I am probably one of the few men in their fifties who can spend a lot of time online reading blogs by young women and exchanging messages with them without having to clear my browser history before my wife sees it. I do of course have a perfectly legitimate reason to do so, and I am also lucky enough to have a very good relationship with Mrs Beautyscientist. But the attraction for older men of younger women has been the source of a great deal of scandal, comedy and gossip over the years. The older men rarely come out of it with much in the way of dignity, but that doesn’t seem to put them off.
But with the loosening of marriage as an institution – 40% of them end in divorce is a statistic I keep hearing – there are more and more people in their forties, fifties and sixties who are actively seeking new partners. A lot of them turn to online dating services. But it turns out that these aren’t particularly productive for women in those age brackets. An article in last Sunday’s Observer in the UK makes this clear.
Many middle aged and older men on dating sites seek out women younger than themselves. The arithmetic leaves the women their own age with many fewer options.
And the arithmetic is a pretty inevitable consequence of the biology. Mating is ultimately about passing your genes on to the next generation and the more reproductive years your potential mate has ahead of her the more appealing she is. That conscious thought may not have passed through the man’s head but that is nonetheless what is going on. Think of them as large hairless apes. (This might not be difficult to do in some cases.)
So for a woman getting onto the online dating market it is important to remember that your age is not simply a problem. It is the problem. What can you do about it? I am not going to pretend that there is much, but here are a few ideas.
1. Lie about your age. If you have moral scruples about this I respect your honesty and stick to your principles. But if you are wavering do bear in mind that there are plenty of men around who will say anything to get a woman into bed. More practically, we all have a mental picture of what someone of a particular age looks like. But most of us look a lot younger than that mental picture. The modern lifestyle is way healthier than it used to be and our idea of what a woman of say 50 looks like isn’t much like what most of them actually do look like. The previously mentioned Mrs Beautyscientist for example is 50 but looks about 40. Knocking 4 or 5 years off your biological age is quite likely to be a more realistic portrayal of what you actually look like.
2. Use a profile picture that shows you doing something active. Ride a bike. Climb a mountain. This will reinforce that you are still young and dynamic. Don’t include your children or more attractive friends.
3. Don’t mention your children. Men are not interested in your children. Men are not all that interested in their own children.
The women in the Observer article had largely given up on online dating, and this may well be a sound strategy. It seems to me that the whole format of online dating is to the disadvantage of the more mature woman. But it is cheap and easy so I suppose there is no harm in giving it a try so long as you steel yourself in advance against disappointment. Treat it like buying a lottery ticket. If you win, great. If not you have other plans.
But most people still find their partners offline by more traditional means. But here as well, you have to be realistic that your age is not on your side. My suggestions are
1. Don’t act your age. Do things that indicate you still have a young approach to life.
2. Makeup – apply it with a trowel if necessary. Skilfully used, make up can make you look younger.
3. Give up smoking. It makes you look older.
4. Don’t worry too much about your weight. It doesn’t bother men that much.
And just one last thought. Women are no longer defined by their relationship to a man. There is so much more you can do than previous generations. You can certainly have a perfectly enjoyable and fulfilling life without a man around. And having an enjoyable and fulfilling life is probably going to make you more attractive at the same time.
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