OkCupid looks at age gaps in dating
June 1, 2017 7:18 PM   Subscribe

"What I found was kind of surprising. When men message women, women tend to respond most often to men around their own ages. But when women message men, they’re actually more likely to get a response from younger men than they are from older ones. A 40-year-old woman will have better luck messaging a 25-year-old man than a 55-year-old one, according to the data. And a 30-year-old man is more likely to respond to a message from a 50-year-old woman than a message from any other age group. When women make the first move, the age gap dating norm is reversed."
posted by clawsoon (139 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
*reactivates OK Cupid account*
posted by schroedinger at 7:31 PM on June 1, 2017 [40 favorites]


somehow I was reading that as massage and not message. it kinda works tho.
posted by shockingbluamp at 7:37 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]


I don't find this particularly surprising. Older men are in the thick of existential crises about the futility of their lives and impending deaths, a condition which many think only screwing a 25 year can cure.

Younger men are more open to different experiences and have less to prove. I think most middle-aged women would much rather sex an enthusiastic 20 year old, than some neurotic 45 year old who acts like fucking any crone over 35 is an act of great selflessness and kindness.

So it all works out. Just another example about how the kids really are alright.
posted by scantee at 7:51 PM on June 1, 2017 [88 favorites]


In conclusion, straight people are mystifying.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:52 PM on June 1, 2017 [36 favorites]


Maybe those young dudes want sugar - mommies.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:57 PM on June 1, 2017 [6 favorites]


scantee: "Older men are in the thick of existential crises about the futility of their lives and impending deaths, a condition which many think only screwing a 25 year can cure... I think most middle-aged women would much rather sex an enthusiastic 20 year old, than some neurotic 45 year old who acts like fucking any crone over 35 is an act of great selflessness and kindness."

So what makes older men and older women different in your conception? Aren't both groups trying to sleep with 20-somethings?
posted by crazy with stars at 7:59 PM on June 1, 2017 [17 favorites]


I dunno man, I'm middle aged, and I couldn't contemplate training one that young. I mean 30, maybe, but 20? Oh good lord no. I remember 20 year old lovers. Eager, but well, eager. Stamina, refraction management, and female orgasms are all things young men have not had time to master. I leave their training to young women who still have fucks to give.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:59 PM on June 1, 2017 [31 favorites]


The difference is that most 45 year old women would happily date men their own age or older but, as the survey suggests, men their own age aren't interested in them. And when those men do show interest, it is often with some implied sense of pity and biding their time until someone better (younger) comes along. So if you're a middle aged women and men your age won't respond to you but younger men will, might as well seize those opportunities and enjoy them.
posted by scantee at 8:04 PM on June 1, 2017 [55 favorites]


crazy with stars: So what makes older men and older women different in your conception? Aren't both groups trying to sleep with 20-somethings?

According to the article, older women are more likely than older men to send messages to people their own age. They are less likely to creep. But when they do creep, they have more success.
posted by clawsoon at 8:07 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]


So what makes older men and older women different in your conception?

I think the main difference is a society which persistently tells women that their physical attractiveness is highly contingent on youth or the illusion thereof, and that their value as a person, let alone a lover, is largely dependent​ on that physical attractiveness. There's nothing wrong with wanting to sleep with twenty-somethings, or in finding them attractive, but there's all sorts​ wrong with the belief systems that strongly tend to ascribe diminishing value and status to women as they age, while doing the opposite to men.
posted by howfar at 8:10 PM on June 1, 2017 [36 favorites]


Younger men are more open to different experiences and have less to prove. I think most middle-aged women would much rather sex an enthusiastic 20 year old, than some neurotic 45 year old who acts like fucking any crone over 35 is an act of great selflessness and kindness.

No, not me. I am continually disappointed and saddened by my male peers. There are exceptions, but I find it frankly gross that they eliminate women their own age from consideration. And often use economic power to get away with it.
posted by frumiousb at 8:38 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


In conclusion, straight people are mystifying.

I'm straight and find things just as mystifying.

But joking aside, I personally know way more older woman/younger man couples now than I did even ten years ago, never mind the celebrity examples. I don't know if it is as common as it sometimes seems, but at a minimum a lot of the stigma seems to have just melted away. (I remember in sixth grade a teacher showing Harold and Maude on the TV/VCR cart to fill a Friday afternoon near the end of the year, and our howls of amazement when we figured out what was going on in the film.)

Upon actually reading the article, it's getting at something interesting. Older men message younger women and don't respond much to women their own age, but men responding to women show a very different pattern. I don't know how to link directly, but the "How men and women reply to messages from different ages" graphic shows strikingly different patterns of responses.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:40 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


Young men just want to get laid.
posted by tgyg at 8:50 PM on June 1, 2017 [8 favorites]


OK, I'm not really interested in dating outside my generation, but I have been thinking about getting back into the dating world. However, I'm soon to be 63 and the survey tops out at 55, leaving me with the feeling that I am in the "why bother?" category.

If it weren't for the fact that my 83-year-old mother recently returned from a vacation with her 92-year-old boyfriend, I might officially give up all hope.
posted by she's not there at 8:52 PM on June 1, 2017 [45 favorites]


OK, I'm not really interested in dating outside my generation, but I have been thinking about getting back into the dating world. However, I'm soon to be 63 and the survey tops out at 55, leaving me with the feeling that I am in the "why bother?" category.

Different dating sites have different core demographics. There are definitely a few out there that focus on 50+ -- a quick google search turned up this one
posted by mrmurbles at 8:57 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


Dip Flash: I don't know how to link directly, but the "How men and women reply to messages from different ages" graphic shows strikingly different patterns of responses.

Aye, it's an interesting chart. 45- and 50-year-old women who initiate conversations get a better response rate than women 25-35, across almost all responding-male age groups. Nobody gets a better response rate than a 50-year-old woman contacting a 25-year-old man.

she's not there, they cut the charts off for lack of data, not for "why bother?" You could always help them fix their lack-of-data problem...
posted by clawsoon at 9:00 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


If this is surprising, then I'm Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. Google MILF, dummy.
posted by NedKoppel at 9:02 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


Young men just want to get laid.

OK, how does that explain why they're more likely to respond to someone 20 years older than someone around their own age or younger?
posted by John Cohen at 9:03 PM on June 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


John Cohen: OK, how does that explain why they're more likely to respond to someone 20 years older than someone around their own age or younger?

Perhaps it hinges on the likelihood of unprotected sex leading to a baby, and thus to a Serious Commitment and All That?
posted by clawsoon at 9:08 PM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


They believe that the women who is 20 years older is more likely to be looking for a fling. While the younger women is stereotypically looking for a relationship.
posted by oddman at 9:10 PM on June 1, 2017 [36 favorites]


Men without wrinkles are disgusting.

to me- ymmv
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 9:12 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


The stereotype is that older woman tend to be more independent, direct, self-aware, and more confident about expressing their sexual needs.

Which, well . . . I can't say that's wrong.
posted by schroedinger at 9:44 PM on June 1, 2017 [14 favorites]


I just read some article the other day about how "MILF" had been the #1 search term on some big porn site, for years. (It kept alternating with "TEEN", IIRC.) I don't think there's any disputing that a lot of younger straight guys are attracted to older women. So why the hell is Hollywood still banishing female actors to the cornfield when they hit 35? I guess it's the studio execs (mostly middle-aged straight men, presumably) who think the vital younger male demo is grossed out by an older woman. They're such slaves to market research, always putting profits above all else, you'd think they would figure out the young men of America just might line up for middle-aged lady movies!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:37 PM on June 1, 2017 [7 favorites]


OK, how does that explain why they're more likely to respond to someone 20 years older than someone around their own age or younger?

The expectations of forming a long-term relationship between a younger man and an older woman are much lower, thus it's less risky if you're just looking for sex. That's my theory.
posted by GuyZero at 10:43 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]


You have to colour any such analysis with the realization that Teen and MILF nearly overlap with just a tiny wedge of "college" seperating the two. The vast majority of porn will be described as one or the other.
posted by Mitheral at 10:43 PM on June 1, 2017 [13 favorites]


Ehh, well, anecdata but ... On the one hand, I can't imagine getting along very well with anyone much younger than about 5-6 years younger than me. On the other hand, most of the women my age and older that I've found on OKCupid or who have contacted me generally tend to be too conventional, boring, and (verveless? is that a word?) to pique my interest.

