Boomer Dating: Better Off With Same Age?

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Remember when Billy Crystal told the story in the film When Harry Met Sally about knowing that his date was too young for him when he asked her where she was when Kennedy got shot and she answered, “Ted Kennedy got shot?” It’s a funny line but raises a serious issue: as baby boomers, are we better off with people our own age? Renee Fisher thinks she knows the answer.

I have an ongoing disagreement with my friend Jean. Jean is in her 60s and says that for a man to want to date her, he would have to be in his 80s. She insists that all men older than 50 (but not yet 80) want to date 30-year-olds. Her evidence is what men say they want on websites like Match.com.

Renee Fisher

Whenever Jean makes her case, I respectfully disagree. Or rather, I snort until things come out my nose. But, since things have a habit of coming out of my nose anyway, Jean doesn’t take it as a comment on her opinion.

Here’s what I think about the Match.com thing: when I see a man list any kind of age parameter for a potential partner, I put it in the same category as all the other things people write about themselves and what they want. It’s called, “I am sitting at home/in the office in front of my computer. I am having an out-of-body experience triggered by questions on the screen like this:

“Indicate Your Perfect Match: Body Type, Age, Monetary and Real Estate Holdings, Sexual Flexibility Awards, etc. The little Match.com genie who lives in your computer will grant you your every wish. All you have to do is click away. Then the emails will come pouring in.”
Why wouldn’t any sane person go for broke?

Whenever I used to see a profile of a man my age who expressed an interest in much younger women, I always contacted him. I wrote the following: “Your profile caught my eye. You look like a very special person. I’m older than your age parameters, but I wanted to write to wish you the best of luck in finding your match.” In 100% of all cases (maybe more), I got the following reply, “Wait! Hold on just a second! That age thing was just something I tossed off without thinking! It doesn’t mean anything! Let’s meet!”

A friend and I started and ran a speed dating company for several years. Here’s what I learned from the experience: older men love the idea of younger women. It’s the same as me loving the idea of a string bikini. I can certainly buy it, and I can certainly wear it. But at some level, I sort of know that that kind of swimsuit and I should have parted ways at least 10 or 20 or 25 years ago. I can look in the mirror and tell myself it’s a good fit, but if I were Snow White and the Wicked Witch lived in my mirror, she would laugh herself into a coma.

When my friend and I advertised events for people 50 and over, most men weren’t interested because they said the women were “too sedentary, too set in their ways, too whatever.” What they were really saying was that they wanted some mythical hot young chick. So we cajoled, we gave incentives, we outright lied. And we got the men to sign up.

And here is what happened: when those same men were confronted with women in their own age range, they responded. With gusto. We had more matches in the older age groups than in the younger. I got to observe all of the interactions. I saw real men being attracted to real women.

I also think my cross-section of friends is a pretty good indicator. Some of them were divorced and then remarried after age 45. In one case, a friend married a man 14 years younger than she. In all the other cases, they married men in their own age group. Now Husband Dan is less than two years younger than I. My ex-husband married a woman five years younger than he is. As far as I’m concerned, any gap of five years or less amounts to the same age.

I’m finished. I await your comments, opinions, rants, personal experiences, referrals to good therapists. I’m tough. I can take it. And beside, you don’t know where I live.

34 Comments

  1. While I do know of a couple second-marriages where the woman is the same age, or even a couple years older, than the man, the majority of second marriages I’ve seen involves the husband being many years older than his wife.

    Why is this? Simple biology: very young women are interested in, attracted to, and can still procreate with, men who are 50+. The reverse is almost never true: younger men are neither interested in, attracted to, nor can procreate with, 50+ year old women.

    Procreation is a pretty strong drive, even in men. Of course, once a man gets to be a certain age, say 60 or older, he might not be interested in procreation any longer. At that point, perhaps he prefers a woman closer to his own age, someone who shares similar memories from their youth. So it would seem your friend is correct. Although I doubt she has to resort to 80 year olds!

  2. It may be that your observations of what men post at dating sites is too ltd. Try looking at the postings from women seeking men. A recently single buddy of mine (in his 50s) often complains that too many women over age 40 are listing men 25 to 40 as their age criteria. It seems singles of both genders are looking for someone younger. Perhaps this is merely human nature? Although, because females are generally more mature than males beginning at toddler age & continuing throughout life, I do think women 8 to 10 years younger are within the same age range as men.

