Posted by: GeekHiker | February 15, 2010

Age Of Confusion

(I’m a bit hesitant to post this so soon after evil V-Day (apologies to those who celebrate, but if you’re single, it pretty much is, ya know?).  There’s actually no relation, first draft was done in Mid-January.  Ah, well…)

For most of my time on the planet (well, past puberty, anyway), I’ve always found members of the opposite sex who were pretty close to my age to be the most attractive.

Admittedly, that’s no great revelation, is it?  I mean, duh right?  What you may or may not find unusual is that I usually tended not only to prefer who were my age, but often skewed 4 or 5 or so years older.  Although it made me a bit of an odd duck amongst the guys in some ways (that’ll happen when one is 18 and making eyes at a 25 year old (“Duuuuude! She’s almost thirty!)), it didn’t bug me, as most of my truly close friends tended to be a few years older anyway.  This we mostly explained through the whole only-child thing: I was used to hanging out with adults when I was a kid, so when I was in college and my twenties, I naturally gravitated towards older friends and older (if you will) women.  My fellow freshmen didn’t hold my interest.

Something, though, seems to have changed after my 36th birthday last year.  Suddenly, I find myself looking more and more at those 4 or 5 or more years younger. I’ll be frank: it’s a sudden change that I don’t quiiite get.

I’m hoping, sincerely, that it isn’t some sort of mid-life crisis thing.  After all, aren’t I supposed to be a decade away from that?

I kidna don’t think it’s that, though.  I don’t harbor any sort of belief that dating someone younger is going to make me younger, nor am I planning to trade in my truck for some little red sports car.  Besides, though the lower age limit seems to have dropped, it hasn’t gone too low.  Listening to the conversation of the bubbly 21 year old college girl around the office discussing the latest on “The Hills” leaves me cold.  And running in the opposite direction.

Maybe it’s because my social structure has changed.  The current group of friends I have are, for the first time in my life, all younger than me (by anywhere from 2-5 years).

Maybe it’s because all the people I used to know who were my age and slipped off into that married-families-kids zone.  Yeah, everyone says they’ll be friends forever, but when everyone else’s life makes a radical shift and yours doesn’t, it’s hard to keep pace.

Maybe it’s because so many women who are my age or older seem to have such a narrow focus.  They’re looking for a father for their kids, looking to start a family before that biological alarm clock goes off, often looking to settle down at a time that I’m feeling restless.  Looking for it so much so that they’re willing to settle for someone who is not their Prince Charming.

Maybe it’s because when I look around at the single women who are into the same things I am (i.e. hiking, outdoorsy stuff, traveling, etc.), the results tend to skew a bit younger.

Whatever the cause, such a sudden shift in perspective has been perplexing.

As an experiment, I logged on to one of the old dating sites on which I’d disabled my account and looked around to see what the results were.  I decided to do this with a couple of beers in my system but: don’t worry!  I wasn’t silly enough to write to anyone whilst drunk.  This was strictly research for the blog, and carried out in the most scientific manner possible with an elevated B.A.L.

Anyway, what I found was that most of the women who seemed to match what I was looking for were younger than me, anywhere from one (okay) to ten (ten!) years.  And I find  myself totally confused about what my “low” limit should be now.  I mean, I don’t generally want to date a 46-year old, so do I have any rights to be looking with interest at a twenty-six year old?  Is that the classic double-standard rearing its ugly head or what?

Then again, what do I do when I see someone who seems like a perfect match, but she’s twenty-seven?  What does a 27-year-old think?  “Ugh, thirty-six?  I’ll bet he’s got old-man smell!”

Okay, a gray hair here or there, sure, but I think I’ve successfully staved off the old-man smell so far…


  1. The Wife’s best friend, same age as her, married a man some 8-10 years younger. Age doesn’t really matter. I too have seen the shift you’ve described. For what it’s worth, most of the Wife’s imaginary television boyfriends are younger as well.

