If I have to go on one more date with a 50 plus year old man, who looks every bit of those 50 plus years, and then some, who proceeds to tell me why he doesn’t like dating women over 50, I am going to gag! I was warned, but I didn’t believe it, or maybe I didn’t want to believe it. My girlfriends who hit their fifties before me, all told me that if I hit 50 and I was still single I would notice a big change in my dating prospects. I rationalized that this was just their experience, I was different and it was all about your attitude. I was wrong.
Now that I am firmly entrenched in my fifties, I would lying if I said that I didn’t notice a difference. I have met countless men in their 50s and 60s who haven’t aged particularly well, and don’t seem to be any great success story in other areas of their lives, but yet they have the audacity to tell me that they don’t like dating women in their 50s, even though they know that I am 52. When I try to explore why this is the case, it often seems to center around the idea of older women being less physically appealing to them. They will tell me that I don’t look my age so I am an exception to this rule, but they fail to understand that I find their stereotype so offensive, I don’t care whether they think I am an exception or not.
I recently had a coffee date with a fellow lawyer who proceeded to tell me that he thinks all Toronto women over 50 must go to the same plastic surgeon because they all look the same. Again, he conceded that I was the exception and didn’t look like I had undergone plastic surgery (I haven’t), but I couldn’t believe that he thought that this comment would endear him to me. It seemed to be such an important point for him to make that he mentioned it both on the phone before we met and when we actually met. He also reiterated how he knew that he was in the drivers seat in online dating because women over 50 have less prospects. He himself was 59 and looked it.
If the comments from this date were rare, it would just be another bad date story, but unfortunately this attitude and these types of comments are things that I have had other men in their 50s and 60s say to me before. I have also had conversations with matchmakers who concur that women over 50 are a less desirable age bracket in the dating pond, and I challenge you to find a speed dating event in this city that is open to women over 50 but yet there are events for men over 50 being matched with women under 50. I don’t fault the matchmakers or organizers of these event, it is simply a reflection of the market place.
We have long heard that older men prefer to date younger women. What I have found particularly interesting though is that when I have chatted with people about older women dating younger men, the most vocal opposition to it that I have come across is from men in their 50s and 60s. It seems that what is ok for them to do, is not ok for women. When I tell men my age and older, about all of the times I get asked out by younger men, they seem almost upset by it and go on and on about how I must stay away from younger men as they are only looking for sex and they couldn’t possibly be interested in me as a person. Never mind the fact that there is a stereotype of younger women dating older men only for money and having no interest in them as a person. There certainly seems to be a double standard.
It is one of my goals to fight the stereotype of the over 50 woman being invisible, matronly or unattractive. In fact, I know many women in my age bracket who are vibrant, sexy , strong and outgrowing many of their male partners. Of course, there are many wonderful men over 50 who aren’t ageist, and I want to acknowledge them. It also must be conceded that ageism towards older women isn’t just a dating world problem. It is prevalent in Hollywood, the broadcasting industry, modelling and many other areas where women are highly valued for their physical appearance.
While woman in their fifties are looking fitter and more youthful than ever before, it will be interesting to see if the image of the over 50 woman finally starts to change. In my mind, the sexiest trait that someone can have is confidence, and my 50 year old self has a lot more of that than my 25 year old self ever did. I would have thought that this confidence and self acceptance that comes with age would make older women even more appealing, but I am not a man, so what do I know?