, in the spirit of fairness, seems lovely -- on its surface. But it's pretty horrible in practice; it leads to lopsided relationships, illicit affairs, broken hearts, and non-fulfillment. Bad, bad, bad idea.
posted by LordSludge at 3:21 PM on February 19, 2010


Oh I missed this. The laughs just keep on coming.

It's like being prejudiced against racists -- prejudice based on someone's behaviour isn't pre-judging, it's just judging.

And if you looked at the height data, you'd say men were justified in prejudice against the vast, vast proportion of women. That just being one example.

The other "argument" here, that hey, it's not all men, only some men and therefore not prejudice or hateful is another argument I don't think anyone would accept in a different context. I don't think all black people are scary and dangerous, just young, black men! Oh, but of course the group here is bounded by behaviour. So is mine! It's only the ones who listen to rap you see. What's that? Culture? Personal preference? Naw. I know what the "real" reason is. I study race relations, and I'm just darn sure it's because they're into the dope buying, gang banging, and woman beating. These alternative explanations don't convince me. Not racist!

Really, this thread has been intriguing, and it's always useful to be able to put names to some of these attitudes, but the weekend is here (finally!) and I have no intention of sticking around to, one by one, point out the obvious flaws in the flimsy rationalizations of your fashionable prejudice. Toodle-oo.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:09 PM on February 19, 2010


LordSludge -- I'm not saying that people should date people they are not attracted to. But the idea that there are no 40-year old women who are attractive to a 40-year-old man boggles the imagination. After all, women and men age at the same rates; as a bi person, I can assure you that older men are no more or less attractive on average than older women. So why the disparity in messaging patterns between men and women?
posted by jb at 4:12 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lord Sludge, you can date whoever you feel like, but just don't be surprised if people think that you are a)brainwashed by the media to only find younger women attractive and/or b) a skeezy old man who can't recognise that he also has wrinkles and love-handles and won't look past them in others.

People can be judgmental, jealous assholes. Yeah, I got that one...

But that you fail to find women your own age attractive does not say much good about you -- or are you saying that you would be fine with no one ever finding you attractive because of your age?

I'm not trying to make myself look good here; I'm being as honest and forthcoming as I possibly can. I would love to be able to find 50yo women sexy as hell, but I pretty much universally don't. I would love to find 39yo women sexy, but I generally don't. (I did have dinner with a stunning 37yo redhead last night, but she is a rare, rare exception.) And it doesn't matter whether I'm "fine" with what women want in men. Women want what they want. I'd be insane to think my opinion on the subject matters. Hint-ity hint hint...

After all, you are 39 -- I'm sure you are not as perfect as a 23 year old man. A woman could find many flaws in you. But most people -- men and women -- are more mature than that, and look past the love-handles/balding/wrinkles to see the person, and find that given a basic sexual capatibility, love makes your love look stunning. (Trust me -- my husband may no longer have the 6-pack he did at 19, but he's more beautiful to me now than he was then).

First, please reconsider enumerating the physical flaws in somebody you've never even seen, let alone met. It's incredibly mean if you're correct, and makes you look insecure, petty, and ridiculous if you're wrong. Nobody here is being that explicitly cruel to you or any other woman here as far as I can tell. (And I think we just stumbled upon the elephant in the room.)

Second, what men find attractive is generally very different than what women find attractive. FWIW, I'd argue that women's attraction triggers are more reasonable, more ethical, and well BETTER then men's. So... congrats on that. But I'm a man. I want what I want. Sometimes it makes me sad. I didn't choose this lizard brain of mine, and AFAIK there's no way to reprogram it.

Look, I personally date a fairly wide age range. "Perfect" for me, if I had to limit it to a certain age range, would be somewhere between 27-30. Still very attractive, but not so immature, flakey, broke, uninteresting, and high on their own hotness. Unfortunately, a lot of these women are married -- and that's a line I'm not willing to cross. And a lot of 30+ women are looking to start families. Good for them, but it's not my thing. (Asking me if I want to have kids within the first 30 minutes, while admirably honest and forthright, seems very cart-before-the-horse!) And most women near my age are simply not physically attractive to me. That leaves me dating a disproportionate percentage of women much younger than myself. That's just how it is.
posted by LordSludge at 4:21 PM on February 19, 2010


LordSludge -- I'm not saying that people should date people they are not attracted to. But the idea that there are no 40-year old women who are attractive to a 40-year-old man boggles the imagination.

And it's patently false. But younger women, say 19-23, do tend, very strongly, to be more attractive to men than older women, say 40. Are you honestly questioning this?

Why are you folks so dead set on your black and white, ridiculous, absolutist strawmen??

After all, women and men age at the same rates; as a bi person, I can assure you that older men are no more or less attractive on average than older women.

Congratulations on a lizard brain that makes sense! Everybody's hot. Must be great for you. Honest, I mean that -- you got a lot of options!

But you are the rare exception. Do you have $10,000 to bet? Let's conduct a national, hell make it an international poll of the general public, and find out once and for all whether men generally are more attracted to 38-41yo women or 19-23yo women.

I'm betting on the latter group, but hey I could be wrong.