  3. It’s clear that we all have different experiences with this. For whatever reason, virtually all of the women I know are with age-compatible men. My friend’s experience has been different, although hers was solely through looking at the online ads. Megan has a good point about procreation being one factor, and that could certainly account for a skewed age range. But I, personally, don’t know of any men over age 50 who wanted or were even open to the idea of children, especially if they had children from their first marriage. And Michael’s point about women being more mature than men can certainly be true as well.

  4. Completely agree with mike above. When my first marriage ended childless I was in my 50s and wanted kids so my criteria for a woman was finding one that still could have kids. My current wife is 22 years younger, I’m 60 now and my son is 5. Finally I feel fulfilled, with a loving family and am the happiest I’ve ever been. This may be a new boomer male trend because when I pickup my son from school, there are several dads my age …and a couple older. So I certainly think you are dead wrong about men over 50 not wanting kids … unless, maybe, because they’d already raised a family & already been there/done that.

  5. OK, I’m putting the boxing gloves on (the soft kind). I wrote “especially if they have children from their first marriage.” The post, Mike, was written by a childless person, and most of the comments were directed at that. That’s a totally different situation. Listen, I have a close friend who just adopted a newborn at age 52. It is her first child. I know of no other friend who would ever consider doing that at that age if she already had raised children. The same applies to most men. Of course there are older men who start new families when they have grown children, but I’m just saying I don’t know any.

  6. Obviously there are people in all situations: older man with younger woman, older woman with younger man, man and woman same age, older men wanting children, older men not wanting children, older women wanting children, older women not wanting children. The discussion is about what’s typical or most common. It’s not about individuals, because there will be individual cases representing all situations. Some older men would want a younger woman for procreation if they wanted to reproduce and had not already done that. But primarily we all just want the best we can get. Jerry Seinfeld was once asked what he was looking for in a woman. He said: Pretty is nice, intelligent is nice… We all just want the best that we can get. And to many men, that amounts to youth and good looks in the opposite sex.

  7. So, Renee Fisher, let me see if I understand this correctly. Megan — a woman — basically wrote that women over 50 are procreational washed up old hags that men, still desiring to reproduce, will shun for younger women. And you responded with, “Megan has a good point about procreation.” Michael — a man — wrote that BOTH men AND women seem to be looking for mates more youthful, and added that “females are generally more mature than males.” To which you responded — “Michael’s point about women being more mature than men can certainly be true as well” — thereby addressing ONLY the part of his comment praising women for being more mature. This was followed by Mike — a man — merely pointing out the idea that men are not necessarily closed minded about having children later in life, and offered numerous online testimonials from MEN attesting to this. Ted — also a man — then agreed completely with Mike. Your response to both of them was, “OK, I’m putting the boxing gloves on” and told them they were both wrong, because YOU did not personally know men who still would like to start families after a certain age.

    Finally, Darlene — a woman — posits, “We all just want the best that we can get. And to many men, that amounts to youth and good looks in the opposite sex” which, basically, was the same point made by Michael that you ignored. Yet, your response to Darlene is, “Great answer, Darlene. That just about covers it.” WTF? There’s a rather clear pattern here. Seems to me that your responses are all coming from a rather gender biased perspective: comments from women are praised, comments from men are simply wrong. Sooo, I’m leaving this comment using a gender-neutral moniker, lest I get punched by one of those boxing gloves of yours. LMAO

    Now don’t go getting all upset. I’m just having some fun, kidding around mostly. Too much time on my hands today and thought I’d post my 2 cents.

  8. OK, here is my problem. I just started back on Match.com. The first 2 responses were 34 (the age of my younger daughter) and 46. I’m 58. And it clearly has my age on there! This is something that I’ve gone through since I started on line dating 4 years ago. I PREFER to date someone my age or close to it. Of the men that I’ve actually gone out with, only 2 were my age or older. The rest were 2 to 5 years younger. I was fine with that. First of all they LOOKED my age (or older) and we had things in common. I even tried dating one “boy” in his 40s, but I just felt uncomfortable.

    I don’t know why I keep getting these MUCH younger men contacting me. I’m not a smoking hot senior, so all I can figure is they think they are getting a sugar mama. Well, the joke is on THEM!!!