What is it about society, or Life in general, that seemingly squeezes all the juice out of so many of us once we get to be middle-aged, and makes us forget how to be goofy and enthusiastic and childlike? Why do we stop learning and being constantly delighted by the world?

Surely there must be lots of women my age who are still unbowed; but maybe they're not on OKCupid - or something about me personally leaves them uninterested when I do contact them. I dunno anymore, but either way I expect to remain single for the rest of my life.

In short, statistics - especially OKCupid statistics - are sheer baloney.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:06 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]


As a 30-mumble-year old guy who has trouble relating to even the 30-year-old matches on OkCupid, I say "nobody cares about what I have to say." But seriously quit poaching the top end, hot young dudes, you're making me look bad. Kidding, I disabled my account in a fit of despair.
posted by sysinfo at 11:16 PM on June 1, 2017 [5 favorites]


Teen and MILF nearly overlap with just a tiny wedge of "college" seperating the two.

But if porn consumers are actively searching for "MILF" stuff, it would seem their attraction to middle-aged women is genuine. If anything maybe it speaks to what a demand there is for middle-aged models, if porn producers are trying to pass off 25-year-old models as "MILF"s!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:50 PM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


Men without wrinkles are disgusting.

to me- ymmv


But what if we are 50 and have no wrinkles? (Some laugh lines and a couple of forehead furrows, granted...)
posted by Samizdata at 12:03 AM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


What is it about society, or Life in general, that seemingly squeezes all the juice out of so many of us once we get to be middle-aged, and makes us forget how to be goofy and enthusiastic and childlike? Why do we stop learning and being constantly delighted by the world?


Let me know if you're ever planning on visiting the U.S. and I'll show you around.
posted by bongo_x at 12:22 AM on June 2, 2017 [14 favorites]


I know of a woman in her 50s (not movie-star gorgeous) who regularly has casual sex with an ever-changing cast of young men in their 20s. She pretty much can arrange to have sex with a not-unattractive young man any time she wants. This is her preference; she would not prefer to meet men her own age, and she is not looking for an ongoing relationship.

I can't say I know of any men her age (not movie-star gorgeous) who regularly have sex with a variety of not-unattractive young women in their 20s, and can easily arrange to do so whenever they feel like it. (I suppose many in fact do, but have to pay for it.)

Her situation has come up in conversation on numerous occasions; interestingly, no one has ever called her a creep (or whatever the female equivalent is) for being exclusively focused sexually on young guys. I'm still trying to figure out why this is not evidence of a double standard.
posted by tenderly at 12:50 AM on June 2, 2017 [18 favorites]


"Working in tech, she sometimes feels she has more in common with 20-somethings than older men. And as someone with an extremely accomplished career in advertising and entrepreneurship, she enjoys acting as a mentor to guys who are just “pulling themselves up by the bootstraps.” Cindy explained that men her own age often have a problem with dating strong, powerful women who make more bank than they do. “Younger men can’t be competitive,” she says, “because we are in completely different life stages.”
Maybe the underlying sentiment is just being distorted by the writing, but wow does this come across as suspiciously predatory. There is a huge cohort of men who get off on the power dynamics inherent to creeping on younger women they can exert control over through their career aspirations, and fuck them, but maybe this isn't a dynamic that should be encouraged in women?
posted by Blasdelb at 1:01 AM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


Her situation has come up in conversation on numerous occasions; interestingly, no one has ever called her a creep (or whatever the female equivalent is) for being exclusively focused sexually on young guys. I'm still trying to figure out why this is not evidence of a double standard.

Where, and what, is the actual standard? Is it just about age? Or is it about power and coercion? I am uncomfortable assuming that all older/younger couplings are equally suspect.
posted by Thella at 1:36 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


...most of the women my age and older that I've found on OKCupid or who have contacted me generally tend to be too conventional, boring, and (verveless? is that a word?) to pique my interest.

Is this at first contact? Because as a woman with verve (like, this is how everyone who knows me describes me), I can tell you, with verve, that I do not show my verve on first contact. It takes a while for me to feel safe showing it.

This overlaps with "spirited" women generally being tagged as "aggressive." And yes, I know the difference, and yes, I know when I'm actually in fact being aggressive and it's very much not the same thing as being giggly and google-eyed at the incredible world we live in BUT hey guess what society says middle-aged women who think kitty tummies with nommy toothses and pawsey-beans are ridiculous and crazy cat ladies. I started the first catblog on the web. It got me zero romantic interest and a lot of flipping idiotic misogynist spam. (I did not expect either, just saying.) So, to restate my thesis, I ain't showing my verve until I know I'm dealing with someone who doesn't roll their eyes and sigh. If that means losing out on dudes who, even after several decades on the planet, don't bother taking into account the pervasive, rank misogyny that brow-beats women into submission and/or wariness, well, good.

Anyway stopped online dating at 35 because of all the nonsense (am currently 41). I got tired of the reminders of My Place As An Older Woman. Much happier focusing on friends, kitties, and gardening, with my career following close behind now that I'm working with people who also value the wonder in life, not just money or status. It all boosts my faith in humanity. Dating... eh.
posted by fraula at 2:16 AM on June 2, 2017 [52 favorites]


The expectations of forming a long-term relationship between a younger man and an older woman are much lower, thus it's less risky if you're just looking for sex. That's my theory.

Unless you're the French President, of course!
posted by Kwadeng at 3:20 AM on June 2, 2017 [5 favorites]


You guys are not helping me think dating is a good idea. I got to item #47 on the "You []are []are not: _____" list* in my mind a few weeks back when sanity reappeared and "maybe not ready...yet? ever?" (Thankfully "you are young" is not one one of the items...a fling with "youth" is fun to contemplate in an abstract way but...no.)

* Mind, #1 - #17 were You []are [X] are not REPUBLICAN, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU

posted by maxwelton at 3:32 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


As a cranky 45 year old woman trying to date online, this doesn't exactly sound wrong, but the higher chance of response rates from younger men seems to be (in my admittedly very limited range of experience) all guys immediately looking for casual sex.

Which is great if that's what you're up for, but it's kind of conceptually distinct (not in a bright line way, of course) from dating.
posted by LizardBreath at 3:41 AM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


Older men are in the thick of existential crises about the futility of their lives and impending deaths, a condition which many think only screwing a 25 year can cure.

Has there ever been a randomized control study of the efficacy of this treatment method?
posted by fairmettle at 3:59 AM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


Come to think, I'm not actually talking about response rates, I'm talking about who messages me -- anyone I message is pretty close to my own age. But on messages I get, if you subtract out the background no-effort-at-all-spam ("Hey! :-)"), they're either from much older men, or from significantly younger men looking for NSA sex. I figure the response rate is probably the same pattern.
posted by LizardBreath at 4:05 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think men over 40 are prone to overthinking things. "Why would this young woman want me? I'm fucking ancient! Does she think I have money? Does she...oh, man, if she were into me, what would we even talk about? Could we take each other seriously, like, as peers? Would she want to go out all the time? I didn't like going out all the time when I was 25, but if I don't go out with her then some other -- "

Whereas a woman who's that age and single seems (in my anecdotal experience) to be a little bit more like, "Huh. Cute!"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:21 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've had younger men attracted to me. They follow me and romp about, and I find their interest a little disconcerting and distracting. Generally, it happens when a young man finds out I am more competent at something than they are (sports, refereeing, teaching, writing) and that I don't much care what they think. In fact, it takes me a while to notice. One time I was sitting having lunch with a young coworker, and a young consultant came and sat with us. I noticed they seemed a little tense, and suddenly realized they were bridling and huffing at one another because they were jealous.

The dynamic is not particularly surprising. As with all accepted cultural norms, reality never cooperates. And there are plenty of other young men who find competence and age threatening. I also mostly don't notice that, either.
posted by Peach at 4:44 AM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


When I was in my early 50s and dating via a since forgotten website (match? too many fish?), a man 15 years my junior almost convinced me that our shared love of XTC could overcome our age difference. Now I wish I had kept his contact info.
posted by she's not there at 4:57 AM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


When I dated a woman 20 years older than me, she pointed out that in every movie where an older woman dates a younger man, something very bad happens to the older woman. I forget which movies she used to support her thesis - that was a long time ago - but perhaps some of you can confirm/deny if that's true.
posted by clawsoon at 5:12 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


But if porn consumers are actively searching for "MILF" stuff, it would seem their attraction to middle-aged women is genuine.