So why the disparity in messaging patterns between men and women?

See above. This is obvious to anybody without their head in the sand.
posted by LordSludge at 4:37 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Oops, forgot to italicize the sentence beginning "After all...")
posted by LordSludge at 4:38 PM on February 19, 2010


FWIW, there's an interesting conversation to be had here on whether and how attraction patterns, which are completely fine in microcosm, lead to societal gender inequities in the aggregate. (I believe this may be the case.)

I just don't think we can get there from here. This issue cuts too close to people's core.
posted by LordSludge at 4:47 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the root problem is that people on OKCupid are people who are (a) not interested in long-term relationships or (b) have so far been unable to have a long-term relationship

I hope you don't mean to suggest that everyone on OKCupid is either (a) or (b), because that's not the case.

What other categories do you see, Jaltcoh?


Someone who has had long-term relationships in the past, isn't in one today, and is interested in being in one again.

(I suppose other categories would include polygamous people and cheaters, but I wasn't thinking about them.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:51 PM on February 19, 2010


So why the disparity in messaging patterns between men and women?
posted by jb at 7:12 PM on February 19 [+] [!]


I know that the study's findings compare women's and men's messaging patterns. But do they ever specify how many messages are sent by women vs. men overall? Isn't it possible that, even assuming those charts are perfectly accurate, men sent, oh, 10 times as many messages as women due to social norms about men as eager initiators/seekers and women as choosy selectors? That would make a huge, huge difference in how we interpret those findings.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:58 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jennifer Aniston attracts all kinds of good looking losers her own age and younger and she's 41. Brad Pitt didn't go for a 22 year old (because you can't turn down Angelina Jolie -- she's going to have anybody she wants until she's a billion years old).

And I'm pretty sure LordSludge secretly wants to do Betty White but his buddies gave him flack for having a poster of her on his wall, so he hides it behind his poster of the Olson twins, but we know who he really loves=)
posted by anniecat at 5:04 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


"LordSludge -- I'm not saying that people should date people they are not attracted to. But the idea that there are no 40-year old women who are attractive to a 40-year-old man boggles the imagination."
I've been reading since this thread began, hopefully carefully, but I haven't seen this stated or implied. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

And now anecdotes: because it's Friday and that's all I can or care to muster.

I met my now wife when she was 42 and I 43. (Pffft unattached 36 year old whiners.)

1999 I met a woman and fell in love. She had two young children already, I moved from SF to Iowa and raised another man's children for 5 years. (In re: Love v Lizard Brain the court finds in favor of Love.)

My Mother-in-law and Father-in-law met when he was 28 and she 15. They celebrated their golden (50th) anniversary a year and a half ago.

My parents, close in age, have been divorced for 41 years and counting.

OP: I thought we had finally reached a point in our society where we could all admit without shame a desire to do Betty White. sigh
posted by vapidave at 6:11 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


But the idea that there are no 40-year old women who are attractive to a 40-year-old man boggles the imagination. After all, women and men age at the same rates; as a bi person, I can assure you that older men are no more or less attractive on average than older women. So why the disparity in messaging patterns between men and women?

Older men and women are equally attractive in your eyes. That's the difference.

What you might find attractive in an older woman might be completely irrelevant to most men. For instance, a significant number of women find ambition to be an attractive quality, and a man's career achievements can help draw the attention of single women, and not just gold diggers. The only time I have ever heard a man make a comment about a woman's job or her professional achievements being a factor in drawing his sexual interest was on AskMe. That's it, one time. For most men, it just doesn't factor in. Conventional wisdom also holds that men are more visually oriented than women. Assuming that's true, can you see how those two differences alone, would help explain why your attraction to women in their thirties and forties isn't indicative of how attractive they are to men? It isn't about wanting an easy to dominate partner. No, that's who they're really attracted to.
posted by BigSky at 7:01 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am certainly beginning to understand why some people seem to be stuck trying to find a compatible partner. Most of you come across as assholes.

Good luck with that. And thanks for helping me value my relationship more thank ever
posted by five fresh fish at 7:36 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would love to be able to find 50yo women sexy as hell, but I pretty much universally don't. I would love to find 39yo women sexy, but I generally don't. (I did have dinner with a stunning 37yo redhead last night, but she is a rare, rare exception.)

How do you know all these women you are finding "generally" to not be sexy are all that specific age? Are you carding them first or something?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:36 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too much trust. That's the problem. Jesus I know that everything is cyclical but are we back in the 70's so soon? Once was well enough.
(I use dendrochronology myself. Baby got rings!)
posted by vapidave at 9:04 PM on February 19, 2010


The numbers are shorthand, and most people understand what they mean. For those that don't understand, or for those that are being deliberately obtuse, here's a handy reference chart for you (interpolate for all points in between):

1 = Deemed attractive by 10% of the population
5 = Deemed attractive by 50% of the population
10 = Deemed attractive by 100% of the population

For reference, or if you're still confused, check the original article for examples of women that are in the 70th percentile of attractiveness.


