Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm Getting Too Old for This

At least, according to many of the guys on I am.

On, in addition to writing a few paragraphs to describe yourself in your profile, there's also a section that lists the basic facts of who you are and what you're looking for in your "ideal match". For example, in my profile, I wrote down that I don't smoke at all and that my ideal match would also be a nonsmoker. Unfortunately, I can't write down other things that are deal breakers for me; for example, I can't put down that I'd rather not date a guy who will say, "I'll call you," when what he really means is "I never want to see you again. In fact, if we do happen to cross paths again someday, I will grab whoever is nearest me and use them as a human shield in case you try to come near me."

You can also write down the age range that your ideal match would fall into. In my profile, I put down that my match would be somewhere between the ages of 25 and 35, though now that I'm turning 30 soon I'm thinking of raising the age range so that it'll be between the ages of 27 and 37 (you might wonder why I'm willing to date a guy in his mid-to-late thirties but not someone who's in his early twenties, but one reason is that the guys in their early twenties also generally prefer younger women). It just so happens that I prefer to date guys who are close to my age; the oldest guy I ever dated was seven years older than me, and the youngest guy I dated was four years younger than me.

Some people say that age is just a number. But I don't really buy that, because at 29 I am not the same person that I was at 19. For example, now that I'm 29 I'm not willing to spend an hour on the phone just so I can try to get tickets to see a boy band's concert (I never got to see N'Sync perform live, and now I never will! Why do these things always happen to ME?).

Of course, there are people who have really good romantic relationships with partners who are significantly older or younger. Sometimes age just really doesn't matter if you're in love. Everyone has the right to make their own choices about that kind of thing, and we all have our own preferences anyway. And I do firmly believe that you don't get to choose who you fall in love with; it just happens. So maybe I will end up falling for someone who is a lot older or younger. But on the other hand, I am still actively looking for someone who's close to my own age.

I think that part of it has to do with the fact that I'm usually likely to have more in common with guys my own age. Emphasis on "usually", because sometimes guys my own age are more immature than kids in grade school. (And I will admit that I am often immature too, seeing as how I will throw a fit if someone tries to steal the prize in my cereal box away from me.)

The problem is that many (though not all) of the guys on who are my age make it clear that they want to date younger women. One 35-year-old guy wrote down that his ideal match would be between the ages of 18-24. I mean, really? Really? When I was 18 I thought that anyone over the age of 22 was old, so I never would have considered dating a 35-year-old.

Other guys will go a little higher; that is, if the guy is 30 he'll put down that he wants to date someone who's between the ages of 21-28. It makes me think of the bachelors on the reality show Millionaire Matchmaker. The majority of them want to date younger women. One guy who was 48 told Patti Stanger, the matchmaker, that he didn't want to date anyone over the age of 29. Another guy who was in his late 30s refused to go on a second date with a gorgeous, perfectly nice woman just because she was in her early 30s. Again I must ask, Really?

The guys on that show rationalize their preferences by saying that they want to have kids someday, so they think it'll be easier to do that if they date someone younger. But I think it's less about the desire of starting a family and more about the desire to look like a stud who can still get a beautiful young woman. I mean, just look at Hugh Hefner, who's like, what, 100? And his "girlfriends" are young enough to be his granddaughters, and now he's engaged to one of them!

Don't get me wrong. Women do it too. But it does still seem like women get a lot more flack for dating younger men than men do for dating younger women, which is totally unfair. And there are definitely guys on the site who don't restrict themselves to dating younger women, so I'm not saying that all men are like the ones I described. And again, I'm not trying to condemn anyone whose partner is significantly older/younger, or who does prefer to date someone who isn't his or her age. Like I said before, that's your choice, and if it works for you, why not?

But for me, it does get to be a little disheartening to know that a lot of the guys that are out there wouldn't even consider me because of my "advanced age". And the thing is, this ageist thing isn't exclusive to When I was on and okcupid a lot of the guys who contacted me were in their late 40s and 50s (I didn't date any of them, though). Maybe I'm feeling overly self-conscious because my thirtieth birthday is rapidly approaching and I'll never be in my twenties again.

Maybe it's because there was this 35-year-old guy who'd been sending me e-mails last week on; in his most recent e-mail, he suggested that we go out this past weekend. I e-mailed him my phone number so that he could call me and we could make definite plans, but then he never called. I couldn't help wondering if he just flaked out about meeting in person and pulled a disappearing act (which has happened with several other guys I met online), or if he's holding out for someone younger. Not to mention the cutoff age for his ideal match in his profile is 29. (I did, however, go out on a third date with chemistry bachelor #2 this past weekend, but that's for another post.)