  2. Everyone has their range. It varies and widens and narrows with time. My single gal friends used to have the three-years-older or three-years-younger rule. Now its stretched a bit as time goes on into the “yeah I’d consider a 48 year old” stage. Its the person, not the number. Just be open. You may find the most amazing 27 year old or the most perfect 42 year old. You won’t know till it happens. And it will.

  3. Hi! I don’t get those clues. LOL. My guess they look like olympics rings?

  4. I used to say I would never date someone younger than me…then I turned 29 and all hell broke loose. I think there’s nothing wrong with it – it’s about the person, not their birth date. And the maturity gap between a 27-year-old girl and a 36-year-old guy really isn’t much (I think). I would say cast a wide net and just see which individual suits you best.

    And never settle. That advice is bad.

  5. Well, now that I am back in the market (oh god, did I just say that?!), I found that 90% of the guys that are interested enough to email me are 40+.

    HOWEVER, I have always preferred younger guys and used to consider even a 5-year-older-than-me gap too wide. Not that I completely agree with the author of that article, but the sad truth is that, based on my experience and all my single-and-looking friends’ experience, she is at least partially right — women just have a much narrower range to select from as they grow older, precisely because most guys, regardless of their age, prefer younger women (it’s biological, regardless of their desire to have children).

    Hell, I went out with a 41-year-old the other day, but remembered thinking upon meeting him (“Gee, he looks so OOOLD!!!”), even though he looks just like his picture.

    I don’t know where I am going with the wordy comment. I think there is nothing wrong with preferences — we like what we like as long as it’s not criminal, so don’t feel guilt/weird/whatever. But I do have to say, if you are still single at 50 (hope not!), please don’t turn into one of those guys that claim to want women their age or “a bit” younger, but really are only looking for women in the 20s and 30s (it happened to my friend, a vibrant charismatic fun and fairly good-looking 50-year-old, who just can’t get dates her age, coz all guys in her age range prefer dates at least 10 years younger).

    I guess it is a form of mid-age crisis 😉 We all have the Lake Woebegone syndrome: we all think we are younger than we really are, and think we can only hit it off with those younger that can keep us with us.

  6. Ugh. Sometimes honesty is NOT the best policy. You’re just like every other middle-aged single man. Welcome to your mid-life crisis, I won’t be reading about it anymore. Too bad, because I *used* to like your blog. But now you’re just…ordinary.

  7. I agree with what others are saying – it’s about the person. I would have thought that I wouldn’t date someone more than a couple years younger or older but looking at my friends, there are a lot in a 10-year range (younger and older) that are so enjoyable to be around that age wouldn’t matter. Enjoy that wide net. 🙂

  8. Jeez Zevensphin! Cut GH some slack! It’s not like he said women his age are haggard so he’s only dating in the 20s range now! This seemed more like an innocent exploration of a change he has noticed – not an attack against older women.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were harboring some bitterness from a bad experience with a man GH’s age.

    I assure you, he’s FAR from “ordinary.”

  9. “What does a 27-year-old think? “Ugh, thirty-six? I’ll bet he’s got old-man smell!””

    Isn’t that a bit harsh? Is that a kind of lack of confidence in yourself or you really think that all women in that age range have that opinion on “older” men? Besides your age is not plastered to your forehead.

    So what if she’s younger (or older)? If it clicks, pursue the r/ship unless you plan to mull over this matter for ages.

  10. I totally think you are right on track with the idea that people your age are settling down and doing the married with children thing. I have found the EXACT SAME thing happening with me.

    The last guy I dated was 9 years younger than me. (I was secretly psyched when people thought I was younger than he. Totally because of my looks, of course. Not because I am in any way immature. Or out of control when drunk)

  11. *ahem* speaking as a 29 year old…

    There is a special promotion if you are interested in upgrading your current friend account (21.85 down payment plus monthly installments of pizza and a movie) to a girlfriend account. It’s just the low, low additional cost of snuggling and relocating across the country. 😉

    I think as long as you maintain an open mind and heart towards life and take care of yourself, you’ll meet a woman you want to share your life with and who will want to share hers with you. 🙂 So your tastes are expanding to other age groups-you now have more opportunities to find the gal you’re looking for!