I honestly don't care about further explanations or elaborations on this; I know exactly what you mean. And I'm asking you not to bring the discourse onto the blue or anywhere else on the site. It's degrading and offensive.
posted by jokeefe at 11:24 PM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I honestly don't care about further explanations or elaborations on this; I know exactly what you mean. And I'm asking you not to bring the discourse onto the blue or anywhere else on the site. It's degrading and offensive."

It's late I know and not to catch you in an uncharacteristically uncharitable moment but: What is offensive and degrading is an attempt to silence opinions that you don't agree with by appointing yourself arbiter. Indulge yourself on your blog.

As to this:
I'm asking you not to bring the discourse onto the blue or anywhere else on the site. It's degrading and offensive.
I and everyone else here may contribute with or without your approval. With civility is best I think.
(This is probably my 20th revision of my original ugly language, I got lucky this time.)
posted by vapidave at 1:48 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are traits that men tend to find attractive. Likewise for women. I'm sure you know this. It's foolish and nonconstructive to pretend otherwise.

I think it is foolish and nonconstructive to pretend that women can be judged on some universal scale. One thing for sure is that your 4 is another man's 7 or 9 or 1. Height, for example, is a strong divider with some guys liking their women petite and others preferring the tall gals. Not to mention the old leg vs. breast argument.

Which brings up the question of why it is so important to label exactly how attractive a woman is when you are just guessing. Is she attractive to 70% of all men, 40%...how would you know without conducting a national (international?) poll and who gives a shit? Because all this subjective grading is done before she opens her mouth and that might change somebody's mind about her attractiveness. For example my husband actually thought Sarah Palin pretty attractive when she first arrived on the political scene, now he says she is repulsive looking to him.

One question I have for all you lizard brain driven men-- what happens when you get to be 60 or 70? Are the 29 year olds still going to be the height of attraction for you to the point where a 50 year old woman is undesirable? What about when you get married and your own wife turns 40? Are you just hoping that love will keep you faithful when your 9 turns to a 6?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:13 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


One question I have for all you lizard brain driven men…

Would you care to be more specific as to who you are addressing? The remainder of that sentence gets rather accusatory and hurtful, and I'd like to think you are addressing someone here who is clearly lizard-driven.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 AM on February 20, 2010


It's degrading and offensive.

It's degrading and offensive to judge women (or men) by their attractiveness. And yet we do this every day. It's crucial to selecting a mate, it's instinctive, and it's not going away anytime soon**, yet it appears to have lead to real problems societally.

If you can't keep your ego in check and participate constructively, you're probably best off labeling us (me, in particular) a bunch of assholes who opinions don't matter anyhow and leaving the room in a huff. I don't blame you. You'll probably want to avoid such conversations in the future as well.

I really think the worst thing we could do is not talk about this. So I'm going to continue to talk about it, thanks.

** Maybe a few thousand more years of evolution will solve this; hard to say.
posted by LordSludge at 10:10 AM on February 20, 2010


One question I have for all you lizard brain driven men-- what happens when you get to be 60 or 70? Are the 29 year olds still going to be the height of attraction for you to the point where a 50 year old woman is undesirable?

Candidly, my guess is I'll date 40-somethings when I'm 70. Or maybe I'll die alone. Or both.

What about when you get married and your own wife turns 40?

Probably not happening again for me, but my ex is nearly 40 and is still gorgeous -- good genes and her lifestyle keeps her in amazing shape. I guess I just need to be careful about who I get into long-term relationships with.

Are you just hoping that love will keep you faithful when your 9 turns to a 6?

My guess is the relationship will have long since gone to shit, but there are really too many variables to make an accurate prediction.

Look, if your point is "hey, man, this is a bad way to go" then I AGREE and I'll ask you to kindly point me towards the nearest lizard brain reprogramming center. Failing that, if you're asking me to fake my own attraction to mates or potential mates, well I don't think I capable of maintaining that level of dishonesty for very long. Even if I was ethically okay with this, I think it very unwise and not conducive to anybody's longer-term happiness.
posted by LordSludge at 10:43 AM on February 20, 2010


Let me see if I got this right.

95% of the men on okcupid are age bigots.

95% of the women on okcupid are height bigots.

Ergo, we have 400+ posts on a thread about what is largely a bunch of internet bigots?
posted by bukvich at 12:37 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dunno that "bigotry" is the right word. I'm pretty sure that I don't owe anybody my penis as part of a greater social contract. Job equity, housing rights, day-to-day pleasantries, and even friendship, to some extent, is a different matter.
posted by LordSludge at 12:51 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's funny that I've been told that I mustn't judge the appearance of someone I've never seen, and then in the next breath that I only care about this issue because I'm jealous, presumably because I'm unattractive. Well, I am over 30 -- 33 and happy to be -- and I don't think I'm a supermodel (I really have no idea how to pose), and I don't think I ever rated in anyone's numbers. At the same time, I am also happily married, and the only time I get jealous is when my own super-modelesque (in my eyes) husband looks elsewhere.