Not if the "m" is 29, as the categories for women are: teen, college, mother. I'm guessing.

I used to spend hours combing through analytics on seniors who were dating because I worked for a boomer/seniors website which had an affiliate deal with a dating site -- we got a cut of what ppl spent on the premium features of the site, plus a bounty for women who signed up (which, as a seniors' site, was a good deal for us.). These stats are completely in line with that (early 00s) so I don't think it's a recent thing.

One thing I learned about a good slice of the women was that they were, in fact, done with LTRs. In many cases they had raised kids and then gotten divorced or widowed and just had little interest in breaking a new life partner in. So their dating needs, to have fun and sexy fun times, were aligned with the 20s guys, while the 20s girls were also tired of boy-stage men and were attracted to older men (judging from the men's side.) There were also a number of women who pointed out in our singles groups that they did like the mentoring role because in their earlier relationships they had not been the dominant partners.

This was especially true of a handful of war generation widows, who had been surprised to enjoy the fruits of the sexual revolution so late in their lives although we also learned the hard way, after one got sick, that they desperately needed STD information because they hadn't had a stitch of AIDS education.

Anyways, I came away with the impression that the dating choices of the women were more lifestyle based than informed by cultural norms of attraction.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:19 AM on June 2, 2017 [17 favorites]


I'm 33, and yeah, men my age are either married, committed, or sort of unappealing for various "transitional" reasons (focusing on themselves or their careers, second adolescence, etc.). Young men and women around 6-10 years younger are for some reason super attracted to me now. And older men. It's bizarre, and I had a summer dalliance with someone 10 years my junior once that pursued me. It was baffling and not even really that fun and made me feel like I was the protagonist in a bad post modern novel where I delight in the attention of an eager yet naive youthful type without cares and so much potential that I wasted but really I am wishing I was them and my that ex would with me to start a cafe on Mars or something equally metaphorical for a miscarriage.

Guess I'll write that now.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:36 AM on June 2, 2017 [8 favorites]


When I first moved to my current city, I used to go to a lot of Meetups, which around here are full of divorced 40-and-50-somethings, and every single dude who was dating seemed to have a "younger women preferred, my own age would be the absolute oldest" rule. I (a dude) would razz them about it, but they would just smile and shrug it off. It's so strange.

It's all a bit abstract since I am not single, but after watching some single friends do online dating recently, I've been wondering what I would do in terms of the age thing if I was dating right now. It's such a loaded question, and at least for me really hard to answer in the abstract, but with online dating it is part of the up-front parameters that a person sets.

(My other takeaway from watching the online dating is that evidently people lie a lot about things like height, weight, and age that would seem to be easily noticed upon actually meeting. I guess it helps to get those first dates, and then you count on winning them over with your charming personality and they won't care that you are not quite as advertised.)
posted by Dip Flash at 5:37 AM on June 2, 2017


I am 35 and a lady and this 100% corresponds with my experience!

I've been single / casually dating / in short-term relationships for the past 2 years now, and while I would be totally open to meeting men older than I am, I've dated only two guys who are older, and then by only a year or two. Everyone else has been between four and seven years younger. I think this is partly to do with the specific demographics of my area (university town, skews young) but also to a bunch of other factors, some of which are listed in the article. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I ignore my OKCupid inbox and basically send all first messages, so this is about who responds, rather than reaches out to me.

My theory is that men (people?) come to the table with some pretty simplistic thoughts about how women age. Since I've been in my late twenties, I can't count the number of younger people who've said some version of: 'you don't look [x age] to me.' Yes I do! I look exactly my age; it's just that you don't hang out with other x-year-olds, so your version of what we should look like is based on a bunch of distorted media stereotypes rather than reality. Men also tend to assume that any woman in her mid-late thirties are looking to get married and give birth by like the third date. My sense is that these vague stereotypes are usually enough to determine what they set as their age cap and who they search for, but they're loosely held enough that once they get a message from a real live human woman, they set them aside fairly easily.

Also, MILFs! I have a theory about MILFs! Or, rather, MILF porn. Which is that it has little to do with actual age - you can be a MILF by your mid-twenties in porn - but about the direction of desire. MILFs want the guys they bang. They initiate. That's hot. People (men and women!) want to be desired. And men get to feel like the objects of desire and seduction way less often than women do. So when a woman offers that to them, they're usually pretty game. I don't think it's just about "can I have casual sex?" - it's about getting to engage in a different dynamic.

I read so many horror stories when I was younger about what it was like to be an older woman dating, but none of them have turned out to be true. I like dating in my thirties a lot more than I liked dating in my twenties. If I'd tried to keep dating the same way as I did then, sure it would have been rough, but I don't. I like being off the relationship escalator. I like taking the lead and being the one who selects and initiates. I like being the one who is a little older and more experienced. It feels more natural to me. It's fun.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:42 AM on June 2, 2017 [21 favorites]


I'm now in my 40s... So guys I know I guess are starting to do this... for all the wrong reasons and so I respond by saying things like, 'Oh, so when you were a junior in college, she was still being potty trained' as I figure out are differences.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:45 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm just straight up doubting the validity of the data here, and I'm assuming it's due to a tiny sample size.

I hear a lot of lamenting about "creepy" older men seeking twenty somethings, but the data in the article says that women that young have the worst response rate from older men. And that every young age group of men is much more likely to respond to pre-elderly women than any age group (again, even the age groups that make them "creepy").
posted by FakeFreyja at 7:09 AM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


Relevant, if horribly cheesy,, Ronnie McDowell song from 1981.
posted by emjaybee at 7:20 AM on June 2, 2017


the pervasive, rank misogyny that brow-beats women into submission and/or wariness,

Man, QFT. And then being thought of as joyless hags is really just the icing on the cake. As Gloria Steinham says - women become more radical with age. There's a reason for that.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:20 AM on June 2, 2017 [12 favorites]


Unless you're the French President, of course!

So this is OK Cupid data which is interesting but hardly the sum total of all human relationships.

I'm just straight up doubting the validity of the data here, and I'm assuming it's due to a tiny sample size.

It's OK Cupid's data which suffers from a huge, huge case of selection bias.
posted by GuyZero at 7:31 AM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


This data lines right up with what I experience when I get on OK Cupid, and what a close friend experiences in all online dating -- she's in her early to mid 40's and she's constantly being messaged by dudes in their twenties. But they're just looking for low-effort hookups where they can get their dick worshipped, because they're of the ilk that think older women are boring (not much verve, as someone put it upthread) and desperate and they'll be grateful to give some random overgrown frat bro a handjob while he plays video games. Seriously.

As for dude upthread who laments that women his age don't have enough verve... buddy, guys like you are why I don't even bother trying to date anymore. Y'all are looking for Manic Pixie Dream Girl to make you feel alive again, I'm just looking for a dude who doesn't make me feel dead inside.
posted by palomar at 7:34 AM on June 2, 2017 [51 favorites]


I'm 42 and in person, I routinely get pegged as late 20s by nearly everyone. This has led to some awkward situations of being hit on by people in their early 20s, who I am not interested in dating (30 is my absolute lower limit). But when I'm honest about my age online, none of those guys want a 42 year old. Mostly I get contacted by guys near my own age (although this is undoubtedly skewed by the disclosure that I'm trans). Anyway, I'd be interested in seeing similar data for gay men.
posted by AFABulous at 7:39 AM on June 2, 2017 [5 favorites]


Interesting that in some of the responses that men wanting younger women are age shamed as creeps, but women doing the same are regarded as empowered and bold.
posted by The Dewd at 7:48 AM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm 49 in a few weeks, and I've been getting a lot of attention recently from women roughly my age. Once we get past the "I'm married, and monogamous" part of the conversation, I've discovered that there's a lot of looking for companionship, a full-time partner.

I have single het male friends on up to mid to upper 70s, and though many of them talk about dating, not a one of them is looking for a full-time partner. One in particular lost his wife to cancer back in the '90s, when I hang out with him there are several women he's regularly exchanging texts or phone calls with (ie: "X is going to bed about now, I should call her and tell her goodnight"), and he's got no shortage of dancing partners (we're both square dancers, and callers), but he's very much in the "yeah, I miss the sex, but I sure don't want to live with anyone again" camp.

