In my recent experiences online dating, I have learned that men in their 20s want to date women in their 20s. Makes sense. They are the same age, the same stage, and want the same things out of life. When I first signed up for online dating three years ago at 27, I noticed that men 25 and older wanted to date women 23 and younger. It was in their profiles: “Seeking women 18-23.” Don’t get me started on the social implications of a man 25+ who wants his “woman” balancing that tightrope of “barely legal.” I guess older men want to date child acrobats.
Guys: If you would rather date the “Dance” contestants rather than the “Dance Moms”, there is a special place on okcupid for you!
Ladies and gentlemen, I have some startling news: as men get older, that proverbial tightrope gets tighter. I am now 30. During my most recent online dating experiences, I have found that men ages 28-38 list in their profiles, “Seeking women ages 19-26.” Twenty six is pretty generous. Most men cut it off at 24. I had a 31 year old college professor write to me and say, “I decided to join okcupid because I am getting tired of my students being able to find me on plenty of fish.” I suggested, “Why don’t you increase your desired age range from 18-26 to 26-36? You won’t be bothered by college age girls anymore since you’ll be dating women your own age.” Apparently he didn’t appreciate that insight as much as I did. I never heard from him again. And that’s fine. I am going to be the real me during my online dating exploits: wit, wisdom, age, and all. I’m not going to be the girl guys would like to see.
Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker thinks differently. In her recent article, “The Midlife Dating Game: having fun after 50” Stanger affirms, “Men don’t want to pick you if you’re over 50. The minute you say you’re over 50, you’re out. But if you say you’re 40, you’re in. There’s an ageism in our society.” Among her tips for snagging that “dream guy” online? “Shaving a couple of years off your online profile might improve your prospects.”
As someone who has seen first hand how ageist guys are towards girls who are even just 30, I am inclined to disagree. Starting a relationship off on a dishonest note is no way to start a relationship. If a guy can’t handle your real age, what do you want with him? Stanger recommends working overtime to get a guy to approve of YOU when you should be the one putting him to the test to see if he’s good enough for YOU. Stanger recommends, “Always look your best, even if you’re going to the gas station.” If you’re the type of woman who likes to straighten her hair and put on makeup every time she leaves the house, more power to you. I am not one of those women. You can’t even get me to put on lipgloss unless it’s a special occasion. And fyi, “work”, “Walmart”, and the “gas station” are not special occasions. I’m a firm believer in being who you are, looking the way you are, and acting the way you are. The right guy will come along. I for one am not going to live my life in a way to seek approval from other men. In high school, the kids used to call it “staying true to yourself.” Who would have thought high school would be the time in our lives when everything was simpler, more honest, more transparent? I’ve given up on online dating until further notice. If guys my age want someone younger and say in their profile that they must be “attractive,” then I agree. I’d like to find an attractive guy too. And I won’t find him online. When I go out, I’m going to be me. If I don’t want to wear makeup or my hair in anything other than a ponytail, I’m not going to. Fun fact: every guy I’ve dated, I’ve met in person while wearing glasses, no makeup, and my hair in a ponytail. It’s that winning smile, personality, and brains that draw men to us. It is not saying what they want to hear, looking the way they think we should look, and agreeing with everything they say. Sorry, but I don’t buy into the Malibu Stacy form of dating as suggested by Patti Stanger and countless others: *cue coquettish giggly doll voice* “Let’s put on makeup so the boys will like us.”
Because if I have to change who I am, lie about my age, and hang out in places I wouldn’t normally hang out in just to snag a man, I can honestly say I’d rather not date. I realize my journey in finding the right person is not going to be quick or easy. I’m okay with that. I am going to find happiness and meaning in other ways: family, friends, work, and hobbies. But meanwhile, I hope I can make all of you laugh and enlighten you along the way. My life may not turn out being married with children by the time I’m forty. I’ve accepted a wide range of alternate scenarios. Because the moment you become desperate to attract a man like so many dating “experts” suggest, you are done. Remember it is better to be alone than to feel alone.