But I do have a personal stake in this argument, and I only kind of realised it last night. I have BEEN the 20 year being asked out on dates by 30 year-olds and 40 year-olds and really did not like that. I wanted to be asked out on dates by 20 year-olds, and here were these older and, yes, skeezy men bothering me. (I know -- I should have been asking guys out too -- and I did, but I was asking out 20yos, and 19yos.) I remember talking to one man who was 30 who was asking me why I wouldn't go out with him, and suggesting that he ask out my mother, who was single. He was shocked -- at 40, she was clearly too old for him. But he refused to believe that, at 30, he was too old for me -- I was looking for a relationship with someone my own age/in my own life-stage. There really was a double standard in play -- it was fine for him to be ten years older than me and he expected me to find him attractive, but he dimissed my mother's attractivenes without even seeing her.

I'm not saying that there aren't young women who are interested in dating older men. I'm sure there are. I mean, diversity in what attracts is huge -- for me, RPGing is an attractive thing in a guy (but not computer RPGs -- just old fashioned dice and story-telling). But -- returning ONCE MORE to the original link -- it is clear from the messaging pattern that older men are much more likely to message a younger woman than younger women are to message older men. Numbers aside (and I find it unlikely that OKCupid's stats geeks did not control for numbers differences) -- the proportion of older men interested in younger women far exceeds the proportion of young women interested in older men. It is not a balanced equation.

Thinking it over, I don't think it's all about some men looking for an unequal relationship. When I said that, I was thinking of my dad, who has shown a pattern of looking for younger or vulnerable/disabled women so that he can take care of them and be the stronger person in the relationship (not intending harm, but because he likes being the one who knows more, etc). Some people -- male or female -- do look for this, and I don't think it's a good basis for a healthy, balanced relationship. For other men, I don't know why they are attracted to such younger women except by what they have said in the thread -- that they find younger women more attractive. They claim it's a "lizard-brain" effect -- but they have no more evidence for this than I do that it is due to the being affected by our culture and society in which female beauty is synonymous with youth -- and those few older women praised as beautiful appear freakishly young for their age (Helen Mirren and other British actors being an exception) -- while male beauty is much more diverse. How many female silver foxes are presented for our viewing and for public praise?

Beauty is extremely cultural -- we don't find plump (even fat) arms beautiful, let alone impossibly tiny feet or artificially elongated necks, but these have been marks of beauty elsewhere/in the past.

On a slightly different topic -- my husband and I were talking today about how in television and films, women scientists, intellectuals and other "smart" role models are beautiful, while male equivalents are still often protrayed as dweeby and unattractive, unless they are the main character (thus the Indiana Jones, etc, exception). He was worrying about the effects of the dweeby, even unmasculine stereotype of academic acheivement on young boys. But then I pointed out that (in NorthAm media at least), of course the female scientist is beautiful -- ALL of the women in the media are unusally beautiful. Willow is the "geek", being played by a beautiful woman -- had her character been male, it's possible that a much less attractive person would have been cast. (Or maybe not -- this is the Buffyverse). But my point is that in North Am media the main female is beautiful, the sidekick female is beautiful, the "brain" woman is beautiful, albeit possibly wearing "hot-librarian" glasses; even the mother characters in their 50s often look both substantially younger than, and more attractive than, the men cast as their husbands. Where are the fat, dweeby or just plain normal looking women? Where are the grey-haired ones? There are a few. But very, very few, compared to the numbers of average looking men. Part of this problem, of course, is that there are simply many fewer female characters (since male is the default setting for a character -- think about it, and compare the numbers of men and women in many ensemble shows. It's getting better, and some shows like Battlestar Galactica have done some goods stuff. But if TV/Movie land were the planet, we'd have a serious crisis sex-ratio crisis on our hands.)
posted by jb at 1:07 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


chronkite: "150Happy to see so many lovely metafilter ladies are on board with the RV plan..

You just say the word and I'll break out the Postum reserves and Paul Harvey cassettes, and we'll be on our way.!
"

Wait, wait, wait. You have POSTUM reserves? Really? I am SO in. Where's the RV?
posted by gingerbeer at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2010


There really was a double standard in play -- it was fine for him to be ten years older than me and he expected me to find him attractive, but he dimissed my mother's attractivenes without even seeing her.

Yes, the double standard is where YOU thought the age disparity thing was wrong, and "skeevy" in one instance, and totally right in the other. Don't you understand that? Do you get how you it doesn't make sense to throw a label with all kinds of connotations attached to a trait, and then in the same instance say it doesn't apply to someone else because it's a different gender.
The article is called The Case For An Older Women. It is implicitly stating that older women have the thumbs up. Yet, older men don't?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:52 PM on February 20, 2010


It's late I know and not to catch you in an uncharacteristically uncharitable moment but: What is offensive and degrading is an attempt to silence opinions that you don't agree with by appointing yourself arbiter. Indulge yourself on your blog.

As to this:

I'm asking you not to bring the discourse onto the blue or anywhere else on the site. It's degrading and offensive.