  12. I wanted to write again because my first comment posted at the exact same time as @zevensphin; when I wrote that I “agreed” with previous posters, I didn’t mean them.

    Their comment sounds defensive, like they’re not really listening to what you’re saying.

    Your thoughts do have merit. I am almost 40 and know a lot of women struggling with the weighty pressures brought of a biological clock and societal pressures. Not everyone is — I’m not — but to ignore that it can be an issue would be dishonest. NOT talking about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    I’m glad you gave a voice to what it’s like on the other side. If I were dating, it would make me more sensitive to what it’s like for the guy.

  13. lol, well Im not 27, Im 25, and I have always dated guys that are 5-12 years older then me.
    I don’t really look in that age range it just kinda happens. Its who you have things in common with.
    I try not to even ask a guys age if Im interested in them.
    Why should it matter if if you like that person?
    At 36 I dont think you would have an old man smell, but after a hike you might smell….

  14. Hmmm, in my 20’s I definitely was not put off by men in their 30’s, or thought they were “old” ( I kinda had a loose 10 year older rule), it was the dudes in their 40’s that would express interest, who had beer guts and were just kinda creepy that skeeved me out. At the age of 30 I realized that *egads* 40 year olds are kinda in my age range now. Obviously there is also a difference between an older person (male or female) that takes care of themselves, and you know, has an interesting personality and such that makes them more attractive at any age.

    As I was reading along my initial thought was that you were hoping to procreate so that was why you had this sudden interest in younger women and their increased fertility. Now it just sounds like, as you said, their interests/place in life align more with yours and so that is obviously going to be attractive to you. I kinda still lead a “younger” lifestyle as well in that I’m unattached with no kids, and I like to go out a lot, whereas a lot of my friends were settling down, having kids and whatnot, so I was also more attracted to fellows a bit younger than me.

    Anywho, I can only speak for myself, but if a gal is in her mid-late 20’s you shouldn’t assume that she’ll think you have old man smell. I only have one (26 yr old) gal pal that I can think of that obsessed over the age of potential love interests and would write off older (in their 30’s) guys as being too old even if she found them attractive. And she’s generally a bit off so I wouldn’t put too much stock in her opinion.

  15. Oh you are so not alone to feel this way — I just came across this study: particular this: “As you can see, a man, as he gets older, searches for relatively younger and younger women. Meanwhile his upper acceptable limit hovers only a token amount above his own age.”

    Not to judge or anything — it’s just the norm.

  16. So, at 28, I definitely don’t think a guy of 36 has old man smell! Ha!

    It does seem to have more to do with how you connect and where you are in life… I’ve already found myself connecting with people (not necessarily guys, but certainly friends) who are younger than me because we’re at similar places in life. I don’t connect as well with girls who are my age but have husbands and kids and houses. Because why would I? And why would I even want to right now?

    Also, for the record, when I was 24 I dated a guy who was 34. It didn’t work and age did turn out to be a huge factor that led to the break-up… but I’m still glad I was open to it. I think it’s unfair to both parties to not even give a seemingly great match an honest try.

  17. I’m 36 y.o. but definetly don’t act or look like a 36 y.o., most people will say that I am still so young even though they are just a few years older than me or treat me like a little girl, due to my youthful appearance.

    As far as finding single men in my same age range (32-39) who share a common interest I don’t have too much of a problem with that but I do find on sites like they already are automatically looking for women 10 years younger! I go to the gym, hike, travel, go to dive bars, shows and do quite a bit of urban exploring, but it seems like a lot of men my age are concerned that women in my age range are too close to the age that their biological clock is about to expire, so guys who want to live it up, go for the less serious and less anxious women.

    Despite the fact I look young for my age and have a very youthful and fun attitude,
    you can’t cheat the numbers on a site like unless you want to lie about your age.

    I have had zero luck on that site because nobody my age seems to click with me or everyone who does contact me are 10-20 years younger, even though I specifically have a range from 29-39.

