Where are the men like us?

My 55-year-old successful gal pal was recounting her 5-year dating experience. She bemoaned her encounters with men who were not comparable economically or emotionally. It is a common lament for successful midlife women. The wail is, “Where are the men like us?”

We shared our various successes and frustrations with finding available men organically and online dating. We agreed it was pretty easy to get a date with someone online.

The challenge is to get a date with someone with whom we want a second date and who feels the same. Most often, neither of you wants a second date. Sometimes you wouldn’t mind seeing him again, but he doesn’t feel the same. Or he’d like to see you again, but you’re clear there’s no appeal for you.

My friend said she’d begun to explore It’s Just Lunch and Dinner for Six, but wasn’t willing to pay $5000 for 10 dates — $500/date seemed extreme. When she queried the sales rep for one of these on how many over-50 men were enrolled in her area, the rep wouldn’t say. She was told there were 200 local men members, and she did the math. If 100 of them were over 50, how many of them might be a reasonable match? She decided she wasn’t willing to pay such a large fee for the miniscule chance one of these 100 men would be compatible with her.

She’s tried hanging out in upscale bars and had men approach her. But none resulted in a date.

Dating her clients isn’t a possibility. She can try to date friends of friends and find possible dates through chance encounters doing errands or hobbies. She was considering attending over-50 singles events, but she’s shy so would feel more comfortable doing this with a pal. She’ll also try taking classes that may draw men at her level, and attending some more professional events.

I’m told educated, accomplished women of all ages face this situation. If a man is as well educated or accomplished as she is, he has other deal breakers. Are we pickier than other women? Perhaps. We don’t want to settle for someone who doesn’t meet basic standards. Yes, there are plenty of good men who may not make as much money as an accomplished woman, or who may not be as educated. For some women, that’s not a problem. But for some, it is.

How have you met available men of equal station in life as you? How have you dealt with a wide disparity between your accomplishments and men you’ve dated? If it hasn’t been a problem, how did you make peace with the differences?


16 responses to “Where are the men like us?”

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  2. Karen Avatar

    Oh, my pet peeve! I do believe the answer is: those type of guys are much rarer than those type of women, and those who do exist are all married.

    I’m 48, divorced, have a couple of kids, own my own home. I’m healthy and social, with a wide range of friends and interests. I take care of myself–I watch what I eat, I’m thin, I dress nicely and get my hair highlighted, I wear makeup, etc. Most people say I’m pretty attractive. I’m educated (PhD), I work at a top-level job in my field with a good salary, my finances are in order.

    I’ve been doing the midlife dating thing since I got divorced 4 years ago–online dating and “It’s just lunch” plus another executive-type dating service.

    First: IJL and similar services: save your money! They sent me on a lot of dates, but *all* the men were disasters in the social department! Yes, some were good looking and most had jobs, but none of these guys could make it through a meal without being painfully stilted and boring or (more commonly) saying much that was extremely offensive (about women and minorities, sometimes also democrats etc etc. What kind of a idiot thinks that ranting about politics is suitable conversation on a first date?!?). IJL and the other service also pressed me to “open up my range” and agree to date men who were *up to 15 years* older than myself and most of the guys they set me up with were in fact that old (sorry, that’s too old for me). Almost all the men I saw from these services were interested in 2nd dates with me, but I totally wasn’t. Sometimes I had a decent time at dinner (I can put anyone at ease, find a mutual topic to chat about, and I enjoy talking with all kinds of people), but I just wasn’t interested in seeing the man again (no spark, no true meeting of the minds). I think these services basically get the socially inept and un-date-ables, so unless you like that type, save your $.

    Online dating was better–at least I got to choose! There are a lot of liars and jerks out there, and almost everyone lied about their education, but at least it was easy to find that out by just emailing with them for a bit (spelling counts, guys!). On the other hand, I did meet a great guy online and we dated for a year–he was a professor at another university in a different field than mine, recently divorced and like me just “trying” online dating. So you just have to look around. One thing I found–the “nice” guys were afraid to be aggressive online, especially towards a woman whose picture looks nice. So you might have to make the first move.

    I’ve had better luck dating 2 men I’ve run into at work–who work in other departments from me. At least you can check chemistry and get to know them in an informal setting before “dating”. The first guy is now a good friend (dating “didn’t work out” for us), and the 2nd guy (I think) is a keeper!!!! We’ve been dating for 7 months now….