I and everyone else here may contribute with or without your approval. With civility is best I think.
(This is probably my 20th revision of my original ugly language, I got lucky this time.)


vapidave: Thanks for the "uncharacteristically uncharitable" comment-- I appreciate it. It was a bad moment: I had worked late for two nights in a row, had to bail on seeing a band I really wanted to on Thursday night because of it, had taken the bus home amongst crowds of drunken Olympic revelers when I just wanted to grab the cat and go to bed, etcetera. I didn't intend censorship (how could I, really?); it was a request: irritably framed, but still genuine. A "please don't do this here." I hate to see, on Mefi, a site I've read nearly daily for going on 9 years, that vocabulary of "she's a five, maybe a six". It's a personal triggery thing, and I'm sure I don't have to spell out why. This whole thread is actually one I should avoid, because it hits a lot of sore spots. I'm going to bow out now. It's a gorgeous day. I might even go outside!
posted by jokeefe at 3:09 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The article is called The Case For An Older Women. It is implicitly stating that older women have the thumbs up. Yet, older men don't?

We celebrate Irish things on St. Patrick's Day. Thus, we are implicitly stating that Irish people have the thumbs up. Yet, Lithuanian people don't?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:15 PM on February 20, 2010


I agree. It's tough to answer something you are implicitly wrong about. It's easier to write ten paragraphs of bs or fallacious one-liners.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:21 PM on February 20, 2010


This thread is depressing as hell and my GRAR level is sky-high right now. Good thing I didn't start a bingo card. I think I'll follow jokeefe's example and go outside for some fresh air this afternoon instead of continuing to read this thread. But before I do, I wanted to throw this into the mix, in support of some of the excellent points jb is making.

Regarding the whole "double standard" thing in dating, I recommend Hugo Schwyzer's blog, specifically the posts in his Older Men & Younger Women category such as All age-disparate love affairs are not the same. Schwyzer's writings won't change the views of anti-feminists or anyone else whose critical thinking skills suddenly shut down the minute someone uses the term patriarchy in an non-ironic context, but there is plenty of worthwhile food for thought here for those who are genuinely interested in seeing the forest as well as the trees.

A relevant sample:

"A superficial concern with consistency would suggest that my feelings about all older/younger relationships ought to be the same, regardless of the sex or the sexual orientation of the partners involved. But I think a compelling case can be made that older women/younger men relationships are much less problematic than their reverse, and that the same is true of same-sex age-disparate couplings.

"We don’t fall in love, or fall into bed, in a vacuum. Our desires are heavily shaped by the culture, as is our sense of how power is negotiated in sexual relationships. [...] The older man/younger woman dynamic reinforces patriarchal conventions; the older woman/younger man dynamic subverts them.

"Please understand, I’m not saying that every older woman/younger man relationship is inherently progressive while every older man/younger woman coupling is oppressive and reactionary. [...] But there’s no escaping the reality that the potential for abuse and exploitation is likely to be much higher in an age-disparate relationship where it is the man who is the elder of the lovers. We must note, too, that we live in a world where men are seen as growing both more “visible” and more powerful as they age — while women, past a certain age, are either desexualized or mocked. “Cougar” was not coined as a compliment; “silver fox” was."
posted by velvet winter at 3:56 PM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thank you for the links velvet winter. Well, at least the three non-lulzy ones.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:15 PM on February 20, 2010


I think it is foolish and nonconstructive to pretend that women can be judged on some universal scale. One thing for sure is that your 4 is another man's 7 or 9 or 1. Height, for example, is a strong divider with some guys liking their women petite and others preferring the tall gals. Not to mention the old leg vs. breast argument.

Which brings up the question of why it is so important to label exactly how attractive a woman is when you are just guessing. Is she attractive to 70% of all men, 40%...how would you know without conducting a national (international?) poll and who gives a shit? Because all this subjective grading is done before she opens her mouth and that might change somebody's mind about her attractiveness. For example my husband actually thought Sarah Palin pretty attractive when she first arrived on the political scene, now he says she is repulsive looking to him.

One question I have for all you lizard brain driven men-- what happens when you get to be 60 or 70? Are the 29 year olds still going to be the height of attraction for you to the point where a 50 year old woman is undesirable? What about when you get married and your own wife turns 40? Are you just hoping that love will keep you faithful when your 9 turns to a 6?


No one is saying that a woman's worth can be measured on a scale. When men assign a number they rate her physical attractiveness. What any one man thinks of any one woman is irrelevant. But I don't think anyone will argue the point that there is strong agreement among men that women in their twenties rate higher than women in their thirties. While cultures vary in their standards of beauty, I've never heard of one where women older than forty are considered more attractive than women under thirty.

As for what happens when a couple grows old? No doubt the relationship changes and we see our partners in new ways. But is this relevant? We are talking about why older men approach younger women. Isn't it in considering who to approach that physical attraction plays the greatest role?

-----

"Please understand, I’m not saying that every older woman/younger man relationship is inherently progressive while every older man/younger woman coupling is oppressive and reactionary. [...] But there’s no escaping the reality that the potential for abuse and exploitation is likely to be much higher in an age-disparate relationship where it is the man who is the elder of the lovers. We must note, too, that we live in a world where men are seen as growing both more “visible” and more powerful as they age — while women, past a certain age, are either desexualized or mocked. “Cougar” was not coined as a compliment; “silver fox” was."

These quotes make me think of the title of Murray Rothbard's book of essays - Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature (pdf).