So, yeah, seems like this is mostly a sign of less ambiguous signalling: older women contacting younger men are sending a fairly clear message that the younger men feel they can trust, where in general women contacting men aren't going to get a strong response because men assume that most of the women reaching out are looking more for relationships, and a relationship is a lot more work than most men want. Especially as men get older.

Selection bias, in my circles, and all of that...
posted by straw at 7:49 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


Interesting that in some of the responses that men wanting younger women are age shamed as creeps, but women doing the same are regarded as empowered and bold.

Interesting that the only men being "shamed" are the ones who flat out say that women their own age or older aren't worth dating because they're sooooo boring. Interesting that you chose to leave that out of your social analysis.
posted by palomar at 7:54 AM on June 2, 2017 [33 favorites]


Interesting how misogyny and the patriarchy exist and color everything around them.
posted by asteria at 7:54 AM on June 2, 2017 [17 favorites]


On the one hand, I can't imagine getting along very well with anyone much younger than about 5-6 years younger than me.

True. Having to explain my jokes and M*A*S*H references is exhausting. And let's face it -- jokes are all I have. My looks aren't gonna do it.

That said, I'm 43, and still pushing the dating rock up the hill, and if I knew what worked and what didn't I wouldn't still be here. Call me!
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:59 AM on June 2, 2017 [10 favorites]


Remember a few years back when MeFites all shared their OKC profiles on MeTa? We should do that again.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:07 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


Interesting that the only men being "shamed" are the ones who flat out say that women their own age or older aren't worth dating because they're sooooo boring. Interesting that you chose to leave that out of your social analysis.

Not to mention that the same exact qualities that get young women labelled as vervy! free! spirits! are considered pathetic, trying-too-hard, and weird, when they show up in middle-aged women.
posted by scantee at 8:30 AM on June 2, 2017 [31 favorites]


a relationship is a lot more work than most men want. Especially as men get older.

Huh. My observation is that divorced/widowed dudes can't wait to get remarried (or at least into a LTR) so someone will take care of them. But perhaps your circle of dude friends is more self-sufficient.

Re the "creepy or not" thing, the power dynamic being what it is even between older women/younger men, it's harder for a woman to be in a position to have as much power over a younger guy. Not impossible, lots of gray areas, etc. but almost any woman can tell you of times she was regarded as less competent than a younger, less-experienced man.

Not making any calls here on the relative ethics of any of these relationships, of course. There are certainly women creepers out there. But sexism skews everything.
posted by emjaybee at 8:36 AM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


Let me know if you're ever planning on visiting the U.S. and I'll show you around.

I've lived in 3 different states all my life, so I might be able to show you around a few places. I've also been through Reagan and Dubya, and some mighty tough personal and financial times, and I've managed to keep my goofy side through all of that, so it can be done.*

*acknowledging my white male American privilege, but still...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:40 AM on June 2, 2017


I'm just looking for a dude who doesn't make me feel dead inside.

Dating: a bunch of exhausted people looking for someone who isn't exhausted.

Even back to my early 30s, the only time I have felt outside this dynamic is when I have met people while traveling since both parties are usually in a happy place. Even the people I know in "regular life" who are desirable partners due to being emotionally happy and healthy usually have a lot of exhaustion under the surface once I have gotten to know them.
posted by MillMan at 8:41 AM on June 2, 2017 [8 favorites]


Do the verve-worshippers ever stop to think that maybe middle-aged women lose their "verve" and their "sense of adventure" and "spontaneity" and blah blah manic pixie cakes because responsibilities increase as one ages? I don't have kids and my (aged) parents are dead, but I have work, pets, a house, a budget, friends who are going through a HELL of a lot (middle-aged women and men and their responsibilities, amirite?), and oh yes, lucky as I am to live in California, having a ill-tempered giant orange infant in the highest office in the land kinda curbs the ol' verve.

I'm asexual and not looking for a relationship (though I love having friends and always am open to more good friends!), which, I'm coming to see, is a privilege in its own way, as I get to set aside so so so much bullshit. But "verve" struck a nerve. Many, maybe most, of us women have too much on our plates to be "vervy" for some dude.

FLAMES. FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:46 AM on June 2, 2017 [34 favorites]


This whole "must have manic pixie-like verve" thing is no different than enforced "bubbliness" at a job or demands to smile from strangers. It's another of the thousand micro (aggression) cuts that make up the background noise of being female in American culture. Guys, women are not your personal concierges guiding you to your happy place. We're human beings just as complex and moody as y'all and if given the space to be ourselves, eventually you'll see a genuine smile.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 9:02 AM on June 2, 2017 [27 favorites]


From my experience as a 40 something straight male using online dating sites, basically any woman in their 20's that has initiated contact with me was an obvious fake profile. It is so bad that I would basically ignore any message from someone below 35. OK Cupid is not as bad but on Match I was getting numerous messages a day, it basically made the site worthless for me.
posted by Justin Case at 9:10 AM on June 2, 2017 [11 favorites]


I was in my early thirties when I tried Match. Didn't get very many messages, but as I recall they were either from men in their mid-twenties or mid-forties. Didn't do anything to hide my weirdness because I figured it would come out sooner or later.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:15 AM on June 2, 2017


Huh. My observation is that divorced/widowed dudes can't wait to get remarried (or at least into a LTR) so someone will take care of them.

I've observed the same thing, i.e., women prefer to remain single, men want LTR. And my 83-year-old mother (the one with the remarkably spry 92-year-old boyfriend) says this is also true in her social circle. In fact, most of her female friends were never interested in even dating after they were widowed. I swear, some of them seemed almost relieved when their husbands passed.
posted by she's not there at 9:30 AM on June 2, 2017 [7 favorites]


I'm 43 and have an OKCupid profile that I don't check very often. I'm about to say something really shallow, but I gotta say that the vast majority of men in my age group are really not very physically attractive, and a lot of them are either like "I love watching sports, fishing, and drinking beer, and watching Archer" or they're Starting Over and make it fairly evident in their profiles that they are basically in the same economic position at 43 that most people are in at 23. (Entry-level job, crappy apartment, broke.)

I mean, the hard truth is that as a woman, I'm basically expected to at least try to maintain my appearance and practice good housekeeping skills. In 2017 this also stretches to being gainfully employed, educated, and demonstrably self-supporting. And I do, actually, do all these things. And in return, I'm supposed to look for romance with somebody who, to put it bluntly, doesn't bring any of that to the table in return?

I know that sounds super harsh and makes me sound like an asshole, but I have all these things for my own benefit, and I would like a partner that improves my quality of life, not soneone who just wants to win the relationship equivalent of the Showcase Showdown. It seems like all the men who show up in my feed either want "retirement benefits" where they get a partner who requires zero effort but still provides all the perks of a relationship, or they're like, "If I still have to work for a lady's consideration, then I'm gonna hit on the 25-year-olds, not some middle-aged cat lady." No thanks. And it's not like these are stunningly interesting, unique guys who spent their youths traveling the world or working as a foreign diplomat or saving the whales. They're just ordinary people like everyone else. But I'm supposed to be the one with "verve"? I can do verve all by myself.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:37 AM on June 2, 2017 [58 favorites]


My observation is that divorced/widowed dudes can't wait to get remarried (or at least into a LTR) so someone will take care of them.

I swear, some of them seemed almost relieved when their husbands passed.

Just wanted to add some anecdata from my Mom--my Dad died five years ago and she hasn't expressed a shred of interest in meeting someone new or dating. In fact, she's said that as much as she loved and misses my father, it was a legitimate relief that now she can be 100% in charge of her finances and not have to worry about having dinner on the table at 6 every night. I don't think she was unhappy when he was alive but tbh she seems happier than ever now.

