A recent article in the Daily Mail asked the question of ‘Where have all the good men gone?’ and spoke to some “sassy, sophisticated, solvent women” who were having trouble finding good matches.
The question gave rise to the oft-asked question for independent ‘mid life daters’ who are looking for decent men to date for long-term relationships.
One woman, Jane Townsend, 48, told the ‘Mail’ that men are “delusional” because they constantly lie about their age.
Another simply commented on the lack of suitable, available men.
The reason why there is a desperate male shortage for the mid-life daters is several-fold.
Men date younger women
The general preference is for men to date younger women, creating a void for those of the appropriate ‘mid life’ age group to meet the demand for them among women of a similar age.
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The Mail looked at Jane Townsend who, at 48 is beautiful, independent — and single. She keeps fit, takes great care of her appearance and is looking for a man who is active, in good shape, articulate and emotionally open.
Given her good looks and vivacious nature, eligible suitors must surely be beating a path to her door.
Yet as Jane, from Sheffield, explains, it has been a struggle: ‘The men out there are delusional. I went out with a guy who lied about his age, saying he was 47 when he was 50, who then had the gall to tell me he wanted a younger woman so he, as he put it, “could breed”.
‘After my divorce, I gave up my prime dating years to raise my two girls, expecting that when they left home, I’d have time left. But there has been a shift and now the men aren’t there. Where I live it’s hard to find someone cultured unless they’re eating yoghurt, and the men my age all seem to be — well — more than a little overweight.’
Having been matchmaking single men and women for Femail’s Blind Date column for the past six months, I’d like to say Jane’s experiences are the exception, — but what has struck me is just how many attractive women apply who seem to have so much going for them.
They are in great physical shape, living full and interesting lives. Yet finding suitable men for them to date seems to be a heroic challenge.
This has left me wondering why a generation of single, sexy, solvent women just can’t find love. What immediately strikes female mid‑life daters — of whom I am one — returning to the dating scene in later life after a marriage or long-term relationship, is the lack of single men.
According to Jo Hemmings, a behavioural psychologist and dating coach, there are an estimated seven new women for every man on the dating scene in the 40-55 age group, so availability is clearly a big issue
I’ve had clients coming to me wondering: “Am I asking too much to find an attractive, independent, solvent guy of my age?” ’ she says.
As she explains, part of the issue is that when divorce strikes, men and women react in different ways.
Men’s relationships frequently overlap; they won’t leave one partner until they find another, so they are never really single.
Both Julia (pictured left) and Lucy (centre) have struggled with online dating since separating from their husbands. Laura (right) agrees and says dating sites are full of men her age and older who just seem lazy
By contrast, women take longer to recover from a break-up. They often step out of the dating ring completely, sometimes for many years, to rebuild their lives or to focus on bringing up children.
‘When they return to dating, it’s really hard for them,’ says Jo. ‘There aren’t as many men because they have a wider pool. Men realise quite quickly that there are far fewer of them than there are women of a similar age. They then date much younger women, creating a huge void in the market.
‘Traditionally women go for men who are their age or slightly older, so they are left wondering where all the men have gone.’
When Jo coaches women on dating, she tells them to accept the reality. ‘It’s just a fact that there is a lack of available decent men,’ she says.
‘It’s tough when you’re looking for love. You have to realise that it’s not about you, it’s just a numbers game.’
Men are ‘Indoctrinated’ to Seek Younger Women – To Their Detriment
But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Men, indoctrinated over generations to pursue younger women, are instinctively reluctant to consider those of a similar age to their own, even ones who look youthful and attractive.
It is something I regularly notice when I set up dates.
Men need to open their eyes to the amazing women in their own age bracket.
Jane Townsend, 48, was told by one relationship coach that women her age should go for men 15 years older, making her current dating goal a man aged 63
With the statistics against them, women are motivated to want to look after themselves and make the best of what they have, while there is no incentive for the men to do the same.
Jo says: ‘This generation of men don’t bother to make the effort to represent themselves in an attractive way, even online. Or they just list what they don’t want in a woman and say nothing about themselves — because they can.’
And those men who do make an effort are in a position to be very choosy.
The Peril of the ‘Attractive Man’
Online dating coach Suzie Parkus, of meetyourmatch.club, observes: ‘A man who has aged well, has a good outlook on life, a joie de vivre about him and who has seemingly done well for himself is very attractive to his peers. However, for the most part he is drawn to younger, sexier, more vibrant models.
‘It has a lot to do with his self-perception in terms of being able to choose who and what he wants in a partner because he has the right to, given that he is in high demand.’
While good-looking men can pick and choose, attractive women such as Jane effectively become the victims of their drive to remain active and youthful. Women in the over-45 bracket are the biggest buyers of beauty products, accounting for 58 per cent of the market.
Last year, the 45 to 54 age group spent an average of £2,238 a year on beauty products, up 4.1 per cent on previous years.
Jane says: ‘Women see the writing on the wall and take a grip on their health and beauty, staying active, keeping abreast of current affairs, studying, keeping beautiful.
I go to gym classes (made up mostly of women), whereas men my age just think they don’t have to make the effort because there are always dozens of younger women who will go out with them.’