We can talk about how the world should be all we like, but talk is all it is. The excerpt above tells us why men pursue and occasionally achieve this objective. That we can identify what attracts us, does not mean we can change it. Nature is not concerned with Mr. Schwyzer's approval.
posted by BigSky at 4:52 PM on February 20, 2010


Jb, are you equally as adamant, relentless, and persistent pointing out how wrong a woman is when she says she prefers tall guys? Are these women also wrong, and do you tell them how they're simply caving in to some cultural influence?
posted by thisperon at 5:40 PM on February 20, 2010


Yes, the double standard is where YOU thought the age disparity thing was wrong, and "skeevy" in one instance, and totally right in the other.

I didn't say that I thought the age disparity was right in either case, and at no point in this conversation have I agreed with "The Case for the Older Woman"; I do not think that 20 year-old men should message 30 year-old women. I think 20 year old men should message 20 year old women -- and that 30 year-old men should message 30 year-old women and leave the teens and early twenties alone; and that women should continue messaging people their own age -- which they are already doing. I do agree with the point velvet winter linked to, that there are differences between the two pairings (older man/younger woman, older woman/younger men) and that poingt about how being a "cougar" is an insult but "silver fox" is not is an excellent one. But I believe that parity is very important to all relationships and that this parity is less likely -- not impossible, but less likely -- to be found in relationships with large age disparities.

My suggestion that the man ask my mother out was not serious, but in the way of making a point -- that he was willing to overlook 10 years to ask me out, but not the other way. That said, as I was concerned he was closer to my mother's age than mine; in terms of maturity/psychology, 30 is closer to 40 than to 20. I was 2/3 of his age, while he was 3/4 of my mothers. And we all do a lot of growing up in our 20s, especially our early 20s. I feel differently about a relationship between a 25 year old and a 35 year old than I would about one between a 20 year old and a 30 year old. Each year means less as we get older. Which is why most of us wouldn't blink at a 55 year old dating a 45 year old (no matter what the genders), but want to put a 25 year old in jail if they have sex with a 15 year old -- again, no matter what the gender. It's not just about consent -- otherwise there would be Romeo-Juliet laws that allow a 17yo and a 15yo to have sex. The fact that we have those laws show that age differences matter.

thisperon: not unless we are talking about it. And then yes, I try to say that I think that is a stupid prejudice. Now, there are some women who prefer taller men for obvious, non-cultural reasons -- they themselves are tall, and wish to be physically involved with someone of their own size. This makes sense to me. And, of course, there are cases when a short person just happens to fall for a tall person -- I just wish them well. What I dislike are women who refuse to consider dating men under a certain height when they themselves are of average height or less, because at that point the height isn't incidental or related to their own size, it's a criteria based on a shallow physical characteristic regardless of the real factors of attraction -- how you feel when being physical with that person. To rule out the possibility of finding this compatibility with someone who is not the height of a model strikes me as shallow, at best, to be so fixated on the physical perfection of the person.

As to whether I am "adamant, relentless, and persistent" -- I find that dinner tables conversations call for a different level of all of those things than a blog discussion. If you have a problem with how "adamant, relentless, and persistent" I have been, you can easily leave the conversation and go to another. I haven't yet to discuss height prejudice in a context like this. But if this topic were height prejudice as opposed to age prejudice, I doubt I would have to argue as "adamant[ly], relentless[ly], and persistent[ly]" because I wouldn't have the level of opposition I have had on this topic of age prejudice.

on preview: Ah, the "it's nature, we can't change it!" argument. How refreshingly unoriginal. I obviously completely agree, sitting in my nice toasty house while the February snow falls outside, reading this thread with my severely-myopic-but-corrected-eyes, having had all of my vaccinations. I tried telling the judge that I couldn't help but kill and eat my husband's children from his previous marriage -- after all, lions do it, so that their genetic material will take precidence -- but he just didn't agree.
posted by jb at 6:17 PM on February 20, 2010


I feel differently about a relationship between a 25 year old and a 35 year old than I would about one between a 20 year old and a 30 year old. Each year means less as we get older.

Fwiw, I agree. But my personal opinion probably has larger areas of shades of gray than yours.

I don't think the argument is "it's nature, we can't change!" (although that's obviously easier to dismiss) but more of "it's natur(al)..." and people tend to fall back to more natural/visceral thoughts and feelings rather than factor in the overall societal good for personal choices. Which I don't think you could do anyway, but then again I'm not putting forth that argument so I couldn't really tell you one way or the other.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:12 PM on February 20, 2010


Okay, let me rephrase my statement to sound less flip.

The article is called The Case For An Older Women. It is implicitly stating that older women have the thumbs up. Yet, older men don't?

The article isn't saying that older men don't. It's already established that older men DO. That's why the article exists to say "hey, older WOMEN rock just as much as older men do."

It's not a zero-sum game. Older PEOPLE rock. And women ARE among those people.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:12 PM on February 20, 2010


It's already established that older men DO.

The general tone of a number of commenters disagree and that is specifically what my preceding question before the one you referenced was asking about. I wasn't reducing it to a zero-sum game and I definitely never cut older women out of the picture.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:25 PM on February 20, 2010


>It's already established that older men DO.