  9. Tell Jean: Do not despair! I met my husband on Match.com when I was 53 and he was 56. I had stated in my profile that I adored men who were over 6 feet tall. He wrote and told me he was just shy of this but would I correspond with him anyway…and that began the most beautiful romance of my life.

    Though married before, my hubby had never had children of his own as his former wife had surgery at an early age preventing her from pregnancies. Once I knew that I was falling hard for this fabulous guy, I thought maybe I should pull away. I told him that I thought for sure he needed to be looking for a younger woman so he could have the full family he had never had.

    He answered me that “finding his soul mate was the most important thing for him and he had found her in me.” We have been happily married now for eight years. My husband, Vincent Sylvan, is a metaphysical write and the author of “Find Your Soulmate through Astrology.” I should say that it would have been good to have added to the title – “Finding Your Soulmate on Match.com because the books covers this aspect of dating in great detail.

    He wrote it primarily for younger people looking for their true love, but I think all his principles apply regardless of your generation. It is also kind of funny to read the different kind of responses he got from mature woman on Match.com. Many have found it interesting to read this from a man’s point of view.

    I have vowed to all my single girlfriends, that yes, it was so worth the effort of dating a bunch of duds in order to find your soul mate. Don’t give up!

  10. Actually, Renee, I do see your original point. Although I was married before Match.com existed and continue to be quite happily married, I have friends in the dating game. I think your point applies to just about everything. No one wants to hang out with stagnant used up old wrecks, and that’s what you think you’ll get when you go to Fitness over 50 or the church senior picnic. Assuming those men are not interested in making babies, the only reason they put those younger ages is that that’s where they see themSELVES in terms of vitality. I just prefer to participate in activities that don’t have age restrictions (either upper or lower) such as salsa dancing, political activism, community music.

  11. To Pat: I’m laughing. First off, understand that I don’t get upset about any kind of feedback from what I write. It’s all about creating a dialogue, and I respect all opinions. If I didn’t, I’d keep my own opinions to myself. I don’t have an agenda, and I don’t favor women over men. When I said I was putting on theboxing gloves, it wasn’t to make anyone wrong. It was to reiterate that my opinion simply comes from my own experience and observation. Clearly, others have had different experinces and different observations. And I can’t address myself to every single thing people say. I try to choose what resonates or what might introduce a new way of looking at an issue. You spent a lot of time on your reply and I appreciate it. It’s worth way more than 2 cents.

  12. Michael says:
    January 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm
    It may be that your observations of what men post at dating sites is too ltd. Try looking at the postings from women seeking men. A recently single buddy of mine (in his 50s) often complains that too many women over age 40 are listing men 25 to 40 as their age criteria. It seems singles of both genders are looking for someone younger. Perhaps this is merely human nature? Although, because females are generally more mature than males beginning at toddler age & continuing throughout life, I do think women 8 to 10 years younger are within the same age range as men.

    My response to your comment: Girls mature faster than boys as children. At some point, it levels off. Women 8-10 years younger ARE NOT within the same range as men. The reason you have that opinion is because you would like to be with a woman 8-10 years younger. While that might be nice for you, for a short while, I believe the younger woman would age immediately with a man that much older than her. Absolutely. I’m of the theory that what ever age a man is, then 5 years should be added to that and that’s how old the man really is, not in actual years, but in lifestyle. It seems that while girls may mature faster than boys initially, men advance and surpass their actual chronological age and behave and act in a manner 5 years older than themselves.

    Large disparity in ages is not a good thing. And any woman who would be with man significantly older, I would look at and question as to “Why?”.

  13. Gee, what a very strange viewpoint from Dina. I could not disagree more. I am 14 years younger than my husband, we have been married for 22 years …. and I’m STILL waiting for him to grow up! lol When is this so called “leveling off” supposed to happen? We have 2 wonderful children and much of the time he feels like my third child – and I only mean that in the kindest and joking way. But truly, I feel absolutely no age difference between us and never have. In so many ways my husband is still like a teenager. And most of his buddies are just like him … just boys with graying hair.

  14. Hi Laura, I just don’t believe in large age differences. I think situations where the woman is much younger than the guy, benefits the man, but not the woman. Men tend to age faster and let themselves go, they become older in lifestyle than their chronological age and I think they become a drain on the wife in many ways.

