I read an interesting piece in The Washington Post’s Health section this morning. In her column, “My Time,” Abigail Trafford wrote about a “problem” that is apparently occurring a lot on online dating sites. Women 50 years and older are seeking younger men- and the guys that fall into their desired age range are generally looking for younger women. Ms. Trafford calls it a “mating gap in gray love.” However, according to the statistics kept by eHarmony and Match.com - people are finding love- and often their perfect match’s age differs from what they had said they were looking for. According to these major dating sites, in the end- it’s all about compatibility. But you already knew that, right?
So what is this “thing” people have about age? Is it denial? Perhaps singles are hoping to regain some of their lost youth or maybe they are operating under an assumption that they look and feel younger than their age group- but most of their peers do not. Perhaps they see heavier baggage coming with every year that has passed. Something is causing them to reject the idea of dating within or above their age bracket.
Want to hear what women, and men, in this dating demographic share with me regarding their reluctance to date same age or older singles? Women tell me that they are fearful of ending up with a partner that they have to be a caretaker for. This concern did not exist for them when they were young daters- as they saw a lifetime with someone- who would grow old and possibly need to lean on them. However, committing to a relationship with someone who may only be a full partner for a short time, and dependent for (perhaps) years- is definitely not what they seek as they look forward to their golden years.
Women are also concerned that older men will have less energy and enthusiasm for participating in leisure and social activities- and will not be able to keep up with them sexually. As women get older and past the years of child bearing and family responsibility- they get a second wind and want to pursue long pent up dreams and experience all those things they put on hold during their earlier years that were taken up with the business of family and/or work.
Men often tell me that they “look and feel younger than their age,” and fear that the same age or older women will be “old” in mind, body and spirit. They recount their frequent impressions of women their age as “overweight or not in shape”, “negative and centered on problems”, and “not interested in or able to participate in the activities” they want to share with a potential partner.
It’s interesting that both women and men are finding similar age partners online, in spite of their views on age and dating. In many cases, the men are a few years younger than the women they make the right connection with. Women are also finding “older’ men who are vibrant, active and more than able to keep up with them- in and out of bed. It usually comes down to finding a person they are truly comfortable and compatible with. When this happens, the issue of age seems to go right out the window.