The general tone of a number of commenters disagree and that is specifically what my preceding question before the one you referenced was asking about. I wasn't reducing it to a zero-sum game and I definitely never cut older women out of the picture.


But you weren't refrencing the commenters, you were referencing the article itself. So was I.

If you "never cut older women out of the picture," why complain about the article itself?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 PM on February 20, 2010


Okay, let's go back to what I said;

Yes, the double standard is where YOU thought the age disparity thing was wrong, and "skeevy" in one instance, and totally right in the other. Don't you understand that? Do you get how you it doesn't make sense to throw a label with all kinds of connotations attached to a trait, and then in the same instance say it doesn't apply to someone else because it's a different gender.
The article is called The Case For An Older Women. It is implicitly stating that older women have the thumbs up. Yet, older men don't?


This was a reply to jb. jb has consistently made a case for why she feels it is okay to call men names. I have consistently only asked one question throughout this whole thread. Should I ask again? The context of my question uses the article, just as plenty of other people have done here, make a point. I don't quite understand what your beef is at this point, or what you don't understand about what I said.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:41 PM on February 20, 2010


PoB -- I don't know why you keep asking that question. I think 30 or 40-yo women who message 20-yo men are skeevy, and I think that 40-yo women who claim that men their age just "aren't attractive" are shallow or out of touch.

So why do you keep asking your pointless question?
posted by jb at 8:25 PM on February 20, 2010


jokeefe: thanks, phew. I can count the times I've regretted not having been meaner or angrier on one hand, the times I've regretted not having been nicer are more numerous that the stars in the sky though to be perfectly sappy. I wish women and men would come closer to realizing that when one loses the other loses as well. When given the opportunity I advise as such.

One thing I don't get about your comment though: "...had taken the bus home amongst crowds of drunken Olympic revelers.." sounds like a good time no matter my mood. Hell, that sounds like me.

An idea that is more general and something that you and I may agree on: I understand physical attraction I think. It's fair for both men and women to experience it personally though on a societal level it is seriously fucked up. What I don't get is when people of either gender (for those that are reading this and object to the term "gender" please lets assume I'm a good guy and am using the term as shorthand) use attraction as the sine qua non for determining whether or not a relationship can proceed. On my randiest day when I was younger I might have sex for a few hours, maybe. That leaves a whole lot of other hours where me and my sweetie are together. Physical attraction and the quality of time spent together are elements in a balance that must be struck. To describe the ends of the spectrum: No one is going to be successful in a relationship where they find themselves disgusted by their mate no matter the quality of the time they spend together and no one is going to be successful in a relationship where the only thing they share is physical attraction.
I want to be with someone I'm attracted to and I want to be with someone that is fun to share with and that I'm at ease in the room with whether or not an exchange is taking place. All of those elements are legitimate. Unfortunately they also counterbalance somewhat which is ugly. A woman or man that is attractive can be less of the person that you want them to be than one judged less attractive. I know this, it's stupid, and yet it still obtains. Fuck me I'm an animal.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we are all human animals and we can't simply wish the animal part away.

And for the record my wife is objectively by any and all and most pertinently by my judgment an all around first team kind genius hottie.
posted by vapidave at 8:28 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironically, one of those who favourited my "being assholes" comment is one who I am thinking is being quite a bit of an asshole. At least, favourited as of this moment.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 PM on February 20, 2010


that would be me, fff. But I'm not single.
posted by jb at 9:02 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


So why do you keep asking your pointless question?

If you think it's pointless then you should think a little harder on why I'm not the only one here who has asked that question. For the most part you've already put your answer out there, and I'm not trying to harp on you, but could you be any more dismissive by saying that?
posted by P.o.B. at 9:13 PM on February 20, 2010


Because, PoB, when I explain my reasons, you have ignored them or "explained" them away. I have no answer that will satisfy you. All I can say is that, having been on the RECEIVING end of the attention from men 10+ years older than me, I found it bothersome; at my work place, I found it harassing. Their fixation on me, someone clearly many years younger than them was, to me, skeevy feeling. I was a body to them, not a person, because had they been looking for a person, they would have been looking for someone more their own age.

Now, I was 20 -- and I agree with you that things are different when we are talking about 30 and 40. I find someone who is 40 claiming that there are no people of his/her own age unbelievable and I find their purposely avoiding people their own age distasteful (in that I lose some respect for them), but I don't care if they date a 30yo. But the original use of skeevy was in the case of a 57 year old and a 24 year old - seven years younger than his daughter. Maybe it's because it feels like my dad could imagine dating me. I mean, what's to stop him? He has no problem dating someone I would think was almost too young for me to date.

This is a tiring conversation. I've now been called a man-hater, jealous, and an asshole -- clearly I'm the problem in a conversation in which the majority of the later posters refused to even talk about the reality of the link, or had to come up with some reason that it didn't matter because all women aren't perfect.
posted by jb at 9:29 PM on February 20, 2010


I mean, what's to stop him?

Other than age of consent, hopefully nothing.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 PM on February 20, 2010


Jb--I think what people are responding to is your level of saying somebody's tastes suck and it makes him/her a loser.

To me, it has a very "your band sucks and I can't believe you people aren't listening to my reasons for hating them" quality to it.