And as far as older men wanting LTRs, she told me an amusing/depressing story about a neighbor of hers in her senior living condo development. Before, he didn't even have the social skills to wave or say hello when she walked by, but now that his wife died recently he comes up to her and is all like, "Hey, your husband's dead, my wife's dead.......maybe we should have dinner together sometime!" She thought this was hilarious.
posted by zeusianfog at 9:37 AM on June 2, 2017 [9 favorites]


I've observed the same thing, i.e., women prefer to remain single, men want LTR. And my 83-year-old mother

For people in their 80's women outnumber men - in 2010 the population numbers were about 2.3M men to 3.5M women in the US. For 70 to 74 it's 4.2M to 5M men to women. So at the far end it's not a very level playing field.
posted by GuyZero at 9:40 AM on June 2, 2017


Yeah this "verve" thing is killing me. I'm an artist who literally goes to parties for a living, and men definitely lose interest when they find out I'm actually sober and a business owner and work way harder than someone with an office job. Because verve doesn't pay the bills, and no man will do that for me.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 9:49 AM on June 2, 2017 [15 favorites]


I have a regular 9-5 job and a house and pets. I do the same things everyone does. I need to clean and do laundry and take the trash out. I'd be totally into doing cool stuff after all the work is done, but I am likewise not going to be the concierge of the relationship. If dude wants to do something fun, then think of something and suggest it. If we agree, then actually make the arrangements and pay for it. Don't just walk away as though giving the directive was sufficient. [insert emotional labor thread here]
posted by Autumnheart at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


For people in their 80's women outnumber men...it's not a very level playing field.

True. But I don't think this explains the lack of interest on the part of older women.
posted by she's not there at 10:12 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I feel like I personally have a lot of verve! I absolutely love my job (college professor) and I will talk your ear off about my classes or my research if you give me half a chance. I'm also kind of a little too excited about the home improvement projects we've got going on here, plus my cucumber plant just started climbing the trellis and that's exciting. I like to walk to the new coffee shop in town and chat with the owners, and I really love history podcasts.

I also just got back from the Czech Republic and Austria and had a great time, and I'd love to talk about the year I lived in Spain and my travels through Latin America, and the new Vietnamese place I ate at last month . . . but these things aren't really my every day life. Doing them requires days (new restaurant) or months (Czech Republic) of saving money, or simply aren't things I do anymore (living abroad). If you think "verve" means exclusively these things and not being positive about finally getting the mold removed from my basement, then we are not at all on the same page.
posted by chainsofreedom at 10:33 AM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


Also:

a lot of them are either like "I love watching sports, fishing, and drinking beer, and watching Archer"

Bingo. You want verve? Show me yours first.
posted by chainsofreedom at 10:35 AM on June 2, 2017 [9 favorites]


MillMan: Dating: a bunch of exhausted people looking for someone who isn't exhausted.

And then realizing that no-one who's not exhausted would want to be with someone who's as exhausted as me anyway.
posted by clawsoon at 11:06 AM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's just such an annoying trope. The real world is not a Judd Apatow movie.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:12 AM on June 2, 2017


Remember a few years back when MeFites all shared their OKC profiles on MeTa? We should do that again.
posted by orrnyereg at 11:07 AM on June 2 [+] [!]
You can add OkCupid to your MeFi profile, and see a list of all of the MeFites on OkCupid. (thanks to schmod for the info in this letterboxd thread).
posted by ecco at 12:38 PM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


I am an artist/landlady/software slave. With a dog. And an extended family. I manage to date here and there, but as someone upthread mentioned, it is rare the men I meet bring as much to the table as I do. I no longer consider myself a jerk for thinking in this way after my last experience.

He came on strong, we hung out. The dog liked him.The tenant liked him. I wasn't sure, cause it takes me a while, but there was chemistry and kindness. Then, two weeks into it he calls me and says - btw- I'm moving to another metro. You should either give up your job and follow me, or you can stay here and be my crashpad for when I come to visit. BTW, I expect us to be monogamous.

My response was: "do you have enough financial resources to both fulfill my obligations and support me when I transplant? "

No.

</EOL
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 12:50 PM on June 2, 2017 [10 favorites]


Another thing that rustles my jimmies is that women get accused of "gold-digging" or "being too demanding" when they insist that men bring something to the table besides their penises. I look around at women who are the main breadwinners and do all the housework and the emotional labor for...what? Twoo Wuv? The privilege of having a man? So that people won't mock them for being a cat lady? (Patriarchy and society, I know. But it seems so one-sided!)

If I were still in the dating market, I wouldn't think it's asking too much for a man to bring something to the table besides the privilege of being coupled up. But apparently it is. So many men are, I hate to say this, a poor bargain.

Remember Doosh V and Don't Bang Denmark (previously)? I think a universal basic income would kick the bottom right out of the dating and marriage markets.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:12 PM on June 2, 2017 [15 favorites]


Y'all are looking for Manic Pixie Dream Girl to make you feel alive again, I'm just looking for a dude who doesn't make me feel dead inside.

I can only speak for myself, but I will swear to (or at) you that I am absolutely NOT looking for a MPDG, or a partier, or someone who will Change My Life Around. Just someone who isn't bland and boring and so mainstream that we have no values or interests in common. And hey, I was a single parent, I've got a job and responsibilities and so on and so on too, so that's not the whole story. I've certainly met and dated women my age who are indeed fun and interesting and lighthearted (which is not at all the same as being manic or magical or whatever). And I've tried to be fun and interesting and lighthearted as well. I don't need changing, I'm a grownup and fairly successful at it for fuck's sake.

I don't know, maybe there was a better word than "verve" I could have used; it's just a work I happen to like. On the other hand, it's clear that some people here are ready enough to judge me on scant evidence no matter what word I used.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:23 PM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


I have done so little dating in my life and I love these threads where people talk about their experiences, it's my favorite part of Metafilter. Thank you for your contributions!
posted by Kwine at 1:27 PM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


If I were still in the dating market, I wouldn't think it's asking too much for a man to bring something to the table besides the privilege of being coupled up. But apparently it is. So many men are, I hate to say this, a poor bargain.

Unfortunately, a lot of women are also not bringing much to the party but intangibles. Most people aren't. But we've tended for a pretty long time to see the value in just having other human beings around. But you know, now we have sex ro--um, Netflix.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:47 PM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


...I love these threads where people talk about their experiences...

Me too. It's an easy reminder why internets dating is pretty much terrible in all respects and being alone really isn't that bad.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:57 PM on June 2, 2017 [7 favorites]


People are awesome! The issue I have is when they expect me to dump my life to follow them around. Not for a job, or for anything tangible- but for a fledgling friendship with a near stranger. I would LOVE to have a partner that I could rely on.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 2:21 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


Greg_Ace -- I don't think it was the word 'verve' that set people off, it was that you were talking about women your (and my) age generally as no fun. Talking to a community with a fair number of women in that age bracket in it, that's going to raise some hackles and inspire some speculation on what might be flawed about your conception of fun.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:28 PM on June 2, 2017 [10 favorites]


It wasn't use of the word verve so much that gave me pause, it was the stated desire for a partner full of the childlike whimsy that women your own age lack. It's just really tiring seeing that pop up here, where we've had discussions about why women get tired of men's shit and why so many divorced/widowed/otherwise unpartnered cishet women tap out of the dating cycle entirely. Tossing women your own age aside because they lack this quality only bountifully present in women who haven't been beaten down by men long enough to know better... it's not a cute look.
posted by palomar at 2:30 PM on June 2, 2017 [10 favorites]


Like, this could not be a better demonstration of certain aspects of the emotional labor discussion if we planned it out that way, you know?
posted by palomar at 2:32 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


I hear you palomar and LizardBreath. But I don't lack whimsy (which is actually another loaded word) and I'm not looking to get it somewhere else - just someone who can match my own outlook.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:45 PM on June 2, 2017


To be fair, he wasn't talking about wanting to date younger. Too young, he wasn't interested, his own age, no verve, leaving him planning on being single for the rest of his life. Which is a legitimate choice to make generally, it's just the stated reasons that I think could have understandably made people a little cross.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:46 PM on June 2, 2017


Maybe I should have said "lacked the same verve as me". Either way, I'm fairly sure I'm not guilty of what you're thinking I'm guilty of - though I can understand your assumption because I'm quite aware that many men are guilty of that. In any case I've made whatever point I was going to make and I don't wish to make things worse by belaboring it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:00 PM on June 2, 2017


My takeaway is that people have very different- yet consistent,expectations of relationships. Men inevitably want a playmate , and women want a partner. This is the same at ANY age so I am not finger pointing or bashing. Obviously there are some men who want to be partnered and some women who want to party- but the stats point to my thesis. Someone one anecdata me stat!
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 3:54 PM on June 2, 2017


inevitably

ಠ_ಠ
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:26 PM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


My takeaway is that people have very different- yet consistent,expectations of relationships. Men inevitably want a playmate , and women want a partner. This is the same at ANY age so I am not finger pointing or bashing. Obviously there are some men who want to be partnered and some women who want to party- but the stats point to my thesis. Someone one anecdata me stat!

