On banging your head against reality

In one of your past pieces of advice, you say that men in their 3os, 40s, 5os and beyond are generally only interested in women 10-20 years younger than them. You have said that as women, we should just accept that that is the way things are rather than letting it bother us, and that we need to either accept the fact that we’ll be dating older men or “lower our standards.” This sounds so entirely fucked to me. Maybe you and I just have different ideas of what a low-standard dude looks like. To me, the kind of dude who is exclusively interested in much younger women is the kind of dude I’d have to lower my standards to date, regardless of his money or status. Any dude who genuinely views women as equals would not balk at the idea of dating an age-appropriate woman. I’m having a hard time understanding why you think privilege-soaked dirty old manbabies are who we should be settling for, because “that’s just how men are.” That strikes me as no different from accepting that a dude shouldn’t do his own laundry or change a diaper because “that’s just how men are.” Fuck that.  There are definitely plenty of dudes out there dating age-appropriate women. Maybe not in the elite SoCal circles you frequent, but in the rest of America, it is happening. When you reference “standards” do you actually mean “status?” Because sure, most high-status dudes might gravitate toward barely legal arm candy, but that doesn’t make them quality men.

When I say standards, I mean standards. When I say status, I mean status, and the reason you’re having such a hard time understanding what I think is because you’re the type who insists on bringing your own box of wine to the party.

You’ve misinterpreted (and embellished) quite a lot of what I was saying. It’s not deliberate or anything. You’re just too busy banging your head against reality to effectively hear my point.

The truth of men dating younger women has nothing to do with whether men view women as equals. It has to do with the dating options available to them, and I’m sorry if it frustrates you, but the more attractive and successful a man is, the greater his options, and the more likely he is to date younger and more attractive women. Is this good and right? That’s an ethical question, and completely irrelevant to the fact that things are the way they are.

I get that you’re angry with the kind of world we live in, but hurling denial against double standards won’t make them go away.




23 thoughts on “On banging your head against reality

  1. wwaxwork. says:

    Not sure what to make of either the question or the response as I’m an older woman married to a man 16 years younger than me. We’ve been together 10 years (and were friends for 5 years before that) and I’m not even slightly good looking, have very little status & am not rich. I guess I made my own reality.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Your response to the original letter left out a big issue, that is reproducing. Assuming a 40-something man wants children, why would her pursue a woman in his age group who’s in a hurry to get pregnant, when he could date a woman in her early 30’s and enjoy a few more childless years?

    IMO late 20’s/early 30’s are the sweet spot for dating somebody your own age. Before that, differences in maturity are a hindrance, and after that, timeline conflicts become an issue.

    And yikes at the over-embellishment. Did she even read the original letter, or just skim to find the parts that made her angry?

    • Jonathan says:

      Rather than enjoying a few more childless years, there’s also insurance against misadventure. If you want kids and marry a woman who’s thirty-five or older, you’re not only in a hurry to have kids, you’re looking at very stressful time constraints if things go wrong. Maybe it takes a year to get pregnant. And maybe that first kid is miscarried (happens way more than you think). Now you’re looking at your wife being thirty-seven, and a much riskier pregnancy. If something goes wrong the second time you’ve probably missed the window. And what if you wanted two?

      Starting when you’re in your late twenties / early thirties buys you time if something goes wrong.

      • GE says:

        Hey, would the two of you believe that some people enter into relationships and DON’T think of women as baby-incubators? Crazy world we live in.

        There’s also the scientific fact that the number two fertility issue around conception is the age of the sperm, right after the age of the egg. And yet most men in their 40s think they’re just as virile as men in their 20s.

        • Jonathan says:

          I never said otherwise GE. But if a man wants kids and is dating into his thirties, he’s going to be looking at age. I ended up on the dating market at 33, and when I filled out my profile, I listed 28 to 33 as my “looking” age. And the reason that I listed it that way is that I wanted a family and was afraid of running out of time. I’m a pretty average sort of fellow, and my experience is probably pretty common. Casual observation would seem to indicate so, anyhow.