  3. Dating Avatar

    There is an idea that in your 40s and 50s, you know exactly what you want, dating wise. This is a double edged sword, as although you waste less time, you can also tend to dismiss potential partners. Give guys a bit more of a chance, don’t compromise but be flexible, there is a difference

  4. S Avatar

    My boyfriend just started an engineering job at a company that’s gotta be at least 80-90% men. Out of simple curiosity, I asked if there were any women who worked there and he said he only saw a couple, of which one was the receptionist. Most of the guys working there are shy, single men, with jobs I would consider to be “good” if demanding – they are men of all different ages. My boyfriend seemed to think they were nice guys, some more awkward than others ;-).

    I wonder how many of them are struggling in the dating arena, not sure what to talk about with women, not sure where to meet new, educated women (if not in the workplace).

    Anyway, my guess is some of the men are hiding in these types of jobs, some too shy to try the on-line dating arena 😉

  5. Nicole Avatar

    Sad to say but it’s a fact that a lot of men our age are looking for much younger women, who still fall for the “mature older man” routine. Which in my experience means they’re easier to fake out than women their own age with whom you’re actually expected to BE a mature man. Because I find that they get worse, not better as they age.

    An example: I went out with a 44-year-old guy last week who I met on an online dating service. My profile *specifically* states that I am looking for a “mature man and a gentleman.” Said individual must have just looked at the picture because he carried on like a horny kid all evening. Guys, sexual innuendoes in every other breath does *not* score you points, except with maybe the kids. And another first-date pointer: Don’t touch my ass. He called again later in the week, but I haven’t returned his call.

    I *do* think middle-aged women are too quick to dismiss younger men. “Whatever will we talk about?” they ask. (Funny, old guys chasing young tail never ask that 😉 The fact is, a lot of younger men are still engaging and challenging conversationalists. I have a male friend 14 years my junior who I can spend hours on the phone with (he’s looking for children, so he will remain a friend.) Younger men have fewer problems than middle-aged men, who are less inclined to deal with the baggage they accumulate over the years.

    Women at least talk to other women, ask what’s wrong with themselves, or what they’re doing wrong, seek therapy, get drugs to deal with depression, and read self-help books. Men tend to blame women more and deny there’s anything wrong with them or their approach and, like a used car in the hands of an irresponsible owner, just get worse and worse until they’re useless. Sad to say, but a lot of my male single friends my age are utterly ruined – and it is entirely *their* fault.

    I am open to men in my age group (I’m 46, educated, have a good job & am still pretty decent-looking for my age) but I focus more on younger men who I think just overall have a lot fewer problems. Ladies, what’s good enough for Donald Trump, Prime Minister Berlusconi, Cher, Demi Moore, and Susan Sarandon is good enough for us! 😉

  6. Anna Avatar

    I do believe we educated, mid life, successful women are probably a bit pickier. Its not so much being fussier but that we have advanced ourselves, specialized ourselves to the point where the man-pool for us has shrunk. Feminism has not done us any great favors when we have advanced ourselves to the point where frankly, we are not attracted to less educated, less successful men and they are definitely not attracted to us !! So the pool is smaller and so the search more difficult.

  7. Mark Avatar

    Men tend to date down, and women tend to date up. If you’re a woman and already “up there” you will indeed find your dating pool is shallower. I think women need to readjust their thinking and be willing to date down. And men need to be willing to date a woman who is more successful in some ways then them.

    Of course, financial success is just one measure. Some people with very modest incomes have learned to be content and happy, and some people making six figures are miserable jerks who complain and complain.

  8. Karen Avatar

    Anna: I totally disagree with your statement that feminism hasn’t done us any favors! Although do I agree that educated women tend to be pickier.

    Because it’s like you’re saying that when we go to the store to buy an appliance or a car, we’d end up with a better car if we never read (or even heard of) Consumer Reports or looked at the MPG ratings or anything like that.

    I’m educated and I have traveled the world, I have a career that I really like (and that pays) in a male-dominated field, I have my own credit cards and I own my own home (at least, I’m buying it from the bank). None of these things would have possible in the 1950’s–back then, you could be turned down for college or a job just because you were a woman, and women weren’t allowed to have credit cards or own property unless it was co-signed by a man. It was just like Saudi Arabia is today.

    I’m thankful to feminism for giving me equal rights with men in the public sphere. And yes, I’m thankful to feminism for giving me the education and resources to be able to turn down a marriage proposal unless it’s from someone I really like–I don’t “have” to be married in order to live and function in society.

    So yeah, I’m “picky”! And I’m old (48)–ie without the ticking biological clock, so I can take my time choosing if I want to. I want a man who makes my soul sing, not just someone who brings home the bacon. I want a man who I can really talk to, not just a steady provider who grunts now and then. And I really can totally do without the kind of man who expects to be able to act like a totalitarian dictator in his own home because “he’s the man”–I’ve been there, done that, and never again.

