Welcome to re-Prudied where I fix the terrible advice of Emily Yoffe, a.k.a. Dear Prudie, in the dim hopes that the original letter writer will read it and disregard Prudie's terrible advice. Today's response fixes Prudie's sexist advice to an older man who was approached on an online dating site by a woman half his age.
I'm 65 and have been divorced for almost ten years. Recently, I joined an online dating site, where I'm completely upfront about my age and job. I'm a middle school teacher. I'm in shape, but I'm no movie star. Recently, I received a message on the site from a 32 year old woman. She's extremely good looking, also works as a teacher, and mentioned that she likes older guys. I Googled her, and it seems like her profile really does reflect who she is. Yesterday, she said she was waiting eagerly to hear back and proposed meeting at a café near us. I don't know what to do. She seems like a wonderful woman who I'd be lucky to date, but I don't want to be that creepy old guy who hits on 30 year olds. Advice?
Old Enough to Be Her Dad
I have a piece of advice that's going to infuriate every male viewer: she's too young for you so forget about it. A 33 year age gap is an unbridgeable one, and you have to move on. Sure, I know the guys will say, "Look, just take her out to dinner, give her a couple martinis, and see how into older men she really is." But I say a young woman, who is interested in men nearing retirement, has too many problems for you to pursue. So let's split the difference. Moving forward, focus your attention on women who are 15 years younger than you or less. That will give you plenty to choose from, none of whom will leave you feeling like a creep.
Young woman are aching to dive headfirst into that money bin courtesy of Social Security and teacher pension checks, amirite, Prudie?
Prudie's response is the epitome of the double edged sword that slices up women's hopes and dreams: if we don't articulate what we want, then we're accused of playing games and other immature tactics; if we do articulate what we want, then we get told that we have "too many [emotional] problems" to really know what we want. (Notice how saying what we want and having others take those requests at face value is never an option.)
People are attracted to each other for all sorts of inexplicable reasons. My sister only dates men with good table manners. My Lebanese friend only dates blondes because to him they're rare. My German friend only dates olive skinned, dark haired women because to him they're rare. My friend in high school only dated guys in the marching band. The bulk of Jerry Seinfeld's romantic adventures on his television show were based on random desirable and undesirable characteristics.
I won't deny that there's a nauseated, eye rolling response when men are seen dating women who are half their age. But that disgust isn't just fueled by what we see but also centuries of powerful men manipulating younger women. It's a trend seen in Hollywood movies, religious fundamentalist compounds, countries where child marriage is prevalent, and George Clooney's address book.
The beauty of being an adult, particularly someone who is in his 60s, is that you don't have to justify your personal life to anyone else but the person you're with and yourself because you already know what you want and what you have. Problems commonly arise in relationships when people aren't honest about their motives and feelings. As long as you two do the best you can on those fronts, then you should have faith and security in those beliefs if the "creep" allegations fly.
Age aside, do you want to contact this woman? It sure sounds like you do. If this woman has daddy issues, as Prudie is cowardly implying, then you'll find out soon enough just as you would find out if she's scared of clowns or is a Ron Paul fan or believes the moon landing was staged or thinks the Real Housewives franchise is actually real. That's called dating.
Finally, trust this woman (and all women!) to say what she truly wants. She knows how to read so she is aware of what she's getting when agrees to go on a date with you. Trust her until she gives you reason not to.