You are free to tell them they're being poopyheads, but I wouldn't be surprised if they found you as equally poopyheaded in the way with which you tell them that.
posted by thisperon at 11:54 PM on February 20, 2010


I'm not going to catchup on my reading of this thread, as I have no intention of letting it bring me down on this wonderful weekend, but mentioning it offhand to my spouse, she insisted on checking it out,
and she immediately had a very different and sensible explanation which had not occurred to me at all.

Not for the preference for younger women, which seemed as obvious to her as anyone here who isn't trying to prop up some kind of wounded self-esteem, but for the behaviour of some in this thread -- the repeated attempts to reject the obvious explanation for any that instead villify men.

She compared it to her experience in school (erm, I don't remember if she told me the grades), where one year, they had a Norwegian... Danish? Exchange student. (male) The girls were crazy about him, of course.
Few of the boys had the physique of this guy, apparently, and those few didn't have the otherness which makes the exchange student attractive. (she noted he may have had unusually progressive views,
as well, which would have been attractive, but admits straight out that every girl had decided he was a dream long before talking to him) So in comes this guy, who isn't simply competition -- no one can
compete with him. What do the guys do? They attempt to villify him, and where that fails, to villify anyone who tries/wants to get involved with him, or the nature of relationships with exchange students
generally. They couldn't admit it was simply a preference, as that would be ok, and they knew they simply couldn't compete. Fast-forward to the next year, when their exchange student is a beautiful blonde
Swede (girl). The same pattern ensues, but in reverse. The girls (with little evidence of the irony -- Mrs. Bronzefist isn't sure if she quite realized it at the time) uniformly considered any boy to be
interested to possess some kind of character flaw, or at least loudly proclaimed it.

So. Maybe those here doing the obvious axe-grinding, looking for alternative explanations where none is required, aren't engaging in hateful slander simply out of malice, hatred of the opposite sex, etc..
Maybe they very well understand that the average 45 year old is no competition for the average 25 year old (not just because of looks, but "the good ones go quick" as members of both sexes often observe),
and so a situation in which a majority of older men consider younger women attractive, but no comparable wave of younger men find older women attractive, is threatening -- especially if a good number of those
younger women are open (or attracted) to that situation or those men, because that means that even if the 45 year olds (again, random number) are "open" to same-sex pairing, those same-sex peers can't compete.
And so some are driven to villify them, or the relationship type, as a means of social comformance (as usual). It's still self-serving and hateful, of course, but not for its own sake.

That makes perfect sense and I'm amazed I didn't see it. Just goes to show, the little lady is as bright as she is beautiful.
Cheers.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:42 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whatcha doing with your line-ends, there, buddy? You're aware browsers handle the wrapping; all you have to worry about is the double-carriage return at the end of a paragraph...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 AM on February 21, 2010


Bah, not open to "same sex" pairing but "same age" pairing, obviously. Though that would have been an interesting curve ball in the argument.

(and argh, the line ends -- we'd just come in and I was typing this quickly into notepad so I didn't forget what she'd said -- oh well)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:02 AM on February 21, 2010


That makes perfect sense and I'm amazed I didn't see it.

And that, my friend, is the elephant in the room. Anybody above me, socially, must be torn down. Anything that makes me feel bad about myself must not be true.
posted by LordSludge at 10:03 AM on February 21, 2010


Heavens, we don't want to feel bad about ourselves. If we went about feeling bad about our over-consumption and ludicrously hoarding of wealth beyond all practical utility, we wouldn't be where we are today! Guilt is bad and, besides, God has forgiven us.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:30 AM on February 21, 2010


This room is full of elephants...and they're all staring at each other menacingly!
posted by P.o.B. at 10:49 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


[does that harumphing elephant trunk thing. urinates in front of the children.]
posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 AM on February 21, 2010


This is a tiring conversation.

Indeed. Both predictable and tiring, in fact. I'm glad I went out yesterday to get my GRAR level down instead of participating any further.

Thanks for fighting the good fight, jb. You made some excellent points, but no one is listening. I'm done here. I'm too exhausted by conversations like these to enter once more into the fray. I want you to know, though, that I very much appreciate your efforts.
posted by velvet winter at 11:15 AM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Please. Just because we disagree doesn't mean we're not listening. What "excellent points" are being ignored?
posted by LordSludge at 11:57 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, thanks for jb for keeping an even keel amongst the pile on here. I think we've really hit diminishing returns, no?
posted by jokeefe at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2010


Maybe there should be a bingo card for shitty arguments. The square for "my viewpoint is on such a moral high ground you don't even understand it" has come up at least three times already.

MeFi Projects, here I come!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:42 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Somebody crack a window. It reeks of intellectual dishonesty in here.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:00 AM on February 22, 2010


I also do not approve of the many, many Torontonians who litter, and I think that Torontonians who litter are worse than skeezy -- they are EVIL, like blood-sucking, demons-from-hell evil.

As someone who picks up approximately twelve grocery-sized bags worth of trash from her little front garden every year, I wholeheartedly agree with you.
posted by orange swan at 2:49 AM on February 22, 2010


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