Dear Neil: The following is what I’d call a survival guide for middle-aged women in search of a date.
- In younger years we could date men of all ages, while the boys were pretty much stuck with girls their own age or younger. The rules are different now, and we have to accept it.
- Take stock of your appearance. Walk more, eat more raw fruits and vegetables, get your colors done or get a makeover. Simplify your grooming.
- Makes friends with the aging process. Don’t lie about your age. Work with it.
- Do something nice for yourself several times a week: take a bubble bath with candles and with Haydn playing in the background, buy fresh flowers, etc.
- Join a group you like which is unrelated to your work or your friends.
- Take a course. Anything that appeals—from 1001 Uses of Tofu to Medieval History. Do this once or twice a year.
- If a man you like develops an interest in you, let him make most of the moves. Don’t figure on snaring him and making him over, either.
- Give up the attitude that male company is an entitlement.
A Denver Reader
Dear Denver Reader: Thanks for your well thought through recommendations. Women, do you have anything to add to this list?
Dear Neil: I have some advice to the middle-aged female who recently wrote to you saying that since gaining weight she has become invisible to men.
The real reason for her problem with men is her weight, and it is totally within her control to lose that weight. I don’t believe she has to do anything else. I am disappointed with your advice to her, because you did not address the real issue.
Pointing Out in Point Edward, Ontario, Canada
Dear Neil: His experience is similar to that of most women. Women do most of the childrearing, cleaning, shopping, cooking, laundry, car pools and driving to doctor’s appointments, just to name a few things. Many of these women work full time, and their husbands still will not help. Study after study shows that most men do not pull their share of the load.
I enjoyed seeing it happen to a man!
Pleased in Littleton, Colorado
Dear Pleased: Although I understand the frustration and sense of unfairness you expressed, it is useful to remember that unfairness to anyone—men or women—is still unfair. It was Gandhi who said that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth just leaves the whole world blind and toothless.
Any person that leaves their mate with too much of the load is creating an unfair burden for the other, and sooner or later is going to get a lot of anger and hostility back. Look for how you could be part of the solution with men in your life, and make sure you’re not inadvertently perpetuating the problem.
Wow, I’m responding to the mists of time. Nevertheless:
Yes, I have some advice for this hypothetical middle-aged woman.
First: Are you absolutely sure you’re in the market for a man? And I mean a real, what-actually-exists-out-there man, not a romance fantasy? Because my guess is you got used to thinking “I need a boyfriend” back when you were a girl, and you didn’t know how capable and interesting you were, and you didn’t know how men were likely to behave and likely to treat you.
Consider you usual middle-aged single guy who’s out looking: Scratch that surface, and he’s a humiliated, angry person. If he was married, he doesn’t really understand why the wonderful marriage he was supposed to have didn’t drop itself on his head. His colleagues have wives, but he’s the fuckup with no woman making things nice in his life. If he’s never been married, he feels daily like an inferior freak. He seriously doesn’t like this and he takes it very personally. He’s pretty sure he’s getting a raw deal and that he was owed a better life. Mostly though he’s humiliated in front of family-type head-of-household guys, which makes him pretty angry at women for giving it to that guy, who’s a jerk, and not him.
He’s lately been thinking he’s entitled to live all the sexual fantasies he’s ever had. When he goes to dinner with you, he will be imagining doing some truly fucked things to you. He saw them in porn videos. He assumes he should at least be able to bang you in the ass because, again, as far as he can make out, everyone gets to but him.
He really won’t like it if you’re actually self-sufficient. He wants that shot at shining-knighthood, and if you’re self-sufficient, then that blows that whole deal. You shouldn’t want his money, though.
He doesn’t really want you to be energetic or all that interested in things that require energy, either, because he’s tired and doesn’t want to feel like he has to start chasing around and doing a lot of stuff on a regular basis.
The odds that he will decide that you’re not living up to his standards, lookswise, are pretty tremendous, because he really is still, deep down, hoping for that 23-year-old.
He probably doesn’t manage his life nearly as well as you manage yours. You might have kids, you may have spent a decade or so raising them while working and managing community things. You really know how to run a ship, take care of money, etc. He lives like he’s 25. This fact will translate, in his mind, to your being a ballbuster and making him feel bad on purpose. He’s also lying about how well he cooks.
And…well…sometimes he’s gonna have trouble in bed, and at that point the entire session’s going to be about his penis. You will not be able to distract him from the failure of his penis. The agony will go on and on. It will not be sexy. Nor will you feel polite saying “excuse me” and wandering off to another room with a toy or two.
We haven’t yet discussed his work. You’d better hope he’s got some and that it’s going well. Not because of the money, but because he’ll be *unbearable* if his work’s going poorly or he’s unemployed. It’s all a reflection on him, and you will not be able to pull him away from staring at the image of Self as Loser.
If, after all that, you really want a man, go and god bless, and I hope you get one who’s unusual and mature and not at all like the above. But I would still suggest looking around and seeing what else you already have in your life that you adore, and…not setting your expectations too high. I’m sorry.