          • GE says:

            If you’re 33 and looking to date women 28-33, you’re not really the sort of guy being referenced in the original letter. You should read the link. That woman was a 43 year old divorcee who was having trouble finding good looking, intelligent, reasonably successful men her own age (I’m guessing 10-15 years older than you).

            Coquette advised her that a lot of those men are going to seek women much younger than themselves, especially men around age 45 who live in Los Angeles. Which is true, men are socially conditioned to think women in their early 20s are the most attractive and we are all socially conditioned to accept and even pressure younger women into dating older men.

            That said, children fathered by men over 35 will have a greater risk of chromosomal abnormalities, ADHD, and a host of other issues from being conceived with older gametes. It’s not fair that we live in a society that says you’re irresponsible if you have kids when you’re most biologically ready to, but those are the breaks. Men have far less of that pressure than women do, and most of it comes from the culture.

            I concede that the age of the egg in question is more relevant to fertility than the age of the sperm, but they are both important factors.

  3. AJ says:

    As an older guy (widowed, 62) I find that most of the women I meet that are my age are either so straight there is nothing at all in common or they want to get married immediately. I was married for 35 years and it was great.
    Will I get married again? Maybe, but I have seen so many of my peers divorced or in unhappy marriages that I really don’t want to jump into anything. I realize how lucky I was to have enjoyed many years with such a good woman and I don’t want to not have that again.
    Will I commit? With the right woman, sure. That’s exactly what I want.
    Younger woman tend to not be in such a rush to get hitched and generally I just get along with them better. But there are drawbacks due to peer pressure (both theirs and mine) and differences in life experience. I can only play Daddy so long before I scream.
    But if I meet someone my age and it clicks that would be great, and I would actually prefer it. But I am not discriminating on basis of age or looks, just compatibility.
    So there’s my 2 cents.

  4. GE says:

    I did leave a comment when this posted on Nerve. (I did not submit the OP, if that isn’t obvious.) My view hasn’t changed since then, which is that I’m not interested in a guy who dates younger. I’m in my late 20s now, but in my early 20s, I figured that if I dated significantly older men, I’d eventually age out of their group of interest. I would say a lot of the creepy guys on the periphery of my social life kind of filtered out when I turned 25.

    I think youth IS itself a status for women (as is wealth, intelligence, skin color, physical attractiveness, and thinness). It’s not fair and it’s not earned but there it is. It’s worth noticing, and it’s worth bringing awareness to, but if you honestly ask yourself if you’d be this angry if you were in a relationship and the answer is no, then what are you really angry about?

    While I don’t agree with submitting it as a question, I also kind of see why they brought it to Coquette personally, too. I wish the comments section was busier. I like reading the comments section of a popular advice columnist.

  5. Q.T. Getomov says:

    I really hate this. I hate the whole “Older men are dirty dogs, only being interested in younger women…” but guess what? Many younger women are attracted to older men, and that’s just fine. So why demonize the men who choose to date the women who are attracted to them? Are we going to write rules and age restrictions because it’s not seemly for a man of 45 to marry a 19 year old (Bogart and Bacall, I’m looking at you)?
    Older men probably already have a family from a previous relationship, a career, responsibility, maturity of attitude and behaviour. Why wouldn’t a younger woman want to date that instead of some-one her own age who probably still finds it more fun to get blitzed with his buddies watching a game than someone who has learned from a few decades of experience what’s actually important in a relationship?

    • b l e a k says:

      “Why wouldn’t a younger woman want to date that instead of some-one her own age who probably still finds it more fun to get blitzed with his buddies watching a game than someone who has learned from a few decades of experience what’s actually important in a relationship?”

      Because they die when you’re 45 (or, in Bacall’s case, 33), and you’re left alone to raise children, manage your career, *and* be undesired by men because men prefer younger women.

    • MaryAnn says:

      I`ll take someone who gets blitzed every day before I take some middle-aged woman`s man and leave her alone with the kids just to prove to myself that I`m hotter. And don`t kid yourself, maturity and age don`t always go hand in hand.

