In Praise of a Woman of a Certain Age
This week I stumbled upon an intriguing headline: Men reveal: “Why I date younger women”
Let me say up front, I’m not looking to date anyone younger. For almost 40 years I have dated a woman who is the same age that I am. I have been with her in her 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s – different ages and phases of life. I have been quite happy throughout these stages and, as I ponder the issue at hand, I find that I have little interest in retracing ground I’ve already covered with someone new. Regardless, I felt compelled to click the link.
The article was posted on “match.com on Yahoo!” under Dating Tips and Advice. It seems a great deal of energy, attention and ‘research’ is spent on the topic of dating; an area in which I am a bit out of touch. A dizzying, and frankly confusing, array of articles was posted on the site. Headlines included:
- Top 7 deal-breakers for midlife daters
- Women reveal: “My relationship must-haves”
- Are you being too picky?
- Five rules that help singles land more dates
- Dating advice at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60
Some articles encouraged daters to be more flexible, while others advised them to know exactly what they want and not compromise. The advice offered to those in their 20s seemed to be just another version of that for those in their 60s; while those in their 30s and 40s were told much the same. One author suggested a minimum of games be played; another cited the update from the “Rules” girls on how to impose an impenetrable fortress of do’s, don’ts and manipulations. It seemed that once the conflicting advice was eliminated, all that would be left for a dater to do would be to sit in the dark. Scanning the headlines alone was exhausting.
As I clicked through to the original article, I found quotes from interviews with experienced male daters between the ages of 35 and 45. The reasons provided for men to date younger women hardly seemed scientific. These “experts” suggested that:
- As men get older there are fewer single women of their age available, leaving them no alternative but to fish in a younger barrel.
- Dating a woman in her 20s or 30s is less demanding; you’re not faced with the requirement to make a decision about the future. They reportedly are more interested in the here and now, and aren’t itching to ‘put a ring on it.’
- Younger women are less judgmental, less set in their ways and friendlier. They are untainted by experiences that have hardened older women.
- Younger women reaffirm the vitality of an aging man. It is easier to impress a younger woman on a date by taking her to great places you have already been. Dating them makes the fading alpha male feel young and vibrant.
Before you try to reach out and choke me through your screen, I take no responsibility for any of these clichés. These comments were made by the men interviewed for the article. As these men have ‘aged,’ they seemed to seek someone who could satisfy their ego and physical needs while not consuming the energy required for complex thought.
Still, this article made me wonder. Was I missing out on the fountain of youth? Would life be easier with someone who didn’t require me to think? Would I want my daughter to date a 41-year-old? What would my children say if I dated one of their older friends? (It would most certainly start with “Ewww!…”)
Truth be told, I found the entire conversation to be ridiculous. I don’t buy others’ rationalizations. I am – and always have been — happy to be dating (okay, married to…) an age appropriate woman. A woman ‘of a certain age,’ in my opinion, makes the best partner.
My wife has had two careers, owned her own company, birthed two heirs, earned a master’s degree, spent a decade in the non-profit world, and never needed help from a nanny, housekeeper, or au pair (I tried that one and failed many times!). At this point in life, she knows who she is and what she wants. She is informed about world affairs, and is definitely not afraid to express her opinion or test my way of thinking. Her clarity and confidence have enabled her to challenge me (for decades) to be a better person. And, despite the onslaught of never-ending adult conversation, my ego is doing just fine.
I understand and can relate to my spouse’s life experiences. She owned cassette tapes; called me after 11PM weekdays and on Sundays during college; and remembers when I was 6” shorter. We love going back to favorite places we have been to before, but also share the joy of discovering new ones together. She skis, scuba dives, and loves to travel. She is spontaneous, energetic, fun, outgoing, friendly, engaging, and keeps me guessing about what she might say or do next. I think the real question is whether SHE should be dating someone younger!
Today is my wife’s birthday. As each year goes by, her age – and mine – become more ‘certain.’ And so does the knowledge that I’m with the right person to share my life experiences. If the past 40 years are any indication, the next 40 will be equally great. Here’s to a Woman of a Certain Age…Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.