Where have all the good men gone? These sassy, sophisticated, solvent women say they are struggling to find other halves that can measure up
This is an old, old cry from women who have missed the boat in their 20s. They were too fussy for the available men then and somehow think that among the men they rejected in their 20s a Mr Right will be found. The good catches all got snapped up years ago by realistic women while the fussy ladies were preening themselves -- so good catches are now simply unavailable to them among their own age cohort. All that is left to them are older and younger men and that is no good either.
The phenomenon starts among women in their 30s so even older women have left it even longer for the good men of their age to be snapped up. Mostly what is left to them is other women's rejects, which is not a good start. And being "Sassy" is not a good start, either. How about being soft and feminine? That would work a lot better. As usual, the Bible has advice that works: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth". Or their children will, anyhow.
I know of a case where a tall, well-built and friendly young Australian man didn't have to look far for girlfiends. Young Chinese women knew quality when they saw it and threw themselves at him, saying things like: "I will do anything for you". Caucasian women were much outmanouvered. There is a lot of that in Australia. The Australian population is about 5% Han Chinese: smart people.
One day, however, aged about 27, the man was walking along in the grounds of his elite university and saw a pretty little blue-eyed woman coming towards him. He stopped and said to her: "Hello. What's your name?" Not very ceremonious but the woman took one look at him, gulped and said brightly: "I'm Kay". The man then asked her would she like a coffee? She said Yes and she has got him to this day, some years later. She was about 21 at the time and clearly knew how to grab her opportunities. I am pretty sure the ladies below have had opportunities like that but have been too snooty to grab them
Another anecdote: I was at a singles party over 20 years ago and got talking to a woman I knew there. She said: "Where are all the men?". I pointed out that there were actually more men than women at the party. She replied: "Not THOSE men"! Once again she was too snooty for what was actually available
The problem is an old one but it has been exacerbated by feminism. Feminists tell the women that they can "have it all". Very few can, however. There has always been a tendency for a lot of women to overvalue themselves so that was the last advice women needed.
Another foolish thing that older women often do is to judge men by female criteria -- and that comes out below. Women of all ages pay great attention to their appearance. And that is wise. Men do judge women by appearance, despite all that feminists say. But men are not nearly as appearance-conscious themselves. Even in their youth they tend to dress for comfort. If you come across a nattily-dressed Englishman in his mid-30s and mid-40s, he is probably a con-man, a queer or short. And some of the silly ladies below take all that amiss. They seek a man who is as appearance-conscious as they are. They are mostly fishing in an empty pool at that rate. Wise women accept poorly dressed men and buy them better stuff in the hope that the man will wear it on important occasions
At 48, Jane Townsend is beautiful, independent — and single. She keeps fit, takes great care of her appearance and is looking for a man who is active, in good shape, articulate and emotionally open.
Given her good looks and vivacious nature, eligible suitors must surely be beating a path to her door.
Yet as Jane, from Sheffield, explains, it has been a struggle: ‘The men out there are delusional. I went out with a guy who lied about his age, saying he was 47 when he was 50, who then had the gall to tell me he wanted a younger woman so he, as he put it, “could breed”.
'After my divorce, I gave up my prime dating years to raise my two girls, expecting that when they left home, I’d have time left. But there has been a shift and now the men aren’t there. Where I live it’s hard to find someone cultured unless they’re eating yoghurt, and the men my age all seem to be — well — more than a little overweight.’
Having been matchmaking single men and women for Femail’s Blind Date column for the past six months, I’d like to say Jane’s experiences are the exception, — but what has struck me is just how many attractive women apply who seem to have so much going for them.
They are in great physical shape, living full and interesting lives. Yet finding suitable men for them to date seems to be a heroic challenge.
This has left me wondering why a generation of single, sexy, solvent women just can’t find love. What immediately strikes female mid‑life daters — of whom I am one — returning to the dating scene in later life after a marriage or long-term relationship, is the lack of single men.
According to Jo Hemmings, a behavioural psychologist and dating coach, there are an estimated seven new women for every man on the dating scene in the 40-55 age group, so availability is clearly a big issue.
‘I’ve had clients coming to me wondering: “Am I asking too much to find an attractive, independent, solvent guy of my age?” ’ she says.
As she explains, part of the issue is that when divorce strikes, men and women react in different ways. Men’s relationships frequently overlap; they won’t leave one partner until they find another, so they are never really single.
By contrast, women take longer to recover from a break-up. They often step out of the dating ring completely, sometimes for many years, to rebuild their lives or to focus on bringing up children.
‘When they return to dating, it’s really hard for them,’ says Jo. ‘There aren’t as many men because they have a wider pool. Men realise quite quickly that there are far fewer of them than there are women of a similar age. They then date much younger women, creating a huge void in the market.
‘Traditionally women go for men who are their age or slightly older, so they are left wondering where all the men have gone.’
When Jo coaches women on dating, she tells them to accept the reality. ‘It’s just a fact that there is a lack of available decent men,’ she says. ‘It’s tough when you’re looking for love. You have to realise that it’s not about you, it’s just a numbers game.’
But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Men, indoctrinated over generations to pursue younger women, are instinctively reluctant to consider those of a similar age to their own, even ones who look youthful and attractive.
It is something I regularly notice when I set up dates. Men need to open their eyes to the amazing women in their own age bracket.
With the statistics against them, women are motivated to want to look after themselves and make the best of what they have, while there is no incentive for the men to do the same.