That's not my takeaway at all. I didn't RTFA, because I'm a horrible person, but based on what others have posted in this thread, the takeaway is that among people who are middle-aged or older, it's more often men who want a partner and women who want a playmate.

(I almost said "as they age", but since we don't have data about how individuals' preferences change over time, we can't draw that kind of conclusion. The patterns we see now could be caused more by generational differences than by age per se.)
posted by shponglespore at 4:42 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


That's not my takeaway at all. I didn't RTFA, because I'm a horrible person, but based on what others have posted in this thread, the takeaway is that among people who are middle-aged or older, it's more often men who want a partner and women who want a playmate.

And that seems really legit. We know that marriage statistically is much better for men than women -- it keeps men alive longer and shortens women's lives by years. This is not necessarily that meaningful to a man at 25, but an unmarried man of 45 may feel differently. Whereas an unmarried woman of 45 may be quite self-sufficient in a daily-affairs way, and really only want a man around for sexy times. I don't presume to speak for single woman over 40, as I'm not one, but this does describe a few I know. And I suspect that, if they get divorced in the next few years, it will soon describe even more.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:04 PM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


"I wouldn't think it's asking too much for a man to bring something to the table besides the privilege of being coupled up. But apparently it is. So many men are, I hate to say this, a poor bargain."

Unfortunately, a lot of women are also not bringing much to the party but intangibles.


I am a woman so I can't be trusted about this, or objective, but I can't see how it's unfortunate on either end. I am always ready to agree that men are the worst, but when I want to date one it's not so they can help with the rent or do my housework or increase my status by having a job or accomplishment that will somehow mysteriously benefit me by the law of contagion because I'm seeing the person who has it.

considering this was originally about middle-aged women, I don't know why anybody would talk as though you have to invite a man over your threshold into your home and teach him to maintain the social fabric of his community just because you're dating him and maybe love him. sure young people are easily taken in by the idea that you have to live with and promote the general welfare of a man if you want to be his partner or his wife, and it is true that takes a lot of unidirectional work, that's how they get you with the emotional labor grift. but angry old hags know that's optional, right? we sure ought to.

I mean I am only in my 30s but I am sure I am a grizzled hag to somebody. but if I think myself far above men of all demographic groups, which I mostly do, it is strictly because of intangibles, not because they aren't bringing enough to the table. I don't even own a table. fuck tables. and fuck verve. and fuck The Verve. all I want from a man is that he be my age, my equal, and interesting. is this too much to ask for? absolutely. does it have anything to do with their degrees or employment status or labor-readiness? not really.

but then, I am already asking for too much and the impossible, so these theoretical concessions cost me nothing.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:29 PM on June 2, 2017 [8 favorites]


someone who can match my own outlook.

Except you're still framing this as something that people do. You're not saying, I want someone optimistic. You're saying, I want someone who is able to keep up with me. And you're also saying, I'm able to find this in younger women.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:54 PM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


queenofbithynia: all I want from a man is that he be my age, my equal, and interesting.

Be your equal and be interesting I get, but - and maybe this is a stupid question with an obvious answer - why is it important to you (and to so many other women, according to the numbers in the article and some of the comments here) that he be your age?

I've dated a fairly wide age range of women, and I can't say that I've noted any connection between the quality of the relationship and the age gap or lack thereof. It has always come down to the two of us as individuals - how well we fit together or don't, where we are in our lives (which is, as often as not, different from where we're "supposed" to be). Why isn't the individual more important than their age?
posted by clawsoon at 6:54 PM on June 2, 2017


why is it important to you (and to so many other women, according to the numbers in the article and some of the comments here) that he be your age?

because even though extreme youth ought to be like childbirth, a condition whose pain you forget as soon as it's over, it is not. for women, anyway. or for me. I remember it well and when I see the gaze of love in a young person's eyeballs and hear the echo of my words stirring deep feelings in their innocent earballs I feel just awful about it all. they got to go have their feelings with their own kind for a while before they come back to bother me about it.

I also had some fun time with older men in my own youth and I feel just fine about all those times in spite of their bad endings. why? because it was 100 percent their fault, and none of mine. and why is that? because I was Young and Irresponsible and I knew no better, whereas they should have. I have absolutely no interest in being the one who knows better, now that I have no choice but to, and now that I know exactly what that entails.

young men are delightful and nice and I like them, but that has nothing to do with anything.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:59 PM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't know, maybe there was a better word than "verve" I could have used; it's just a work I happen to like. On the other hand, it's clear that some people here are ready enough to judge me on scant evidence no matter what word I used.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:23 PM on June 2


I get what you're saying, sir. I do. I like both women and men and everything in between. I've dated some very mainstream people and, mostly, it went okay. But I understand what you're saying. OKCupid gave me my last, best relationship but it's been 3 years since I've been nursing this broken heart and, honestly, it's time for me to move on.
And sometimes I come across as being a very basic bitch but I'm not. I keep my verve to myself until I feel safe.

Maybe it's not what you said, it's just that you pulled on a thread of the tapestry of "Being A Woman, Especially An Older Woman, in a Patriarchal Society And How That Makes Us Invisible."

I want to date and I think OKCupid is my best choice but articles like this put me off. I want a partner, a peer, I want to be loved. I'm 40 but I don't want a 25 yr old boy/girl toy.
posted by blessedlyndie at 7:04 PM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]


you're also saying, I'm able to find this in younger women.

Except that I said up front that I'm not interested in younger women.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:23 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


We know that marriage statistically is much better for men than women -- it keeps men alive longer and shortens women's lives by years. This is not necessarily that meaningful to a man at 25, but an unmarried man of 45 may feel differently.

I know that statistic as well, but I guess the part that I don't completely understand is the magical thinking that marriage=long life automatically. Isn't that more of a sign to make the effort to eat healthy, sleep early, make supporting friends, exercise, and basically take of yourself?

At least, that's what I got from reading about the difference in how widowed women adjust better to being widows than widowed men, and how single women compare to single men.
posted by FJT at 7:52 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


Statistics are great. But- how do the people you actually know operate? I think this begs the larger question of how we have changed as a society. We don't pair bond like we used to. Unconventional relationships have become more normal (open marriages, blended families, same sex, trans, different mixes of age and expectation) Someone upthread mentioned that hearing others experiences in the real world are informative. I want to know how YOU date- not how some flat piece of data works. What attracts you? What repels? Who was the person you actually miss and why? I've had some lovely relationships and some total trainwrecks. Each one has taught me something. But the unifying thing is that they don't last like my parents 49 year relationship.Again, my experience, but I am curious how the rest of the world lives.

And fwiw- some have been older, some younger- no actual corroboration with being good or bad with age.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 8:14 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


Women adjust better because we develop home management skills in addition to professional skills. Which includes taking care of men because men just flat-out won't fucking do it themselves, even if it literally kills them.

but when I want to date one it's not so they can help with the rent or do my housework or increase my status by having a job or accomplishment that will somehow mysteriously benefit me by the law of contagion because I'm seeing the person who has it.

To diverge slightly from this comment, I agree that that isn't WHY I'm seeking out a relationship, but it damn well better be an integral PART of a relationship. The bottom line is that I'm not interested in a relationship where *I* am there to help with the rent, do the housework, and increase his status/disposable income with my income. I don't want a relationship that creates work for me and takes away from my time to enjoy my leisure and personal development, in favor of creating more leisure time and personal development for HIM. And yet that is, statistically, how the vast majority of heterosexual relationships play out for women.

And if that isn't infuriating enough, then someone shows up and says women are BORING and LACK VERVE. I'm sitting here like, look at the well-oiled machine I have created here. I mean, I have freshly-baked Belgian chocolate brownies in my freezer right now, that I baked. Belgian fucking chocolate. I have never dated a dude who was *ever* like, oh, come over to my recently cleaned house and sit on my real furniture and eat some of my homemade brownies. The last dude I dated wouldn't even let me into his HOUSE because he was such a slob, let alone ever cook me a meal, he doesn't even know how to cook! But he was certainly happy to come over to my place and eat my food (and leave his wet towels on the floor, and my milk carton on the countertop).

