Here’s what’s happened in the past year — two girlfriends have gotten engaged, and one has her condo on the market and is looking with her boyfriend to buy a new place and move in together.
They are all 50-something, empty-nesters and divorced. Who says middle-aged women can’t find love again?
I call BS. And I’m not the only one.
“We’re perpetually fed a line that we’re looking for love in a market that doesn’t value us,” says Marina Adshade, an economics professor in Canada and author of Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love.
In a talk before boomers (you can watch it below), Adshade says older women really aren’t disadvantaged on the dating market. “If that were true, they would be lowering their standards. But that has not been the case,” she says. In fact, she notes that older women are a lot more selective than older men and younger women are when it comes to picking a partner
If anything, it’s more of a level playing field when it comes to midlife dating.
That said, the dating market for older singles isn’t all that easy. Older women feel invisible. There just aren’t that many available singles our age and the ones who are available are an interesting lot (read Anne Lamott’s funny take of her year on Match.com to understand). However, with the gray divorce boom, there are a lot more older people available than ever before. So, because of that and the fact that we live longer, she says, it’s worth putting the time and energy into looking for love regardless of your age.
The difference between men and women at this age, however, is that we don’t necessarily want the same things. The persistent belief is that women are looking for long-term committed relationship and men are looking for short-term sexual relationships. That may be true for younger people, but that isn’t always the case at this age, she says. Because men have shorter lifespans, many older men are interested in having a potential caregiver or a “nurse with a purse.” They tend to marry quicker than older women, but it isn’t because older women can’t find a hubby; it’s because women are more likely to be looking for a short-term relationship or a companion, not a husband.
That isn’t true for my three girlfriends, but it’s true for me.
She believes — and I agree — that more people need to talk openly about this because all older women hear (and thus believe) is that older men are only looking for much younger women. OK, many of them are. But are they getting them? Not really, unless they’re wealthy and powerful. (And I have always believed that it’s good to identify those men and remove them from the 50-something dating pool ASAP; I’m not interested in men like that so move along, men, and good luck!).
As a newly single woman after an eight-plus year relationship, I am curious about what to expect this time, now that I’m 50-something instead of 40-something. I, too, am not looking for a husband (although I’m not necessarily against marrying), but I most definitely would like a partner — uhh, with conditions.
A recent study looked into why older women — in this case, women in their 60s and 70s — date. A few things became clear to the researchers early on — the women treasured their independence and craved companionship. They wanted both. I do, too.
Some had lost satisfying relationships because the men wanted to get married but the women didn’t, sometimes because it would hurt them financially and sometimes because they didn’t want to have to care for anyone else anymore. In fact, many said they were not interesting in caretaking ever again — they’d been there and done that.
They desired companionship and a social life — and sex. But they were not willing to compromise on losing their sense of freedom, to the point that they were “willing to be lonely before sacrificing independence.”
I don’t want to be alone or lose my freedom — is it possible to have both without having to become a wife again? I sure hope so.
- What’s been your experience dating at midlife?
- Would you marry again? Why/why not?
- Do you believe it’s a level dating playing field for older men and older women?
- Would you prefer to be alone versus give up your freedom?
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