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.
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.