Verve. Holy shit. This is how you know that the whole emotional labor issue is still light years away from balancing out--when someone is so alien to the concept of the tedious everyday tasks required to maintain a well-oiled machine, that he attributes the quality of managing them to WOMEN BEING BORING. That too is a fucking cliche, that women shrivel up and turn into "Mom", and nag men about taking the trash out and making a dentist appointment just to make men unhappy and waste their time. No, shockingly there are still dental appointments and full trashcans even when you live alone.

When I was breaking up with the last guy I dated, I told him straight out that his terrible housekeeping habits were a contributor and that it was completely unacceptable to have a space so filthy that he wouldn't even allow people in the door. He said he was happy with his lifestyle and that it was bad that I judged him for it. K.

Verve. God.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:50 PM on June 2, 2017 [21 favorites]


All's I know is, I'm totally naming my all-girl techno band The Verve.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:56 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


No you're not, because there was already a 90s British rock group by that name. All men. They broke up in 2009.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:03 PM on June 2, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm eating my fucking brownie. In bed!
posted by Autumnheart at 9:06 PM on June 2, 2017 [10 favorites]


there sure was, and I saw them on the second stage at Lollapalooza back in "the day," which I mention to establish my old woman cred. they are the verve I hate the most, but they were ok really, I guess.

anyhow I hear you and I believe you because I live in the world and see and hear the horrors therein, but I have never known a man in the biblical sense who didn't know more about laundry and dishwashing and style and have better ironing technique than what I have. I do not feel bad about this at all because first of all why would I, but second of all because what I bring to the table (this cursed "table" that I hate so) is my brilliance and so forth, not my domestic skills.

the worst man practice of all is expecting you to care about their opinions about french cuffs and not shutting up about how you should hand-wash your cashmere sweaters because of what dry-cleaning fluid does to them. not pulling their weight emotionally might be bad too, but it is so far down on my list of complaints I never really get to it. though I do not mean any disrespect to other women's different exasperations.

this is not a humblebrag because I really do hate the patriarchy and all its representatives on earth. regardless of my personal experience I am on the right side of this, honestly
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:11 PM on June 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


In my defense, I would never expect a woman to get anything dry-cleaned unless she really wanted to - in which case, I say go for broke.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:21 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also, I must say I never expected the word "verve" to be such a flash point...
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:24 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


The word effectively capsulated the encoded attitude that being a woman who takes care of business is boring and unattractive, and that women are supposed to care more about that perception than about living their lives.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:29 PM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


Unconventional relationships have become more normal (open marriages, blended families, same sex, trans, different mixes of age and expectation)

🎶 one of these things is not like the others 🎶
posted by AFABulous at 9:47 PM on June 2, 2017 [12 favorites]


The word effectively capsulated the encoded attitude that being a woman who takes care of business is boring and unattractive, and that women are supposed to care more about that perception than about living their lives.

I'll take your word for it, but that is utterly not what I meant when I used it, FWIW. But since at this point the only people who are still upset about it are those who seemed determined to focus on some of my words and ignore others, I suspect it wouldn't matter what words I used or how true they were.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:49 PM on June 2, 2017


Oh, we know what you were saying. The whole concept of what you were trying to say positively saturates our culture. One really cannot miss it, particularly on a dating site.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:52 PM on June 2, 2017 [8 favorites]


My point was that the tribe accepts it easier- not that these types of relationships have not always been there- just that they are more respected. When I was in college, my friend's mom always referred to her son's partner as his "roommate". There seems to be better kindness and acceptance.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 9:56 PM on June 2, 2017


Women adjust better because we develop home management skills in addition to professional skills. Which includes taking care of men because men just flat-out won't fucking do it themselves, even if it literally kills them.

That's a charming bit of gender essentialism, right there.

Can folks try to calm down a little, please? I know from bitter experience that arguing about gender stuff on Metafilter is a poor use for a Friday night.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:04 PM on June 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


That's a charming bit of gender essentialism, right there.

Well it was expressed with a fair bit of verve, but I think a lot of those ideas have been documented and verified by the sociologists, but anyway.

The thing about dating late in life is that it's tiring. The idea of love itself is tiring. Setting up house, christ no. Hanging out sometimes and being ok with checking eyeballs for lost eyelashes, that's the ticket.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:02 AM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


it was a legitimate relief that now she can be 100% in charge of her finances and not have to worry about having dinner on the table at 6 every night

Exactly my experience as a 40-year-old widow. One of the other young windows I know is remarried, and while she loves and values her husband, she also sometimes laments the decision to date/partner/remarry. "I was independent! I could make all my own decisions! It was so great! What was I thinking?"

I'm not super out there in terms of dating, but I have noticed a surprising amount of attention/interest from younger men. I assumed it was because I look young, but maybe there's something else going on.
posted by jeoc at 5:56 AM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


It just feels very frustrating and tiring to envision a relationship where the best I can expect is pleasurable company. Not someone who can step up and keep the well-oiled machine running, or even work with me to improve it. Just someone who will tap the energy I create and look cute doing it, or something? That's not a relationship anyway. That's like me working a customer service job except not getting paid.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:14 AM on June 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


Women adjust better because we develop home management skills in addition to professional skills. Which includes taking care of men because men just flat-out won't fucking do it themselves, even if it literally kills them.

That's pretty much my hypothesis after doing the research. I would only add that in hetero-couples, women also are more likely to handle "social management" (friends, get-togethers, greeting cards, and all the other important things that prevent you from sitting at home by yourself every night).

And I'm not being abstract here, and actually kind of putting this hypothesis to the test with a grand long-term experiment on myself. Because I'm between 25 and 45 and I certainly don't want to hit 45 and think "Well, I'm not married/in a relationship, so I guess I'll go die".
posted by FJT at 9:51 AM on June 3, 2017


"I was independent! I could make all my own decisions! It was so great! What was I thinking?"

I wish as a culture we had a model for middle ground relationships - with love, good communication, sex, building a strong relationship over time by putting in the work, etc, the things that I feel like we all need, but with varying degrees of cohabitation, monogamy, time spent together, commingling of finances, and just the general concept of ownership over your partner physically and emotionally. The poly community has done a lot of that work, but when there's a super tiny minority of people who are even second generation poly it is such a difficult struggle to overcome the intense cultural norms regarding relationships.

It's tough for me to find this in the dating world. There's definitely a sizeable minority now who are on the same page which didn't exist when I was in my early 20s, but for most I think the above gets projected into "afraid of commitment and just wants easy sex."
posted by MillMan at 10:32 AM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Well, I'll be 44 in a month or so, and I'm really more like, "Well, I'm not married/in a relationship, so I guess I'll go do whatever I want!" I mean that's kind of the problem--I have pretty much everything I want (in a practical sense). I'd like someone to share it with in a meaningful way, but not if they're gonna screw it up.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:34 AM on June 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


I wish as a culture we had a model for middle ground relationships - with love, good communication, sex, building a strong relationship over time by putting in the work, etc, the things that I feel like we all need, but with varying degrees of cohabitation, monogamy, time spent together, commingling of finances, and just the general concept of ownership over your partner physically and emotionally.

I ended up married and it's good but I do sometimes have to remind myself when I'm waiting around to see what he wants to do "What would you do right now if you were alone?" and go do that. Because the idea that it's my job to take care of dudes was stamped into me early. It's so easy to put another person in the middle of your life and forget yourself if you're a woman, because that's what you've been taught to do.

If I suddenly had to date again, I honestly might not. There are days now when I think "this would be easier if we were living in separate houses and got breaks from each other." Living with another person for a long time is hard. I think women understand that sooner than men, but I think men often come to understand it too. I wish we talked about it/made better arrangements for it more.
posted by emjaybee at 12:12 PM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm a woman in my mid-30s. I've never been in a long term relationship. When I was in my 20s, this used to eat at me in ways that made me think that I was unloveable. Now... I read things like this and all the various emotional labor threads and my first response is, "I don't think it would be worth it."

Part of me still feels bad about being undesirable to the types of people I desire and another part of me really doesn't know what I'll do when my parents are gone (since they are my main emotional support system). But I also look at the hassle of internet dating and how my straight female friends who are struggling with dating or navigating how emotional labor works in their relationships.... it really doesn't seem worth it. I enjoy kids, but I don't have the biological clock problem. I'm happy to adjunct at the local magnet school and work with some incredible teenagers a few times a week.