  15. You must know some very strange men … or you’re living in an old folks home. lol I see it as almost the opposite. For years I’ve been noticing – with real envy – how much easier it is for men to stay in great physical condition than it is for us women. With minimal effort, my husband runs a few miles, or bikes, does a few sit-ups and his body can favorably compare to any 30 yr old. I, on the other hand, starve myself & slave for hours at the gym just to keep up. It’s just not fair!

    As for lifestyle … my husband & our male friends (ages 50s to 60s)surf while all us wives sit on the beach & merely watch them. No way can we keep up with them, even if we wanted to … which we just don’t. We both are really active in sports, but I’m 14 yrs younger and my husband is a faster runner, swimmer, biker, and his tennis serve is nearly impossible to return. If anything … I’m the “drain” as you put it, if one looks at it purely in terms of physical agility.

    Sooo … I just don’t get where you’re coming from at all … but that’s what makes the world interesting I suppose.

  16. These are my observations, I’ve seen it. Aging, lethargic looking men with wives that look so much better. What you’ve described exists, it’s just a smaller portion of relationships.

  17. And just to add, I also hear it from the wives married to these men. And the age difference between them is usually just around a 6 year difference. Not much is it?

  18. Good golly, where do you live to make such observations? Wherever it is, I’m glad I’m not there. Sorry Dina. Again, just the opposite in my world. Any day spent at the beach will easily reveal that, sure, there are plenty of overweight, balding men wearing skimpy Speedos and looking just awful. But almost never are those sorts of men with good looking women — their wives usually reflect the same lack of health habits as their slothful husbands. It pains me to admit, it’s far more often the case that a great looking man will be accompanied by an overweight woman. The reason is simple, men can stay in shape so much easier than women … and without the things we women endure, like pregnancy & childbirth, that take such a toll on our bodies over the years. It’s a grim reminder that I must continue to work hard to look and feel my best … and to continue looking as youthful as my husband.

  19. I could not care less if there is a big gap in age between spouses or not. Happiness and love are all that matters. In reading the comments of these two women, it seems pretty clear – to me, at least – as to who is happy & who is not. Laura: happy. dina: not so much. Hats off to Laura for sticking up for her husband and men in general. A big BOO to dina and to the so-called friends she mentioned who seem to enjoy dissing their husbands. BOOOOO!

    Quite the mean spirited comments left by dina, that men age worse than women, that “men advance and surpass their actual chronological age and behave and act in a manner 5 years older than themselves” and are a “drain” on their wives – mean spirited comments with absolutely no merit whatsoever. People all age differently, of course, and men as a group certainly do not age any worse than women. Btw, my wife is 7 years younger than I, and that feels perfect!

  20. Dear George,

    These women weren’t dissing their husbands, they were just being honest about their experiences and the push/pull that goes on in their relationship because of the husband being stuck in his ways and in his mindset. Dealing with that regularly is “draining”.

    Now George, be honest, do middle age men really take care of themselves as a whole? How many of your friends are carrying around a beer belly or a Michelin tire around their waste line? Very good looking men at an older age are RARE and I’ve only seen a few. Women take much better care of themselves. Not all women, but many.

  21. dina is totally out to lunch. Me thinks this dina person has a real problem with men. As human beings there is no reason a man would age any less gracefully than a woman. If anything, women might be perceived as aging worse, if only because we put such a premium on youth & beauty for women so much more so than for men – so when that fades it is much more of a loss for women than for men.

    I completely concur with George! dina, get a life.

    1. Frank,
      The tone of your comment is borderline. Civil and respectful comments are welcome but yours is margin, at best. You can make your point and be polite about it.
      David, BoomerCafe

  22. Well you see Frank Lee, this is where you prove my point. A man takes less interest in his own appearance then a woman does. That’s what I said from the very beginning.

  23. We just had our 40 year high school reunion. Several of the ladies looked really great, but all us girls were marveling at how amazing so many of the guys looked. Many of them looked better now than the geeky boys they were in HS. A few shiny heads among them that used to have wonderful hair, but they still looked dashing for the most part. My own hubby is ten yrs older and did not know a soul but held his own among the younger guys and fit in great. Lots of comments buzzed around between all of us about how unfair it seemed that men don’t experience the hormonal changes, weight gain and ravages of time that we women do.

