Dating data a dose of reality

Laws of the Jungle: Dating for Women Over 40
by Gloria MacDonald and Thelma Beam

I found this to be one of the most interesting books on midlife dating I’ve read in a long while. It is co-written by a matchmaker specializing in people over 40 (Gloria MacDonald), and a couples therapist (Thelma Beam). They blend data with examples from their practices to make an interesting book with many points I’d not read before. The book is not filled with silly games or “rules,” instead it is filled with facts based on the population of Canada and the US, as well as science. “What could be so interesting about facts in a dating book?” you ask.

Good question. The facts help the reader have a more grounded idea of what to expect in midlife dating, rather than a fantasy. And since many of us haven’t dated for decades, it helps shower us in the icy water of reality.

ice“How could that possibly be helpful?” you may wonder. “Icy water is cold and bracing.” You’d be right. But without the sobering facts, many women have pie-in-the-sky expectations. For example, the authors look at the data of how many single men and women there are in the US and Canada, minus a “kook” factor. They figured at age 45 there were 12 single women for every 10 single men. At age 55, there are 15 single women for every 10 men in this age group, and by 65 there are 10 men for 25 women. Of course, not every single person is looking for love, and some single people are in a committed relationship. But the numbers are awakening.

Midlife women often say, “I’m not making the first move,” or “He has to work hard to win me,” or “I’m not returning his call. I don’t call men.” While this mind set may have worked when they were in their 20’s when there were more men than women, and the woman was in her prime, now in her 40’s, 50’s or 60’s few men will work as hard as they did then. They just don’t have to, as there are more women to choose from. Not that a woman should be easy, but she shouldn’t insist he jump through so many hoops he’ll be pooped.

Midlife women also seem to be picky, their requirements often based on their ex or departed husband, without really a sense that they aren’t in their 20’s anymore. The majority of women say they want someone over 6-feet tall. Did you know that only 14% of men are 6-feet tall? Only 9% are 6’1″? Women of all heights say they want — in fact many say they require — a man who is at least 6-feet tall, even if she is under 5’10”.

And many midlife women also insist that a man have all his hair. But 45% of men aged 40-49 have some hair loss; 55% of men 50-49; and 65% of men 60-69. Asking for all his hair is like a man insisting that a women has no gray in her hair, or doesn’t dye her hair. It cuts down the options dramatically.

We know that both genders commonly list “slim, slender, fit” as their preferences for a partner. However, the data shows that 75% of people aged 45-74 are overweight. So if you insist on this, you’re eliminating three-quarters of the population.

And lastly, women often say they want a successful man, stating they want someone who makes over $100,000/year. Even if their ex or late husband didn’t, or if she makes one-third of that. In the 45-64 age group, only 9-10% of men make six figures.

You may be saying, “But men are picky, too!” And you’d be right again. However, the data and our experience show that men date and marry women 5-30 years younger, so they have a much bigger pool to choose from. Of course, women are dating younger as well, but it is still most common for a woman to date someone nearer her own age or older. Which means the more insistent you are on certain external characteristics, the smaller the pool to choose from.

Does this mean you should settle? No, it means you should be clear on the character of the man you want and how he will treat you, and less hung up on characteristics, like hair, that are bound to change in a few years.

The book covers some “how to’s” as well as the data, but that is not as interesting (at least to me). I will review the section on sex in another posting as I found their findings useful.

Table of Contents
The Laws Of The Jungle
Relationship Data
The Picky List
Six Categories Of Women
What Men Want
Sabotage Of Love
Where To Find Men
The Big Date And Beyond
How Men Hunt Today
The Big Question – Sex
How Do You Know if You’ve Found Mr. Right?

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6 responses to “Dating data a dose of reality”

  1. Rod Avatar

    As a tall, slim midlife male with hair left, I slowly came to realize that ‘normal guys’ are a wanted commodity – and then to realize that being solvent, employed and addiction free used to just make me average, but now it makes me extraordinary, well, its nice to finally have rockstar status for just being ‘normal’ – especially after watching all those ‘bad boys’ go down in flames. Women seem to want the bad boys when they’re younger, but somehow middle age bankruptcy and rehab doesnt seem so sexy.

  2. greendaze44 Avatar

    You are so right Rod. Sticking to what you know what is right, pays off!

  3. sdl Avatar


    Thank goodness there are ANY of you left out there!
    If feels sometimes like every nice normal guy is now happily married, and all that’s left are the cast-offs and users.

    My best friend stumbled over one of your group ~5 years ago after 20 years of dating nothing but the worst types-

    I was tempted to knock her in the head, forge her signature on the marriage license, and prop her up for the ceremony when she wavered about continuing to see a man who was in love with her, loyal, stable, tolerant of her behaviour, no substance issues…
    because it wasn’t very exciting and he wasn’t experienced in bed!

    Well, OK his family was Jerry Springer-worthy, but after a few years of hard work the bad ones are just occaisional background noise- and the price paid early on was SOOO much less than the trauma every other breakup caused in the past a few times a year!

    And it seems the gentleman was more than willing to learn about intimate things, especially once he figured out it made for an enthusiastic partner 🙂

    So now my hopelessly single and messed up best friend that only found losers and users to date, who was told she would be unlikely to ever conceive… is happily married to a nice hard-working and loving man who is moderately successful and happy in his field, has two birth-children and an adopted niece to drive her mad and supply any excitement she thought was missing, two cats and a dog, and owns a house that really DOES have a white picket fence and a big backyard.

    I couldn’t be happier for her 🙂

    And now that I am single again, visiting them is the best treatment for dispair and cyncism.


  4. Alison Avatar

    I have been doing my own experiential research (and commenting) See my blog and links- and have been working on a STATS article.

    I am 53 and so have been ‘mid-age’ for awhile though few often believe it.

    Much of this research supports my observations, experience, and guesses.

    Thanks for the links and references.

    I think the REASONS- behind the preference can be explored more- and I have some interesting theories I hope to soon expound on.

    Furthermore, We must think of what to DO about the sobering stats???

    I also have some thoughts and provocative ideas.

    But the first commentator is right- He is extraordinary in terms of certain qualities- but the deeper personality and attidudinal aspects of a man will count for more than hair or height with a mature (not just age wise) woman.

    Men also need to get ‘REAL’ and wake up. and Women beware- What they will seek in order to have sex, may be very different than what they will actually stick with or find themselves fascinated by.

    Also be mindful- for many men it still is not COOL to say they really want a ‘soulmate’ , kind, loving (and sexy) woman- but many do!


  5. nysharon Avatar

    I am dating more now than I did in my 20’s. I think the dating pool is bigger now. I can date younger and do. Rod is right. I was average in my 20’s and now I am considered hot. I am an independent, more improved/took good care of myself woman, and am at the top of the pile now. Plus I am not looking for someone to take care of me and marry me. I just want some one to do things with and who makes my heart leap when he walks into a room.

  6. Susan Avatar

    I have to agree with nysharon: I never dreamed there were so many men who wanted to date me! I seldom have time to answer all the flirts and emails: some are from guys in the their 20s and 30s. I could serial date a different guy every night if I wanted to – or had the energy.

    At 47, I’m a lot more confident than I was in my 20s. I guess I am a late bloomer!