I don't know if this is straying too far off topic, but one of the questions I always have in threads like this is "what actually makes it worthwhile?" What makes a committed relationship worth the hassle of dealing with the patriarchy while dating and then while in the relationship?
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 12:45 PM on June 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


Why isn't the individual more important than their age?

Because individual preference is constantly used as an excuse for behaving in stereotypical ways. Every single man who puts an age range of 15 years younger until xmyage in a dating profile excuses it as individual preference. And as a middle aged woman living in Hong Kong, please don't even get me started on middle aged European/US/Australian men who are living their "individual preference" for explicitly seeking a younger Asian woman as a partner. If you want to start hating men from your own age and culture, come live in Asia for a while. I often despair for humanity.
posted by frumiousb at 4:19 PM on June 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


frumiousb, that sounds like good motivation for women to not want to date men their own age, rather than a reason for them to strongly prefer it.
posted by clawsoon at 6:05 PM on June 3, 2017


This is just my experience- when I do date someone much older/younger than me- our concerns are not the same. It's one more hurdle in an already complicated dance.

No, I can't go to the show in the middle of the week because I have to get up clear eyed by 630.

You want to spend 800$ for us to go to Rally School but I have to pay the arborist about that much to make sure the tree in front of the house doesn't fall on it.

HAH- I am SO NOT FUN!!!!
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 6:14 PM on June 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


frumiousb, that sounds like good motivation for women to not want to date men their own age, rather than a reason for them to strongly prefer it.

I don't really get your point. Weren't you defending men selecting younger women as a personal preference? Or is your point that older women are free to establish the same preference?

In any case, I think that free from a crazy dating world, most of these men would end up with someone comfortably closer to their own age. (The real average age difference is something like 2.5 years and that skews roughly 60% towards men older. Not at all what you would expect from preferences on OKCupid.) And I stand by finding it gross that so many men exclude women who are close to their own age, or god forbid-- a few years older. Do you find it normal?
posted by frumiousb at 7:36 PM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


frumiousb: I don't really get your point. Weren't you defending men selecting younger women as a personal preference? Or is your point that older women are free to establish the same preference?

I'm not really trying to make a point. I'm more interested in the explanations, personal or social, of the preference of many women to date men their own age. It's a question from my ignorance and desire to know more, prompted by my own (limited, idiosyncratic) experience suggesting that age is a poor predictor of relationship quality and enjoyment. My own biggest dating age gap, FWIW, was with a woman 20 years older than me, and that was a much, much better relationship than another relationship I had with a woman 3 years older than me. And ditto with my other relationships - the effect of age seemed to be completely random, not at all connected with how good the relationship was for both or either of us.

"Why do men want to date women who aren't their age?" is a question that has been discussed endlessly. I realized to my surprise that I had never heard a discussion of why women want to date men their own age, either because it's considered so obvious that it needs no explanation (which is where my ignorance comes in) or because of the tendency of discussions to be taken over by "but let's discuss the feelings of men endlessly, shall we?"
posted by clawsoon at 7:58 PM on June 3, 2017


And I'll add that I appreciate the answers that y'all have given to my question.
posted by clawsoon at 8:00 PM on June 3, 2017


The main reason I think I would prefer to date men around my own age is that it's just easier to relate to someone who's been through a lot of the same experiences I have. If I make a joke that references some bit of culture from my early adulthood, he'll probably get it, even if he doesn't think it's funny. Same goes the other way.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:20 PM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


All's I know is, I'm totally naming my all-girl techno band The Verve.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:56 PM on June 2
[1 favorite +] [!]


No you're not, because there was already a 90s British rock group by that name. All men. They broke up in 2009.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:03 PM on June 2


OK, then, The GerlVerve.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:33 PM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


The main reason I think I would prefer to date men around my own age is that it's just easier to relate to someone who's been through a lot of the same experiences I have. If I make a joke that references some bit of culture from my early adulthood, he'll probably get it, even if he doesn't think it's funny. Same goes the other way.

Does this mean that you wouldn't be open to—or willing to deal with the side effects/by-products of—a relationship with someone from a completely different cultural (/religious/ethnic/ideological) background, with whom you wouldn't be able to make such jokes?

There are also men your age, born in your land, who veered off early on and from that point forward ignored to a very great extent the mainstream culture (as well as the prominent subcultures) of your land, in favor of relatively obscure or alien cultural expressions which to them had greater value, one result being that they probably know little to nothing of the music/films/books/tv shows/celebrities you grew up liking. Would a relationship with one of these individuals be unworthy of your consideration?

And what about older men who hold an authentic/sincere (i.e. not strategic), intense interest in cultural expressions mainly favored by much younger persons? Is it understandable and acceptable that they might be better suited to involvement with someone much younger who shares their intense interest?
posted by tenderly at 11:57 PM on June 3, 2017


I seriously have to laugh about the whole verve kerfluffle.

Because I know I have verve and some to spare. And I am also certain that a lot of cishet men don't see it. Why? Because I know a bad investment when I see one and choose not to share it with them. I want to engage with people who engage back and don't just take. Where each person builds the other up and verve can be shared.

Asking why I don't have verve (or more accurately, why I don't share it with certain people) is honestly like asking me why I don't throw good money after bad.
posted by susiswimmer at 4:09 AM on June 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


I had never heard a discussion of why women want to date men their own age

I prefer to date men my own age since I grew up with them, so to speak, and understand them better. But I think there is a misunderstanding in general.

It's not as though women (or at least the women I know) are wedded to the idea of rigidly only dating someone their own age. It's that we're explicitly tired of men who treat women their own age (or older, god forbid) as sexually & romantically invisible and come up with crazy logic about individual preference to avoid thinking about how media and the patriarchy have shaped their so-called individual preferences.

And what about older men who hold an authentic/sincere (i.e. not strategic), intense interest in cultural expressions mainly favored by much younger persons? Is it understandable and acceptable that they might be better suited to involvement with someone much younger who shares their intense interest?

case in point...
posted by frumiousb at 4:28 AM on June 4, 2017 [7 favorites]


[A couple deleted. Please forego the tortured "slippery slope" argumentation (dating people in your own age group is pretty much the same as "white people should stick with white people" etc.), and if you are actually saying that you are probably digging yourself into "a grave of words," take that as a indication you should step back before posting.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:39 AM on June 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


As a woman who has sometimes sought straight relationships -- looking for men my own age has a lot more to do with emotional labor and power dynamics than it does shared interests.

I want a relationship where I am an EQUAL partner. And under the patriarchy, it seems like it'd be more likely to happen in a relationship with my own age. That's an assumption and I'm sure that there are equal relationships between partners with vast age differences. But in terms of internet dating -- we're all trying to find people who will most likely be compatible with our needs.

The last time I dated a guy who was about four or five years younger than me, I had to do all of the planning. (It's part of what spawned by "Should I just go to Crone Island?" AskMe.) The emotional labor threads tell me that this can happen to any woman in a heterosexual relationship, regardless of the age gap, but I did feel like I was doing a lot of mothering there.

The few times I've dated guys who were about five years older than me I was in my early-to-mid 20s and neither experience felt like I was dealing with an equal partner. One was a situation where the guy was the best friend of a new lady-friend of mine... and I dated him because I really wanted to spend more time with her. And the other was... way too much for me to unpack in a Metafilter comment.

I've never gone beyond the five year range, but I do know a great deal of heterosexual couples in my professional community where the man is about twenty years older than the woman and the power dynamics are screwed up. A lot of it doesn't have anything to do with their relationship itself; it's how the rest of our professional community perceives the relationship. He can screw up and she'll be blamed for it. He will be the one who gets all the acclaim and fun parts of the job, while she's doing all of the grunt work. And these women, who are talented artists in their own right, are almost always overshadowed in their professional careers by their husbands. Now, that's the patriarchy and not their specific relationships (which vary in levels of equality from my vantage point), but relationships don't exist in a vacuum.

Under the patriarchy, starting off in a heterosexual relationship is an uphill battle. I want to find the people who are most likely to also seek an equal partnership with me and where we help each other grow as humans. And that seems to be with guys in my own age range.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2017 [6 favorites]


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