    Also, my new (& admittedly more trivial) criteria is a man who is not a slob like my ex-husband or some of my recent boyfriends–sorry guys, I’ve decided that I like my house neat and tidy and I’m never again going to live with someone who trashes my space so I have to work night and day to clean it up. If you’d be a bad roommate for anyone, don’t expect to ever live with me.

  9. CP Avatar

    I am dating a much younger man now and I know there is no future for us, but I don’t care. I do not see myself ever getting married again, so I’m content with enjoying the relationship with no idea of when or how it will end.

    I wouldn’t marry him, that’s for sure, if marriage was a consideration. As DG says above, we are not of equal station in life. In addition to the 10 year age difference, he is immature, does not have a college degree, makes less $ than I do, and is financially irresponsible. His rural lifestyle is much different than mine and while it’s fun to get out of the city and escape it sometimes, his lifestyle is not one that would suit me.

    I don’t like to think of myself as overly picky, but his atrocious spelling does bother me. I guess because it points to something bigger, like his lack of an advanced education.

  10. Anna Avatar

    Karen, if what you are saying is true, how come many single unattached women today are successful career, educated women??
    Sorry, but as the daughter of a die-hard 1960’s feminist who led the equality charge in a developing country, I am here to say that we women got screwed. I am also educated, career minded, successful and financially (comfortably) raising two children. I have been fortunate to have lived in the Middle East and observed women’s lives there. I also observed first hand my grand-mother’s 1950’s lifestyle and my Mom’s 1960’s lifestyle. I am not saying it was ideal back then but how come we western women ended up with working full time (and having successful careers) and coming home to cooking dinner, over seeing homework, TLC for the kids, cleaning the house and being the sex goddess in the bedroom if you have any energy left?? I was raised to be Super Woman………career woman, wife, mother and house keeper and it took a very kindly family practitioner (a man) to explain (after many years of trying) that I cannot do it all.

  11. Karen Avatar


    Feminism gave us the right to do all those things, but nobody said you had to do all those things at once. Feminism is about having the ability to choose. Today we can choose (yay!), unlike those 1950’s housewives didn’t have the choice of developing a renumerative and satisfying career outside the home–they had to do the home career thing by default.

    I am very aware that I can’t do it all—who can? Trying to achieve balance is a major theme in my life! And one of my biggest obstacles to achieving balance is something leftover from the days before feminism–it’s my my ingrained feeling that my home/children have to be perfect otherwise it’s a huge negative reflection on me personally.

    I struggle all the time with feeling like I “shouldn’t” be focusing on work if my house is a mess or if my kid is eating mac n cheese for the third time this week or is doing poorly in some school subject–like I have to first make my home and kids perfect (and my husband happy) and only then do I get to spend any time on my “selfish” career thing. Of course, children need attention to thrive. But what they don’t necessarily need is a hovercraft mother.

    For me, it’s amazing how much easier it was to balance my life once my grumpy, complaining, messy, do-nothing husband ran off with his GF! Honestly, living with that guy was a crisis-a-minute. Taking care of 2 small children (I have twins) was a piece of cake compared to taking care of him. Now he’s still a crisis-a-minute, but his GF has to deal with most of that instead of me (yay!)

    I’m dating a guy long-term now, and I absolutely adore him–he’s gorgeous and super sweet, also very much like me–tidy (thank goodness) and no-drama personality. (also he’s educated and has a job somewhat on par with me–so hey, I guess I found that one in a million!) But he wants us to get married someday, which I’m not so sure about. The primarily reason is I don’t want to disrupt my kids’ lives. But I also worry that being married would disrupt the balance in my life (again) because I know how much extra work it is to live with a man.

  12. Mitsy Avatar

    I have always been attracted to younger guys. The last guy I dated was 8 years my junior. He was good looking but turned out to be an alcoholic. I think he was also very immature for his age and his inability to seek help for his addiction only impacted my belief on that. A mature, stand-up kind of guy would seek help and not continue on a path which led to self-destruction. But, I think even if he had been sober, he had not grown up in many ways.

    I have never “dated up” I guess because there are so few choices where I live. In fact, I have had to change my standards in order to go out with anyone in the last 5-7 years. I thought that I was too picky. Then when I made concessions or continued to let my basic standards slide, I found the guys to be immature, self-absorbed jerks once I had gone out with them a few times. They didn’t even try to make me a priority. So, online dating was a huge disappointment, but like I’ve commented before, the players find it easier to continue their games when they meet women in this way.

    My last guy was not someone I met online. I had known him for several years but had no idea he was an alcoholic. I am like a lot of women. I want someone who is mature BUT they can’t look 15 yrs. older than I am or I’m not going to have any attraction for them. I think I’ve been drawn to younger men simply because they physically were more appealing to me (and I don’t look my age either).