A woman who looks great, feels good about herself and is solvent and independent-minded won’t be drawn to a man who has let himself go, or who may be interested in her but is far too old. So these magnificent midlife daters fall into a void.
And it’s not just about looks — there is a difference in mindset between the sexes too.
As Jane will attest, middle-aged and 50-plus men tend to be set in their ways, less adventurous and less youthful in outlook. They want someone to look after them, while their female counterparts are looking for someone to explore the world and have fun with.
Jane was told by one relationship coach that women her age should go for men 15 years older, making her current dating goal a man aged 63. This is even less appealing, as it is effectively a different generation — and one with very different aspirations. ‘I’ve cared for children and my parents, and I don’t want to care for a man again,’ says Jane, summing up the attitude of many in her situation.
‘Older men are so set in their ways, you almost feel more like a carer than a girlfriend.’
Lucy Verner, 46, is another frustrated midlife dater who has been single since splitting from her husband seven years ago.
‘I found internet dating absolutely awful,’ she says. ‘I live in East Kent and it’s such a small pool. There are exceptions, but on the whole I found the men who made contact were older — and certainly looked older — than me.
Dating coach Jo Hemmings advises that women should go online frequently, make the approach, don’t rule out meeting people in real life and be as socially active as possible (file photo)
‘Men of my age target younger women and I don’t fancy the older men, so it’s a real problem. I’ve stopped looking. Having to get back in the dating market, I focused on getting myself fit again. But many men don’t seem to make the same effort.
‘Online you see selfie pictures they have taken of themselves half-naked in bathrooms or slouching on sofas. Where is the effort in that?
Weaker Men / Stronger Women
‘Very few men are happy to be by themselves, too. They lurch from one relationship to another, whereas middle-aged women are a lot stronger and more self-assured than they were in the last generation.
‘I have two children and a career to manage and I’m forthright. I think men find women like me intimidating.
‘I want a strong, independent man. Why is that so hard?’
Julia Van Der Wens is 54. She was just 19 years old when she got married, and was with her husband for more than 30 years before he left her 18 months ago.
‘I was devastated, of course, but I made the decision to keep on living my life. I lost weight, started getting into sport and now I look and feel the best I’ve ever been.
‘The problem isn’t the men not liking me, but me not fancying them. I want someone athletic, not pot-bellied. Most of the men I meet seem really unfit.
She says that women often step out of the dating ring completely after a divorce to rebuild their lives or to focus on bringing up children (file photo)
‘I tried dating websites but two of the men I met were at least ten years older than their photo. Sometimes I think I’m never going to meet anyone.’
Lesley Roberts, 52, was married in her 20s and divorced in her 30s. She did meet someone new, but they split up after a couple of years and she has now been single for two years.
The Pipe-and-Slippers Life
‘Men my age are all up for a pipe and slippers life, and I’m not,’ she says. ‘When I got married my husband was six years older than me, but I wouldn’t take that age gap now because men aged 52 to 60 are boring. They just don’t have any oomph in them.
‘Once they get past 48 they seem to turn into Victor Meldrew, yet women are making an effort and looking great. I just decided that I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I was going grey, so I went blonde.
‘At this stage of my life I need someone who is independent. I’ve set the bar now and I don’t want someone who needs looking after —unless he shows he can look after me first.’
Should middle-aged women just forget men of their own age and date younger ones? Some argue that this is the way forward.
‘Younger men are drawn to older women as much as older men are drawn to younger women. And this is not a new phenomenon,’ says Suzie Parkus. ‘They are drawn to the confidence and life experience of older women, especially those who don’t look their age.
‘This is something I have experienced at first hand, as well as being told it by younger guys when I was matchmaking.’
Laura Hall agrees. Tall, slim and gorgeous, the 42-year-old redhead has been single since her divorce in 2011.
The Lazy Man
Smart and sassy, Laura has a doctorate in physics and works as an optical engineer, yet she finds the dating sites full of men her age and older who just seem lazy.
‘I prefer younger men now because they are fun, whereas the older ones are boring,’ she says. ‘It’s not even an aesthetic thing but a character thing. I can’t stand the fact that older men really don’t know how to support themselves.
‘I think women have been raised to believe they are winning an amazing prize to get a man, who then has a sense of entitlement — so he puts in no effort whatsoever and always thinks he can get better.’
Yet for many women, dating a much younger man still comes with too much baggage — and again, the playing field is not a level one.
Jane Townsend says she is often approached by men in their 20s.
‘The last date I went on he was 23 — and he was interesting and articulate and we had lots in common. But society says I shouldn’t be dating men like him.
The Issue of the Cougar
‘I’m called a cougar — which makes me out to be predatory — yet it’s perfectly acceptable for men to go out with Barbies half their age.’
I know from my experience of talking to women who write in for a blind date how many want a younger man because men of their own age just don’t appeal any more.
Unless men change their attitude to dating women of a similar age to them, and make more effort with their personal care (and most women accept this is unlikely), it is hard to see how the situation can change for these gorgeous women.
But Jo Hemmings says we can still take heart. Her advice is to go online frequently, make the approach, don’t rule out meeting people in real life and be as socially active as you can.
‘Knowledge is power, so get the determination to take charge,’ she says.
‘You’ve got to make the choice to be that one woman in seven. It’s tough but possible.’
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