  24. saw on TV this morning a panel of 2 women (including Dr. Nancy Snyderman) and 1 man. They all seemed to agree with several of the comments expressed here that there is a double standard, that men are able to make babies & remain attractive longer than for women. Men, they all agreed, can be 35 pounds overweight & still appear attractive to women; while the reverse is not generally true. They all agreed that men generally prefer younger women for a variety of reasons. Dr. Nancy repeated several times that it’s “unfair, but it is nature … because men can make babies into their 70s and women cannot.” So, we women need to get over it. We all know it’s true. Who cares? We get the last laugh, so to speak, because we outlive men.

  25. i think if a woman finds a man who is 35 pounds overweight attractive, then she is being really generous/lenient with her opinion. the man probably has some other positive attributes like a good education or intelligence or career, something that she finds appealing so that she’s willing to overlook the weight gain. there has to be something in it for her that she’s willing to look past the physical. all things being equal, put two men together who are 35 pounds overweight, if they have no positive attributes that the woman finds appealing, i guarantee she would find them both unattractive. no woman finds giant ham hands or an impressive beer gut attractive unless the man is offering her something that will better her situation. for some women, even stability is enough for her to accept a man who is physically less than appealing. women are just as visual as men.

  26. So many interesting comments.Perhaps this will clear things up. According to Dr. Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, “What men want in a woman and what women want in a man drives the way both sexes view themselves. Women are more likely to find status and resources more attractive than physical looks in a mate, while men look for youth and beauty in a mate.” So actually, dina is not correct … women are not as visual as men. And comments from others saying they are happily married to older men – and men who are happily married to younger women – are closer to the norm, since men are often older when they achieve status and resources.

    Dr. Twenge further says that although a bald spot or paunch may annoy a man, it does not necessarily define who he is. On the other hand, youth and beauty do tend to define to a far greater extent how a woman sees herself. So, in a sense, Frank Lee (above) was correct. As for the comment that suggests women get the last laugh because we outlive the men … this may be true, although, if my husband passes away first, I’m certain I will not be laughing.

  27. Cafe’s comment is pretty harsh against Frank Lee. All he did was state the obvious truth and even couched it rather politely. Frank’s comment does not seem at all rude to me, but this isn’t my site. I wonder if cafe would have considered it rude if a woman wrote the same thing?

  28. You’ve sparked quite the debate here Renee! Fantastic post. I think it is definitely important for baby boomers who are bouncing back into the dating game, that they find people with similar experiences and state-of-mind to make a genuine connection. But that all starts with you having to know who you are as a person. Then, and only then, can you truly hope to have a genuine connection with another person to share your life with.

  29. Synthesizing the tone of all your comments – lets just cut to the chase. To boil it down about what everyone is fighting about , but we all know is true, in this enlightened and cynical, selfish age:
    It’s all about the basics. Love or any such nonsense seems to count for little.
    For women, if you don’t look great, especially over 35, you are toast.
    For guys, if you over 50 and are not possessing a fat wallet, forget about those young hotties, you might ridiculously fantasize about – better look for a nice, attractive women of your own age with assets. She might actually love you, share common reference points with you, and lovingly change your diapers without complaint when you are old and incontinent.
    We all take the best we can get at any given point of life.
    Actually women get this better than men. And no matter what men say, where I live, in Southern California , fifty something men, do not hold a candle to women their own age.( I guess porn has made every old guy think he can have a 20 year old with hair extensions – go figure !)
    How much better to be really happy and enthusiatic with what you have and what you can have, and make the best of it. What a novel concept- kind of like our grandparents who, WTF, might have had the right idea. WHO KNEW!!!!!!!

  30. Ok, I just read through most of the posts. Someone hit a nerve. But, I appreciate Renee’s positive, joyful approach to relationships and dating for Boomers.

    Sadly, limited perspectives and experiences can form an erroneous opinion of the world of dating. But, I do think attitude and personality play a big part.

    I am shy, so dating has always been difficult for me. But, I have a friend who “loves” men. She seems to have no problem finding nice men to date. Many of her dates remain friends as she dates others seeking a committed relationship.

    While I had thought I would remarry, I have focused my energies elsewhere. I find singlehood very fulfilling.

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