    • No says:

      Why WOULD a younger woman want to date a guy with a family from a previous relationship? What world do you live in? This is the age of Tinder, not fucking Bogart and Bacall.

  6. werewolfmary says:

    Yeah, this one sat badly with me. I couldn’t say why at first though. I though maybe I was personalizing it as I am mid-forties, divorced and, until recently, single.

    I related to the OP’s lament and found Coquette’s original response depressingly accurate. You can choose to date silver foxes or golden pups, but if you want “attractive, successful and fit” in your age bracket, dudes don’t seem to be interested.

    But I also related to the response above. I mean, why would I want to date anyone with criteria “attractive, successful and fit”? And I think that’s cleared up the issue.

    Once I replaced “attractive, successful and fit” with “fun, like-minded and a good person” I found there were many, many people to date. There are so many nice people to meet and get to know.

    Seriously, if you are in your mid-forties and divorced, you’be been to the show. Once I adjusted what I thought I should value to what I do value, the dating pool opened right up.

    That said, if you truly want “attractive, successful and fit” then I think Coquette’s response is bang on.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I’m surprised to see Coquette buying into this crap. I’m 45 and my last several partners since I divorced at 39 have been somewhere between my age and 11 years younger. None have involved ‘lowering my standards’ (ew!) – all have been people I found hot and interesting and all were using their lives in cool and worthwhile ways. My current serious long-term boyfriend is 44. I’ve had zero trouble finding people to date. I’m fit and successful and do fun things. That’s all it takes I think. There’s some oppressive myth-making shit going on here.

    • Coquette says:

      I’m not myth-making. You’re just being a special snowflake who thinks her own personal anecdote is enough evidence to contradict the basic fact that men generally tend to prefer dating younger, more attractive women.

      (Kudos to you for all your age-appropriate boyfriends, but let’s neither of us pretend that you’ve never felt threatened by another woman you thought was younger or better looking.)

      • Rebecca says:

        Hmm, you can’t consistently claim that I think I am a special snowflake and that I think my own experience generalizes. It can be at most one of those.

        I don’t think I am special or fully generalizable – I just think the world isn’t as uniform as you are making it out to be.

        • Rebecca says:

          Also I didn’t understand the relevance of your claim about being threatened by younger women. Surely I’ve felt threatened by the full demographic range of humans at some point or other, yes.

  8. Lena says:

    This always bothers me. Just because this is the way it is, we have to accept it? I struggle with this because my skin color means that I am in this “less status” boat and answers like this seem to validate that it’s okay for people to be like this. Why can’t we say this is wrong? That the fact this archetype is on a pedestal and it’s just okay?

    • idk says:

      I don’t think we need to accept it. I think rejecting hegemonic beauty standards is a worthwhile endeavor. I also think it starts with a personal rejection, though. That is to say, if you have shallow standards of what you find attractive, getting angry when the people you find attractive have shallow standards of their own is hypocritical.

      The original letter was about a woman who was asking, more or less, why the men ‘on her level’ were not dating women her age, but seeking much younger women. Coquette answers, basically, because they can. No, it’s not fair, but maybe it was worth reexamining the sort of man she’s looking for and why she’s looking for someone with those attributes.

      As a matter of principle, of course I find it dismaying and disgusting that some men think women reach their peak attractiveness in their early 20s even when they themselves are over 50. (It’s kind of disturbing to me for some reason that a father and son might find women of the same age the ideal, but that’s a personal and visceral negative reaction I have.) But if I were hitting the dating market, these are the parameters within which we live.

      In your case, since you mention race, yes beauty standards are absolutely racist. I’ve had people tell me my facial features are ‘off-putting’ because they look ethnic and I’m fairly light skinned. I imagine if I had darker skin the comments would be several-fold worse and more frequent. But I would never get a nose job and eyelid surgery just to look more European because I don’t WANT to look more European. Which brings me to another point: not everyone even wants to be the culturally ideal beauty. The fact that some of the men I’ve dated want ed me to look different is their issue, not mine.

  9. No says:

    Guys are at their most attractive in their early to mid twenties as well. Why are we fighting over fifty year old dudes? We can pay our own bills now, remember.

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