I am going to talk in broad terms about men and women. What I am saying here does not apply perfectly to every man or every woman. That’s not the point. It applies well enough, to enough men and enough women, that it’s useful for analysis. Now that I have stated this, I’m not going to repeat it. If you get offended by anything in the rest of the article, please refer back to this paragraph. If you find yourself screaming “I’m not like that”, then maybe you aren’t. Whatever. I’m talking about ‘lots of people’, not you.
Men and women are stupid when it comes to dating, but in different and predictable ways. For men: everybody wants a young hottie. Most men want a younger woman, often much younger. Men in their twenties want women in their twenties. Men in their thirties want women in their twenties. Men in their forties want women in their twenties. And so on. For women: nobody is good enough. A woman wants a guy to be the top of the stack, in terms of looks and income, but also the intangible (but very real) ‘status’. She wants the top man, and looks down her nose at a man who is good in many ways, suited to her, comparable (roughly) on a 1-10 scale. Her equal is never enough for her. She will be alone before she settles. Yes, of course, many women are not like this. But you know some who are exactly like this.
Men don’t understand women, and they are quite aware of this fact. There are many jokes in popular culture about how men don’t understand women. Men tell those jokes. Women don’t understand men, but they think they do. This is a source of a lot of relationship problems. There are some jokes out in the culture about how women don’t understand men, but not nearly as many as the other way around. Men tell those jokes.
When a man decides he wants the hot lady in her twenties, the man is not thinking that he deserves her, that he has a chance with her, that she owes him anything, that he and she would be compatible, that she would be good for him or vice versa, or that she would have any reason to want him. Maybe he should be thinking about these things, but he’s not. He is only thinking about what he wants. If she has no interest in him, he may keep trying for a while, or will eventually move on to another woman, if he is not already trying to contact several women.
When a woman wants a man, it is because he is above (maybe well above) average in every meaningful measure, and there are a lot of measures. A woman feels she deserves this man, naturally, and many other men are beneath her. For a woman, it’s a sign of self-esteem that she deserves the man she wants. For a man, he just wants the woman.
If a man shows interest in a woman, she may become offended because he isn’t good enough for her, according to whatever criteria she has in mind. He will not understand this. He never for a moment considered whether he was good enough for her or anyone else, and is surprised that she or anyone would be offended.
Now, as a practical-minded weasel, when I learn something I often think “what would I do with this information?” Well, I’m not going to do anything, but you might. If you’re a man who finds himself back in the dating scene later in life, look for women about your age. They are out there, and statistically, there are many available for you to meet, maybe date, and maybe marry. Also, they have lived, learned, and grown more than the young hottie who doesn’t want to date you anyway. Of course at this point you say “I want the young hottie”. Of course you do, because you are a man. That’s fine of course, but looks aren’t everything. You have to be able to talk to her and live with her. Here’s a thought experiment: Let’s say you marry a fine-looking woman of 22. In ten years, she’s 32. In twenty years, she’s 42. Are you going to dump her because she’s not 22 anymore? If not, there should be nothing wrong with meeting a woman who is 32 or 42. If so, if you would get rid of a woman (who otherwise makes you happy) for the crime of getting older, let me put it gently: the problem is you.
For women, the advice is a bit different. I am not a woman, have never been nor pretended to be a woman, and don’t think like a woman. So, with that in mind, here goes. Write or type all the things you want in a man. Try to be complete. Identify them as must-have and nice-to-have. Arrange them into a priority list of must-have and nice-to-have items. Set it aside for a day or two, then look at it again. You are now looking at your conscious desires, sort of like looking into a mirror. What do those desires say about you? How important are they to a successful relationship? Must the man be six foot one for you to love and support him? Or would five foot eleven be good enough? What does your preference say about you? Must a man have half a million dollar income and two houses? Or do you want a man who is stable and successful? Again, what does your preference say about you?
Now, women, write a list about a happily married couple you know, perhaps relatives. What do you think makes their marriage work? What kind of behaviors does he have, and she have? Write these down. Are there behaviors that make their marriage difficult? Even a great marriage will have some conflicts. Write those down too. Now compare your list of what makes a marriage great with your list of must-haves for a man. Do the lists match up at all? Please give that some thought.
Ladies, if the only person good enough for you is the guy you read about in a romance novel, if you reject anyone below the hero’s (fictitious) income, height, and/or fitness, then let me put it to you gently: the problem is you.
Now, you’re a good judge of character, right? Of course you are. When a man talks to you with romance on his mind, you instantly start appraising him: is he good enough? But what about you? That same woman who points the microscope at some man might be very good at suspending disbelief or even turning her logical faculties right off when the subject is herself. Over and over, scam artists pose as attractive, successful men in their fifties, to prey on lonely women in their sixties and seventies. When a woman gets caught up in this kind of scam, she is (as far as I can tell) deciding that she deserves this man. That he is right for her and she is right for him. That they make sense together. Because that’s (apparently) how women think. Note that this is a fictitious perfect man, not a real man. Women fall for these scams because they believe they deserve this perfect man. Women, you put the men under a microscope but you can’t even look in the mirror and recognize yourself?
For some perspective on dating women, it’s instructive to turn to Norah Vincent, author of Self-Made Man. She disguised herself as a man to explore life ‘as a man’ from the perspective of a woman journalist. She had already dated women as a woman, but got a new view of them while trying to date them ‘as a man’. She found them demanding, conceited, and with little to offer compared to what they wanted from a man.
I’ll wrap up with a true dating story: a young man spoke to a very attractive young woman. She said, “I don’t demand that a guy be rich, as long as he has a nice car and a nice boat.” The man ignored this evidence of her personality and tried to contact her later. He had no success, as anyone would have expected, but he pursued her (a little) anyway. Why? He wanted her. That’s how men are. He wasn’t good enough for her. That’s how women are.