Or maybe I just want to track down those guys who prefer younger women and ask them exactly how many younger women they've succeeded in dating. I'm willing to bet that the number isn't nearly as high as they'd like it to be.

What's your opinion on dating someone who's a lot older or younger?


  1. Older guys who end up with much younger girls because they meet and fall in love are ok, but those who stipulate it ahead of time are disgusting.

  2. Hi Karen,
    It does bother me when people stipulate ahead of time that they only want to date younger people, because it makes me feel like I'm not good enough for them just because I'm not within their "desired age range". But then again, I try to be optimistic and just think that those people just aren't worth my time if they're going to reject me just because I'm getting older.

  3. When I was 21, I went on a few dates with a guy who was 38. It was actually a lot of fun to date someone who was more experienced in life. He cooked for me and told me about all the places he'd traveled. At the same time he was savvy to current trends in music and movies, so we could talk about things. We played chess, which is perhaps an old activity for a 21 year old, but I loved it. And honestly, it could have worked. Largely it didn't work because I was still in college and very, very unsure of where I was going in life, which made me insecure and immature in relationships. He was also pretty immature in regards to relationships and was petrified of commitment, hence being single despite being relatively attractive and having his life together. But the dates were fun and we had good chemistry and if we'd met now instead of then, maybe it'd work?

    My dad was 20 years older than my mom, and they had a great relationship, so I'm very open to age gaps. I haven't really done significantly younger, but I'm only 23 and there's a big difference between college and out of college, so I think I have to wait awhile before I can try that gap, haha.

  4. Hi mmarinaa,
    Your experience raises several good points about age gaps. I think that the question of whether or not the age gap actually does make a difference often depends on the couple, because although it doesn't work for some people, it does work for your parents and it did work for you and that guy. So your story makes me think that age doesn't have to be the deciding factor in whether or not a person should date someone; I just wish that more guys my age could have the same perspective.

  5. I've seen gaps that have worked out. I wasn't on the market very long, so I never wound up dating someone younger than me. At the age I dated my now husband (19), if I dated a younger man, let's say, 17, his mental age would've been 15. Not cool.

    When I was in my 20s, I was shocked at how immature most guys my age were. That's probably why they date younger women - they still have a young mental age. So maybe it's not all about hotness.

    But my husband and a few guys were definitely mature for their age. If they'd been a few years younger than me, I would've had no problem with it.

    Young or old, the right guy is the right guy.

  6. Hi Theresa,
    Guys who are mature, whether they're 25 or 35, are definitely more attractive than immature guys. I just wish I could figure out what would make a guy right for me, but maybe eventually I'll meet someone that doesn't make me feel like I have to figure it out at all; I'll just know, as people who are in love say. :)

  7. 1.) Love this and the truth in everything you're saying.

    2.) Did you see the one where Patti got so mad at the guy? Because he had convinced her that he really was looking for his soul mate and I think she had a little crush on him and then, even though she kind of forbid it, he decided to go out w/ some brainless 22 year old she had brought for the young guy. She was so pissed!

    3.) Whoo! Third date!!!

  8. Hi FreeFlying,
    I think I know who you're talking about! And the thing is that a lot of Patti's clients end up picking the people that she uses to "test" them, the ones who don't fit any of the clients' criteria for their soul mates except for the fact that they're attractive. I love Patti, though, because she's not afraid to tell them when they're making the wrong decisions. I wish I could afford to hire someone like her to help me with the whole dating process. :)

  9. The youngest guy I have ever crushed on was four and a half years younger. The oldest was five years older.

    Therefore, I feel okay putting on okcupid that I want in between 25 and 35 (I'm 30).
    I agree with your first commenter: sometimes people meet and fall in love when they are different ages. It happens. When my voice teacher was young, she fell in love with her college professor--who was old enough to be her father--and they were married for the rest of his life. Though it's a different kind of relationship, I met one of my closest friends when he was 15 and I was almost 20. Despite the age difference and parental eyebrow-raising, almost eleven years later we are still BFF's.

    However, when a guy my age is actively looking for 19-year-olds (like, it's in his dating profile), that's almost always a dealbreaker. And it's like the "interested in casual sex" double standard: it's fine for a guy to put that on his profile, but if I said I was interested in casual sex, I'd get a lot of creepy messages, and if I said I was looking for 19-year-olds, I'd get judged. Ugh.