‘I Want My 2.3 Bonus Years’ – A.K.A., ‘Where do 50-year-old men get the strange impression that they could date a 23-year-old?’ by Mona Chalabi
The Tweet from the NT Times had this as a heading: ‘Where do 50-year-old men get the strange impression that they could date a 23-year-old?’
As you should already be aware, I (Link): do not support people of either biological sex dating people much older or younger than themselves. I’m a big believer that May-December relationships are gross and disgusting, and people should date with a five year limit (five yrs older or younger than their own age).
Basically, this appears to be a half-way decent editorial, though the author jokingly disparages celibacy in it, unfortunately.
…Most men who date women don’t fantasize about what they would do if they had these bonus years, they simply get them. In two-thirds of heterosexual couples, the man is at least a year older than his partner. The average age difference is (Link): 2.3 years according to the Census Bureau.
…The fact that women end the childless part of our lives earlier than our male partners is just salt in the wound. And looking even farther down the line, the bigger the age difference, the more likely that it will be women who take care of their male partners in old age.
…This arrogance [by men regarding cavalier attitudes about marrying] has, as I see it, two main causes — one, a belief that their spermatozoa are good for a very long time, indeed, and two, a belief that they could get a younger woman if they wanted to.
Let me examine the evidence for each of those male beliefs; fertility first.
Your sperm is not immortal. A (Link): study that tracked 8,559 pregnancies found that “conception during a 12-month period was 30 percent less likely for men over age 40 years as compared with men younger than age 30 years.”
That research was gathered in 2000 and was one of the few studies that focused on male fertility. See, scientists have invested a lot of time in poking and prodding women to understand conception, but only a small fraction of those studies have controlled for the age of the father.
In other words, all that data we have about how women in their late 30s are struggling to get pregnant doesn’t take into consideration the fact that many of those women are trying to conceive with men who are in their 40s.
Men are much less fooled when it comes to that second belief — that they could get a younger woman if they wanted to. I’m not just basing this on the Census Bureau data I cited. There’s also the information gleaned from OkCupid’s millions of preferences. The dating site’s researchers found that most conversations take place between an older man and a younger woman and in almost half of them, the age gap is at least five years.
But men might still be mistaken about just how much younger their next partner could be. That same OkCupid data shows that even when men are in their late 40s, they (Link): carry on looking at the profiles of women age 20 to 24 (women, by contrast (Link): look at older men’s profiles as they get older).
Where do 50-year-old men get this strange impression that they could date a 23-year-old? Perhaps it’s their TV screens. When New York magazine (Link): looked at the careers of 10 leading men, it found that as they aged, their onscreen love interests didn’t.
Take Liam Neeson. In 1990, he appeared alongside Frances McDormand, who was five years younger than he. By the time he starred in “Third Person” in 2013, the 61-year-old Neeson’s lover was played by 29-year-old Olivia Wilde.
We are socialized into thinking that men are like wine, they get better with time. Whereas women are like cheese, they get blue veins and start to stink. At some point, I subconsciously signed up, too. I find George Clooney hot and Justin Bieber not (Clooney is 26 years older than me and Bieber is seven years younger).
Do I sound angry? Maybe, but I’m also scared. I inspect my body when I step out of the shower and I can see the skin loosening above my knees. I don’t want to choose between being single or dating a much older man with much older knees. I think, maybe, I could deal with dying if the person I love is creaking along at the same rate I am.
So, this is where I ask for help from other single women seeking men. Sign a pledge with me here today. Not of celibacy (where’s the fun in that?), but let’s end this scourge once and for all by committing to contemporaries.
Read Comments: Comments by people below the article at NY Times:
Anyone can pick anyone of any legal age they want. If that person goes for it, fine. BUT, I know many men that have divorced and married women much younger than themselves.
Most of those women do want children. I had a classically handsome older colleague admit to me “I love my new wife and my second round of kids, but I will never, ever, be able to retire.”
In fact, I have no idea how I will pay for their college.” His face was tired. He went on, “I will be 62 years old next month. She is 28. She has high energy and wants to do lots of things. But I just don’t have that energy after my work schedule and taking care of the kids. Besides, we don’t have the money. I have made a terrible mistake.”
As a widowed woman his age, I was tactful enough not to be smug about it, though a small, mean little part of me was thinking, “What did you expect?”
Meanwhile, I get up, yes single, every morning and control my own life. So there is a justice of sorts involved.
comment by Jill C.
In the 60+ widowed set, a club of which I am a member, those women who are interested in finding a new life partner (a club of which I am NOT a member) report despair at what age-appropriate men are looking for, and it is not women in their 60s.
Check a dating profile of men 60-70, and you’ll see a desired age range of 30-45 — 50 at most.
These are not men looking for fertile women because they want children.
These are men who have grown up in American culture in which a woman’s only worth is in her looks. The phrases “extremely fit”, “beautiful inside and out” (the inside does not refer to her soul, I’m sure), and “turns heads when she walks into a room” appear frequently, along with the terms “high heels” and “lingerie”.
It is interesting that this column runs right after the death of Hugh Hefner, who was as instrumental as anyone in setting up these expectations in men.
As for this woman, who was lucky enough to have a 27 year marriage to a tall, handsome man whose celebrity lust objects were always smart, snarky women like Linda Ellerbee and Emma Thompson, well, I have refused to cast pearls before swine. And in late life, I am finding my women friends to be far more interesting companions.
I share much of the sentiments of the author (except I have to say George Clooney is way too old for me!!!) and really just want to offer her a tip.
I’m 45. If you’re on okcupid, you can set your preferences for men and their ages.
I’m currently dating a 30 year old intelligent, fun, avid reader, man who is also man enough to label himself a feminist.
Who doesn’t need viagra. Or knee surgery. Or a Mommy to take care of him.
The men I’ve dated before him were 37, 34, 24, and 43. No one cared that I was older. Maturity levels had nothing to do with their ages — the 24 year old had finished an MBA program and was way too ambitious for me (no thank you 7 day work week man).
Yes some men are immature. And awkward (the comment on “that’s how you keep your girlish figure” came from a 29 year old. Who sounded like someone’s grandpa). But age girlfriend, has nothing to do with it! Good luck!
comment by tripc0de
The problem here is that you focus on chronological years… It’s not an absolute value.
It’s a biased view.
Many 50 year olds could be mistaken for 35-38 year olds.
It’s all about biological years. Also you must consider the female perspective. They can prefer the more mature man with more experience. Really juvenile article. Poor for the NYT.
comment by Andi
Try dating men your own age in your fifties and sixties.
An online prospect told me, when we were both fifty, that I hadn’t read the fine print in his profile; he was seeking women 25-40.
I replied that if I were commensurately matched, I’d be dating men 60-75 who could be his date’s grandfather.
I’m physically active, accomplished, smart and often taken for someone much younger. I’d happily date my age mates (or bit younger) but they won’t have me. I’m not sure I get it, but I find it pathetic.
Contrary to popular thought, men have a harder time aging.
I think they pursue younger women for their looks but also because it allows them them the false sense of youth.
Its annoying when 60-70 year old men approach me. I appreciate that I will one day be that age as well, but I simply do not want to date an old man and his old body.
And its a shame for the many wonderful women in that age group that they’re left out because men are emotionally immature and think that they can actually “get” a younger woman.
(Link): Follow Up Part 2 – Reactions by Other Writers to Sexist, Condescending 50 Something Men Who Think They Are Final Arbiters of If Women Are Attractive Past Age of 40 (Re: Esquire Editorial by Junod)