    Personally I am just looking for someone to connect with, not have babies or run off and get married with but even still that doesnt seem to translate on any of these websites, lol.

  18. Some of your commenters need to lighten up. Yeah, I’m talking to you Zevensphin.

    As a 34 year old lady, I see that my perspective on things have changed. Back in the day it was easy to say “age is just a number” but after leaving a foot print or 34 in the sand, you realize that age is sometimes a marker. Life is a process and many of our definitive events occur within the same 5 or 6 years.

    I get that you would go for younger girls- for reasons beyond procreation or beauty. There’s something about being with someone who is still surprised by life and what it brings that makes you want to be around it.

    I think I get it. Or I’m just making shit up. It happens sometimes.

  19. Homer-Dog – LOL – I hope you don’t get too jealous of the TV!

    CMACC – Perhaps I just find it odd that after all these years, my range is changing. The upper range hasn’t shrunk, but the lower range certainly has. As to whether or not it’ll happen, well…

    Desert Aspie – Yep, you were right!

    Mel Heth – I agree that it’s the person, though I think age plays a role, namely in shared cultural touchstones. I mean, would I want to date someone who doesn’t have respect for 80’s music because they’re too young? As for settling, at this point, I might just do that…

    K – Yes you did! I agree that it’s biological: I may not necessarily want kids myself, but I’m biologically programmed to find the most desirable mother anyway. As for your comment about the 41 year old, I wonder what I’ll think about that in 5 years? If I were single in my 50’s, I don’t think I’d want someone in their 20’s. As a physical attraction, sure, but I don’t know that there would be much to talk about.

    Zevensphin – Wow. Um. Wow. Seems a bit harsh, to attack someone who’s actually questioning his own motivations, rather than just acting on them, don’t you think? And if I couldn’t be honest here on my own blog, what would be the fucking point of writing? But if that’s the way you feel, you are more than welcome to stop reading.

    Spleeness – I suppose you’re right, and I should employ a wide net. Still, not sure how to feel about the net moving all the time!

    Mel Heth – Thanks for the defense! And, you’re right, I’m not discounting those older than I, simply that I generally didn’t count those younger than me before.

    Gany – I don’t know, it’s rather hard for me to get into a 27-year-old’s mind! LOL As for my age, it may not be plastered on my forehead, but they gray hairs are. I do rather like the simplicity of your advice, though.

    Hebba – Thank you, glad I’m not alone in that! So, would you date someone 9 years older as well?

    MissMcCracken – LOL, thanks for the promotion offer, too kind. I think my fear is that it doesn’t expand the possibilities as much as it does limit them. Maybe it’s all the years of hearing women complain about the “old guys” hitting on them…

    Spleeness – Thanks for the compliment. I figure if I can’t be honest here, where can I be?

    Jean – Well, that gives me a little hope (see my comment to MissMcCracken). As for the post hike smell, I think it’s a little better than old-man smell. 😉

    S’Dizzle – So, do you think that you’re now attracted to guys who are younger than you because the current ones are looking to “settle down”? Either way, I’m hoping most of the girls I meet aren’t like your gal pal!

    K – Sooooo, is it good that I’m normal?

    WaitingForButterflies – Despite your bad experience at 24, I actually take a little hope from your comment.

    Ruth – It’s funny, because I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily “looking” for someone 10 years younger. What I’m found in my little experiment is that I would look at a profile and find it attractive, then realize that they were several years younger. At that point, I found myself wondering if I should dismiss myself out of hand. As for, I had no luck there myself. On that last thought, now I wonder what your profile looks like!

    TheCoconutDiaries – I agree, which I think is why most of us have “ranges”. I love the comment about being “surprised by life”; sometimes it seems so many people my age are jaded, and no longer see the world for the amazing place it is!

  20. I’ve kept my profile hidden for a while since I’m not currently active on there, I’d be happy to share it though, I think it’s pretty straight forward and honest, all the pics are all recent, too.

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