Jo says: ‘This generation of men don’t bother to make the effort to represent themselves in an attractive way, even online. Or they just list what they don’t want in a woman and say nothing about themselves — because they can.’
And those men who do make an effort are in a position to be very choosy.
Online dating coach Suzie Parkus, of meetyourmatch.club, observes: ‘A man who has aged well, has a good outlook on life, a joie de vivre about him and who has seemingly done well for himself is very attractive to his peers. However, for the most part he is drawn to younger, sexier, more vibrant models.
‘It has a lot to do with his self-perception in terms of being able to choose who and what he wants in a partner because he has the right to, given that he is in high demand.’
A woman who looks great, feels good about herself and is solvent and independent-minded won’t be drawn to a man who has let himself go, or who may be interested in her but is far too old. So these magnificent midlife daters fall into a void.
And it’s not just about looks — there is a difference in mindset between the sexes too.
As Jane will attest, middle-aged and 50-plus men tend to be set in their ways, less adventurous and less youthful in outlook. They want someone to look after them, while their female counterparts are looking for someone to explore the world and have fun with.
Jane was told by one relationship coach that women her age should go for men 15 years older, making her current dating goal a man aged 63. This is even less appealing, as it is effectively a different generation — and one with very different aspirations. ‘I’ve cared for children and my parents, and I don’t want to care for a man again,’ says Jane, summing up the attitude of many in her situation.
‘Older men are so set in their ways, you almost feel more like a carer than a girlfriend.’
Lucy Verner, 46, is another frustrated midlife dater who has been single since splitting from her husband seven years ago.
‘I found internet dating absolutely awful,’ she says. ‘I live in East Kent and it’s such a small pool. There are exceptions, but on the whole I found the men who made contact were older — and certainly looked older — than me.
‘Men of my age target younger women and I don’t fancy the older men, so it’s a real problem. I’ve stopped looking. Having to get back in the dating market, I focused on getting myself fit again. But many men don’t seem to make the same effort.
‘Online you see selfie pictures they have taken of themselves half-naked in bathrooms or slouching on sofas. Where is the effort in that?
‘Very few men are happy to be by themselves, too. They lurch from one relationship to another, whereas middle-aged women are a lot stronger and more self-assured than they were in the last generation.
‘I have two children and a career to manage and I’m forthright. I think men find women like me intimidating. ‘I want a strong, independent man. Why is that so hard?’
Julia Van Der Wens is 54. She was just 19 years old when she got married, and was with her husband for more than 30 years before he left her 18 months ago.
‘I was devastated, of course, but I made the decision to keep on living my life. I lost weight, started getting into sport and now I look and feel the best I’ve ever been.
‘The problem isn’t the men not liking me, but me not fancying them. I want someone athletic, not pot-bellied. Most of the men I meet seem really unfit.
‘I tried dating websites but two of the men I met were at least ten years older than their photo. Sometimes I think I’m never going to meet anyone.’
Lesley Roberts, 52, was married in her 20s and divorced in her 30s. She did meet someone new, but they split up after a couple of years and she has now been single for two years.
‘Men my age are all up for a pipe and slippers life, and I’m not,’ she says. ‘When I got married my husband was six years older than me, but I wouldn’t take that age gap now because men aged 52 to 60 are boring. They just don’t have any oomph in them.
‘Once they get past 48 they seem to turn into Victor Meldrew, yet women are making an effort and looking great. I just decided that I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I was going grey, so I went blonde.
‘At this stage of my life I need someone who is independent. I’ve set the bar now and I don’t want someone who needs looking after —unless he shows he can look after me first.’
Should middle-aged women just forget men of their own age and date younger ones? Some argue that this is the way forward.
‘Younger men are drawn to older women as much as older men are drawn to younger women. And this is not a new phenomenon,’ says Suzie Parkus. ‘They are drawn to the confidence and life experience of older women, especially those who don’t look their age.
‘This is something I have experienced at first hand, as well as being told it by younger guys when I was matchmaking.’
Laura Hall agrees. Tall, slim and gorgeous, the 42-year-old redhead has been single since her divorce in 2011.
Smart and sassy, Laura has a doctorate in physics and works as an optical engineer, yet she finds the dating sites full of men her age and older who just seem lazy.
‘I prefer younger men now because they are fun, whereas the older ones are boring,’ she says. ‘It’s not even an aesthetic thing but a character thing. I can’t stand the fact that older men really don’t know how to support themselves.
‘I think women have been raised to believe they are winning an amazing prize to get a man, who then has a sense of entitlement — so he puts in no effort whatsoever and always thinks he can get better.’
Yet for many women, dating a much younger man still comes with too much baggage — and again, the playing field is not a level one.
Jane Townsend says she is often approached by men in their 20s. ‘The last date I went on he was 23 — and he was interesting and articulate and we had lots in common. But society says I shouldn’t be dating men like him.
‘I’m called a cougar — which makes me out to be predatory — yet it’s perfectly acceptable for men to go out with Barbies half their age.’
I know from my experience of talking to women who write in for a blind date how many want a younger man because men of their own age just don’t appeal any more.
Unless men change their attitude to dating women of a similar age to them, and make more effort with their personal care (and most women accept this is unlikely), it is hard to see how the situation can change for these gorgeous women.
But Jo Hemmings says we can still take heart. Her advice is to go online frequently, make the approach, don’t rule out meeting people in real life and be as socially active as you can.
‘Knowledge is power, so get the determination to take charge,’ she says. ‘You’ve got to make the choice to be that one woman in seven. It’s tough but possible.’