A last-minute trip to the gym Friday night resulted in me being invited to join an interval running group of other members. I gave the guy – who looked to be in his mid-thirties – my number so he could send me all the details. As I suspected, he used the opportunity to text me and ask me out. “I’m flattered,” I said. “But I prefer not to mix gym business with pleasure. Hope you understand.”
Now, if I had found him attractive, I totally would have said yes. I normally work out in the mornings. He works a traditional 9 to 5 job. The chances of us bumping into each other are slim. He said he understood but I still felt like shit. (He never sent the info for the interval group, so I don’t feel that bad. I found it myself on Meetup.) I knew why he was asking for my number. I should have taken his number and followed up. I think giving him my number sent a mixed message.
As a result of this interaction, I started to consider the possibility of opening myself up to dating men in their mid-thirties. I say dating because – let’s be honest – a relationship like that is unlikely to turn serious. I know this. But I also know that I get a fair amount of attention from men in that age range. So why not go for men that actually show interest?
There are downsides to this, of course. All of these relationships would be temporary. I’d invest time into something that probably wouldn’t result in more than a casual two to three-month fling, if that. And then there’s the fact that I’ll have to weed through a fair amount of bucket listers and immature men who have bought into the myth that “older” women are dying to find a young stud they could trot out like a prized pony, something they learned from their male counterparts. From my limited research, most women my age can’t be bothered with anyone considerably younger. I wrinkle my nose in disgust when I think about sex with a twenty-something. I have no interest. Thirty-five would be my limit. I once had a man who was that age ask me the tried and true “Are you into younger guys?” question.
“Why?” I asked. “Do you know one? You’re pushing forty, dude. Your days of being a ‘younger guy’ are behind you.”
There’s a part of me that feels rather pathetic for branching out like this, but the alternative is just as unattractive. I can’t keep going for men my age and older just to be rejected. It’s too soul-crushing. Not to mention – and I’ll get shit for this – many men my age do not take care of themselves. The more fit I become, the more I notice men my age who aren’t. Many of the men online in their forties are slobs. Tinder is a dumpster fire of haggard looking dudes. Bumble is useless at this point due to all of the fake male profiles. And before any guy says, “But that’s just your experience!”, I’ll tell you you’re wrong. Because of Bumble’s business model, where women initiate communication after a match is made, men quickly lose patience with the app because women don’t reach out. More men abandon the app sooner than women do, leaving a database full of dormant profiles. So, while I’ll use online dating and apps because that’s where the people are, I think the majority of my focus will be offline methods.
I find myself wanting to get out more and be around people. I joined a few Fitness-related Meetups, but was disheartened to see that I was one of the few “older” members. I suppose I could start a fitness group for 35+ members, but I know it will end up being mostly women that join. The idea of meeting men offline is looking more and more favorable to me. Something about me is more open these days. I’m being approached more. Besides believing that online dating and dating apps are now an exercise in futility, it seems like every week there’s a new story about a man using these platforms to exorcise his rage at women. Take this latest story for example:
‘You are one fat mother f***er’: Tinder user purposely swipes right to a woman on the app just so he can body shame her and tell her to ‘stay in her league’ in a series of rude messages
What is happening to society? How many stories like this have we heard lately? I’m convinced apps like Tinder are full of people (men and women) who are so banged up from the dating process that all they can do is lash out. Sure, some women jump out of the gate with questions about what a man does for a living. That’s obnoxious. But I have yet to see a case of a woman being this intentionally malicious.
As it turns out, somebody stole the photo of a conventionally good-looking guy so they could match with women on Tinder and just to tell the women how disgusting they are. I say “conventionally good-looking” because he fits a mold. I’ve come to believe that it’s those men and women – the conventional ones with conventional looks and conventional jobs – are the ones with the most success with these online dating methods.
My physical presentation is not considered conventional. I am a size 10 with wild curls. The curly hair alone often gets me passed over. Then there’s the fact that I don’t work a regular job. If I say I run a small business, well, I must be supported by Mommy and Daddy. I couldn’t possibly actually run a six-figure generating business that supports me. Oh, and don’t forget that I’m 48 and never been married and don’t have kids. That last one – the lack of children – is usually read as “defective” in some way. Not ever being married is bad enough, but no kids? There has to be something wrong with me.
And you know what? There are things about me that are defective. I don’t deny that, but I also don’t define myself by those experiences. Unfortunately, as a woman, many people take it upon themselves to label me because it’s inconceivable that I could be messy and complex and broken and resilient and caring. Nope. We don’t get to be all those things.
I feel like it’s a constant uphill battle to try to meet someone. I’m almost 50 but don’t look my age. (I know. We hear that all the time. I know.) I’m not widely considered conventionally attractive. I’m into fitness. I don’t work a regular job. I’m an internet writer with a strident demeanor. All these things work against me. I’ve chosen a path that for a man is socially acceptable, but for a woman is taboo.
So it only seems appropriate that – like every other aspect of my life – I choose the road less traveled, so to speak, by going against the grain.