    I’m pretty jaded at this point and I admit to some bitterness about how I view dating for people my age. It’s a crap shoot and I’ve ended up with the short end of the stick too many times. So, for now, I’m content to see no one and not have the games and disappointments to deal with. For now, it’s just not worth it. If I’m to meet someone, it will just have to happen because I can’t go back to online dating again.

  13. Karen Avatar

    Mitsy: before I met my current sweetie (who walks on water), I was similarly jaded by the online dating and dating in my age group (I’m 48). I ended up dating primarily men older than me, because like you say, they are more mature and treated me well (in contrast to men I dated my own age, who tended to be jerks who treated me badly).

    On the plus side, the mature guys (55-62 years old) were very nice, educated, employed, appreciated me big-time, were decent people with well-reasoned opinions on everything, and wanted a committed relationship. More trivial things with these men were great as well–they had jobs and and had their finances in order, if they had kids they were mostly grown and launched, and they looved to spend money, especially on stuff we did together.

    But on the negative 1) they wanted to pay for everything, 2) they tended to be paternalistic, 3) their future plans for us *always* included a traditional marriage (*sigh*, I just don’t know if I can get married again), 4) I felt weird being in public with them because people would assume I was either his daughter (I look pretty young if the light is bad) or his young mistress/chick on the side, and 5) they were focused on retirement, slowing down, had the beginnings of physical problems, liked to take naps in the afternoon, etc. I know I’ll get old myself eventually, but hey when I was dating a 61 year old it was so weird—I kept thinking “in 10 years I’ll possibly be thinking about retiring, but in 10 years he could be dead! ” Men just don’t live as long as women and they have more physical age problems at a younger age.

    And of course, there’s the physical thing. These mature guys just weren’t much fun in bed, either due to generational inhibitions or health or age or whatever. And they weren’t that attractive either. Sorry, I tried to tell myself that their personality etc made up for it, but no, actually, personality isn’t enough.

    So I told myself–no more old guys!!!!! Even if they’re nice people etc.

  14. Shirley Friedenthal Avatar

    If I may, let’s get back to DG’s 55-year-old friend and the $500 dates she decided were too high a price to pay to meet Mr. Practically Perfect. The dating service I considered after my husband died offered 18 “quality pre-screened dates” over 18 months. The catch was the cost. I thought it over. $5,500 was a mini-fortune. But this was the rest of my life I was talking about, and that, if I had one, was worth mortgaging the farm.
    I wrote a check (a credit card and 5,000 miles would have been nice, but they didn’t take plastic) and started dating. They did, indeed, deliver quality men to my door: an IBM executive, a a successful entrepeneur, a pediatrician, a retired businessman who shared my enthusiasm for tennis. I had 14 to go and looked forward to each of them as an adventure in dating. But, ironically, I had registered earlier with a far less expensive dating website, and that’s when I met Howard, leaving the other 14 (representing, if I did the math correctly, an unused balance of $4,548) still out there dating other women.

    I have no complaint though. What road I took doesn’t matter. I got where I wanted to be — in a wonderful relationship. But not all platinum dating service stories have happy endings. I have a friend who tried one, paid in advance, got a grand total of two dates, followed by a series of unkept promises of dates-to-come, followed by the company’s going out of business when its owner died suddenly.
    Maybe I was just lucky. But I couldn’t help feeling badly about my many single friends who were still without male companionship. I told so many stories to Howard — who happened to have authored a half-dozen books — that he said finally, “Okay, time to write a book about 50-plus dating.” And we did.

  15. Mitsy Avatar

    I’m sure the book is interesting, but I could not and would not invest thousands of dollars in a dating site. There are no guarantees and it sounds like the company was a bit into extortion in getting clients. I don’t know anyone who has that kind of cash to spend. You can’t buy love anyway. You can meet 100 men and still not find someone suitable. Sure, you can go on a lot of dates but there’s a point where it simply makes no sense to continue to beat a dead horse. I’m not desperate and never really was before. For myself, signing up for online dating was signing up for a lot more heartache. It might work for some and that’s great, but I think the majority of people who have tried it have had more bad than good experiences. Doing a half-baked search on the web will prove it. A lot of stories for sure.

  16. Richard Avatar

    This, and related comments on other posts, is so depressing. I knew I was never cut out to be a salesman because I am not any good at working a room; walking up to someone and striking up a conversation; having a conversation with someone I have nothing in common with; etc.

    I also know that most guys 40+ who are single, are single for a reason. I tend to think of myself as a normal, nice guy. I’m no Sean Connery, but I try to treat a lady properly. I hope I’m the exception, but I don’t really stand out. So how does a guy rise above the noise and get noticed by a nice lady? Someone who enjoys a quite dinner with a lady, rather than a night on the town.